The first ever doctoral symposium for PhD students and graduates studying and working in the defence and security sectors has been hailed as a success and the work of those who took part as ‘game changing.

In conjunction with the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom and The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Cranfield University hosted the inaugural two-day Defence and Security Doctoral Symposium, which saw more than 160 delegates from 16 universities take part and research presented in several innovative ways.

  • A three-minute thesis competition, where an entire PhD research project has to be presented in that time, saw 12 people take part on subjects as diverse as  metamaterials to World War One tank warfare. The winner was Andreas Haggman, from Royal Holloway University, who spoke about his work on war-gaming cyber-attacks.
  • There were 11 technical papers presented that ranged from a psychological exploration of the effect of culture on cyber deception techniques to using scintillating plastics to detect nuclear materials. However, the best presentation was judged to be by Dr. Nicolas Jaccard from University College London, whose paper was on using X-rays to detect smuggled and other illicit items inside shipping containers.
  • Meanwhile, five art installations were created to represent research in art form and the winner was Joao Valente of University College London, who made a poster from the structure of a metamaterial he was working on.
  • 41 posters were also entered into the symposium, making it the largest category and the winner of the best poster also was declared by the judges as the overall winner of all those taking part. Dr. Luca Marmugi, also from University College London, presented a poster on his research into the potential of using gamma rays as a way of detecting and imaging hidden objects as an improvement on X-rays. It was described as ‘game changing’ by the pro-vice chancellor for Cranfield Defence and Security, Professor Ian Wallace.

After chairing the second day of the event, Professor Wallace said: “I have been very pleased by the success of the symposium. Doctoral research is the life blood of research and it has been fantastic to be able to bring everyone together in this way.

This symposium is the only chance for them to get together like this and we need to generate new thinking by discussing research and looking at it from different perspectives. We have already set a date for next year’s symposium, so I’d like to welcome everyone to apply or to attend as a delegate.

The symposium was developed in conjunction with the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom and DSTL. Jonathan Lyle, chief executive of DSTL, gave the closing address and presented the winners with their awards. He added: “It is great to see people coming together from academia and the defence and security industries to contribute to the security of the country. The range of presenters was really interesting and it was good to see the discussions taking place at the symposium. We need to turn these sparks of ideas into a bonfire.

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Luca Marmugi and Professor Mark Richardson

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is one of the world's leading universities for defence and security education, research and consultancy. Our staff and facilities are at the forefront of their fields, offering a diverse range of capabilities from energetics and forensic sciences to international stabilisation and cyber security. Cranfield provides specialist knowledge to industry, security and emergency services, military, governments and NGOs, underpinning defence and security sector reform around the world. 

As the postgraduate academic provider to the UK’s Ministry of Defence we offer a unique gateway to delivering practical education and solutions that make a real difference to the lives of military, security and civilian personnel.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.