Blog posts

Kalpna Mistry,  Staff Network Coordinator & Disability Advisor – Equality Diversity and Inclusion Centre, Human Resources Division 

“I help staff talk more openly about their disability needs and advocate on their behalf, and I also help managers who wish to support their disabled staff.”

Since joining the College as an administrator many moons ago, my role has grown to one that helps steer the staff networks. They have been an incredible source of engagement during lockdown and I am thrilled to see them flourish and deliver topical events pertaining to inclusion. The staff networks increasingly highlight and celebrate the many intersectional elements of diversity through their activities and campaigns. I’ve even taken part myself when I was interviewed on Imperial as One’s Belonging Series. 

I love seeing people develop and thrive and so I love being a co–facilitator on the Calibre and Impact courses where I facilitate training and the one-to-ones with the delegates. Being a College coach also feeds my desire to see others progress, as does being a staff disabilities adviser and Harassment Support Contact. 

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Doris Pappoe, Postgraduate Administrator, Department of Chemistry


“I support and advise students from their initial application to their graduation.”

I have been working at Imperial for 35 years. In my role as Postgraduate Administrator in the Department of Chemistry, I am responsible for PhD recruitment and training activities.

I manage and co-ordinate all aspects of postgraduate administration. This includes processing PhD applications, making offers, and welcoming new students to the department. I work closely with the Director of Postgraduate Studies and the Research Student Manager.

I like the varied and interesting aspects of my job. During a normal week, I may be answering queries from staff and students or processing applications for admissions. I also help administer the President’s PhD Scholarships.

I am there for students from the beginning and advise them throughout their time at Imperial. I become part of their journey and help them be successful, and their success is (partly!) a result of my support. It is really special to see students through their assessments and watch them pass their vivas and attend their graduation in the Royal Albert Hall.

The role offers a high level of interaction with staff and students at all levels. I lead the supervisors and students through our processes and explain our policies, rules and regulations and what is expected. As that point of contact, the staff rely on me to guide them.

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Sara West , Communications Manager, Chemical Engineering 

“I was fortunate to join Imperial’s Calibre leadership programme, which I highly recommend to anyone with a disability.”

As a communicator I enjoy mending the gaps in information transmission, to better connect people with science, or services.   

One of my proudest achievements at Imperial has been winning the President’s Award for Culture and Communication (Team Award) as part of the Chemical Engineering Student Communications Group, who have worked incredibly hard to ensure that students have remained informed and engaged during the pandemic.   

I’m regularly told: “But you don’t look like you have a disability”. My condition is largely hidden, unless you happen to catch me wincing in pain or falling asleep at my desk from fatigue. Unfortunately, this has happened. It took almost two years to receive a diagnosis, during which time my biggest fear was the future and trying to imagine having a successful career while managing my symptoms.  

I was fortunate to join Imperial’s Calibre leadership programme, which I highly recommend to anyone with a disability. The course had a profound impact on my sense of self-worth and my confidence in speaking up for myself and others with disabilities. I hope that one day the lessons from this course are embedded within training for all staff and managers, not just those with a condition. The scale of change that’s needed in society is daunting, but I have to remain optimistic that one day a person with a disability isn’t automatically faced with the question: “Are you sure you can do this job?”   

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James Scott, Research Postgraduate, Mechanical Engineering

“I believe my dyslexic strengths have benefited my research approach.” 

Since being diagnosed with dyslexia from a young age, my perception of dyslexia has changed throughout my education and professional life. At school, I struggled with learning and found reading and speaking in public uncomfortable. I found school life most challenging during exam periods, where I would spend months trying to learn and then struggle to recall the information in a time pressured exam.  

I saw dyslexia as a limitation, a reason why I could not perform to the same ability as my peers. For me and many other dyslexics, the difficulties I experienced in learning and struggles I had in demonstrating my knowledge would affect my self-esteem and made me doubt whether university would be an option. 

In 2012, I was offered a place at the University of Sussex to study Mechanical Engineering. It was in coursework-based modules and my final year project that I felt able to fully demonstrate my ability. After graduating, I worked as a Design Engineer, developing new medical and scientific devices from concept to production. I was now working in a field that I enjoyed, and no longer felt that being dyslexic was a limitation. 

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Kwaku Duah-Asante, Undergraduate, Faculty of Medicine    

“I am particularly passionate about ensuring that access to institutions like Imperial, is attainable to students from a greater array of backgrounds”

I’m a fifth-year medical student here at Imperial. Born and raised in South-East London, I am of Ghanaian heritage.   

I chose medicine as a career due to the ability to impact a patient’s life and the positive contributions doctors make to society.    

My journey so far in medical school has been enriching. I’ve met a lot of amazing people, developed massively as a person and have also been fortunate enough to carry out amazing work such as a research project in Uganda. Our research looked at the effect on malaria of discontinuing the use of the antibiotic, co-trimoxazole in people with HIV in the country’s biggest hospital, Mulago Hospital.  

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Janice Man, Graphic Designer, Business School

“I turn ideas into visual images to communicate a message.”

I wouldn’t describe my recent career as a journey, but a two-minute walk. I was a graphic designer at the Science Museum before joining the Business School. At the museum, I could be designing for a gene editing exhibition one day, then toilet direction signs the next. Now I get to work with academics, who are as passionate about Microsoft PowerPoint as they are about digital transformation. 

I’m the Business School’s graphic designer. For anyone new to this role, I turn ideas into visual images to communicate a message. A client submits a design brief and I interpret it creatively to meet their needs, while keeping within the brand guidelines. My specialism is information design. This is the practice of presenting information in a clear and accessible way for users. 

During the week, I could be working on anything from full digital campaigns to pull up banners for the annual conference, or a 60-page report on clean energy investing. Throughout lockdown, I worked with the Student Experience team on concepts to encourage student engagement. Client feedback is really important – after a few minor edits, I usually finish jobs at around version 11.  

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Dr Albert Busza, Clinical Imaging Facility Manager, Department of Brain Sciences 

“I’ll work with the radiographer or physicist to see if I can optimise a scanning method so that we can help the researchers with their studies.”

After getting a degree and PhD in biochemistry, I worked as a postdoc in magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This led to ten years working in industry before I moved to Imperial to manage the Clinical Imaging Facility. 

We are a small department with an MRI scanner and a PET scanner supporting research performed by the College and external groups, such as the NHS and clinical research organisations. The scanners help researchers answer questions such as how the brain functions following traumatic injury. We help the researchers to develop or refine imaging techniques to address their research questions. 

Although the technologies used by the scanners are very different, they are complementary. The MRI can be used to assist many clinical diagnoses, whereas the PET scanner, which uses radioactive tracers, is mainly used for research studies, including cancer and dementia. There are numerous ways of innovating with MR images and, if the scanner is free, I’ll work with the radiographer or physicist to see if I can optimise a scanning method so that we can help the researchers with their studies. 

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Benita Nortmann, Research Postgraduate, Aeronautics 

“From smart manufacturing to autonomous flight, I believe that control and automation will play a crucial role in the future of the aerospace industry.” 

If science is all about understanding the world around us, engineering is about using this knowledge to build systems that make our environment safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable. Control engineering in particular, focusses on using mathematical models to design input laws, which allow us to modify and shape the behaviour of such systems. 

My PhD project at Imperial’s Department of Aeronautics explores the role of information in control engineering and how to overcome the lack of it. Particular focus is given to networked systems, which consist of multiple interconnected parts such as power networks or satellite constellations. The aim is to develop systematic control design methods which guarantee a desired performance based only on limited available information. This challenge is addressed in my research by combining methods from dynamic game theory, which provides tools to model the interaction of strategic decision-makers, and direct data-driven control, in which unknown system information is replaced directly with measured data. 

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Dr Julia Makinde, Research Associate, Department of Infectious Disease  

“My work seeks to understand the entire system of interconnected responses that can successfully bring infections like HIV under control.”

A colleague recently described the body’s response to infections as an orchestra in which the musicians within the instrumental ensemble understand their positions well enough to do their bit when summoned by the movement of the baton. Within the context of the immune system, I would go as far as to say that the components of the body’s response to infection must appear when summoned, with the appropriate cadence and melody for the performance to be deemed successful. In this context, it is also safe to state that a single instrument does not constitute an orchestra.

My work at Imperial seeks to understand the entire system of interconnected responses that can successfully bring infections like HIV under control. I am a postdoctoral Research Associate at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s Human Immunology Laboratory which is based at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Prior to joining Imperial, I completed my PhD at Cardiff University in Wales.

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Davina Tijani, Research Support Analyst, Big Data and Analytical Unit (BDAU) 

“Being a trusted ally for researchers is vital in my role”

I joined Imperial three years ago, weeks after I finished my Master’s degree in Smart Cities and Urban Analytics at University College London. I work as a research support analyst in the Big Data and Analytical Unit (BDAU) within the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) 

My main role is to support clinical researchers with any enquiries, issues, and questions in relation to their use of the BDAU’s research environment (a secure platform used for clinical research). Other key aspects of my role include data management, managing data documentation and supervising the BDAU Secure Environment operations, including data transfers from our data providers, such as NHS Digital and Public Health England.  

Like many people at Imperial and around the world, the impact of COVID-19 on my job was immediate and profound. However, the BDAU team and I were able to meet the challenges of remote working and continue our work of supporting clinical researchers.   

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