Imperial celebrates latest round of academic promotions


woman in blue top standing in front of white wall

Paola Criscuolo, promoted to Professor of Innovation Management

Over 130 academics have been promoted across the Business School and the Faculties of Engineering, Medicine, and Natural Sciences.

Below we speak to four newly promoted academics.  

Paola Criscuolo, Business School, promoted to Professor of Innovation Management

I’ve been at Imperial since I joined as a postdoc after finishing my PhD. Until recently I have been the deputy head of my department, and I’ve also been the departmental PhD coordinator and a member of the performance review committee and the search committee for the new dean.

My research focuses on how companies can be better innovators, through collaborating with other companies, managing their R&D staff, and managing their R&D projects.

One phenomenon I’ve identified is ‘bootlegging’ – where scientists at big companies go underground with their research and innovation, and secretly work on extra projects outside the ones they’ve been assigned. Sometimes this is because they have an idea, but need to gather enough evidence to be able to demonstrate that the company should take it on as an official project. Or it can be because they had an idea which has been abandoned by the organisation, but which they think has potential and they want to gather evidence to support resurrecting it.

Our key finding was that scientists who work on these kind of extra projects are actually much more productive in their official activities as well. The company we worked with on this study has increased its commitment to a no strings attached seed fund to support scientists who want to work on projects like this.

Mazdak Ghajari, Dyson School of Design Engineering, promoted to Senior Lecturer 

I joined the Dyson School of Design Engineering just one year after its opening, at the same time as the first cohort of undergraduate students. This gave me unique opportunities as I was involved in the growth of the department from the beginning, including developing the new undergraduate curriculum.

I developed one undergraduate module from scratch, and redesigned another module – I incorporated a practical session in each one, which are always a highlight. Half way through the first year Mechanics module, our MEng in Design Engineering students compete to out-calculate each other and shoot the most accurate projectiles from a catapult at a target. They also compete for the best medieval-themed costume.

people in costumes looking up at structure
Mazdak (in crown) with students at the catapult session

I am involved in student life more broadly through my role as Senior Tutor for the department. This has given me the chance to work more closely with students, supporting them across the board throughout their time here at Imperial to improve their experience.

I have also built up my research group. I am now leading an interdisciplinary research team focused on understanding injuries due to mechanical loading and preventing them through using design tools. I have built strong cross-faculty collaborations with colleagues in medicine, and I am affiliated with the Centre for Blast Injury Studies and the Imperial Neurotrauma Centre.  

Sadaf Ghaem-Maghami, Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, promoted to Professor of Gynaecological Oncology 

I am a clinician as well as an academic, and so I split my time between research and working as an honorary consultant in Gynaecological Oncology at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

My research focus is on ovarian cancer. I have been working on immunotherapy in cancer for the last 15 years, long before it became so high profile! In ovarian cancer, the immune response within the tumour is s not very strong. Currently, we are working on ways to make this cancer more immune responsive with drugs. We hope to move this into clinical trials with patients fairly soon.

Surgery is one of the common treatment options for ovarian cancer, and currently surgery is not personalised according to the individual’s tumour biology. We are testing the use of biomarkers to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from extensive surgery in treatment of ovarian cancer. I am designing the clinical trial at the moment, so we will be starting to work with patients on this soon.

One of the things that has really benefited my research has been my contact with the bioengineers here at Imperial. I have really enjoyed this aspect of my time here, from stimulating discussions to the opportunity to try new devices in personalising surgery in gynaecological cancers.

Karen Makuch, Centre for Environmental Policy, promoted to Senior Lecturer  

I first joined Imperial as a researcher, and became a lecturer in 2007. Since then, I’ve had two Elsie Widdowson Fellowships to support my return to research after maternity leave – if I hadn’t had these fellowships, I don’t think I would have continued on this path.

two women, one holding a presentation folder
Karen receiving her President's Award for Excellence in Research Supervision from Imperial's President Professor Alice Gast

My research area is environmental law with a climate change focus, and I have six PhD students in my group working on a range of topics, from low carbon green growth to the impact of sanctions on the environment. As well as supervising PhD students, I teach on masters’ courses, including the MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures, and I run the Global Environmental Change & Policy Option on the MSc Environmental Technology.

The Centre for Environmental Policy is effective because we have a strong interdisciplinary staff of lawyers, economists, other social scientists, engineers and natural scientists. Being part of an interdisciplinary department is very important for what I do – you see a bigger picture for addressing grand challenges. You can’t apply environmental law without a really solid understanding of the intersecting scientific and policy issues.

I was recently asked to contribute to a landmark book on human rights and the environment, and my chapter focuses on the environmental rights of children. We have a moral obligation to safeguard the natural world for current and future generations. We should be implementing policies and procedures that allow children to understand their rights, but do not put the responsibility on them to make the changes needed. We need to drive forward the scientific and moral arguments that enable all future children to live good quality, sustainable lives.


Elizabeth Nixon

Elizabeth Nixon
Communications Division

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