Dr Gemma Bale is a Research Associate in Medical Physics at University College London. Her work in the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory focuses on developing new, non-invasive brain monitoring techniques for the measurement of cerebral oxygenation and metabolism. Gemma studied Physics (BSc) at Imperial College London where she became interested in using optics for medical applications. To pursue this, she undertook a Masters in Photonics at UCL and the University of Cambridge, and discovered near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) – a non-invasive technique that can monitor the brain. She gained her PhD at UCL in 2016, for which she developed a NIRS device to monitor brain injury in newborn babies. In her current position, she is expanding the technology to additionally measure blood flow in the brain. During her time as a researcher, she has worked as a visiting scientist at the University of Western Ontario in Canada and the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona. Gemma received the Dietrich Lubbers award from the International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissue in 2016, and in 2017, she founded and chaired the UK meeting for functional NIRS. Throughout her career, Gemma has been passionate about communicating science outside of academia. During her PhD, she was awarded the UCL Provost’s Engineering Engager of the Year (2015) award for her work in communicating science to the public in many forms – from stand-up comedy to teaching in schools. Post-PhD, she led an award-winning public engagement platform called MetaboLight. Last year she undertook a Media Fellowship – working as a science journalist for BBC Radio 2. Also in 2018 she was awarded the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture for Engineering, Technology and Industry by the British Science Association, as part of its prestigious Award Lecture. She was chosen as one of only six top UK researchers chosen for her pioneering research and her engaging communication skills.