“I love sharing science and watching people’s eyes widen in wonder as they come to appreciate the amazing ways in which nature works all around us.”
Whenever I get asked what I study, I brace myself for the two most common types of reaction: the “Geology? Isn’t that just colouring in?” and the “I thought Imperial only offers STEM degrees!” Despite often being discounted and overlooked, geology is an important science that underpins every aspect of our lives. From the soils that grow our food and the mines that produce metal for our phones and cars, to the mitigation of natural hazards and the development of renewable energy to aid the green transition, I have enjoyed learning different applications of geology that shape and improve our society.
At Imperial, I am never short of opportunities to put the knowledge and skills I gained into practice, most notably on field trips. Whether it is visiting quarries in Lake District, fossil hunting in Wales, examining folds in Scotland, or investigating volcanism in Santorini, I always have a great time observing and interpreting different environments, piecing together the clues to solve an intricate puzzle presented by Mother Nature.
“As a student with a hidden disability, I have felt part of a community I never knew existed at Imperial.”
I am one of the nine Liberation and Community Officers at Imperial College Union who support marginalised minority groups at Imperial. As the Disabilities Officer, I represent the disabled student community at Imperial and lead the Disabilities Network. Within this network, I try to foster a safe space for students who identify with a disability where they can feel comfortable engaging with other members of the network.
As the chair of the network, I am responsible for pushing for positive experiences for disabled students at Imperial. I work closely with the Disability Advisory Service, including Departmental Disability Officers, to fight for disabled student rights by raising issues from students to the Union and to the College. Additionally, I collaborate with the ABLE network, which supports staff with disabilities, to collect feedback from disabled staff members at Imperial.
“A degree is something I have always wanted, and I am so proud of myself for finally going for it in my thirties.”
When I left high school, aged 18, it seemed that everyone around me had a clear vision of their careers and passions. I found myself with a lot of different interests but simply no real calling. I worked at a call centre, as a cleaner, a receptionist and a management assistant – all in the space of a few years. My wanderings were not confined to employment, and I decided to move from my home country of Belgium to London. Imperial was the first place I worked, and I was here for a few years in the role of executive assistant.
During the pandemic, I struggled with my mental health and felt like I was failing in life. When scrolling through LinkedIn and other social media, it seemed like everyone was doing incredible things or changing the world. I wished I had a special talent or a skill that could make a difference. Friends or colleagues would tell me I am organised and caring but I thought these talents to be boring and nothing special. When colleagues would ask me about my career journey, I always felt defensive and started with: “I only have a high school degree but here I am, working in London!”
“With no hesitation I decided to apply to the Provost’s Visiting Professor programme as I totally share the aims of the initiative”
I joined Imperial in November 2022, as a Provost’s Visiting Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics, so I have been working at Imperial for about five months now and I am very happy to be here. I come from the University of Bologna in Italy, where I am Professor of Statistics. I have a Ph.D. in statistics awarded by the University of Bologna, though I mainly studied in Denmark at the University of Aarhus where I developed a thesis on statistical inference for finite dimensional quantum systems. I then got a fellowship in time series so my main research interests, since then, are in mathematical statistics, time series and recently nonlinear dynamic models.
“The best volunteering experience I’ve done is the Great Exhibition Road Festival – I’ve signed up again this year”
I am a third year Chemistry student here at Imperial. Chemistry was always my biggest passion, and it was an easy choice when deciding what degree program to do, and what better place to do it than Imperial?
Chemistry is vast, scary, and beautiful all at the same time. It incorporates so many aspects of modern-day life – from medicine to agriculture – and it isn’t just limited to “chemicals”. It can be used in things like fireworks, cosmetics and cooking, and it’s that diversity that is so appealing to me.
Currently, I am on the committee of the Chemistry Society and as the first-year representative I work to help ease the first years into university life. I am also on the SwiftSoc committee (I couldn’t write a piece on myself and not mention Taylor Swift…), where a bunch of us swifties come together and just talk about the biggest artist of our generation. I am also part of Outreach, where I try to inspire younger students to get into STEM careers.
“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.
“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.
“The interface between engineering, technology and policy is something that particularly interests me”
I am a second-year mechanical engineering undergraduate at Imperial. After graduating, I hope to go into renewable or nuclear energy as I would like to have a tangible impact on global challenges. One of the key points for me choosing engineering was the rescue of the trapped Chilean miners in 2010. Seeing the efforts to save their lives and overcome challenges to extract them from an extremely complex location inspired me and illustrated the vast reach and importance of engineering.
Engineering has been responsible for many of the improvements to quality of life and technological advancements that humanity has seen. At the same time, it has brought about changes that have had negative impacts on the world and the people around us. An area I am particularly passionate about is tackling the climate crisis. This has a devastating impact on some of the most vulnerable people in the world, the same people who have contributed the least to the issue. It’s this injustice that drives me to want to apply engineering to tackling problems and improving people’s lives. Africa as an entire continent is only responsible for 3% of global emissions, but faces some of the most severe climate impacts from floods to droughts and more.
“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.
“My apprenticeship journey at Imperial has been an enriching and transformative experience”
I can vividly recall writing my first lines of code – the classic “Hello World”. Despite its simplicity, I was immediately captivated by the art of programming. Coding helps to fill my creative urges as it allows me to bring my ideas to life in a tangible way. With each project, I am presented with a new challenge that requires me to think critically and find innovative solutions to complex problems. As a software engineering apprentice, I have been exposed to a diverse range of technical and practical skills that have equipped me with the necessary knowledge to develop complex software systems.