Blog posts

Dr Michael Paraskos, Evening Class Manager, Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication 

“Adult education is not just about giving the general public a second chance to study, it’s also about exposing Imperial’s own students and staff to new experiences” 

I am the manager for adult education in the Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication at Imperial, and I also teach art history in the Centre. As a manager I select what evening classes we offer and I’m also involved in the promotion and organisation of the classes. As an art historian, I teach everything from medieval architecture to modern art, but my own academic research focuses on twentieth-century British art.  (more…)

Lauren Burton, Front of House Coordinator, Commercial and Investment Activities Group

“A building can only run as smoothly as its staff, and thankfully hard work is recognised in my position.”  

I was lucky enough to join Imperial not long after finishing College. In the 11 years since I’ve been here, I’ve worked in pretty much all the buildings across South Ken, Hammersmith and White City.  

I’ve been the Front of House Co-ordinator for the I-HUB for the past six years. I do a little bit of everything for the building and its members. Visitors, members and guests are my main priority, but you can also catch me patching internet and phone lines or giving a tour to prospective tenants. 

Time flies on an ever-evolving construction site…I can’t believe how much the White City Campus has changed since we opened in 2016 and aside from the noise, roadworks and diversions we’ve endured, it’s turned out to be quite a nice place to come to work! Having Westfield down the road though is dangerous after pay day. 

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Phebe Ekregbesi, Research Technician, National Heart and Lung Institute

“There’s such a welcoming group of people with a healthy attitude to lunch –and the idea that breaking bread builds communities.”

I completed a BSc in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Bath in 2018. This included a placement at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where I published a paper. That experience was pivotal in deciding to be an immunologist. 

In 2019, I joined Imperial as a research technician. I mainly characterise immune cells in different diseases, and also now contribute to imaging within the Inflammation Repair and Development (IRD) Section. 

Outside of the laboratory, I volunteer with organisations promoting STEM fields to underrepresented groups, including mentoring young girls and non-binary people through the Stemettes and celebrating Black voices with the Black in Immuno Hub. 

Since 2021, I have been the technician for the Lloyd laboratory where I teach users how to operate some imaging equipment, assist members with their experiments, and offer wider technical support and some general laboratory administration.  (more…)

Rachael Hayes, Product Engineer, Information and Communication Technologies   

“Knowing I’m making a difference to students is the best part of my job.”

After graduating, my first job was in training design within the defence sector. This was a million miles away from what I imagined I’d be doing, but I found I had a real skill for online learning.  

I joined Imperial in 2018 and I’m currently a Product Engineer within the student lifecycle. Day-to-day I support and improve existing e-learning systems and implement new ones. I speak to staff and students about issues they are having with a system, or ideas they have to improve it. I love how varied my job is and that I can keep learning. 

The pandemic had a big impact on my role, and lockdown presented an exciting challenge. I’m really proud of the work my team and I have done which enabled a relatively smooth transition to online-only learning. We faced some unique challenges, such as converting learning materials to be accessible in places where it’s not easy to log on to Blackboard and Panopto, running exams online, and helping ed-tech teams to run re-designed virtual lectures and seminars.  

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Dr Tilly Collins, Senior Teaching Fellow, Centre for Environmental Policy 

“I publish on a wide range of topics as well as being passionate about training and supporting new generations of sustainability scientists.”

As a teenager I thought I would become a fashion designer, which was a distinct improvement from wanting to be a horse. But after studying at Chelsea School of Art and ten years working in event design and management, I changed direction completely, went to agricultural college and moved into arboriculture, entomology and ecological science.  

This diverse background and my voracious curiosity has led to a multidisciplinary path and I publish on a wide range of topics as well as being passionate about training and supporting new generations of sustainability scientists.   

The variety of roles I hold leads to real variation in tasks and some days find me concentrating on teaching, whilst other days are a juggle of meetings, advice, research and writing. I also chat a lot and have an unsung role as ‘departmental glue’ mediated via informal channels.  

My advocacy for edible insects often leads to media appearances as do my designs for urban air pollution mitigation. Alongside Caroline Howe, I lead research into Sustainable Viticulture Futures – a recent research growth area within the Centre for Environmental Policy’s Transdisciplinary Centre for Nature & People. With climate change, rural land uses are adapting, the area under grapevines is changing, and this creates a huge opportunity for improving sustainability of practice in social, economic and ecological dimensions. Four members of the ‘wine group’ recently presented their work at the British Ecological Society’s Ecology Across Borders conference to substantial international interest.  

When not at Imperial, I am very social. I garden, provide advice on urban ecology and care for my three teenage children. 22 million people have now watched a TikTok made by one of my teens (Blue Gray) of ‘Dyeing Mum’s hair purple’ and I remain perplexed. The slow and wobbly return to an adapted new-normal and more face-to-face interactions is very welcome. 

Kam Chaggar, IT Service Management Lead, ICT 

“I really enjoying being part of a team that puts customers first and allows a better customer and student experience.”

I joined Imperial College’s ICT department in March 2019 as a Customer Services Manager for Support Services, I met some talented and inspiring people and made some friends along the way. The best part of this role was being able to help, guide and provide solutions quickly to my customers, especially during the COVID19 pandemic. 

In 2020 I took on the role as IT Service Management Lead looking at a customer-focused approach to delivering information technology. Having worked in this industry for over 13 years and being fortunate enough to be guided by one of the co-authors of the globally recognised framework ITIL, I am passionate about being able to focus on providing value to customers and building customer relationships.  

Some frequently asked questions and issues from customers are “Where do I find information? What services do ICT support? I don’t have access, or it’s expired. I’m unable to log in.” My role involves reducing these types of issues by designing processes that underpin and drive efficiencies for the services ICT deliver. This includes looking at areas where a lot of time and manual effort is being spent and exploring how this can be digitally transformed by levering technology to automate recurring tasks that deliver better customer experiences.  

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Nicole Pires, Content Marketing Manager, Business School

“With such a varied and busy workload – it’s safe to say there’s never a quiet or dull day in my role!”

I studied journalism at university before working for a fashion brand in Australia where I discovered a love for digital content.  After moving to the UK four years ago I started working at the Business School in the Programmes Marketing team. 

I lead the Content Marketing team to create and produce inspirational and practical content for prospective MBA, Master’s PhD and Summer School students. We target all stages of the student recruitment journey, from deciding whether to apply, the application process and receiving an offer.  

Our content comes in many formats, including blog posts, videos, photography and student profiles. We recently produced our first podcast series and our Student Content Creator scheme, which allows students to share their authentic Imperial experience, has helped increase our blog users by 20%.  

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Dr Violeta Cordón Preciado, Research Technician, Life Sciences 

“I am optimising growth conditions and working out how to maintain and store the different species of cyanobacteria”

I am a molecular biologist and the Research Technician for the newly stablished Molecular Evolution Lab. Our group is studying the origin and evolution of photosynthesis using cyanobacteria as a model system. Cyanobacteria are carbon-fixing oxygen-releasing microorganisms of major ecological impact. They played a significant role in Earth’s history by enabling the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere and the appearance of more complex life. 

My project aims to better understand the dynamics of genome evolution in diverse cyanobacteria. We have planned a long-term evolutionary experiment in which we aim to gather experimental data of the speed and process of their evolution under stable lab conditions. For this, four species of cyanobacteria will be grown under constant light and growth conditions and their genomes analysed using next generation sequencing techniques.  

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Dr Giovanni Fantuzzi, Imperial College Research Fellow, Aeronautics 

“I am developing a completely new type of computer-assisted technique that combines tools from different areas of mathematics with the latest advances in numerical optimisation”

I joined Imperial as an undergraduate back in 2010 to study Aeronautical Engineering. I found myself so much at home that after graduating I decided to stay, first as a PhD student and now as an Imperial College Research Fellow. 

My work explores new ways in which optimisation – the science of doing things as well as possible – can help engineers design technology that performs at its best, and is robust to changes in its operating environment. This is key to making industries such as energy and transport sustainable. 

To meet this ambitious goal, one must be able to answer questions like, “How much energy can a wind turbine generate?” or “In which conditions does it operate safely?”. High-fidelity computer simulations and machine learning methods can only provide partial answers because, for engineering systems of such complexity, the number of scenarios that one can simulate accurately and use to train artificial intelligence is typically very limited.  

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Tamanna Kabir, Research Nurse, National Heart and Lung Institute 

“I’m now part of the Grenfell Firefighters Study team, examining the physical health outcomes of almost 800 London firefighters who attended the Grenfell Tower fire.”

I’m a Research Nurse at the National Heart and Lung Institute, currently working with firefighters all day!  

My journey here was a bit like crossing a bridge and tunnel to reach the same destination. Intrigued by human behaviour, I completed a psychology degree but couldn’t see myself adopting its indirect approach. I then worked in charities and enjoyed building more therapeutic relationships with people, so trained as a nurse. I rarely saw people like me in either field. But when I discovered nurses could be researchers, I suddenly thought – why not me? 

I’m now part of the Grenfell Firefighters Study team, examining the physical health outcomes of almost 800 London firefighters who attended the Grenfell Tower fire. It’s undoubtedly a sensitive topic which I’m fortunate to gain insight into. I support firefighters to take part in the study, perform heart/lung function assessments and blood tests, then discuss their results. In the future, we’ll monitor medium and long-term health outcomes by reviewing their health records. 

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