Month: February 2024

Supporting the LGBTQ+ community and how to be a better ally

February is LGBTQ+ History Month! This year’s theme is ‘Medicine under the scope’. We spoke with our Student Wellbeing Advisor, Olly Swanton about the importance of support in the LGBTQ+ community and how to be an ally.

During LGBTQ+ History Month, we celebrate important figures from the past and remember their impact on our community and in their respective fields. It’s a time to recognise the roots of the LGBTQ+ community, including the origin of the LGBT acronym. Did you know lesbians were at the forefront of helping gay men with medical care during the 1980s AIDS epidemic, and as a result, the order of the ‘L’ became the first letter of the acronym most used today?

This month also allows us to consider how medicine and mental health support have developed over the years. According to a report by the Institute of Physics, Astronomical Society and Royal Society of Chemistry, 28% of LGBTQ+ scientists in the UK have considered leaving their jobs because of discrimination at work. The Mental Health Foundation highlight how members of the LGBTQ+ community are at a greater risk of a hate crime, and MIND shares that LGBTQ+ people are 2 to 3 times more likely to experience a mental health struggle. These are important issues that can affect the lives of LGBTQ+ people and show the importance of seeking support and supporting those around you.

What you should do if you need support?

Something that many of us have experienced is struggling to talk about how we feel, as there can be a huge pressure to present as being in control. Over the years, I have experienced how talking about our struggles can help us truly understand our thoughts and feelings and give us a wider perspective on possible solutions to our issues. This understanding came from volunteering as a Samaritan in London for over a year, which led me to my journey to becoming a Psychodynamic Counsellor. I remember what it was like (many years ago) to worry about my own sexuality and how it might impact my life. For anyone who might be reading this and is dealing with any kind of struggle, please know you are not alone and that you can reach out to a Student Wellbeing Advisor. You can also find dedicated LGBTQ+ Mental Health Support online if you would prefer.

At Imperial, we have a strong LGBTQ+ community (Imperial600 for staff and Imperial IQ for students) with radio shows, networking events and even picnic lunches – why not get involved?

How can you be a better ally?

Be visible in your support, avoid assumptions, speak up and listen. What helped me was being fortunate enough to have people around me who let me talk about how I was feeling, without any judgement and with full confidentiality, until I felt ready to be free and open with who I was. Everyone deserves that support and containment. It can take time to feel comfortable to talk about anything that makes us feel vulnerable so know you will never be pressured to talk unless you want to.

I find wearing our rainbow lanyards and lifting LGBTQ+ voices makes a big difference in showing that you are an ally and that the environment is inclusive and welcoming.

You can find out more about being a better ally on our website:

Davos 2024: A glimpse through the eyes of an undergraduate student

Name: Victor Klippgen

Position: Undergraduate student in the Department of Materials

Victor recently attended the World Economic Forum at Davos 2024. In this blog post, he reflects on his experience and shares more insights he gained during the event.

What motivated you to attend Davos?

My involvement with Davos stemmed from my past work with Det Moderne India (DMI), a non-profit based in Norway. DMI invited me to participate in Davos, where I was tasked with documenting the discussions of their roundtable event on sustainability through video and photography.

How was your experience?

My experience at Davos surpassed all my expectations. I was in a melting pot of esteemed individuals, from CEOs to academics. The streets were buzzing with excitement as companies showcased their technological advancements and visions for the future. Everywhere I turned, there was something happening. In one moment, I was having my face scanned for an AI exhibition; the next, I was listening to Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, share his insights on the future macroeconomic outlook during a live CNBC interview.

Were there any particular sessions or speakers that made a lasting impression on you?

Several sessions and speakers left a lasting impression on me. One highlight was having the opportunity to engage with two battery company CEOs over drinks, discussing the future of renewable energy and sustainable technology. Additionally, speaking with a graphene expert about AI methods for materials discovery was incredibly insightful, particularly as I plan to pursue further studies in computational materials science.

Were there any trends you found particularly relevant to your current studies or future career goals?

AI technology was a major trend at Davos this year, capturing my interest for its potential to accelerate materials discovery and enhance the accuracy of electronic structure calculations. Before AI, computational methods for predicting the properties of materials encountered significant accuracy issues for certain systems and were limited to a few hundred atoms. However, the advent of machine learning is revolutionising the landscape. The introduction of AI to materials discovery and electronic structure calculations is particularly exciting, and I hope to contribute to this rapidly advancing field in the future.

What was your biggest takeaway?

My exposure to high-level discussions on generative AI, sustainability, and the macroeconomic picture provided valuable insights. However, what intrigued me the most was experiencing tangible progress towards a sustainable future. One notable example was NEOM’s presentation of “THE LINE” project—a linear smart city under construction in Saudi Arabia, spanning 170 kilometres and designed to accommodate 9 million people, all powered entirely by renewable energy.

My most significant takeaway from Davos is a sense of optimism for the future. Amidst a turbulent political climate and uncertain macroeconomic outlook, witnessing tangible progress and innovative solutions first-hand instilled a sense of hope. Davos served as a powerful reminder of our capacity for progress and the efficacy of collective action in tackling global challenges.