The event, hosted by President Alice Gast, celebrates staff and students who have made vital contributions to Imperial.
Over 400 staff and students were recognised at this year’s Garden Party, nominated by their peers and colleagues or recognised for their receipt of this year’s President’s Awards.
Guests were treated to summer cocktails and canapés as well as a performance from Imperial’s student Jazz society.
Congratulating the attendees on their achievements President Professor Alice Gast said: “I congratulate all of you for the many contributions to Imperial you have made. To the staff and students who have each, in their own way, made Imperial better.
"Your contributions are important and essential to our community but too often unheralded.
"Today is an opportunity to enjoy one another’s company, appreciate how fortunate we are to have each other as colleagues and to have some fun.”
We spoke to some of the attendees about their success.
The OPAL team is led by Dr David Slawson from the Centre for Environmental Policy and includes Roger Fradera, Dr Poppy Lakeman Fraser, Laurence Evans, Vanessa Barber, Helene Coleman and Alexandra Franklin-Cheung. They were recognised at the Garden Party for winning the Collaboration Award in the President’s Award for Societal Engagement.
Q – Tell us a bit about the project, David?
A – OPAL is a ‘citizen science’ project aimed at getting people out and about exploring nature, whilst at the same time contributing to scientific research. Through our UK-wide network, we get people to go out and take part in surveys on topics such as air quality or biodiversity, and then researchers use the data the citizens collect. Our bugs count survey is really popular with school children as you can imagine.
Q – Sounds like a win-win.
A – Absolutely, we’ve had almost 1 million people take part in OPAL surveys since 2008, many of whom had never engaged with nature in this way before. In total they have completed more than 60,000 surveys, forming the basis for over 20 academic papers written at Imperial. In the last three years we have also trained over 4,000 teachers to deliver outdoor learning.
Q – How did it feel to be recognised with a President’s Award?
A – We’re delighted with the award, it’s great to be recognised by our peers. The team work so hard, so this award is a fantastic recognition of their efforts.
We’ve had so much engagement with the project outside the Imperial but I don’t think we’re that well known within the College. We’re perhaps one of the College’s best kept secrets so to receive this award is really great.
Q – So what’s next for OPAL?
A – Our funding ends in January so we’re changing the way we work to make sure the project can continue. We’re capturing what we’ve learnt into a model that can be used by other scientists, developing CPD packages for teachers, and designing new surveys to answer pressing environmental research questions.
We’d love to hear from any researchers at Imperial who have a need for more spatial or temporal data that our citizen scientists could answer. Getting involved with OPAL is also a great opportunity for scientists to enhance the impact of their research and engage with communities.
Amna Siddiq is the VIP Visits and Events Manager in the Advancement Division and is responsible for organising high profile events at the College. She was recognised at the Garden Party for her role in successfully delivering College events.
Q – Tell us a bit about your role.
A – I organise Imperial’s high profile and Presidential events- this includes royal visits, visits from government ministers, the President’s Address and other VIP meetings and dinners. I’m responsible for taking the events from conception to delivery. This involved planning logistics, inviting guests and working with people from across the College, including Security, Campus Services, the International Relations Office, Communications and Public Affairs, and others to make sure every aspect of the event is in place and goes ahead without a hitch.
Q – Wow, that sounds like a lot of work.
A- There’s never a dull day. I enjoy the fact I get to work with different people from across the College and outside it. It’s a varied role and very fast-paced no two events are the same and there’s always a lot of complex requirements to make sure everything runs to plan, so you really have to be flexible and be able to think on your feet.
Q - I bet you’ve met some really interesting people?
A – Yes quite a few. My favourite has to be HRH Prince Harry. He visited the College and launched the Opening of the Centre for Blast Injury Studies as he’s a patron of the Royal British Legion who sponsor the centre. I was amazed at how low key and down to earth he was.
Another interesting one was the visit from the President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China. That was very much the opposite as there were so many challenges and protocols that had to be followed. It was a very memorable visit though.
Q – You’ve organised a lot of events recognising people’s success at Imperial. How does it feel to be recognised for your own work?
A – It feels really nice. It’s great to be recognised for your efforts. It makes you feel like a valued member of the Imperial family. The Garden Party itself was really nice and the weather was fantastic.
So much happens behind the scenes by Professional Services staff to make things happen at the College, so events like this are a great way of recognising those contributions.
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