An unusual year on campus
I’ve picked out some shoots to illustrate the story of 2020 from my perspective as Imperial’s in-house Photographer.
A snapshot of 2020: Locum consultant Louis Koizia demonstrates an Imperial-led project, which has introduced mixed-reality headsets to COVID-19 wards to keep doctors safe, and is also enabling mixed reality undergraduate teaching.
For me, the year kicked off chasing the Imperial Outdoor Club across Snowdonia, still with a belly full of mince pies! Here David (Engineering PhD, above) is abseiling down the extremely photogenic Llanberis Slate Quarry.
The above photo was taken right at the start of our Snowdonia trip. It was probably at this moment, with the rain blowing upwards, that we realised the weather was going to be challenging…
Once back in the warm arms of the South Kensington Campus, shoots continued as normal as we were blissfully unaware of what was to come later in 2020; the above image is a ‘Horizons – Lessons from History’ class in the brand new Digital Learning Hub.
Over on our White City Campus, an outreach collaboration was underway with The Royal College of Art. The ‘Creative Bricks’ project invites school children to take a closer look at local architecture.
Above: Research Postgraduate Georgia Bateman (Civil Engineering) leads a workshop as part of the Creative Bricks collaboration.
February also saw us kick off the shoots for this year’s ‘Women at Imperial’ campaign. Pictured above is Dr Alyssa Gilmore, working at the Department of Immunology and Inflammation. Alyssa is also on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and a member of Imperial 600, the College’s LGBTQ+ network.
Dr Despoina Mavridou, an MRC Career Development Fellow in the Department of Life Sciences (…and future superstar!).
Elsewhere on campus in February, we updated our bank of photography for the Departments of Computing, Physics and Maths. Here PhD student Yuliya is working on the fascinating Multispectral Light Stage, which enables super high res photorealistic facial mapping for visual effects in cinema and videogames. (I now have a scan of my head in 3D, too!)
Above: 3rd Year software engineers working with programming drones to perform a variety of tasks.
Above: An insightful look inside the AESE lab (adaptive emergent systems engineering).
Over on our White City Campus, the Sir Michael Uren Hub was completed. The Sir Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Research Hub (BmE Hub) is an exciting new development at the heart of Imperial’s White City Campus. The 13-storey building, pictured above, will house state-of-the-art laboratory and office facilities for the next generation of biomedical engineering research across technology and application themes.
Above: Technician Robyn Andrews adjusts the settings on a 3D printer, which is in the process of printing surgical guides for partial knee operations. The 3D printer is based in the MSk (Musculoskeletal) Lab in the new Sir Michael Uren Hub at the White City Campus.
Above: BSc Surgical Design, Technology and Innovation student Alexander Coombs uses virtual reality to enhance surgical education in orthopaedics (anterior approach total hip replacement).
Next door is the I-Hub which houses Imperial incubator companies; above, Polymateria are pictured tackling the global problem of plastic pollution.
Not yet in lockdown, but now aware of the growing threat of COVID-19, Robin Shattock (above) and his team in the infectious diseases labs were already well into their work on a vaccine.
The images from this shoot flew out of the door to major media outlets all over the world. (Click for original image)
Above: Research technician Leon, part of the team at work on the vaccine.
Above: A little petri dish of hope!
Friday 13 March was our last day based on campus as we switched to working from home, and then the national lockdown began. It was at this point that we all suddenly became very used to video conferencing, and I put together this guide on how to look better on video calls!
Meanwhile, campus was exceptionally quiet.
Not for everyone though! Mohammed Zaffar from Security Services (pictured above) was keeping the gate house at our South Kensington Campus running for the important comings and goings that were still happening during lockdown.
Sean McGuinness (above) and his team played a critical role maintaining the campus. The lockdown had brought new challenges, including the need to keep flushing all the campus taps to avoid water stagnation and the risk of Legionella. Sean really missed motorsports, in particular the MotoGP and Formula 1, during lockdown.
Now into April and campus was buzzing again with activity to the fight the virus. Over at the White City Campus, Ahreum Jung, Invention Rooms Associate, was working on an Imperial College Advanced Hackspace project to produce more than 50,000 disposable visors for the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Check out the pic above!
Above: Professor Ara Darzi recording an instructional video at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at St Mary’s as part of the antibody home testing programme. The programme, led by a world class team of Imperial scientists, clinicians and researchers, alongside colleagues at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, helped to improve our understanding of how many people were currently infected with the virus.
Severine Toson is the Department Safety Officer for the Department of Chemical Engineering. Severine’s team were producing hand sanitiser for the NHS during the pandemic – thanks to a donation of 10,000 litres of ethanol from the West London gin distillery Sipsmith.
Into May, and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Research Nurse Marites administers the Oxford-led trial vaccine to one of the first trial volunteers. This vaccine has now been approved and is currently being rolled out across the UK.
Clinical Research Technicians Ely and Ahmed (above) were responsible for preparing samples for the Oxford-led vaccine trial at the Trust’s West London Facility.
Dr David Owen, Consultant Physician, is the Head of Clinical Studies at the facility where the vaccine trials were taking place. Above, David is recording a video with the Faculty of Medicine’s Communications Manager, to help inform people who might want to volunteer for future vaccine trials. Shot during the first lockdown in May, David was looking forward to the day that his kids could see their grandparents again.
Dr Katarina Pollock (above) has overall responsibility for the running of the Oxford-led COVID-19 vaccine study at Imperial. Kat’s children had already planned out the perfect post-lockdown party day, which “starts at 5am on the day lockdown ends.”
The above image is now also on one of the massive hoardings that surround the ongoing work at the White City Campus (click to see the hoardings), and I hope her children enjoyed their party!
Elsewhere in the continuing fight against COVID-19, Dr Qilei Song and a team of Imperial chemical engineers sourced and developed respirator equipment to protect surgeons while they operated on coronavirus patients. In the image above, Qilei is delivering a shipment to Professor Neil Tolley at Hammersmith Hospital. Qilei also very kindly supplied me with some face coverings which helped me on a number of subsequent shoots!
Above: Dr Ruud Nijman, NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer at Imperial in Platform Science and Bioinformatics, and Registrar in Paediatric Emergency Medicine at the London Deanery. Ruud stepped up to work at St Mary’s Hospital to treat COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
Above: Martin Lupton – World’s nicest man and Vice-Dean (Education) of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial, and Consultant Obstetrician at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation NHS Trust. Martin switched to conducting virtual clinics with patients and has also just been recognised by Kindness Rules as one of the 50 leading lights across the UK showing kindness in leadership.
Although I shot the above portraits of Professor Neil Ferguson before 2020, his rise to prominanace in the public eye in 2020 meant these portraits were all over the major media outlets for a good chunk of 2020.
After a somewhat frantic May, we flip the page to June. Above, Locum consultant Louis Koizia demonstrates an Imperial-led project, which has introduced mixed-reality headsets on COVID-19 wards to keep doctors safe, and also enabled mixed reality undergraduate teaching.
With the world’s media watching, the first trial participants received the Imperial-led vaccine (pictured above).
Above: Robin Shattock holding a vaccine vial at a much more advanced state than it was in our March visit to the Infectious Diseases Lab.
Into July and I caught up with Aeronautics researchers at the South Kensington Campus’s 10×5 wind tunnel, as they worked to assess COVID-19 transmission risk during exercise.
The Wind Tunnels are an impressive facility in the Department of Aeronautics on the South Kensington Campus.
Also in the I-Hub at White City, Professor Christofer Toumazou (above) and his team in Imperial’s Department of Electrical Engineering and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering were hard at work on a 90-minute COVID-19 test; this was a success and the Government ordered 5.8 million kits.
At the same time we started shooting a series of images to feature on the construction hoardings around the White City site. Chris now features one of the hoardings, as you can see in the shot above.
Also shot for the new hoardings were Jack Pitt and Nielen De Bruyn, pictured above during the fitting out of the Uren Building. A selection of staff and residents feature on the new billboards, which will be visible during the ongoing construction at our White City Campus.
August saw us shooting portraits for the ‘Shifting the Lens‘ campaign, presenting a range of photographic challenges thanks to the new world of social distancing! Shifting the Lens is a new series celebrating staff and students from ethnic minority backgrounds at Imperial. Featured above, Nandini Bhudia is a Recruitment Administrator within Human Resources. I particularly like this image, as during these shots on the Queens Lawn we kept getting attacked by the cutest puppy!
Also part of Shifting the Lens, we shot Research Postgraduate and AstraZeneca Epidemiologist Alicia Gayle at her home, which she had just moved into that week and was still surrounded by boxes! Another challenge, but some lovely images.
Above: Life Sciences undergraduate and another of our Shifting the Lens subjects, Ben Shin is a massive baseball fan, and really likes to party!
Going into late summer, preparations were well underway to transform our campuses for functioning safely in the new normal. Above, Security Guard Antonio Hewitt wears a face covering on his rounds at a quiet South Kensington campus.
Into September and safety inspections were underway ready for the start of the new term. Above, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Richard Craster performs a safety inspection at the MSRH NMR suite in White City.
Above: As activity restarts across our campuses, Alexander Schwerttheim, a third year PhD student, is pictured with the vacuum chamber for simulating space and testing different space propulsion technology. This piece of kit lives in the extremely cool ‘Space Lab’ at South Kensington.
As activity on campus ramped up, the changes were extremely visible all over. Above, at the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant, Senior Teaching Fellow Dr Colin Hale and Dr Wenqian Chen show adjustments they’ve made to continue the safe education of the next generation of scientists in best practice in carbon capture and storage.
The headset visible on Colin’s (left) helmet in the above shot contains a camera and equipment that enables him to teach remotely from inside the plant.
Above: Changes were appearing all over the campus to ensure safety.
Above: An Accounting and Valuation lecture at the Business School, featuring COVID-19 safe mixed mode teaching with students attending both in person and remotely.
Students attending remotely can be seen on the screens at the back of the theatre.
Into October, and after the Imperial team winning University Challenge last year, this year’s team are also on a fabulous run! The team are pictured above in a newly refurbished lecture theatre in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. Trying to create interesting but socially distanced group shots have definitely been a challenge this year!
Above: Honorary Senior Research Fellow Dr Matthew Williams. Matthew leads the Computational Oncology group at Imperial College London, based jointly between the Department of Computing and Division of Surgery and Cancer, pictured here at Charing Cross. This was shot for a feature on AI in healthcare, finally a non-COVID-19 shoot!
Right at the end of October, ‘Marvellous Molecules’ was the first outreach event at Imperial since the lockdown in March. Pictured above, the event was held at the Invention Rooms at White City, and there was something reassuring about shooting an event again, even a socially distanced one!
It was great to see the enthusiasm in the room again!
Back to COVID-19, and the Barclay Lab at St Mary’s are working hard on the REACT 2 study. Above, Dr. Jonathon C Brown and Ms Maya Moshe are both testing serum samples on lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) Kits. Imperial College London is leading a major programme of home testing for COVID-19 to track the progress of the infection across England. Called REACT, the programme was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care, and is being carried out in partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Ipsos MORI.
Above: Cindy Madona working in the Infection and Immunity Felix Lab for robotic processing of COVID-19 samples. Each of these extraordinary machines are capable of processing 96 COVID-19 samples in one hour.
…and finally the last shoot of 2020, the menu for the new food outlet in the Sir Alexander Fleming Building, ‘The Loud Bird’ awaits us when we can all return to campus!
View all of these images including the rest from each shoot on the College Asset Library:
Imperial staff and students can view all the original images featured in the post, along with more on the Imperial College London Asset Library.
Learn more about photography:
College users have free access to Linkedin Learning courses, and here’s a selection of photography courses online at Linkedin Learning (Previously Lynda.com).