Supporting Students (quite literally!)

Did you know that for about a decade those lovely Jez mechanics of the RCS Motor Club have been repairing bar stools from the Union Bar that have become broken in the line of duty ?

It’s true! Those stools might look a bit run-of-the-mill and utilitarian, but far from it! Sourcing stools that can withstand the rigours of the Union Bar is not a trivial matter. They need to be exceedingly hard-wearing and are hugely more expensive than you might expect.

So when they break, do you suppose they get thrown away? Not on your Nellie! They get whisked away to the Jez Garage where the hunt begins for suitable materials to effect a repair. Usually, in some skip or other on campus, the Jez mechanics will spy a worn-out table, or similar hunk of discarded wood. After thirty minutes on a lathe in the hands of an expert wood-turner, the hunk is transformed into a spindle perfectly matching the stool’s existing spindles. Bound up with wood glue and kept in clamps overnight, and the stool is ready to be sealed, and returned to the Bar for active service.

But what happens when no suitable wood can be found? Well, it can be tricky. [...] Read more...

Exploration Board Report Back Evening

The Exploration Board ‘Report Back Evening’ is a wonderful opportunity for our student expedition members to showcase their achievements and share their experiences with us from expeditions that took place during 2022 and 2023. Many of those students will, of course, have benefitted from your generosity via the RCSA Trust who financially support these expeditions. There will be tales to tell alongside some wonderful images, so we would be delighted if you were to join us on:

Wednesday 6 December, 18.00-19.30
Royal School of Mines, Room 1.47,
South Kensington Campus,
London SW7 5HF

The presentations will be followed by an informal reception held at Eastside Bar, in Princes Gardens.

If you can, please let Ellie know, by Monday 4 December, if you are able to attend by emailing or by telephoning +44 (0)20 7594 2416, along with any access requirements. But if not, turn up unannounced. Room 1.47 is large and we’ll be sure to squeeze you in.

We’ll be very happy to see you.

(if you like the support we offer to exploration and to our students in general, why not help us do more? Consider making a donation to the RCSA Trust here. With no staff and no building costs you can be assured that every penny of your donation will be gratefully received and faithfully applied to assist the students of the Royal College of Science). [...] Read more...

The RCSA Prize

Try as we may, we just couldn’t separate the two wonderfully talented RCS women that were our top nominations for the prestigious 2023 ‘RCSA Prize‘. So, as has happened on three previous occasions, BOTH candidates were awarded the prize.

At a brief ceremony in front of Queen Victoria’s statue on Commemoration Day, Professor Richard Craster, Dean of RCS (or Dean of FoNS if you want to be terribly modern), and Mike Munroe, President of the RCSA, shared the officiating duties and presented Bilgesu Aydin from Physics, and Vanessa Madu from Mathematics with their their framed certificates and with cheques for £300.

The occasion is captured in the photograph above and you can see, from left to right, Mike Munroe (RCSA President), prize winner Vanessa Madu, Professor Richard Craster, (Dean of RCS), prize winner Bilgesu Aydin, and Oscar Farrell (RCSA Hon Sec).

Our members will recall that the RCSA Prize was instigated in 1997 and awarded annually at Commemoration Day to a student “who has excelled academically and made a great all-round contribution to the College“ and Bilgesu and Vanessa certainly fit the requirements. To give you a flavour, here are a few extracts from the award citations….. [...] Read more...

Lofoten Islands, Norway 2023 Expedition

Seven students, two of whom are scientists, along with two recent alumni have won the support of the RCSA Trust and of the IC Exploration Board for their Lofoten Islands, Norway 2023 Expedition. The Lofoten Islands are a collection of seven main islands and countless smaller islands 300 km to the north of the Arctic Circle.

All accomplished mountaineers and associated with IC Mountaineering Club, the nine young adventurers will spend two weeks in August in a self-skippered cruising sailboat, stopping at various cliffs and climbing areas, as they make a counter-clockwise lap of the archipelago.

The sailing will be challenging, as most of the group are relative novices. The climbing, too, will be challenging as the climbing environment is mostly granite slabs and cracks, the majority of which are left unbolted.

We wish the group, and particularly our two intrepid scientists, the best of luck with this expedition and look forward to reading their post-expedition report and attending their post expedition presentation, to which RCSA members will be invited.

As one part of its programme, the RCSA Trust have been supporting the adventurous activities of our science students since 1990. Please consider making a donation to the Trust. Any amount, however small, will be gratefully received and every penny will be faithfully applied to assist the students of the Royal College of Science. [...] Read more...

Arctic Finland 2023 Expedition

Five young scientists, all attached to the Grantham Institute, have won the support of the RCSA Trust and of the IC Exploration Board for their hike along the Karkunkierros Trail in north-eastern Finland, right on the border with Russia.

An expedition to the Arctic by Carl Linnaeus in the 18th century serves as the founding inspiration for this trip, and the five are working closely with the Linnean Society of London.

In 1732, Carl Linnaeus, the renowned Swedish biologist, underwent an expansive exploration of northern Scandinavia, documenting the flora and fauna found within. The trip proved to be seminal in his career, wherein he tested out his newly developed system of taxonomy which would later become fundamental to biology.
His trip is approaching its 300th anniversary and, coincidentally, he began his trip at the same age as many in our expedition party. We therefore think the timing provides the perfect opportunity, both to commemorate his adventure and to forge one of our own.

Becky Ryder, Expedition Leader

The main aim of hiking the Karkunkierros Trail (which translates into English as “Bear’s Trail” or “Bear’s Ring”) is to observe and record the natural history of the region. The birds and the flora encountered during the hike will be input into two important biological databases – eBird and iNaturalist, respectively. [...] Read more...

Supporting the Armenia 2023 Expedition

Five students from the Department of Life Sciences have won the support of the RCSA Trust and of the IC Exploration Board for their Vayots Dzor, Armenia 2023 Expedition.

The students will spend two weeks in the latter half of May travelling the Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) through the Vayots Dzor province. During the hike, they will also record bird sightings to upload to, a citizen science database of bird occurrences.

Our scientists will capitalise on the work of the Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) project, which began in 2015 with the aim of developing a world-class, long-distance trail network across the Caucasus region, linking roughly two dozen existing and proposed national parks in the region. By its completion, the trail will stretch roughly 3,000 km. Currently over 400 km have been completed in Georgia and Armenia.

We wish our intrepid scientists the best of luck with their challenging expedition and look forward to reading their post-expedition report.

The RCSA Trust have been supporting the adventurous activities of our science students since 1990. Please consider making a donation to the Trust. Any amount, however small, will be gratefully received and every penny will be faithfully applied to assist the students of the Royal College of Science. [...] Read more...

Another Heirloom Saved

RCSU President, Trinity Stenhouse, modelling RCS Jacket

Hot on the heels of saving the Union Bar table, which is a historical relic dating back to 1911, the RCSA are at it again. We’ve rescued a tradition that isn’t quite so old; this time it is the RCSU President’s ceremonial jacket that has been cleaned, restored and given a new lease of life.

Once upon a time the RCSU had several of these stripy purple, black and white jackets, sufficient for all of the exec, but for many years now we have been down to the last one, reserved for the president. But what a state it was in! Dirty, worn, ink-stained……. it was desperately in need of conservation and restoration.

Into the story steps Anne Barrett, Imperial’s archivist. She, of course, had a top garment restorer on her books who was confident of making an enormous improvement.

So RCSU President, Trinity Stenhouse, handed over the jacket and patiently waited whilst the restorers set to work. A few weeks later and……. “The results are magnificent,” Trinity tells us. “There is a black ink stain that hasn’t entirely gone, but otherwise the jacket is back to its best – as good as new!

The RCSA is delighted to have funded this initiative and delighted to breathe new life into this old and traditional item of clothing. [...] Read more...


The RCSA are delighted to announce these Ellingham Awards, instituted in 2023, and named for the late Harold Johann Thomas ‘Tom’ Ellingham.

The RCSA propose to fund 35 awards, each of £20, which will allow an RCS student who is already receiving hardship support to attend an RCS or RCSA formal dinner at a reduced price. The awards will be administered by the RCSU president who will allocate awards by ballot from those qualifying students who apply.

More awards, or fewer awards, or larger awards may be made as funds allow.

‘Tom’ Ellingham was born in London in 1897 and died, aged 78, in 1975. Tom studied chemistry at the Royal College of Science from 1914 to 1916 and then went off as part of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force to Iraq from 1917 to 1919 with the Royal Engineers. He returned to College and was promoted from demonstrator to lecturer in 1922 and to a reader in 1937 and, very unusually, became a lecturer to all three constituent colleges. Tom expended enormous energy in the collection of monies for the Memorial Fund which purchased the sports ground, the boat house and the war memorial plaques. He spoke with thousands of students and ex-students in the process. [...] Read more...

RCSA Saves the Day

By rescuing a piece of IC Union history, the RCSA truly have ‘saved the day’. One of the two large tables in the Union Bar, both of which are ‘dripping with history’, was desperately in need of repair. At any time, a slice of the table-top, about a fifth if it, was about to break away. And two of the table legs, despite looking the epitome of robustness, were on the verge of dropping off.

With the Union strapped for cash and bogged down with their ‘back to basics’ agenda, it was the College Archivist, Anne Barrett, who put us in touch with her favourite restorer/conservator. And it was the new RCSA Exec who completed the jigsaw puzzle by coming up with the all-important funding.

RCSA President, Mike Munroe, commented…. “considering the amount of time we have all spent chatting over, drinking at and, yes… dancing on that table over the years, it seems only fitting that Alumni should get involved.

So the table was restored over the Christmas and New Year and is now returned the Bar. It is back to its best and ready for the next 112 years of its history. But do you know the story of the Union Bar tables? [...] Read more...

William RANDERSON Awards

We are delighted to launch the William RANDERSON Awards for RCS Union officers.

These awards are made automatically to nominated officers of the RCS Union and of the RCS Motor Club to assist them with the additional expense incurred in discharging their duties.

These awards were presented for the first time this year (the 2022/23 academic year), and are named for the late William Randerson, who was studying Chemistry in the Royal College of Science 100 years ago. He was RCSU Hon Sec in 1921/22 and was RCSU President in 1922/23. He was instrumental in instigating the ‘22 Club of which he became a founder member and was ’22 President for 1924-25. William worked tirelessly for the RCSA and was a significant contributor to many issues of The Record. We are happy to remember Will’s long and dedicated service to RCSU, Imperial College, the ’22 Club, and of course to the RCSA.

(This award is modelled on the ‘John Elliott Bursaries’ of the Old Centralians Trust, which has been a successful scheme, supporting union officers for many decades. We would like to acknowledge the assistance given to us by the CGCA and by the Old Centralians Trust in this matter. )

(if you like the support we offer to our students why not help us do more? [...] Read more...