Doctoral candidate to present research to MPs in Westminster

Tim says STEM for BRITAIN will be a chance to showcase his work on IVF and raise
Tim says STEM for BRITAIN will be a chance to showcase his work on IVF and raise the profile of industrial mathematics.

A final-year PhD candidate from Cardiff University will present his research to MPs as part of a major scientific poster competition and exhibition hosted in the Houses of Parliament.

Tim Ostler, who is currently writing up his thesis at the School of Mathematics, has been selected as a finalist and will compete in STEM for BRITAIN 2023 in Westminster, as part of British Science Week in March.

Tim, aged 24 and from Southampton, moved to Cardiff for his undergraduate degree in 2016. Though he originally wanted to pursue a career in medicine, he became interested in applied mathematics and started a PhD in the field of mathematical biology.

He said: "I’m really excited to be taking part in the STEM for BRITAIN competition. It’s a chance for me to showcase all I’ve achieved over the course of my studies, here in Cardiff."

Tim’s research, co-funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships 2 (KESS 2) and London Women’s Clinic (LWC), uses data-driven mathematics to model and optimise three key aspects of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) - the primary treatment of infertility world-wide.

The project is part of a wider research collaboration on IVF modelling between Dr Thomas Woolley and Dr Katerina Kaouri from the School of Mathematics, and Professor Karl Swann at the School of Biosciences. Together with an industrial supervisor based at LWC, the four collaborators make up Tim’s PhD supervisory team.

"We’ve modelled the freezing and thawing process in Frozen Embryo Transfers to better understand the logistical challenges of packing and storing eggs and embryos. We have also developed methods to extract information from images about the eggs’ and embryos’ health. Thirdly, we developed a machine learning model which identifies features in embryo images that may predict pregnancy."

"IVF has a really important role in society, so I’m looking forward to telling everyone at STEM for Britain about the progress we’ve made," he said.

Chaired by Stephen Metcalfe MP and organised by the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee, STEM for BRITAIN has run since 1997 and aims to give members of both Houses of Parliament an insight into the outstanding research work being undertaken in UK universities by early-career researchers.

Dr Katerina Kaouri, Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Mathematics, said: "It’s quite unusual for students to pursue doctoral study immediately after completing their undergraduate degree. Tim has not only done this but he has really flourished, particularly under difficult circumstances throughout the Covid-19 pandemic."

"I wish him the best of luck!"

Prizes are awarded for the posters presented in each discipline which best communicate high level science, engineering or mathematics to a lay audience.

The Westminster Medal is awarded to the overall winner in memory of the late Dr Eric Wharton, who did so much to establish the competition as a regular event in the Parliamentary calendar.

Dr Thomas Woolley, Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Mathematics, added: "I actually participated in STEM for BRITAIN during my PhD and remember it well."

"In addition to showcasing research to MPs, the competition is a great opportunity to network with a wide range of important scientific, engineering and mathematics institutions and organisations who support the event."

"Everyone in the School is rooting for you!"

STEM for BRITAIN will take place in the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on Monday 6 March 2023.

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