Sirvan Almasi, Research Postgraduate, Department of Computing

“Being involved in the army reserves during the pandemic has meant that I’ve been able to give back to London and the community where I live.”

I am a PhD student in the Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering and a member of the Army Reserves. I joined Imperial when I began my PhD in 2018. After my Master’s, I worked in finance for a short while before deciding that I wanted a change in career. I knew I wanted to return to academic research but also wanted to maintain my interest in finance and management, and now my PhD in blockchain identity systems and information security combines both these interests.

I joined the Army Reserves at the end of 2018 with no prior military experience. I decided to go for officer training and went on to attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where I commissioned in 2019. It has been an extremely rich experience that I would highly recommend.

As a troop commander in the Royal Signals, I am responsible for leading professional and technical soldiers in providing communications. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, our troop has been producing face shields using 3D printers for local care homes and St John Ambulance. We’ve produced over 5,000 face shields since we started and we’re aiming to have finished 6,500 by mid-August. Our work has been incredibly important. We have seen people using the shields we’ve made and have received several thank you letters from the organisations we have helped. The entire process has been really rewarding.

The nature of my PhD means that it hasn’t been too impacted by the pandemic, as all I need to do my work is my laptop! This has been a real bonus as I can go down to the Army Reserve Centre for my shifts once a week and work on my research while keeping an eye on the production line. It’s been a huge effort from the entire troop and it’s certainly nothing that could have been done individually. Being involved in the Army Reserves during the pandemic has meant that I’ve been able to give back to London and my local community

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