Category: Research Staff

Aglaia Freccero, President’s PhD Scholar, Division of Psychiatry

Aglaia Freccero, President’s PhD Scholar, Division of Psychiatry

“Along with my studies, mental health activism has given me a sense of purpose as a means of personal and public empowerment.”

I am Aglaia, a first-year President’s Scholar in the Division of Psychiatry. I moved to London in 2017 to pursue my BSc at UCL. When my mental health started to decline, I had to interrupt my studies. In 2018, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but with the appropriate support, I eventually graduated. My mental health struggles fuelled my interest in psychiatry and public health. (more…)

Dr Sanaz Talaifar, ‪Assistant Professor in Organisational Behaviour, Imperial College Business School

Dr Sanaz Talaifar, Assistant Professor in Organisational Behaviour

“It is always very gratifying when students tell me that what they have learned in my class is helping them directly in their lives and their careers.”

I received my PhD in Social and Personality Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. Before graduate school, I had been a bit confused about what topic and career to pursue because I was interested in so many different things! I found that many of my interests (identity, personality, wellbeing, politics, technology) were being studied by social and personality psychologists in super fascinating ways, and so by becoming a social-personality psychologist I was able to pursue these diverse interests simultaneously.

After graduating, I became a Postdoctoral Scholar in Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. My transition to a business school context made sense in many ways. I had done research during my PhD at Google and had worked in the private sector before graduate school. I also gravitated towards research that had real world implications and felt that many of society’s most pressing problems could not be solved without the involvement of business. (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.

Kamilla Rekvényi, Research Associate, Department of Mathematics

“As a child I wanted to make an impact on the world, and as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial I feel I am getting closer to fulfilling this dream.”

I arrived at Imperial in 2019 as a PhD student, after completing an MMATH degree at St Andrews. In 2023 I began an EPSRC Research Associate in Pure Mathematics. As a child I wanted to make an impact on the world, and as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial I feel I am getting closer to fulfilling this dream.

My role mainly involves research but I am also lecturing a first-year course this term. My research is on the intersection of group theory, which is an abstract way of thinking about symmetries and combinatorics, which is the art of counting. I always like to be involved in university life in as many ways as possible, so I am now a Postdoc Representative. I am also passionate about supporting and inspiring women to pursue maths research through outreach and being on scholarships panels. I am a co-founder (with Eoghan McDowell) and organiser (with Zain Kapadia and Bob Dabson) of the Junior London Algebra Colloquium, a seminar series aimed at PhD students


Luke McCrone, Research Associate, Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship

Luke McCrone

“My research has directly informed and shaped the redesign of several transitional learning space redesign projects across Imperial’s campuses, all of which were driven by students and staff under the StudentShapers scheme.”

I studied Geology (BSc) and Petroleum Geoscience (MSc) at Imperial in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. Following my MSc, I was elected to the role of Deputy President (Education) at Imperial College Union for a sabbatical year which nurtured my interest in the student experience and exposed me to how the College is governed. The connections and knowledge I acquired in that sabbatical year, whilst reflecting on my own time as an Imperial student, afforded me the exciting opportunity to undertake the first full-time PhD in the Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship (CHERS). I am now a Research Associate in CHERS building upon this context and experience.


Salvador Acha, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Chemical Engineering

Salvador Acha

“I model and analyse how new technologies perform in buildings or in urban areas and then provide recommendations on how to maximise their impact or improve their performance, which is a very exciting line of work”.

I did my undergraduate engineering degree at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico and then an electrical engineering PhD at Imperial. I was very lucky in being able to secure scholarships to cover the costs, as a result of being dedicated in my studies and thanks to the example my family set at a young age.

I am an energy and sustainability researcher in the built environment, advising Sainsbury’s supermarkets on their Net Zero Strategy. This means that I model and analyse how new technologies perform in buildings or in urban areas and then provide recommendations on how to maximise their impact or improve their performance. This is a very exciting line of work as I advise a commercial organisation on how to become more sustainable and efficient in the way they use energy and other valuable resources. All advice needs to be practical, cost-effective, and replicable to ensure high impact, and converting technical expertise into sound practical advice is an art in itself!


Chetna Vaghela, Anglian Water Research Coordinator, Centre for Environmental Policy

Chetna Vaghela

“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.   


Lara Shemtob, Honorary Clinical Research Fellow, School of Public Health

Lara Shemtob

“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.   


Dr Federica Bernardini, Research Associate, Department of Life Sciences

Dr Federica Bernardini

“I fell in love with London and started looking for a PhD position in the field of malaria” 

When I was young, I thought I wanted to be a medical doctor. It was after attending a lecture in biochemistry that I decided to re-direct my interest toward the microscopic dynamics that take place within cells, as I found this fascinating.    

I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Università degli Studi di Palermo in biology, and cellular and molecular biology respectively. At the end of these studies, I travelled from Sicily to London to learn English. I fell in love with the city and started looking for a PhD position in the field of malaria to combine my passions of molecular engineering and Africa. 


Roger Teoh, Research Associate, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

“My research is about the climate impacts of contrail cirrus clouds – line-shaped clouds that form behind an aircraft” 

I am a research associate at the Transport and Environment Laboratory in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Global aviation is fundamentally entwined with the fabric of modern society, bringing significant social and economic benefits, but it also generates negative impacts in the form of climate change and local air pollution.  

I develop computer codes to improve existing models of aircraft flight. I use them to simulate aircraft fuel consumption, exhaust emissions, and the formation and lifecycle of contrail cirrus – line-shaped clouds that form behind an aircraft. My research objective is to improve our understanding of the climate impacts of contrail cirrus clouds, which are responsible for two-thirds of the climate effects from aviation.