Month: March 2024

Travis Mager, Business School, Student Life Manager (Global)

Travis Mager
“Joining the Student Life team last year has been such a revelation for me – I’m very lucky to work with such passionate and respectful colleagues”

I studied History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, where upon graduation, I promptly decided I wanted to pursue other professional avenues. I’ve worn a fair few hats over the years: from working in arts fundraising, to a political ad agency back in my native Washington DC. Most recently I was working as a PA, and in marketing postgraduate programmes, in the Faculty of Medicine. I’m now in the Business School, where I’ve worked for the last year as the Student Life Manager.

I manage incoming and outgoing exchanges for postgraduate Business School students, working with over 25 partner Business Schools around the world to provide students with as much global experience as possible. I also work on other memory-making activities in the Business School including developing our overseas modules, and trip leading. Annually, we take over 600 Business School students on overseas trips, which create opportunities for students to increase their cultural fluency in the real world by immersing them in a country’s business and cultural scenes. More broadly, the Student Life team is also responsible for community engagement and experiences in the Business School, including Welcome Day, the Winter Party and Summer Ball. (more…)

Xingchen Zhang, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Xingchen Zhang
“I enjoy doing research and seeing students improve through my teaching and supervision.”

My project Safety in Smart Vehicle-Pedestrian Interaction aims to develop novel algorithms for smart vehicles to understand the behavior and intention of pedestrians by leveraging deep learning and multimodal information. Employing multimodal information ensures that the developed algorithms are robust across varying lighting and weather conditions.

Beyond my research endeavours, I am passionately engaged in both teaching and supporting learning at Imperial. I’ve delivered multiple lectures on Deep Learning in my department, and I was also primary supervisor for an MSc project in Applied Machine Learning. This project was focused on the innovative development of pedestrian privacy protection systems in videos captured by vehicle cameras, resulting in two submissions to a journal and a conference. I am also a mentor on Imperial’s Activate Student Mentoring Programme, supporting students from ethnic minorities in their academic and professional development.

I was a team leader in the 2023 Great Exhibition Road Festival, an annual festival led by Imperial College London that celebrates science and the arts. Our exhibit, showcased the navigational capabilities of our autonomous robotic wheelchair, which includes the latest research on detecting pedestrians using thermal sensing. We managed to attract over 2,000 visitors throughout the weekend.

As part of the Faculty of Engineering’s Bring Your Child to Work initiative, I showcased the unusual cameras of our lab to children and their parents.

I am honoured to have spent over three years at Imperial, a place that has been excellent for conducting research, personal development, and assisting others. Looking forward, I plan to find a permanent faculty position. I enjoy doing research and seeing students improve through my teaching and supervision. As Mencius the philosopher said, attracting talented individuals from all over the world and educating them is one of the greatest joys in life.

Rasha Dabagh, Senior Manager, Internal Audit and Compliance, and University Council Member 

Rasha Dabagh

For Women at Imperial Week, we are profiling Rasha Dabagh and Liz Elvidge who are both members of the Council, Imperial’s governing body.

“Personally, I’ve felt empowered to voice my opinions at Imperial, regardless of my gender. The environment is welcoming and encourages diverse perspectives.”

I’m Rasha Dabagh, part of the Internal Audit and Corporate Compliance team with Imperial’s Central Secretariat department. Before joining Imperial, I spent a decade working in the City where I was involved in corporate and investment banking audits and compliance oversight.  

I have been impressed so far with the various initiatives Imperial has to support women throughout their careers. The Academic Women’s Association provides valuable development opportunities for female academics, and the Elsie Widdowson Fellowships empowers those returning from parental leave. Additionally, networks like Women in STEM offer peer support and career guidance. Personally, I’ve felt empowered to voice my opinions at Imperial, regardless of my gender. The environment is welcoming and encourages diverse perspectives.

Joining a new team as a hijabi woman can sometimes feel like an initial hurdle. It can take extra effort to build rapport and overcome potential biases before people truly see me for who I am. However, once we connect on a deeper level, the veil fades away, and meaningful relationships blossom. (more…)

Dr Liz Elvidge, Head of Postdoc and Fellows Development, and Imperial Council member

Dr Liz Elvidge

For Women at Imperial Week, we are profiling Liz Elvidge and Rasha Dabagh who are both members of the Council, Imperial’s governing body.

“Throughout my career I have always been passionate in supporting women, and I’ve had great opportunities at Imperial to do this.”

I started at Imperial on 5 May 2008. It was not the nicest first day I’ve ever had – dirty coffee cups on the desk, a broken chair and desktop. I almost didn’t come back for the next day! Anyway, clearly I did. In 2009 I launched the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre, the first of its kind in the UK. The Centre is dedicated to providing support, and development opportunities for our Postdocs and Fellows. Nearly 16 years later, I’m still head of the Centre.

I also introduced the Springboard Women’s Development Programme to the university, which is a programme for any female members of staff who want to set goals, build confidence and network. It has had a huge impact on the participants. Throughout my career I have always been passionate in supporting women, and I’ve had great opportunities at Imperial to do this.

In 2015 I was awarded the Dame Julia Higgins Medal for ‘outstanding support for early career researchers and academics’. It was an absolute career highlight. The medal was presented at the Graduation Ceremony in the Royal Albert Hall. I didn’t know I had been nominated so it was such a lovely surprise. Nine years later, there has been significant effort via the Athena Swan work to support women, but I think there is much work still to do – particularly for early career academic women. There are of course examples of excellence across the university, but this can be very variable.

Last year I was appointed to Imperial’s Council in the new membership position, drawn from Imperial’s academic job family. I applied because I wanted to have the opportunity to represent both the academic job family, and women at the highest level at Imperial. The appointment of four women to the Council has been a significant step forward.

Outside of Imperial I’m a newly appointed Magistrate, which is both rewarding and interesting. I live in a small village in Cambridgeshire with approximately 130 houses, but no facilities, shop, bus service or school. But I am very much embedded in the community. For example we have a monthly pop-up pub on the first Friday of the month, so you’ll find me serving behind the bar (kitchen hatch). I also co-ordinate the speedwatch volunteers group that monitors car speeds through the village – I love a high-vis jacket.

Finally, I’m been committed to fundraising for Cancer Research UK since 1998. Last year I did the skipping challenge. This month I’ll be doing the ‘Walk all over cancer’ challenge.

Look out for our second Women at Imperial Week profile which, will be published on Wednesday.

Women at Imperial Week graphic