“The pandemic helped us to realise that it’s better to recycle, reuse or giveaway as we need to take care of our society”
The Soft Services team is responsible for all the waste recycling, minor removals, chemical and hazardous waste at the College. I joined the team four years ago, having originally joined Imperial 14 years ago.
Before this role, I worked as a Senior Waitress with the Events and Conference department for ten years. After working as a maternity cover in the Soft Services team, I felt I was ready for a move to the team. It was daunting, but I trusted myself to take on a new challenge in a different environment.
My role involves making our Imperial staff, students, and visitors aware of the right recycling procedures to maintain a healthier and safer environment. As a team, we deal with any incoming requests, as well as reporting issues, finding a solution to problems – we are Imperial’s little soldiers! We patrol between campuses, ensuring a safe working and studying environment is in place.
“I always knew I wanted a career that helped people.”
My educational and career journey hasn’t been the most straightforward trajectory. When I was a kid, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded with cartoonist or marine biologist, quite like my idol Stephen Hillenburg who created SpongeBob SquarePants and was both. I didn’t really know that equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) or diversity and inclusion (D&I) was something that I could work in. However, I always knew I wanted a career that helped people. It all clicked for me when I selected Sociology as one of my A-Levels.
My interest in social sciences grew and I studied criminology at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, earning a Master’s degree. My specific focus was eradicating violence against women and victimology. Both of my dissertations were focused on sexual violence on university campuses, and this was something I wanted to pursue career-wise.
“I started a long-term project aiming to provide an alternative nanotherapy-mediated vaccination strategy for malaria.”
After finishing my studies in nanosciences, I decided to take on the challenge of a cross-field PhD at the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland. Ever since, my research focus has been to use nanotechnology for the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, mainly malaria.
Malaria is a devastating infectious disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is responsible for the death of about half a million children every year. The current COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors, has led to a stagnation of the anti-malarial fight, which highlights the urgent need for innovations distinctively different to our current solutions.
“I have always had great admiration for women in STEM careers and now I am in that position myself”
My first dream job was to be a vet – this was quickly vetoed after my sister told me where my hands would end up! After I finished my A-Levels, I spent some time working in retail as a visual merchandiser and then working in the food industry helping to develop new food-to-go products. After realising that I wasn’t enjoying my job, I left in search of a science-based role.
Apprenticeships have always appealed to me because I like the hybrid approach of learning and working. Before I came across this apprenticeship, I didn’t think it was possible for me to access a role like this without a degree.
As an apprentice bioengineering technician, my role is varied, and every day is different. I am constantly learning new things and putting them into practice.
“Being able to work in the lab on important environmental health issues, surrounded by amazing brains who are genuinely nice people, is a privilege.”
I wouldn’t say my career journey was entirely conventional. Academic, yes, but I skipped an MSc and went straight from PhD to my first fellowship. These were considerable achievements, but establishing both my independence and my own research niche so early on was challenging. I also weaved through disciplines, from marine biology to ecotoxicology to physical and analytical chemistry, to exposure and air pollution science and back to toxicology. These have given me a solid, holistic understanding of the research I do. Now I’m a lecturer and lead a research team and I can’t wait to watch them flourish and make discoveries in the emerging field of microplastics and health.
Over the last few months, I’ve presented remotely to a group of European consortia, and to College students on the other side of the world. The students were on a programme at the University of Akron, and as part of one of their modules, I was invited to give a lecture.
I also presented in-person to science enthusiasts at the New Scientist Festival in Manchester, and to toxicologists in San Diego at the Society of Toxicology annual meeting, my first international conference off UK soil in two years. (more…)