“I use the vibrations of earthquakes to visualise what lies hundreds of kilometres below the Earth’s surface”
I work towards unravelling the mysteries of why the interior of our planet looks the way it does today. As a seismologist in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, I use the vibrations of earthquakes detected all around the world to visualise what lies hundreds of kilometres below the Earth’s surface. Currently, I am trying to image the deep Earth beneath the remotest parts of East Africa – one of the few places on Earth where the continent is splitting in two and may eventually form a new ocean!
Cyprus, where I grew up is tectonically active, experiencing many earthquakes every year and hosting some of the most geologically unique mountain ranges in Europe. Inspired by such fascinating geology, I decided to embark on an MSci course in Geophysics at Imperial . However, it was not enough studying to quench my curiosity, and so I threw myself into a seismology PhD focused on East Africa. During my PhD I even got to visit Ethiopia in person! This was certainly a highlight of my work and life so far.
“My experience at Imperial has impacted me positively, both personally and career-wise.”
At the start of the summer, just after finishing my first year of my English and Communications degree at the University of Exeter, I was eager to get into the working world. I wanted to gain first-hand experience of communications, and I feel very lucky to have achieved this in Imperial’s communications team.
I’ve had a long-standing interest in the broader creative industry for a long time, so I applied to intern with Imperial through Creative Access, an organisation that enables people from communities under-represented in the creative industries to access careers, progress and reach leadership. I came across the job description for the Communications Intern role at Imperial, and was drawn by the variety of media projects that the role offered. I didn’t have much prior knowledge of communications as a career path, so I aimed to find out what this would look like.
“I have always had a passion for helping people and using my organisational skills to implement new processes.”
I have organised an exciting programme of events and activities for Postdoc Appreciation Week (PAW), which takes place this week. This has been achieved in close collaboration with my colleagues in the PFDC, Postdoc Appreciation Week Committee and several Imperial postdoc reps. This is a great opportunity for the PFDC and Imperial to show their appreciation for the postdocs who make the College a leading research and educational institution.
Organising events such as PAW gives me a great sense of fulfilment and responsibility and I’m looking forward to developing new initiatives, focusing particularly on wellbeing.
I have always had a passion for helping people and using my organisational skills to implement new processes. A combination of the two has been visible throughout my career and educational journey so far. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Event Management and Marketing and a Master’s in Psychology of Mental Health. I decided a career in Higher Education would enable me to combine aspects from both my degrees, so I started by working in Careers, first at the University of Reading, then at Imperial from January 2018.
“I love how flexible my role is – every day brings a new challenge which I am always ready to tackle”
I joined Imperial in 2015, fresh out of university with a degree in Advertising Management and Marketing. I started as a temp and worked in several teams in the College, including the undergraduate office in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the People and Organisational Development team. I learned how different departments operated and how the College worked. This helped me in my next role, in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Centre.
I joined the EDI Centre as a temp and then became a full-time member of staff in 2017. I’m currently a coordinator for the team and look after our communications and social media channels, training administration, and any EDI project coordination. I also organise events and support and coordinate our EDI volunteers.
“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…)
Part of Shifting the Lens: A celebration of cultural diversity at Imperial
“I feel self-assured and confident because I wear the hijab”
Since I started at Imperial, people have asked me a lot about the hijab and why I wear it. I love to share this part of my story.
There are no rules in my country about how you should dress, but there are rules in some families. My father’s extended family is more conservative – there’s an unspoken agreement that when girls hit puberty, they have to start wearing the hijab. My mum’s side is more free, there’s no pressure. Growing up, neither of my parents wanted to force me the way that some parents do.
I had the liberty to choose, and the time to learn more about it. I didn’t choose to be Muslim – I was Muslim from when I was born – but deciding whether to wear the hijab was an opportunity to explore my faith.