Blog posts

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…)

Rachel Williams, Strategic Implementation Manager, Commercial Operations

Rachel Williams

“I am a lifelong learner. I look beyond my everyday world, seeking inspiration from diverse resources, other managers, and colleagues across Imperial. One day, I’d like to set up an organisation which helps people from diverse and less privileged backgrounds to reach their best potential within the hospitality, events, and tourism industry.”

I started my career in auditing before transitioning first to global banking, then into the hotel, venue and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) industries. I’m passionate about business strategy and really enjoyed the diverse experiences that working in hospitality provided – from building multimillion pound venue facilities from scratch, to creating and developing Corporate Social Responsibility programmes.

In my current role as Strategic Implementation Manager, I lead the development of the growth strategy and long-term plans for Commercial Operations. Our team transform the student accommodation and teaching spaces into a residential venue for the Easter and summer vacation periods to generate additional income for Imperial. We also deliver Imperial’s flagship Global Summer School (GSS) which feeds into the student recruitment journey – over 350 GSS students have become undergraduates and postgraduates at Imperial.


Sandra Roscoe, Student Wellbeing Adviser, Department of Bioengineering

“The majority of my time is spent having one-to-one wellbeing meetings with Bioengineering students. I also liaise with colleagues and student representatives in the department and advocate for students if needed.”

I joined the Department of Bioengineering in September 2019 as their Student Wellbeing Adviser. Prior to that, I spent eighteen years working as an NHS doctor. Most of this time was spent in General Practice, with additional work in Palliative Medicine and Medical Education.

The student wellbeing adviser roles at Imperial were very new when I joined in 2019. It was both exciting and slightly daunting to be told I could lead on developing the role for the department. The majority of my time is spent having one-to-one wellbeing meetings with Bioengineering students. These cover a wide range of issues including mental health, personal relationships, family situations, academic, financial and accommodation issues. Depending on the needs of each student, I might continue to meet with them myself or signpost to other services. I also liaise with colleagues and student representatives in the department and advocate for students if needed. The lighter side of the role is arranging wellbeing events such as therapy dog visits and craft sessions.


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


Lindani Ndou, Software Development Apprentice, ICT

Lindani Ndou

I contribute to the development, design and maintenance of applications and websites for central services teams.” 

After finishing my GCSEs, I went to sixth form to study chemistry, biology and music. At the time, I was set on going into the field of medicine with the aim of being a surgeon. However, when lockdown happened and my older sister moved back into our family home, I was exposed to more of the UX/UI (User Experience and User Interface) work she was doing and listened in on the Zoom calls she would have with her team. This reignited my interest in tech and coding, enough to make me switch paths and pursue it fully!  


Sanjeevani Panditharatne, Research Postgraduate, Department of Physics

“Climate change is the greatest challenge facing this generation, and a deeper understanding of it is vital for our planet’s future.”

After graduating with a degree in Chemical Physics from the University of Bristol, I started a PhD in the Space and Atmospheric Physics research group, as I’m determined to work in the field. Climate change is the greatest challenge facing this generation, and a deeper understanding of it is vital for our planet’s future.

My research is focused on the Earth’s Radiation Budget, the difference between incoming radiation from the sun and the loss of energy to space through the reflection of solar radiation or the emission of thermal radiation – the kind of radiation that keeps us warm. Because of human activities, more thermal radiation is being trapped in our atmosphere, leading to a rise in the average global surface temperature. Models suggest that around half of the thermal radiation reaching the top of our atmosphere is in a region called the far-infrared.


Eleonora Moratto, Research Postgraduate, Department of Life Sciences

“Imperial has been an incredibly supportive environment for both my scientific and artistic pursuits. The framework here has allowed me to thrive and grow in both areas.”

I am currently pursuing my PhD in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial. I have been a part of the Imperial community for several years, having completed my Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences here. During my undergraduate studies, I became captivated by the world of fungi and its role in plant evolution. This fascination led me to pursue two MRes degrees, one in Molecular Plant and Microbial Sciences and the other in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences.

My research as a PhD student is focused on plant-pathogen interactions. I am investigating the impact of electric fields on these interactions. With the world’s growing population and the challenges of climate change, food production needs to be increased. However, pathogens and pests pose a major threat to crops. I am exploring alternative ways to combat these threats, without resorting to chemical pesticides. My research is focused on a tropical pathogen called Phytophthora palmivora, which is responsible for damaging crops such as cocoa and oil palm. I am studying how this pathogen responds to electric fields and whether this response can be exploited to keep it away from plant roots.