Research excellence across the Faculty of Science and Engineering

The Faculty of Science and Engineering is made up of five academic schools, each representing an impressive body of knowledge. Our excellent track record of winning generous research funding means that we are able to constantly break new ground, and offer support to the next generation of researchers through scholarships and awards.

Our size makes research collaboration much more viable. In a medium-sized institution like Queen Mary, it's far easier to have face-to-face discussions, which can lead to unexpected joint activities
— Professor Wen Wang, Dean for Research, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Impressive research council funding

The Faculty received more than £25m in prestigious research-council funding over the last academic year, of which £2.5m was spent in research studentships for the very best PhD students.

There are more than 60 scholarships available for students from China for entry in 2012. Our China Scholarship Council (CSC) / Queen Mary Joint PhD scholarships cover all tuition fees, living expenses and even a return flight to China for talented and promising students. Recruiting students and staff of a high calibre ensures that the Faculty remains at the forefront of research excellence and innovation.

A collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that gets results

Scientists of all disciplines have set a valuable precedent for collaborative working. Our researchers regularly complete sabbatical placements and join teams in other universities, sharing their knowledge and expertise.

This collaborative approach is formalised through research centres that bring colleagues together across Queen Mary, as well as important partnerships with other universities.

Our Research Centre in Psychology brings together colleagues across the Faculty of Science and Engineering as well as the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Medicine and Dentistry. Its distinct, evolutionary approach to the study of psychology has led to world-class research in comparative cognition and learning, sensory neuroscience, neurobiology and behaviour, vision, and evolution and behaviour.

We have also recently launched major cross-disciplinary initiatives with the Institute of Bioengineering and the Materials Research Institute, bringing together researchers from across our three faculties.

Innovative thinking that sets the research agenda

We are breaking ground in several key research areas. For example, the development and understanding of nanostructurised materials is currently a major research theme at Queen Mary. Nanomaterials have a range of unique physical and chemical characteristics which offer great potential for many applications: from new functional materials and sensors and actuators, materials for energy conversion and storage to biomaterials.

A truly international outlook that takes in the stars

Queen Mary has a well-established reputation for astronomy research, enhanced by access to the world’s largest telescope, VISTA, which is dedicated to mapping the sky using infrared light.

VISTA (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) is located in the Atacama desert, Chile and was built with a £36m grant held by Queen Mary as leader of a consortium of partners.

Having access to VISTA means that QM researchers are able to gain a better understanding of the nature and distribution of known types of stars and galaxies, map the 3-D structure of our galaxy and its nearest neighbour the Magellanic Clouds, and locate examples of rare objects for detailed study.  

Developing the commercial potential of our research

Much of the work across the Faculty has a potential commercial application, and we actively seek to maximize the impact of our work through spin out companies and licensing opportunities. 

ApaTech is one of Queen Mary’s most notable successes. Established in 2001 to manufacture and market synthetic bone substitutes, the company was acquired in 2010 by global healthcare company Baxter International Inc. for a total of £200m. Developed by academics in the School of Engineering and Materials Science, ApaTech developed bone graft material with innovative structures to encourage the natural re-growth of bone after surgery or in the treatment of osteoporosis.  

Encouraging research students to see the value of their work

A hugely successful initiative, ImpactQM, supports PhD students in taking up internships with companies chosen to complement individual research activity. Encouraging students to focus on the commercial potential of their work has been shown to have excellent results. For more information, including stories from students and supervisors who have taken part in the scheme, see the ImpactQM website. 

An RCUK Doctoral Training Centre for Media and Arts Technology

Queen Mary hosts a RCUK Doctoral Training Centre offering PhD and Masters opportunities in media and arts technology.

The Centre for Digital Music (C4DM), a world-leading multidisciplinary research group in the field of music and audio technology, is just one of the three key research groups feeding into the Centre for Media and Arts Technology. C4DM has developed systems for automatic playlisting from personal collections (SoundBite), for looking inside audio (Sonic Visualiser) for automatically synchronising to a drummer (B-Keeper), and many others, see the C4DM website. 

Building on a tradition of excellence

The Faculty draws on well-established strengths across the board, building on a history of excellence.

Our involvement in the development of string theory is a good case in point, with our Centre for Research in String Theory playing a key role in both the invention of superstrings theory and that of its successor M-theory. Particle physics work at Queen Mary started in 1960. Today the Particle Physics Research Centre (PPRC) continues to focus on the discovery and identification of new particles, as well as testing features of globally unifying theories, including notably the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN in 2012. 

Outstanding facilities

Research across the Faculty is underpinned by some outstanding facilities, including the following:

  • Queen Mary’s Nanovision Centre is a multimillion pound, state-of-the-art microscope unit, which brings together the latest imaging technologies making it possible to explore reality at the nanoscale
  • Our expertise in computational research is supported by our involvement with GridPP – a distributed computing grid across the UK designed to process the large amounts of data created by particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN
  • qMedia researchers make use of an Augmented Human Interaction (AHI) Lab and other top quality sound and engineering facilities. This makes possible the exciting collaborative work carried out by the Centre for Digital Music (C4DM) and the Interaction, Media and Communications group both based in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science. 

Find out more about our facilities.