The Team

The award is possible thanks to the volunteering work, ideas and enthusiam of: 


Andrea Alenda I am a neuroscientist. My field of expertise is Systems Neuroscience. I have been working as a Research Fellow at Imperial College London. I did a PhD in Neuroscience at Universidad Autonóma de Madrid in Spain, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante in Spain, and as a postdoctoral researcher at University College London in the UK.

I believe that science should be accessible to everyone. Scientific understanding is useful as it improves critical thinking, decision making as well as problem solving.

Scientific toys enable a child to learn about the world around them through play. They encourage exploration, trigger curiosity, expand imagination and help thinking. Creating an award to recognize these toys is, in my opinion, the best way of promoting the interest in science in children.


Esther Perea

Esther Perea I am a mechanical engineer and an industrial designer. I am currently working as a Principal Teaching Fellow at Imperial College London, where part of my remit is to embed engineering design into the curriculum. I studied Mechanical Engineering at UCL and then Innovation Design Engineering jointly at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. I have spent half of my career in industry and the other half in academia. I am very lucky in having had the best of both worlds.

My favourite toy growing up (and now) was Lego; I could spend hours inventing new constructions. As a budding engineer, I also like to take all my toys apart to see how they worked. These activities shaped my passion for science and engineering. Unfortunately, not all children have access to toys that will spark scientific interest, stretch their knowledge and nurture their creativity; hence my involvement in this award.


Sara Ghoreishizadeh I received BSc degree in Electrical Engineering and MSc degree in Microelectronics from Sharif University of Technology, Iran, in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Then I started my PhD studies at  EPFL Switzerland.  My PhD thesis  (awarded March 2015) was focused on designing dedicated Integrated Circuits (IC) for health-care monitoring and personalized-therapy within highly-integrated Implantable Medical Devices (IMD). I joined the Neural Interfaces group at Imperial College London in April 2015 as a post-doctoral research associate and since December 2015 I am a Junior Research Fellow at the  Centre for Bio-inspired Technology . My main research interests are circuits and systems design for new generation IMDs as well as IMD automation and calibration.


Diego Alonso Álvarez As many physicists, I started my degree with an eye in astrophysics and astronomy… but then my interests evolved towards something more applied and ended up working on semiconductors science and nanotechnology. My PhD was focused on materials science, specifically on semiconductor quantum nanostructures with application for infrared devices such as light detectors, lasers and solar cells. The later topic was the one I felt most attracted to and, as a postdoc in the UK since I came in 2012, I have devoted my efforts to the research of new materials for photovoltaics. At present, I work at Imperial College London on hybrid photovoltaic-thermal solar systems to produce both electricity and hot water for industry or domestic applications.

I am part of that generation that grew up with the NOVA games, Cheminova, Naturanova, Astronova, Micronova… Some of them were not the safest games in today’s standards, but they definitely awoke children´s curiosity and interest in science and in the world surrounding us. Let’s boosts that curiosity in children from the very beginning, encouraging parents, teachers and the society in general to take part on it without any prejudice due to gender or social class.


Nicolas Moser I am a PhD student in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial College London. As part of my research, I design very small chips like the ones in every smartphone, but I use them towards biomedical applications. One of my main goals is to reach very fast DNA sequencing to ultimately diagnose diseases a lot quicker than what is currently possible.

There is no doubt that kids will only develop interest in Science and Technology if we offer a fun aspect to it. I believe it is a great opportunity for researchers to help parents identify which toys succeed in the great challenge of making science cool!



LarissaLarissa Zárate García As I child I was obsessed with the X-Men comics, and made clear that I would become a geneticist one day. However, when I started my degree in Biology at the University of Salamanca I realised how much I enjoyed Embryology and Reproduction, and how I could combine all three disciplines by becoming an embryologist. I therefore took a MSc in Human Assisted Reproduction at the Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad, where I also learned about embryonic stem cells and genetic preimplantational diagnostic. I trained my skills in IVF clinics in Spain and Portugal. At the same time I became an expert in science communication by the Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura. Thanks to these abilities I obtained a PhD studentship at the University of Southampton, where I studied whether female mammals contain germline stem cells in their ovaries, and the possibility that they give rise to competent eggs that can be used in IVF.

 Former Team Members


Monica Rivas Casado I am a lecturer in Applied Environmental Statistics. I am a Forestry Engineer by training, with an MSc in Environmental Water Management and a PhD in geostatistical science from Cranfield University. I am a Chartered Environmentalist and a Chartered Scientist.

I believe that education plays a crucial role in shaping the future and aspirations of children. Toys are a powerful way to trigger motivation and passion for scientific careers. The Science Toy Award will provide a successful platform for children to innovate and learn about science.





Yolanda Sanchez-Vicente I am a Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. My current research looks specifically at questions involving carbon capture and storage process. I did my PhD in Green Chemistry at Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain. Then I did a postdoc in the filed of carbon capture and storage at the University of Nottingham. After that I returned to Universidad Complutense where I ddid a postdoc in the functionalization of materials for applicatons in CO2 capture of catalysis.

I think scientific toys are a powerful tool to stimulate children´s intertest in science.



JoaoJoão Lovegrove Pereira. I am a Biomedical Engineering MSc student from Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal, currently working on my thesis at Imperial College London. More specifically, developing next generation neural interfaces to deepen our understanding of the brain.
I believe the best way to learn is by having fun, making scientific toys a great tool in educating children and stimulating criativity and interest in STEM related fields.




Martina WickleinMartina Wicklein I’m a neuroscientist, studied in Germany did my PhD at the University of Tubingen and then went to do 2 post docs in the USA, first at the ARLDN at the University of Tucson, the second at the Salk Institute in San Diego. I returned to Europe and did a post doc at the Ophthalmology Department at UCL and then in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial. I am now a senior teaching fellow at the Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology Department at UCL.

I am married and have a 13 year old daughter, who is a proud and self-confessed “science geek’  and ‘Buffy the Vamipre slayer’ fan. Her interest in all things science and engineering from an early age (Lego is and was her best loved toy)  and the problem of finding good, open ended, child led toys to foster and stimulate her interest was what got me thinking about science toys for kids and for girls in particular.