Christina AtchisonChristina Atchison is a Senior Clinical Teaching Fellow in Public Health Education.

Tell us about your role at Imperial

I recently joined Imperial in October 2018 and work part-time in the School of Public Health as the Clinical Academic Lead on the Global Master in Public Health.

I also work for Public Health England as a Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, based in the North West London Health Protection Team.

What were you doing before joining Imperial?

Before joining Imperial, I completed my public health specialist training and have worked as a Consultant in Public Health Medicine for Local Government, the NHS and Public Health England.

I obtained a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2011 and have held several academic positions alongside my service roles since then.

What do you like about working at Imperial?

Working in the School of Public Health is a real privilege. I work with dedicated and brilliant individuals and there is a real sense of team work in what we are trying to achieve, in terms of delivering a fully online degree in the Global Master in Public Health, and expanding the reach of the high quality public health education offered by the School of Public Health.

My partner and I got married in September last year, and we chose to spend our honeymoon in Argentina as it was the first country in Latin America to legalise same-sex marriage.

I felt very comfortable sharing my good news with my colleagues. The positive reaction helped me settle in quickly into my new role, and I think my working relationships with my colleagues have benefited as a result.

In my previous jobs, I have chosen to be a bit more cautious and censored about my private life, in some instances not coming out as a lesbian at all because I was worried about what colleagues might think.

At Imperial, my experience as a lesbian woman has been fantastic. It really helps that the LGBT+ community has such good visibility here through the work of Imperial 600. My manager wears a LGBT+ lanyard as a sign of solidarity, and for me that symbolises a supportive working environment where I can be comfortable being who I am.

I sense there is growing support for the LGBT+ community at Imperial among senior staff, which is vital as it is important for junior staff who identify as LGBT+ to feel they can approach senior colleagues if they have any concerns.

What would you change at Imperial?

I feel that LGBT+ individuals are already quite visible at Imperial. However, I feel that more people could be invited to wear the rainbow lanyards. In my last work place, anyone who supported diversity and inclusivity could wear a rainbow lanyard. The more people at Imperial wearing rainbow lanyards, the more LGBT+ staff will feel valued and supported and so feel able to be open about their sexuality.

Are you inspired by any LGBT+ role models?

I admire women like Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney, suffragettes who fought for equality and whose actions helped to bring about huge changes in society. The LGBT+ history of the suffragette movement is fascinating.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Worry less about what people think.