“Use good judgment” President Alice Gast urges graduates


View of the Royal Albert Hall from the back of the stage with graduates being honoured

Graduation in Royal Albert Hall

More than 3,500 proud graduands from over 60 countries attended today’s ceremonies in the Royal Albert Hall to receive their postgraduate degree.

The College also conferred honorary degrees on former President and Rector Sir Keith O’Nions, DeepMind founder Dr Demis Hassabis, former President of Ireland Professor Mary Robinson, acclaimed scientist Dame Mary Archer and England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

Speaking at the ceremony President Alice Gast urged graduates to use their judgment to navigate the new era of change and opportunity and work in harmony with machines.

Professor Alice Gast said: “You receive your degrees at an exciting, yet challenging time.

“Revolutionary changes in technology, communications and information are transforming the way we work, collaborate and solve problems.

“The promise of artificial intelligence has become the era of artificial intelligence. Its importance and prevalence will be an important part of your professional and personal lives.”

President Alice Gast at the ceremony

She advised: “Good judgment comes from combining knowledge with context and empathy. We need to listen to the world around us. And our first instinct should be to try to understand those things that we do not understand.

“As you leave this Royal Hall with your Imperial degree, you are prepared to navigate and contribute to this new era. Apply what you have learned both inside and outside this great university to hone your judgment.”

Honorary degrees

The College has also conferred honorary degrees on five people.

Sir Keith O'NionsSir Keith O’Nions was Head of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Cambridge, a member of the Council of Science and Technology, and trustee and Chairman of the Natural History Museum.

 In 2008, he set up the Institute for Security Science and Technology at Imperial. In 2010 he took up the post of Rector of the College, and in 2013, assumed the title of President and Rector of Imperial. Sir Keith’s contribution to the field of earth sciences was recognised when he was knighted in 1999. He receives an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of his outstanding contribution to science and to Imperial College London.

Dr Demis HassabisBy the age of 16, Dr Demis Hassabis was already making his mark as a videogames designer at Bullfrog Productions. He later co-founded the videogame company Elixir Studios, and went on to establish DeepMind, which is recognised as the world’s leading artificial intelligence research group. DeepMind has collaborated with Imperial on a number of research projects and studentship programmes, including a task management and clinical alert system within the NHS.

In 2016, he was named by the journal Nature as one of the top 10 scientists of 2016 and was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2017. Dr Hassabis was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours in 2018. He receives an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of Artificial Intelligence.

Professor Mary Robinson has spent most of her life fighting injustice and promoting human rights, climate justice and gender equality. She played a transformative role as the first woman president of Ireland from 1990 until 1997. She was the first head of State to visit Somalia after the crisis there in 1992, and the first to visit Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. In her role as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights between 1997 and 2002, Professor Robinson integrated human rights into the United Nations system.

Through the Mary Robinson Foundation, she has worked to secure global justice for victims of climate change, and advocate sustainable development in the world’s poorest communities. Since 2002 she has been President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, which she founded to put human rights standards at the heart of global governance and policy-making, and to ensure the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are addressed on the global stage. She receives an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Climate Change and Human Rights.

Dame Mary ArcherDame Mary Archer is an expert in solar energy conversion and a former Cambridge lecturer. Dame Mary has written a long list of seminal books and papers considered to be classics in the field. She gained her PhD from Imperial in the late 1960s, and since then has maintained close links with the College – as a visiting professor at the Department of Biochemistry, and as a former visiting professor in the Imperial Centre for Energy Policy and Technology.

Dame Mary has long been dedicated to promoting and defending public services. During 18 years as chair of Addenbrooke’s charitable trust, she led a ground-breaking initiative to help patients with prostate cancer and she currently leads a group to create online help for patients with bladder cancer. It was for her services to the NHS that Dame Mary was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2012. She receives an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of her outstanding contribution in the field of photo-electrochemistry and for her service to the NHS.

Professor Dame Sally DaviesProfessor Dame Sally Davies qualified as a doctor in 1972 and became Professor of Haemoglobinopathies at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, which merged with Imperial in 1988. After joining the Civil Service in 2004, Professor Davies swiftly rose through the ranks to become Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health. She held this post for more than a decade, during which time she founded the National Institute for Health Research.

Professor Davies is now England’s Chief Medical Officer and the independent medical adviser to the government. She receives an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of her outstanding contribution to medical education and research.

Imperial College Medals

The following people will receive Imperial College medals in recognition of their considerable contribution to the life and work of the College.

Dr Alan Swann, previously Director of Occupational Health.

Emeritus Professor Dorothy Griffiths, formerly Dean of the Business School and the Provost’s Envoy for Gender Equality.

Professor Morris Sloman, Professor of Distributed Systems Management.

Professor Peter Bearman, formerly Deputy Rector.

Mr Richard Dickins, Director of Music and the Blyth Centre.

President’s medals

The following people will receive medals in recognition of their considerable contribution to the life and work of the College.

The CDK7 team of Professor Anthony Barrett, Dr Matthew Fuchter, Professor Charles Coombes and Professor Simak Ali receive the President’s Medal for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Dr Ben Britton, an early career researcher in Imperial’s Department of Materials, will receive the President’s Medal for Excellence in Research.

The Carbon Capture Pilot Plant (CCPP) team of Dr Daryl Williams, Professor Nina Thornhill, Dr Colin Hale and Ms Jessica Baldock, receive the President's Award for Excellence in External Collaboration and Partnerships.

Dr Frederic Cegla, senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering for Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Dr Janet De Wilde, Head of Postgraduate Professional Development,  for Excellence in Supporting the Student Experience.

Dr Robert Snelgrove, senior research fellow at the National Heart & Lung Institute, for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

Ms Angela Lonergan, project manager in the Department of Chemical Engineering and overseeing the Barrer Centre, for Research Support Excellence.

Professor Austin Burt, Principal Investigator for the Target Malaria project, for Excellence in Societal Engagement.

Professor Jan Cilliers, Chair in Mineral Processing in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering, for Excellence in Student Support.

The Separations Engineering and Technology (SET) team led by Professors Andrew Livingston and Kang Li for Outstanding Research Team.

The Tribology Group for External Collaboration and Partnerships.

Dr Vahid Shahrezaei, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Mathematics for Excellence in Research Supervision.

Outstanding Student Achievement Awards

The following students will receive awards for their outstanding achievement.

Mr Mobeen Iqbal

Dr Ishita Marwah

Miriam Aczel

Mr Alex Mason

Ms Daphne Lubert-Perquel


Hannah MacLachlan

Hannah MacLachlan
Communications and Public Affairs

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Email: press.office@imperial.ac.uk
Show all stories by this author


See more tags

Leave a comment

Your comment may be published, displaying your name as you provide it, unless you request otherwise. Your contact details will never be published.