The Self Assessment Team (SAT) is responsible for undertaking a full evaluation of race equality across Imperial, developing appropriate actions, and leading the College application for the Race Equality Charter (REC). 

REC SAT membership

Membership list

Current members

Anique Varleigh Co-Chair, Head of Examinations & Assessment Business School
Stephen Curry Co-Chair, Assistant Provost (EDI)
Alex Dawes Race Equality Charter Coordinator EDIC
Yasmin Ahmed Support Services Coordinator
Kellianne Bartley Alumni Engagement Officer
Rob Bell Athena Swan Coordinator, EDIC
Hugh Brady Professor of Immunology, Life Sciences
Deeph Chana Co-Director of Institute for Security Science & Technology
Judith Cherni Research Fellow, Centre for Environmental Policy (FONS) 
Sarah Essilfie-Quaye EDI Fellow, Faculty of Medicine
Moonlie Fong-Whittaker  Learning & Development Programme Co-ordinator
Audrey Fraser Head of Reward, Engagement & Policy
Karen Hinxman Consultant, Postdoc Development Centre
Kani Kamara Head of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Centre
Po-Heng (Henry) Lee  Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering 
Susan Littleson Deputy Director, Organisational Development and Inclusion
Emma McCoy Vice-Provost (Education)
Wayne Mitchell Senior Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Medicine
Onesmus Mwabonje Research Associate, Centre for Environmental Policy
Nathalie Podder Deputy President (Welfare), Imperial College Union 
Nikita Rathod Internal Communications Officer
Nancy Richards Head of Curriculum Data Management
Desmond Samuel Head, Digital Communications Service
Simone Walker Research Technician, National Heart and Lung Institute

Find out more about our SAT members

Rob Bell

I started at the College as an intern working on Athena SWAN in 2010. Since then I have worked on numerous department-level applications and am now on my third College Athena application. I have seen Athena SWAN embed and develop across College, and recently have noticed more and more conversations about other aspects of EDI. I was pleased to be asked to join the REC SAT and hope the College uses REC as a positive opportunity to address structural and systematic inequalities. As a core element of the College EDI Strategy, I think REC is important to furthering work at Imperial and proactively tackling our issues.

Hugh Brady

Hugh is Professor of Immunology in the Department of Life Sciences and has been at Imperial College for 11 years. He also acts as Admissions Tutor for Life Sciences and in that role has sought to broaden and diversify the intake of undergraduate students. He is particularly interested in identifying and dismantling structural barriers to allow more Black British students to enter and prosper in Imperial’s world class educational environment.

Judith Cherni

Judith is Advanced Research Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Policy where she has undertaken research and has worked as part-time lecturer, post-graduate supervisor, and supported the department for 23 years. Her research on renewable energy technology and sustainability has progressed from studies of international development and environment; these have expanded from a strong focus on Latin America to include all disadvantaged regions. The core of this research is to promote low carbon technologies, as well as equity and justice for the developing world. She realizes to foster similar principles in Imperial and other UK universities is also necessary. Imperial has huge potential to become a real equal opportunities institution and cherish racial, national and cultural diversity in campus. The REC-SAT represents a first, but important, step in this direction. Becoming a member of and contributing to the REC-SAT has been an exceptionally stimulating opportunity to both learn about minority ethnic issues and revealing some of SAT’s members own experience of institutional barriers.

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry is a Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College, where he has worked for over 24 years. In 2017 he also became Imperial’s first Assistant Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. This career-shift resulted from a desire to change the culture of science and universities, which was stimulated over a period of years through writing about academic life on his Reciprocal Space blog and at the Guardian, covering topics such as scholarly publishing, research assessment and science policy. An active campaigner, Stephen was a founder member of Science is Vital, and is currently chair of the steering group of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

Alex Dawes

I’m the first point of contact for any questions or comments about the College’s REC work and I monitor the College’s progress towards the actions committed to in the 2021 Bronze REC submission. I have worked in a variety of roles across Imperial, and in other HEIs, from departmental management, planning, event coordination and programme administration. I believe it is essential to work towards removing institutional and cultural barriers that result in discrimination and inequalities, and the REC is a vital part of the College’s goal to achieve that.

Sarah Essilfie-Quaye

Sarah is currently a Project Manager in Research Strategy and the Project Director for the Faculty of Medicine Culture Initiatives Management Group. Sarah is also a Co-Chair for Imperial As One, the College's BAME Staff Network. She has been part of the Imperial community since 2002, starting as a Research Technician in the Asthma Lab, before progressing into a research career whilst also undertaking a part-time PhD.

After her PhD Sarah made the decision to step away from an academic career. “After a quick investigation I discovered there were no Black female academics at Imperial, I knew the path to Professor was a difficult one for anyone, but this made it feel almost impossible for me. I now regret that decision and wish instead I had felt I had enough support and encouragement to strive to be the first. This is the driving factor behind my involvement with REC SAT and Imperial As One. To create an environment at Imperial where everyone feels like they have the chance to make it to the top of their career, whatever their background.”

Moonlie Fong-Whittaker

I currently work as a Learning & Development Coordinator in the Learning and Development Centre. Before joining Imperial,  I worked as a Project Coordinator to tackle the BAME Attainment Gap at the University of Greenwich. It was part of the Office for Students catalyst-funded project in collaboration with Kingston, UCL, Wolverhampton, De Montfort and Hertfordshire. Also, I completed a MSc Education, Power and Social Change (2016-2018) at Birkbeck where my knowledge around ‘Chineseness’, race, ethnicity, diaspora and hybridity was solidified.  With this project, I hope I can apply both academic and professional knowledge to break down the barriers often faced by BAME  students and staff members.

Karen Hinxman

Hello I’m Karen and I have been a Consultant for the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre (PFDC) since 2017.  What I love most about my role is enabling early career researchers to reach their full potential in whichever career they choose.  I do this through co-ordinating the Postdoc Reps Network, a thriving community of over 70 reps who represent postdocs from every department across all campuses. Delivering a range of tailored training sessions. Co-delivering the Springboard Women’s Development Programme, which is open to all women at the College. This programme allows women to identify the clear, practical and realistic steps they want to take, and allows them to develop the skills and self-confidence to take those steps. Being Secretary to the Researcher Development Committee which was convened in 2020 to support and promote Imperial's commitment to creating a positive research culture that values researchers and supports their professional and personal development at all career stages and that ensures a healthy working environment. I am honoured to be on the REC SAT so that I can better understand and support the researchers that I work with, as well as ensuring that their needs are addressed in future PFDC initiatives.

Kani Kamara

Hi I’m Kani. I’ve worked for the College in several roles. I started as an HR Advisor, became an HR Manager for the Faculty of Natural Sciences and then move into the EDI team as an EDI Manager. I am currently Head of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre. I’m really pleased to be part of the team and help to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students.

Susan Littleson

I am an experienced strategic HR and OD professional, with 30 years’ experience helping people and organisations improve and develop. EDI has been at the centre of everything, and I have made organisations fairer places for staff and customers, whether or not they have wanted it! My first degree was in Sociology, at Goldsmiths, where my year long electives were Race and Ethnicity, and Sex and Gender respectively. My dissertation was on the social construction of LGB identity.

I am on the REC to make Imperial a fairer place. I want evidence to be seen and understood by decision makers. I want people to be open to adapting policies and procedures to change outcomes. I want people to look at how they think and behave to others. I want Imperial to be a place where everyone really does have the best chance to achieve their potential, without unnecessary barriers. My partner and in laws are BAME, so I have close experience of barriers and discrimination.

Wayne A Mitchell

I’m Wayne, a Senior Teaching Fellow in Immunity and Inflammation. I’m also currently completing a MEd exploring the question, “What impact does being a ‘minority’ have on Black British student’s sense of identity, belonging and ability to achieve at Imperial College?” I have always had an interest in understanding the factors that promote effective learning, and how these influence a student’s ability to adapt to and transit through different learning environments. So, I’ve joined the REC-SAT to help to understand the impact that being a member of a minoritized groups at Imperial College has on their sense of belonging and identity as a BME students. What are the lived experiences of the students and what is being done and what more needs to be done to maximise all our students potential?

Onesmus Mwabonje

I am originally from Kenya and am currently working as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP). I joined CEP in March 2015 as a Research Assistant to work on a Climate KIC sponsored project code named “BioSuccInnovate”. This was after working for nearly 7 years in industry as a Business Consultant. Being part of the REC SAT does lend an opportunity to me to work as a part of a team to provide a voice that will create a sustainable impact on issues affecting BAME group at Imperial College London that require immediate attention and addressing.

Nathalie Podder

I am the Deputy President (Welfare) at Imperial College Union. A huge part of my role involves overseeing the student Liberation Networks and working with the liberation officers to raise issues pertaining to marginalised groups and communities within the Union and the College. One of my key objectives as an elected officer will be to write an EDI Strategy for the Union and to conduct a comprehensive review of the culture within our clubs, societies and projects, a key element of student life at Imperial. I look forward to working with the other members of this group to create a more inclusive community for all students and staff at Imperial of all backgrounds.

Nancy Richards

I have worked at Imperial since September 2021. My previous work has been with post – 92 institutions with a very different student profile to Imperial College. At my previous institution, I  was a committee member (secretary) of the BAME staff network.  My key focus was supporting junior staff in their development.

I have previously worked in Student Services, so have some knowledge of turning policy into action which I hope will aid my role on this committee.

As a ‘first in family’ graduate, I want to contribute to an environment that truly enhances the life chances of students and staff of colour.

Desmond Samuel

Is it Des or Desmond? Often one of the first questions I get asked meeting someone for the first time. I’ve worked at Imperial for 14 years. My role is within the Faculty of Medicine, as Head of Digital Communications Services. I enjoy working with people, learning new skills and volunteering.

As a Co-Chair of Imperial As One, I help deliver a safe space for minoritised communities at Imperial. As a Values Champion, I play an active role in supporting College Values and Behaviours. I am proud of the self-assessment team for achieving the Race Equality Charter award. I am also an Advance HE, REC panel member. I work with other institutions taking their first steps toward achieving race equity.

I am excited to be a part of the implementation process at Imperial. My goal, ask questions, share knowledge and help deliver positive opportunities for change. Is it Des or Desmond? I use both.

Anique Varleigh

I have worked at Imperial College Business School for 6 years and have been fortunate enough to work on many College wide initiatives and projects. I feel honoured to have been asked to join the REC Self-Assessment Team. The REC members are all committed to making a difference and the most noticeable aspect of this is that people from the BAME have a voice and are being listened to. Personally, it has been humbling and a welcome to change, to sit in a room with people from a diverse ethnic background who all passionate about effecting change.

This feels like a golden opportunity to really make a difference to the BAME community not just for our existing students, faculty and members of staff at Imperial but beyond that to our future students and beyond the confines of Imperial.  Imperial are ready to lay themselves bear with where we are now and show how we are going to make a tangible difference (in the not too distant future) that will have a lasting legacy and set the foundations for future generations to come.

Simone Walker

Simone is a Senior Research Technician in the National Heart and Lung Institute, Faculty of Medicine, where she manages a specialist technical service. Her role involves her interacting with staff and students at all levels along with external research partners and the general public, through outreach work. It is important to her that all of these stakeholders see and believe that Imperial is a positive space for diverse communities. Having joined the college in 2009, she has witnessed and engaged with many activities to enhance the culture so that it is a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. While seeing that strides have been taken in the right direction, she recognises that there is still work to do. Being part to the REC SAT represents a continuation of these endeavours at a level that allows for questioning, implementation and analysis and Simone welcomes the opportunity to be a part of the team that will scrutinise and hold the college to account in relation to these matters.  

Angela Williams

I am an experienced Learning and Development professional with a background working in both the public and private sectors ranging from Local Government, Charities, Education and Hospitality, to name a few.  What has been common across these sectors and throughout my career is the lack of BAME staff at senior management level. I am passionate about learning and career development, and have supported individuals to reach their full potential and achieve their goals. 

I joined Imperial in 2016, as the Learning and Development Officer working in Estates Operations. I reviewed and implemented policies to remove any barriers to learning to ensure it was fair, open and transparent for all staff.  I welcomed the opportunity to be part of the REC Group and work with my colleagues to bring about much needed change at Imperial for staff, students and the community.

Updates from the REC SAT

November 2018

The first meeting of the Self-assessment Team (SAT) was held in November. The group is determined to make a success of the job of exploring the issues facing Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students, understanding the facts and figures of our current situation, and making the best possible application for a Bronze REC award. 

A total of 1,353 people completed the REC Staff Survey which is a very good response – over 10% of staff. The student survey will run from 12 November to 1 December. 

March 2019

The second meeting of the Self-Assessment Team (SAT) was held in January 2019. Four more members accepted to join the SAT, so we now have 24 members in total.

Working groups based on the following categories have been set up; Students; Academic staff; Professional Services staff and Organisation Issues. They will begin to a deeper analysis of the data and will help to identify areas we will investigate further using focus groups and individual interviews.

We had a good response to the student survey with over 500 participating. Reports of the key themes from the surveys can be found on the REC consultation page.

May 2019

We welcomed Wayne Mitchell as a new SAT member who has been at Imperial for 12 years and is interested in the academic achievement of students.

We invited Sarah Guerra, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at King's College London, to talk about their race equality journey. She shared some candid insights and was generous with her advice on the potential pitfalls we might face.

July 2019

Melanie Lee, Organisational Development Consultant,  designed and delivered our REC SAT Away Day in July. This gave us an excellent opportunity to bond as a team and allow us to fully reflect on the function and format of the SAT.

September 2019

The SAT membership is changing:

  • Following recommendations from the SAT Away Day, we appointed Anique Varleigh as the new Co-Chair.
  • Deborah Adegoke has been elected as the new BME Officer for the Imperial College Union and will join the SAT. David Tyoember kindly agreed to continue as a member.
  • Rob Tomkies and Bernie Babel have stepped down as members.
  • Deputy President (Welfare) Shervin Sabeghi joined the SAT.

Wayne Mitchell presented the findings of his report on the Experience of Black British students at Imperial to the SAT. He highlighted the disadvantages faced by applicants and the statistics presented unequivocally revealed stark inequality.

January 2020

The SAT continues to reflect and analyse data for our application. Strategic Planning have developed an undergraduate Differential Outcomes dashboard, which draws on data submitted to HESA and displays attainment by gender, disability and ethnicity. The dashboard shows data by department, faculty and programme level. 

The College has agreed a specific target to double the number of black students recruited over the next five years and is working on a number of projects to address this.

Stephen Curry announced the new EDI Seed Fund had been a great success and awarded over £12,000 to successful projects, with a large number of BAME focused applications.

March 2020

The SAT held its first online meeting held due to COVID-19. The planned submission of our REC application has also been delayed to 2021. 

Kia Wnuk, HR Information and Insight Manager, has developed a HR dashboard which has allowed the SAT to better interrogate the data on staff demographics needed for our REC application. 

The Adam Rutherford talk on his latest book, ‘How to argue with a racist’, was held on Tuesday 11 February and was attended by about 300 people. Rutherford waived his fee and the funds saved were used to purchase 30 books to give to attendees in a raffle, which was well received. 

Sarah Essilfie-Quaye reported a successful event aimed at widening participation for undergraduate BAME students who want to go on and do PhDs. Held on 11 March, it included panel events, presentations from PhD students and Q&A’s. It was organised by Madina Wane and Kirk Taylor (NHLI) with funding from the EDI Seed Fund. 

May 2020

Moonlie Fong-Whittaker, Learning and Development Programme Co-ordinator, has joined the SAT. Moonlie gave the SAT a presentation on a previous project worked on at Greenwich University, focusing on the value-added (VA) methodology which effectively measures the BAME attainment gap.

Wayne Mitchell announced Imperial as One will hold a celebration event online to mark the 15th anniversary of Imperial as One. The network is also creating a series of video interviews titled ‘Belonging, which aims to create an archive of the experiences and aspirations of BAME people at Imperial.

A short guide to ‘Supporting Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) students during the COVID-19 crisis’ was shared with the group prior to publication. The 6-point guide summarises a document originally produced by Dr Gurnam Singh, Associate Professor of Equity of Attainment, Coventry University. It was designed to help academic and support staff understand and address challenges that may particularly affect BAME students.

Sarah Essilfie-Quaye shared the full report for the widening participation ‘Pathways to Research’ one day workshop for BAME undergraduate students at Imperial. This event was funded by the EDI Seed Fund.

July 2020

The SAT heard from Jessie Alter, Digital Content and Social Media Manager, on how the Communications team had handled the messaging, particularly on social media, following the Black Lives Matter protests and what the team are doing to improve the communication of equality, diversity and inclusion work at the College. The SAT also discussed the College's new White Allies page, which has received positive feedback. 

Following discussions at the last meeting to increase communications on the REC, Martha Salhotra in the Comms team has arranged for the Provost to write a lead piece in Staff Briefing about race equality which will include reports from the focus groups held in December. 

The SAT invited Professor Sudhin Thayyil, Department of Brain Sciences, to present on data mainly focussing on racial inequality for academic staff, which includes pay scales and gender balance. 

Judith Cherni presented initial draft actions from the SAT working group focusing on Academic Staff. Recommendations covered application forms, recruitment processes, promotion, counselling services for BAME staff and support offered to those affected by racism

September 2020

The SAT heard from Helen Young, Reward and HR Policy Adviser, on her work on the ethnicity pay gap. 

Additional student focus groups were held in the summer, focused on Black students. 34 students participated, with all faculties represented and both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The report findings are available on the REC consultations page.

Working Group B (Professional services staff) presented their proposed actions on “Improving the recruitment funnel” including increased communication, anonymising shortlisting processes, mandatory unconscious bias training, diversifying interview panels and diverse candidates from agencies.

Working Group D (Organisational Issues) presentation detailed draft actions on decision making committees, equal pay and grievances and disciplinaries.

Feedback on the BAME Early Career Researchers conference was provided by Sarah Essilfie-Quaye, Wayne Mitchell and Desmond Samuel. 300 participants joined, with the event opened by the President and Stephen Curry.

November 2020

Emma McCoy, Vice-Provost (Education) joined the SAT.

Working Group C (Students) gave a presentation on their discussions and proposed actions.

The SAT commented on draft sections 4, 5 and 6 of the REC application. 

Stephen Curry highlighted priorities from REC at the College's EDI Strategy Group and at College Council. 

It was noted that the new College Report and Support system had been launched, and that the Faculty of Medicine is planning to join the BMA's charter against racial harassment.

Some REC SAT members took part in Mechanical Engineering's' town hall meeting with students, following an open letter from students on race inequality. 

January 2021

Sally Parekh, REC Coordinator, has left the College to start a PhD.

The SAT has continued to review and comment on the draft sections of the application. 

We have received some very useful feedback on the draft application from external critical friends. 

In consultation with Provost's Board, the decision was taken to delay submission of our REC application. Instead of the February round, we are now planning to submit in July 2021. 

March 2021

The SAT has continued to work with the EDI Strategy Group, EDI Forum, Provost's Board, and action holders to further develop our REC Action Plan. Work has focused on identifying priority and additional actions and ensuring a focused, clear document. 

The SAT welcomed Andrew Youngson, News and Campaign Contents Manager (Communications and Public Affairs), to discuss the idea of developing a College writing style guide on ethnicity. 

The SAT co-chairs held REC town halls for staff and students, to share a summary of our work so far, discuss the action plan being formulated, and hear views from the College communities. 

REC 2021 town hall presentation (pdf)

REC 2021 town hall key points and questions (pdf)

July 2021

The SAT held discussions around use of language and definitions, in particular the term BAME and the new College statement on Islamophobia.

The College has published its Ethnicity Pay Gap and committed to this annually, alongside the Gender Pay Gap. 

The REC application and action plan have been finalised, and approved by Provost's Board. The document was submitted to Advance HE at the end of July. 

April 2022

  • Two Race Equality Charter Town Hall meetings will take place on 10 May 2022 11:00-12:00 (for a student audience) and 11 May 2:00-3:00 (for a staff audience). These sessions will be hosted by Imperial’s REC Co-chairs, Anique Varleigh, Head of Exams & Assessment, Business School; and Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost for EDI. The Town Hall meetings will present the aims of the Race Equality Charter work the College has committed to, including actions already underway and priorities. You can now register for this event. Questions about REC are actively encouraged both at registration and on the day.
  • Recent external appointments to College Council in 2021 have increased the percentage of external council members from Black, Asiana and Minority Ethnic backgrounds from 20% in 2019 to 38% in 2022. This has gone further than our target of 30% in our Action Plan.
  • The College has launched seven new Presidential Scholarships for Black students with Home fee status. These include one BSc and one MSc in the Faculties of Medicine, Natural Sciences and Engineering, and one MRes in the Business School. These scholarships will be offered annually and funded for the next five years.
  • We encourage staff and students to commit to anti-racism and engage in dialogue on Black racial identity by enrolling on the free online module Union Black: Britain’s Black Cultures and Steps to Anti-Racism. The unit is open to both staff and students and provides learners with an understanding of the origins and experience of Black British history and dispel myths to inform, challenge and contribute to the anti-racism agenda. You can sign up to Union Black here and further instructions on the registration process are available on the Imperial EDI webpages.
  • The Provost’s Visiting Professor Programme was launched in December 2021. This is an annual programme which is designed to recruit academics from Black-heritage and other under-represented backgrounds, will host up to four new academics for between six and 12 months, with salaries and some travel costs covered by the College.
  • In December 2021, a Communicating about ethnicity working group was formed by the central College Communications Team. This group is leading the drafting of guidance which will be available to all students and staff at the College. The group will seek feedback from key stakeholders within the Imperial community before its publication in summer 2022.

May 2022

  • A Race Equality Charter Town Hall meeting took place on 11 May 2:00-3:00. It was hosted by Imperial’s REC Co-chairs, Anique Varleigh, Head of Exams & Assessment, Business School; and Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost for EDI and included a short welcome by Imperial As One Co-Chair, Desmond Samuel. The event presented the aims of the Race Equality Charter work the College has committed to, including actions already underway and priorities and can be viewed on the REC Town Hall meeting webpage.
  • Cohort 2 of the free online module Union Black: Britain’s Black Cultures and Steps to Anti-Racism has now ended. A further Cohort will be offered in September and meanwhile we will be requesting feedback from staff and students who enrolled on the unit.
  • The Department of Bioengineering has launched the James West Scholarships scheme to provide three fully-funded scholarships for Black and Mixed Black Heritage PhD students.

June 2022

  • Professor Sara Rankin has secured funding from Research England to increase representation of UK students of Black or mixed Black Heritage into postgraduate research programmes. A suite of events and initiatives have been planned, including working with Digital Revolutions marketing group to develop a national marketing campaign and provide 40 fully supported scholarships and two-week research intensive summer programmes in Biomedicine or Engineering in July 2022. A Black Graduate Careers Conference will take place on 23 June and The Power of Mentorship event for Black postgraduate students will be launched later in summer 2022.
  • Ten Imperial undergraduate students are working with Insight2Uni to be mentors to 20 black pupils in Year 12 at London state schools. The collaboration, launched last year, is an initiative by the College's Outreach departmentsupporting the College’s aspiration to double the intake of Black home students by 2025, as part of the Access and Participation Plan

July 2022


A second Media Academy for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and postgraduate students programme will run this year. This is a joint project by Communications and Imperial As One and will train attendees in how to prepare for journalist interviews, podcasting, videos and use social media effectively.