Author: Laurie Anderson

Amber Yitong Liu, MSc International Management, Imperial College Business School

“I hope every individual will no longer be entangled with the question of who they are, no longer fear their differences, and with joy, accept themselves and others, and accept this world that is inherently colourful like a rainbow.”

I was born and raised in China until I came to Canada at 13 and discovered I was genderfluid and bisexual. You can’t imagine my ecstasy upon realising that the ostracisation from school wasn’t because of my “weirdness” in my boyish behaviours, but rather a lack of understanding from those around me. One day, my high school finance teacher praised me, noting I was different from others, in a good way. Being the simple person I am, I decided finance was my favourite subject (the alluring world of finance also attracted me, of course).

After completing my undergraduate degree in finance and marketing, I decided to pursue a deeper understanding of the business world, and leverage my knowledge to assist those in need. Therefore, I joined the MSc International Management program at Imperial College Business School. It is the most exciting master’s program in business. I have opportunities to engage in worldwide projects in Cape Town, the US, Europe, and so many incredible places. It completes my UK experiences and makes this year of journey an unforgettable milestone in my life. (more…)

Dr Stephanie Hodeib, Teaching Fellow, Department of Immunology and Inflammation

“Celebrating LGBT+ History Month is crucial to acknowledging and appreciating the diverse contributions of the community throughout history.”

As a recently appointed Teaching Fellow at Imperial College London, my professional journey has been a blend of education and career growth. I embarked on this journey by completing a PhD in the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial. There I developed the skills that paved the way for my current role, principally by teaching fundamental lab skills. During my PhD I gained experience in teaching by working with taught courses and providing teaching support. This allowed me to successfully achieve the Fellowship of Higher Education.

In my current role, I focus on developing wet laboratory skills in students, and evolving their ability to critically think about the scientific method in an objective manner. My teaching is also about bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world applications. It’s about making science come alive in the laboratory, but with a strong focus on immunology and infection. The impact of my work is evident in the growth and proficiency of students. Witnessing their progress is immensely rewarding, and their feedback informs me of how transferrable, and important, the skills they develop are in their future education and careers. (more…)

João Cabral, Professor of Soft Matter Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering

Prof Joao Cabral

I am an incredibly lucky married gay man, with two children, and Imperial has provided me with a great supportive environment.” 

I am a professor of soft matter in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Associate Director of the Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering (IMSE). I also co-chair our Equality, Diversity & Culture Committee in the department. I hold a research chair co-sponsored by Procter & Gamble, and the Royal Academy of Engineering. Our team collaborates closely with industry to understand and redesign the thermodynamics and performance of ‘complex fluids’, to enable a sustainable transition of the sector. 

I grew up in Portugal, between Lisbon and the countryside of Alentejo, where my family comes from and runs a cattle and cork farm. At school, I somewhat resented having to accept and memorise concepts and formulae in chemistry and physics. Perhaps my stubbornness led me to study physics at university, and I attended the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) in Lisbon, where I had some amazing mentors. I became fascinated by atomic and molecular physics and, for the first time, appreciated the humility and tentativeness of scientific discovery. I was lucky to spend time at KTH Stockholm, and a year at a nuclear laboratory Laboratoire Léon Brillouin, just outside Paris, before doing my PhD in polymer thermodynamics at Imperial. I then moved to Washington DC as a postdoc at the National Institute of Science and Technology, and learned the importance of articulating the significance of our research to funders in industry and government, before returning to Imperial as a lecturer.

LGBTQIA+ History Month is a time to remember and celebrate the many contributions of LGBTQIA+ individuals to society. This requires some research, particularly in science and engineering, where so little is known about these individuals. (more…)

Kathryn Wills, Centre Manager for the Hitachi-Imperial Centre for Decarbonisation

Kathryn Wills

“I’ve recently moved to the Hitachi-Imperial Centre for Decarbonisation and Natural Climate Solutions, which has the goal of aiding the transition to net zero pollution.”

My path to my current role has been a bit of a melange of interesting experiences and educations, each of which have contributed in their own way! I completed an undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Nottingham, and a PhD at the University of Bath. I was part of a Doctoral Training Centre and this provided opportunities outside of my day-to-day research for training in topics such as public engagement and entrepreneurship, and in helping to organise events such as an annual showcase.

After my PhD I worked as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate, which is an Innovate UK funded route for industry and academia to work together on an innovation idea. This position helped me build my experience and skillset on the project management and ‘other activities’ side of things, i.e. everything else that goes on alongside the core research to add value to a project.

Fast forward a little, and I started a role at Imperial College in 2019 as Programme Manager for an initiative called IDLES (Integrated Development of Low-carbon Energy Systems). This was hosted in the Energy Futures Lab, and I spent a happy few years working alongside colleagues on all things energy systems related.

I’ve recently moved to the Hitachi-Imperial Centre for Decarbonisation and Natural Climate Solutions. The centre is a collaboration between Hitachi Ltd and Imperial College, with the goal of aiding the transition to net zero pollution, and beyond. We work together on a set of joint research projects which all sit within the three research pillars of the centre: Carbon Management and Decarbonisation, CO2 Removal (Technology and Nature-based Solutions), and Socio-economic and Policy work. I’m really enjoying being part of a new team with exciting new challenges ahead!

Mary O Kenneth, Research Postgraduate, Department of Computing

Mary O Kenneth

“I am excited about delving deeper into the world of AI, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible”

My journey has been a thrilling ride through the realms of technology and academia. Starting with a BSc in Computer Science at the Federal University of Lafia, Nigeria, and then earning an MTech at the Federal University of Technology Minna, my pursuit of knowledge has been relentless. Currently, I am immersed in the world of artificial intelligence as a PhD candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Imperial, wearing multiple hats from demystifying the magic of calculus to exploring the fascinating realm of AI.

My research as a PhD student is focused on the creation of an AI multimodal humour style recognition model. In an era when mental health issues are on the rise, having a system that can automatically detect the complex nature of our jokes and comprehend how they affect our wellbeing and relationships is an important step towards encouraging better mental health. This undertaking is more than just a technological problem; it marks a significant step forward in understanding and improving our daily wellbeing and social relationships. (more…)

Ali Lyons, Outreach Evaluation and Research Manager, Outreach

Ali Lyons

In a nutshell, I work to help students from any background to be able to go to university”

When answering the question “What do you do?”, for some the job title is the explanation. My role is less obvious, so I often reply, “How much time do you have?”.

In a nutshell, I work to help students from any background to be able to go to university. But if you’re not careful, I’ll talk your ear off for hours about the different ways that we might define who is underrepresented at university, what role universities have in supporting students, and the many policy areas that impact access to education.

Working in widening participation has been a natural fit for me, despite the fact that when I interviewed for my first role in this field, I had never heard the term! It came as no surprise to me that some students are shut-out, alienated, or face extra hurdles in their educational journeys, but I just hadn’t had the language to describe this idea. (more…)

Julia Sanchez Garrido, Research Laboratory Manager, Department of Life Sciences

Julia Sanchez-Garrido

“As scientists, I believe it is our responsibility to convey what we do to the general public”

My desire has always been to answer unanswered questions and defy what has been established, broadening the fields of research one small discovery at a time, and contributing to the better understanding of ourselves and our surroundings. With this aim I started my career in my home country Spain, where I studied biology. In 2013 I decided to move to the UK to do an MSc in virology at Imperial, and luckily obtained funding from Spain that enabled me to do just that. This is where I discovered my interest in how our body’s defences, our immune system, respond to attack by harmful microbes (pathogens) by mounting a complex and well-orchestrated response, and how pathogens have evolved ways to subvert this response.

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Devni Peramunugamage, Undergraduate, Faculty of Medicine

Devni Peramunugamage
“Coming to university I was suddenly thrown into an environment where people were celebrated for being themselves. It was wonderful.”

I was always bothered when my peers would talk about how big the universe is and how small we are, and how because of this life is meaningless. Year nine career talks didn’t help this existential crisis – if life was meaningless, how was I supposed to decide what I wanted to do for the rest of mine? In the end, it was a poem, by Rupi Kaur, that inspired me. It talked about how in the end, while we’ll realise so many of the things we worried over were trivial and meaningless, human connection is meaningful. Between a mother and her daughter, between a couple married for five decades, between a group of lifelong best friends – I think human connection is meaningful because we feel it is meaningful. And I realised that something that made me angry was how such arbitrary things – a virus, a drunk driver, a clump of cells growing where they shouldn’t be – could end these connections. I realised that if I did medicine, if my life was about trying to stop these arbitrary things, then it didn’t matter how big the universe was. My life would be meaningful to me. And that would be enough. (more…)

Robert Sprigens, Product Portfolio Officer, Information and Communication Technologies

Robert Sprigens
“I think it’s important to be your true self at work. So if you’re part of the LGBT+ community, why not bring that to work?”

Part of LGBT+ History Month: Behind the lens at Imperial

Since finishing university, my career has been in project management, specialising in technology. I started out in the financial sector. After a few years, when the sector faced another financial crisis, I decided to find a happier environment and moved over to higher education in 2016. Since then I have worked for two universities in IT,  supporting the delivery of large-scale digital transformation activities. (more…)

Cynthia So, EDIC Coordinator, Human Resources Division

Cynthia So
“It can sometimes be tricky to find spaces where I feel like I can be fully myself, but with the EDI Centre, I just knew that I belonged”

I studied Classics at the University of Oxford. As a university student I was already very involved in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) – amongst other things, I was on the Oxford University Student Union LGBTQ+ Campaign Committee, and I was the Black and Minority Ethnic Officer at my College. I organised LGBTQ+ film screenings and discussion groups, and dinners to celebrate festivals like Diwali and Lunar New Year. I didn’t imagine back then that EDI was a field I would work in professionally though – I didn’t realise it was an option! (more…)