Author: Laurie Anderson

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.


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…)

Dragos-Cristian Gruia, Research Postgraduate, Department of Brain Sciences

Dragos-Cristian Guira
“I’m lucky to say I’m part of a very supportive lab, where I feel completely at ease being myself.”

I joined Imperial in 2019 to pursue a Master’s in Neuroscience. I got the chance to explore the brain and its intricacies in much depth, and as a result, fell completely in love with the field. I was then lucky to get a full-time position in the UK Dementia Research Institute at Imperial, looking at ways in which brain imaging and digital monitoring can be used to improve the quality of life for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. One aspect that really piqued my interest was how technology can be used to improve patients’ lives in a meaningful manner. Patients sometimes do things that healthy adults would never do, or react to technology in ways one wouldn’t expect. (more…)

Jang Ah Kim, Research Associate in Biosensing, Department of Materials

Jang Ah Kim

“I use nanotechnology to boost light-matter interactions with the aim of developing a sensing platform to detect disease biomarkers.”

I am a Research Associate in Biosensing at the Department of Materials. My academic journey to date has been dynamic and crossing boundaries. Having graduated in mechanical engineering at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, I chose to study nanoscience and nanotechnology for my PhD at the same university. Then I dived into biomedical engineering research at the Hamlyn Centre at Imperial for my first postdoctoral role. After four and a half years at the centre, I moved to the Stevens Group at the Department of Materials to further dig into biosensing studies, where I have been working on developing a next-generation biosensing platform for disease screening of broader diseases. (more…)

Safia Ismael, Undergraduate student, Faculty of Medicine

Safia Ismael
“Through the experiences of my parents, I’ve understood the detrimental effect of conflict on the East African healthcare system. I’d like to contribute in helping to rebuild this system.”

I’m currently in my third year of studying Biomedical Sciences. My educational journey has been interesting as I initially wanted to study medicine. But I realised I was underappreciating the research aspect of medicine, as the two go hand in hand. So I decided I wanted to explore the research side, and then go into graduate medicine. I would rather take a longer route in academia and see aspects I won’t see in medicine. (more…)

Marina Moncayola Lobato, Taught Postgraduate (MBA), Business School

Marina Montoya Lobato

“At Imperial I have been able to improve my problem-solving and leadership skills, and meet a community with similar interests who are always ready to support those in need”

My name is Marina Moncayola Lobato and I am in my final year of the Weekend MBA (WMBA) programme at Imperial College Business School. As a part-time student, I combine my studies with my full-time job as Internal Auditor for a multinational company in the construction sector in London, assessing risks and advising and helping to implement recommendations after analysing projects and processes. I started my career as an External Auditor at EY. (more…)

Maroa-Isabell Al-Sahlani, Taught Postgraduate, Dyson School of Design Engineering

Maroa-Isabell Al-Sahlani,

“I was selected to pursue a module at the University of Tokyo to learn more about the confluence of science, technology and design thinking.”

I’m a Master’s student studying Global Innovation Design (GID) at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. I combine research, graphic design, conversational and written practices to reflect on the agency of the arts in nation building. (more…)

Valentina Neuhauser, Taught Postgraduate, Business School

Valentina Neuhauser

“My curiosity about how businesses raise the bar for sustainable development and offer hope for our future brought me to Imperial”

Growing up in Austria, I treasured the beautiful nature around me and the memories of running through beautiful fields of wildflowers as a child. Unfortunately, over the years, I saw many places in my fond memory disappear, making places for business and buildings and stimulating the consumption of more goods.

In 2021 I decided that it was time to embark on a long envisioned educational journey – to pursue an MBA. My curiosity about how businesses raise the bar for sustainable development and offer hope for our future brought me to Imperial. I had worked in tech for 15 years, and I had many opportunities to grow and take on new challenges over the years. However, I was keen to expand my horizons and learn about other industries. Imperial offered me the opportunity to continue my job while studying with a vast international cohort – and to do this online from Singapore, where I am currently based. Imperial’s Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment also attracted me, alongside the focus on programmes’ sustainable and ethical business approach.

Climate change, the exploitation of virgin resources, and the lack of a circular economy threaten our lives, those of future generations, the planet and animals, and our economy. Businesses seek know-how to set solid green agendas for the future, and we must ensure that students are ready for these “new” requirements. I recently connected with a variety of groups at Imperial organised to advocate on the climate emergency and to raise awareness. I am optimistic that we will have a positive influence if we use the power of our network to effect change.

I have always been active in my community, and getting involved is the best way to shape your experience. As a new MBA student, I took on a student leadership role for my cohort as Student Staff Committee Chair. This role has allowed me to work with the programme team on the MBA, and explore the Vice President for Sustainability role on the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee. In this role, I connect and work with stakeholders across the College to bring sustainability initiatives to students. It also offers the chance to address challenges and opportunities with the Business School on sustainability, while creating a programme that allows students to gain essential skills for the workplace.

It is no surprise that I am passionate about nature, and in my little spare time between work, studies, and student life, I love to be outdoors, hike, do yoga in nature, and marvel at the fantastic wonders on this planet. In addition, I love classical music, and my passion for classical ballet is my best way to re-energise after a busy week.