“A degree is something I have always wanted, and I am so proud of myself for finally going for it in my thirties.”
When I left high school, aged 18, it seemed that everyone around me had a clear vision of their careers and passions. I found myself with a lot of different interests but simply no real calling. I worked at a call centre, as a cleaner, a receptionist and a management assistant – all in the space of a few years. My wanderings were not confined to employment, and I decided to move from my home country of Belgium to London. Imperial was the first place I worked, and I was here for a few years in the role of executive assistant.
During the pandemic, I struggled with my mental health and felt like I was failing in life. When scrolling through LinkedIn and other social media, it seemed like everyone was doing incredible things or changing the world. I wished I had a special talent or a skill that could make a difference. Friends or colleagues would tell me I am organised and caring but I thought these talents to be boring and nothing special. When colleagues would ask me about my career journey, I always felt defensive and started with: “I only have a high school degree but here I am, working in London!”
“With no hesitation I decided to apply to the Provost’s Visiting Professor programme as I totally share the aims of the initiative”
I joined Imperial in November 2022, as a Provost’s Visiting Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics, so I have been working at Imperial for about five months now and I am very happy to be here. I come from the University of Bologna in Italy, where I am Professor of Statistics. I have a Ph.D. in statistics awarded by the University of Bologna, though I mainly studied in Denmark at the University of Aarhus where I developed a thesis on statistical inference for finite dimensional quantum systems. I then got a fellowship in time series so my main research interests, since then, are in mathematical statistics, time series and recently nonlinear dynamic models.
“The best volunteering experience I’ve done is the Great Exhibition Road Festival – I’ve signed up again this year”
I am a third year Chemistry student here at Imperial. Chemistry was always my biggest passion, and it was an easy choice when deciding what degree program to do, and what better place to do it than Imperial?
Chemistry is vast, scary, and beautiful all at the same time. It incorporates so many aspects of modern-day life – from medicine to agriculture – and it isn’t just limited to “chemicals”. It can be used in things like fireworks, cosmetics and cooking, and it’s that diversity that is so appealing to me.
Currently, I am on the committee of the Chemistry Society and as the first-year representative I work to help ease the first years into university life. I am also on the SwiftSoc committee (I couldn’t write a piece on myself and not mention Taylor Swift…), where a bunch of us swifties come together and just talk about the biggest artist of our generation. I am also part of Outreach, where I try to inspire younger students to get into STEM careers.
“Teaching is a gift – you share a space with students who are as enthusiastic about the environment as you.”
I’ve always had an enormous passion for the sciences and the natural world, from entomology and ornithology, to our blue spaces including freshwater aquatic ecosystems and marine life. Studying biochemistry and forensic science enabled me to apply laboratory skills for scientific and environmental applications, such as river water quality monitoring. I’ve had an environmentally and science focused career in and out of academia, including with river and botanic garden charities and scientific research at Imperial.
Wanting to continue my passion related to water and to apply a variety of skills, the role of research coordinator of the Strategic Research Partnership between Imperial and Anglian Water based at the Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP) was very appealing.
“The relationship between work and health is relevant no matter where you work or what you do”
The work I do here at Imperial is all about the relationship between work and health. This is currently high on the policy agenda in the UK as more people are falling out of employment due to long-term ill-health. The healthcare landscape is not a level playing field when it comes to occupational health – access varies depending on the employer, which makes it harder to deliver change.
One of the policy areas I am focusing on is how we can improve the health and working conditions of health and social care workers. The other policy area that interests me is how we make better use of the fit note (commonly known as a sick note…a misnomer!) to help people living with medical conditions to keep working.