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Five winners of the 2017 MPLS Impact Awards were announced on Tuesday 14th February at the MPLS Winter Party, which was held at the Mathematical Institute.

Alex Rogers and Tonya Lander at MPLS Winter Party
MPLS showcase presenters Professor Alex Rogers (left) and Dr Tonya Lander (right). Credit: Janet Hovard

The MPLS Impact Awards were introduced in 2010 and aim to foster and raise awareness of impact by rewarding it at a local level. Prof Alison Noble presented five awards across three categories.

Category 1: For research that has had substantial impact since 1st August 2013:

  • Prof Ivan Martinovic (Computer Science), nominated for his research into the security and privacy aspects of the communications technologies used in air traffic control and surveillance in civil aviation. His research has shown that even the newest GPS-based systems used for aircraft tracking are vulnerable to attack. This research has received international recognition with Singapore, Sweden, and the Netherlands using his work to address cyber threats.

  • Prof Constantin Coussios (Engineering), nominated for his research which has led to the development of the world’s first normothermic perfusion device for improved organ preservation prior to transplantation. Working closely with Prof Peter Friend, he co-founded OrganOx in 2009. The first patient was successfully transplanted in 2013, and following clinical trials, the OrganOx Metra is now routinely being used in two continents and six countries, including Spain, Belgium, Canada and the USA.

  • Prof Achillefs Kapanidis (Physics), nominated for his research that led to the development of the Nanoimager; a compact, robust, easy-to-use high-resolution fluorescence microscope based on detecting single molecules. Prof Kapanidis co-founded Oxford Nanoimaging in 2016, to commercialise the product which has applications in research, diagnostics, drug discovery and chemical analysis.

Category 2: For excellence in generating broad user interactions that achieved impact in the past year:

  • Prof Cas Cremers (Computer Science), nominated for his recent work on the Transport Layer Security Protocol (TLS), which has led to significant improvements in the next generation of internet security. The TLS protocol is the main technical security mechanism of the internet, and is the technology behind the green lock seen in browsers, providing communication security for computer networks. Additionally, TLS is implemented in all computers, smartphones, and nearly all Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to secure their communications over the internet. A new version of TLS (1.3) will be released in 2017, and will be implemented in millions of devices; Cremers’ work will hugely impact the security of all of our devices in the coming years, and will benefit millions of users worldwide.

Category 3: A lifetime award for successfully engaging externally and promoting impact:

  • Prof Myles Allen (Physics), nominated for advancing public understanding of the complex links between climate change and extreme weather events, in particular through public-participation computer modelling experiments under the climateprediction.net and weather@home initiatives. Myles' group pioneered the use of distributed computing resources donated by the general public to compare weather-related risks in the world as it is today with the “world that might have been” in the absence of human influence on climate through the climateprediction.net project, the world’s largest ensemble climate modelling experiments. Through regular radio, television and press briefings, he has worked relentlessly to provide a balanced view of the physics of climate change and the causal connections between climate change and the probability of extreme weather events.

The audience also heard from:

  • Head of Division Prof Donal Bradley, about the achievements of MPLS during the last six months
  • Professor Alex Rogers, Department of Computer Science, who showcased his research on building smart devices that enable new approaches to biodiversity monitoring, as well as many other applications
  • Dr Tonya Lander, Department of Plant Sciences, who showcased her research using drones to track how pollinators move at the landscape level, and the implications this has for food security
  • Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson, about the strengths of the Division and the challenges of Brexit