RCSA Honours Dr MC Black

As unanimously agreed at our AGM at the start of the year, the Association now has a President’s Tankard named in honour of Dr MC Black.

MC died on 26th January 2024 and his long and dutiful service to the RCSA included being Honorary Secretary from 1983 to 1994, and culminating in his years as President from 1998 to 2002, a period during which he would also sit on Imperial College Court. From 2004, there followed twenty years at the helm of the RCSA Trust as its Chairman and as the RCS representative on the Imperial College Exploration Board.

We, in the RCSA, have many loyal members and a rich history of dutiful officers, yet with the passing of MC we feel we have lost a faithful servant without parallel and are delighted to remember him in so traditional a manner.

We sourced an antique Crown & Rose tankard cast by Englefields Ltd of London, England for the purpose.… Read more...

Outer Hebrides, Scotland Expedition

Eight students, including two PhD students from the Department of Mathematics, and two PhD students from Chemistry, have won the support of the RCSA Trust and of the IC Exploration Board for their Outer Hebrides, Scotland 2024 Expedition.

The students will spend three weeks in September 2024 with the objective of establishing new climbing routes on sea cliffs. This will involve rappelling into those sea cliffs, cleaning potential new climbing routes (with consideration to the local climbing ethics and wildlife preservation), climbing the routes and then cataloguing them for future climbers. Our students hope to demonstrate that adventure and personal development can be found within the UK, in a cost effective and ecologically friendly manner.

Our scientists will capitalise on the work of NatureScot, and are planning on taking part in their National Plant Monitoring Survey. A wonderful opportunity to take part in scientific activities during their rest days.

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

Looking Back at the RCSU/RCSA Summer Dinner

Some three hundred guests attended a night of glamour, fine food, music and dance at the RCSU/RCSA Summer Dinner on 1st June 2024.

With arched ornate ceilings, beautiful wood-panelling and dramatic chandeliers, the Grand Hall of the Grade II* listed De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, which boasts a history dating back to 1775, was the impressive backdrop for around 200 RCS scientists and 100 G&G engineers, all dressed to the nines. They were greeted with a champagne reception followed by three sumptuous courses of impressively high-quality food, all accompanied by a fabulous array of music, performed by IC students and provided courtesy of your RCSA. Take Note, the ‘upper voices’ all-female barbershop group wowed us, as did Nth.harmonic, another fabulous a capella group. A string quartet, and several other a capella groups completed the line up. Through funding these ensembles, the RCSA are delighted to have achieved ‘double-bubble’ by simultaneously supporting most the wonderful student performance troupes and also supporting this most ambitious of high-attendance dinners.… Read more...

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.

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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 e.rimmer@imperial.ac.uk 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.… 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.… 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.… 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.

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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 ebird.org, 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.… 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.… Read more...