Imperial College London

2018: The year in review at Imperial


Queen's Tower for LGBT Month

The Queen's tower lit up for LGBT month in February

We take a look at some highlights from around the College and Campuses - ranging from women entrepreneurs and top profs to White City expansion.

As the UK’s most international and most innovative university, there’s never a quiet year at Imperial and 2018 was no exception – with a constant flurry of exciting internal and external developments. We’ve compiled some highlights from 2018, starting with our most important asset: our People and Community, as well the Places and Projects they work on – before moving on to new and existing Partners and Friends around the world.

People and Community

Imperial’s great success is built upon the diversity of its staff and student body, so it was an important and exciting milestone for the College to publish its new strategy for a re-invigorated approach to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in October.

The EDI Strategy was championed by Imperial’s President, Professor Alice Gast, and Provost, Professor Ian Walmsley, who said: “Tackling the global challenges of the future, such as climate change, emerging infectious diseases and the opportunities of the data revolution, will require a truly diverse, creative approach.”

Professor Walmsley, a world-renowned expert in ultrafast and quantum optics, took up his new role as Provost at Imperial in September. He joined from Oxford University, where as Pro-Vice-Chancellor he led the research and innovation strategy. Professor Walmsley fielded questions from across the Imperial community in October’s edition of Reporter.  

Continuing the theme of diversity, the College celebrated the collective achievements of entrepreneurial women students, marking five year of WE Innovate (formerly known as the Althea-Imperial Programme).

Over its course, the programme has inspired a new generation of women entrepreneurs at Imperial and help them accelerate their startups. Some of these women spoke at a special event, including Olivia Ahn, founder of Polipop who won the competition in 2017. Her startup is developing zero-waste, flushable menstrual pads to tackle the environmental impact of disposable sanitary products.

There are so many awards and honours at Imperial each month it can be hard to keep up with them all. But it was a seriously stellar year for two of Imperial’s top profs who attracted a litany of accolades. Professor Michele Dougherty CBE received an Institute of Physics Gold Medal for her research and leadership in space science, particularly during the Cassini missions to Saturn and its moons. She also became Head of the Department of Physics and even had an official portrait painted, alongside her pioneering female colleagues.

Professor Joanna Haigh (left) and Professor Michele Dougherty (right) in front of their new portrait
Professor Joanna Haigh (left) and Professor Michele Dougherty (right) in front of their new portrait

Meanwhile, following his bestselling book in 2017, Professor Jonathan Haskel received a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for public services to economics in June.

That came only a month after he was appointed to the Bank of England’s highly influential Monetary Policy Committee, which sets the UK’s interest rates and other aspects of monetary policy, such as quantitative easing and forward guidance.

As well as celebrations, it was also a time of mourning for the whole College community in 2018, as Imperial’s first and much-loved Provost, Professor James Stirling CBE, passed away in November. You can read more about James’ remarkable academic career in this article.

Professor Stirlings receives an honorary doctorate of science during Commemoration Day on Wednesday 17 October
Professor Stirlings receives an honorary doctorate of science during Commemoration Day on Wednesday 17 October

Places and Projects

The Molecular Science Research Hub at Imperial White City Campus
The Molecular Science Research Hub at Imperial White City Campus

The White City area of West London has seen a remarkable transformation over the past few years, and at its heart is the vision for Imperial’s own Campus, which has really come to life in 2018. One major milestone for the White City Campus this year was the completion of the Molecular Science Research Hub (MSRH) and the phased move of the College’s Department of Chemistry into the new building in the summer.

Meanwhile the College launched a £100 fundraising campaign to create a new School of Public Health at White City, which will pioneer new approaches to society’s most pressing healthcare challenges.

The Invention RoomsIn addition to pursuing a bold research and innovation agenda, the College has continued to collaborate and engage with the local community in White City. The Invention Rooms, a pioneering community innovation space which launched last autumn, was recognised by London First in April for improving the lives of Londoners. The Invention Rooms opened its new Interactive Zone in December to encourage even more people of all ages to get involved in creativity and making.

Further afield, the first cohort of students from LKCMedicine – Imperial and Nanyang Technology University (NTU) joint medical school in Singapore –graduated this summer

LKCMedicine graduate Ching Han checks on a patient

Partners and friends

It has been a time of continued political turbulence in the UK in 2018, with ongoing negotiations on Brexit, but Imperial has sought to reaffirm its status as an outward-looking international institution. Existing ties with Europe have been strengthened while new partnerships have been forged further afield.

In January, Imperial announced a major new maths partnership with France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) to create a new joint laboratory. Meanwhile, in October the College signed a partnership with the Technical University of Munich in Germany to forge new research links in computer science and informatics, medicine and medical sciences, amongst other areas.

Importantly for Imperial’s global links, Professor Maggie Dallman became Imperial’s Vice President (International) in February and visited Ghana and Kenya in the Summer to strengthen collaborations and meet alumni. Indeed, Imperial and one of its most important partners in the US, MIT, subsequently launched a search for African research collaborators.

Professor Dallman visited the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Ghana
Professor Dallman visited the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Ghana

Looking ahead to 2019

Over the course of the past seven years, Imperial Festival has become a focal point of the College calendar – with 2018’s ‘Year of Engineering’ Festival attracting upwards of 20,000 visitors to the South Kensington Campus. In the summer of 2019 the Festival is set to spill out onto Exhibition Road and link up with its neighbours across Albertopolis, including some of the world’s most iconic museum’s and institutions, to create a unique festival fusing art, science, technology and curiosity. Stay tuned for more information on the Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019.

Across the capital at White City, the Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Hub is due to open in 2019, combining the latest medical research and engineering to improve the treatment and diagnosis of diverse medical conditions, from finding ways to cure dementia to creating bionic limbs.

The Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Hub (building in the centre)
The Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Hub (building in the centre)


Andrew Czyzewski

Andrew Czyzewski
Communications and Public Affairs

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