The Bioengineering COVID-19 awards were developed to recognise the extraordinary efforts of students and staff in the Bioengineering department in the context of COVID-19.
Staff in the department were invited to nominate their colleagues and students for a Bioengineering Thank You Award. In their nomination, staff members had to state why they felt the work and actions of their nominee were so exceptional. These reasons could be: delivering critical departmental services despite challenging circumstances, working additional hours to ensure new processes were delivered, being involved in activities outside their role to support staff or students, or contributing to College and national COVID-19 related efforts.
I spoke with Joseph Sherwood, a RAEng Research fellow within the Department who was nominated for a Thank You Award because of his outstanding work on the JAMVENT project.
JAMVENT is a low-cost emergency ventilator, developed by a team of Bioengineers at Imperial College London in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Its design is based on simple pneumatic components, but it is able to perform all the tasks required of an ICU ventilator for COVID-19 patients.
Kemi: How do you feel about being given a COVID-19 Thank You award?
Joseph: Grateful. It’s nice to be appreciated.
Kemi: How was adjusting to our “new normal” and juggling working from home while working in the lab for many hours on the JAMVENT ventilator?
Joseph: In the first 2 months of the project, I was in the lab seven days a week >12 hours a day. As college started to reopen, I transitioned to more home working. I am fortunate enough to have good space at home and an easy commute by bicycle, so it was easy enough for me.
Kemi: How did your role change during the lockdown and what limitations did you face to your work?
Joseph: I suddenly was in the lab a lot more than under normal circumstances, I actually really enjoyed being hands-on.
It was challenging but important to maintain contact with and continue to support my students, as well as supporting the PhD students and post-docs working on the JAMVENT project.
Juggling this with the technical development of the system, optimising software, writing up documentation, applying for funding, talking to potential collaborators and the press was … challenging. But, I had excellent support from the JAMVENT team (and at home) and the particular circumstances of the project kept me going.
Kemi: What or who was inspiring your hard work and kept you going during the lockdown?
Joseph: The main inspiration was the hope that I could do something to help people in need of ventilators. What was amazing is this sense of purpose extended to so many people who offered their time for free to help with the project.
Kemi: What are you most looking forward to once things return to “normal”?
Joseph: Playing live music, and watching other people do so. Also (and of course primarily), finally getting married!