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Introducing SCI Scholar, Isobel Mackay

Isobel Mackay

12 Jul 2016

For over thirty years, SCI has supported and recognised the excellence of early career people, by aiding their studies in the form of an SCI Scholarship.

Since 1985 ca.70 scholarships have been awarded which have not only given the recipients financial assistance, but have enabled them to broaden their network and strengthen their skills and knowledge. SCI Scholars receive access to publishing and mentoring opportunities and are given a platform to present their work amongst esteemed scientists and industrialists, thus raising their profile within the scientific community. In the past nine years alone, SCI has generously bequeathed over £115,000 of its charitable funds to SCI Scholars and the scientists of the future.

Isobel Mackay was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2016. Here, she tells us about herself and her research project.

Isobel Mackay is 23 and is from Salisbury in South Wiltshire, where she attended South Wilts Grammar School. She has always had a clear passion for science and in 2011 she started her undergraduate studies in Geophysics at Imperial College London. At the beginning of her second year she was awarded the Rio Tinto Scholarship for the remainder of her degree. As part of this scholarship she conducted a three-month research placement at the University of Queensland. This was her first taste of scientific research and sparked her interest in continuing into further research. The following summer she spent two months at Massachusetts Institute of Technology researching different fluid flow patterns in porous media, which was continued into her fourth year as her MSci project for which she gained a mark of 80%. She graduated from Imperial in 2015 with a First Class degree.

These two summer projects inspired her to continue researching and study for an experimental PhD, particularly on a topic within the minerals processing industry. This interest led her to the Froth and Foam Research Group at Imperial where, in 2015, she started a PhD in enhanced coarse particle flotation funded by the EPSRC and supervised by Prof J Cilliers and Dr P Brito-Parada. This project focuses on ways to improve the application of froth flotation to minerals separation. This is a widely used technique that utilises the differences in hydrophobicity of minerals. There is currently an upper size limit to the process and the project looks at alterations to the chemical reagent system and the physical cell design to increase this limit. This will significantly reduce the energy required when grinding rock. During this project Isobel will collaborate with PEPT Cape Town at iThemba labs using the Positron Emission Particle Tracking camera to further understand the dynamic processes going on in flotation.

In her spare time she is an active member of the Scout Association where she is a Beaver Scout Leader and the District Youth Commissioner representing the voice of youth members in West London. She also has a passion for science outreach. This ranges from assisting with teaching many undergraduate courses in her department, to leading sessions on summer schools and travelling to schools around the country with the aim of inspiring more students to pursue a career in science.

Isobel Mackay
Imperial College London, SCI Scholar 2016 - 18

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