Imperial College London

Imperial celebrates the 2020 winners of the President’s Awards for Excellence

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Caz Ulley

Caz Ulley, winner of the President's Medal for Excellence in Culture and Community

Imperial has announced the winners of this year’s President’s Awards for Excellence.

Outstanding members of staff in the Imperial community have been recognised for their contributions to the College at a virtual celebration event. 

The President’s Awards for Excellence have four streams: Culture and Community, Education, Research, and Societal Engagement. Those awardees judged to have made particularly exceptional contributions within each category are selected to receive the President’s Medal. 

Imperial’s President Professor Alice Gast said: “It really is always a highlight to hear about all of your achievements. All of you winning these awards make Imperial an exciting place to study, a rewarding place to work, a source of solutions and a valued partner, and a great neighbour and a beacon of hope for the future. 

“You are what makes Imperial the excellent institution it is and we are very proud of you - and you should be very proud of yourselves.” 

Caz Ulley, Head of Student Recruitment and Marketing, Student Recruitment and Outreach 

Caz was awarded the President’s Medal for Excellence in Culture and Community for her work as co-Chair of Imperial 600, the network for LGBTQ+ staff, postgraduate students, and their allies.  

It’s about a community of people standing together and supporting each other in ensuring that we create a place where we can all be our authentic selves.  Caz Ulley

Imperial’s Provost, Professor Ian Walmsley, said: “Caz has been dedicated to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across the College through her work as the co-chair of the Imperial 600 network. She celebrates diversity through reaching out to staff from diverse backgrounds and encouraging a culture of inclusivity through regular newsletters, through events and through social media. Her actions epitomise the excellence, values and impact that Imperial is known for and she is a worthy winner of the President’s Medal for Excellence in Culture and Community.”

Nadia Chan and Ryan Abbt from Student Recruitment Marketing proposed Caz for the award. They said: “Coming out is a very difficult step for many individuals, some have to repeatedly come out and many do so for the first time at university. The visibility and activity of Imperial 600 creates a safe space for staff and students to feel that Imperial is a diverse, inclusive and space in a world that has been hostile, and some large areas which continue to be, to LGBTQIA rights.” 

Caz said: “It’s not a role I do on my own – I’ve worked with a couple of brilliant people since becoming co-Chair in 2017 – first Dan Todhunter and now Joël McConnell. There are also a lot of other volunteers that work with the network, as well as doing their own bit towards raising the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community at Imperial.  

“What is particularly rewarding for me is knowing that the work we’re doing in Imperial 600 is making a difference – for example, since we introduced the rainbow lanyards in 2018, a lot of our network members have said how reassuring they find it to see colleagues also wearing them, many of whom are allies and of course are a very welcome and valued part of Imperial 600.  

“But the network is also so much more than initiatives – it’s also about a community of people standing together and supporting each other in ensuring that we create a place where we can all – staff and students alike – be our authentic selves.  

“And that’s why this award is really important to me as it shows that the value of Imperial 600 is recognised and I hope it will continue to grow and embody the College’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion at every level.” 

Dr Andrew Phillips, Senior Lecturer, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering 

Andrew PhilipsDr Andrew Phillips was awarded the President’s Medal for Teaching Innovation for his innovative and inclusive approaches to design teaching and learning on the MEng Civil Engineering degree.  

Professor Nick Buenfeld, Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said: “Civil engineering employers consistently place our graduates ahead of those from other institutions in terms of their ability to apply core technical knowledge to innovative design solutions, and I feel this is in no small part due to the work that Andrew has done with students and staff on the MEng degree.” 

“I most enjoy teaching when it’s a discussion - introducing, challenging, and defending ideas. Dr Andrew Phillips

Carlos Romeo Casaus and Jerry Fu – both MEng students and Academic Representatives in the department – said: "Dr Phillips’ design teaching inverts the conventional teaching methods by letting students be the leader of the class. For example, in Sketching and Modelling, there were very few boundaries imposed on the coursework. Instead, Dr Phillips opened up the range of options of designing an artefact, and guide the students step by step, to explore the out of the ordinary, and finally let students realise they are capable of converting abstract and seemingly impossible ideas into a real product.”

“I was delighted and surprised to win,” Andrew said. “It’s great to be presented with the award, but I wasn’t expecting to receive a medal as well – especially knowing how much work goes on across the College to develop innovative approaches to teaching.  

“I most enjoy teaching when it’s a discussion - introducing, challenging, and defending ideas. It’s important to me that as well as learning core concepts, students, teaching assistants, academics and visiting staff have the opportunity to work in teams and engage with each other, working out how they can contribute to delivering something they might not be able to achieve alone.    

Andrew says that winning has given him a confidence boost to continue introducing new approaches to teaching. He added: “It shows the College supports innovation, even when it might take a few iterations to get to where we want to be. I hope it encourages everyone who has been involved in developing design teaching in Civil Engineering, especially the teaching assistants and visiting staff who have developed Sketching and Modelling alongside me. It’s been a team effort, and I’ll definitely be putting some of the winnings towards a team celebration when things are little more normal!” 

Dr Richard Szydlo, Medical Statistician, Department of Immunology and Inflammation 

Dr Richard SzydloDr Richard Szydlo was awarded the President’s Medal for Research Support Excellence for his essential contributions to the Centre for Haemotology.  

Professor Nick Jennings, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise), said: “Richard has been instrumental in the creation of major patient databases and his scientific contributions have not only impacted the Centre for Haematology here at Imperial, but also national and international guidelines for stem cell transplantation.”

Professor Jane Apperley proposed Richard for the award. She said: “He is approachable, kind, patient and amusing with colleagues at all levels from BSc students to senior professors, who often find statistical design and analyses out of their comfort zone. He is never patronising and his talents make him an essential and integral departmental member. Nothing is ever too much trouble for him, from the most complex clinical trial analysis to helping medical students understand a Student Test, he gives with genuine passion, expertise and compassion.”

Richard said: “I’ve been very fortunate to have worked in an extremely productive department with a lot of fantastic clinicians and scientists.

“Together we’ve contributed to the overall better understanding of many aspects of the treatment, and biology, of a number of haematologic diseases, but there’s no one big jump in progress – you add to the general pool of information and little steps are made here and there. 

“I see myself as a facilitator – I help people get the most out of what they do, and maximise the potential of their data.

“It can be challenging to make statistical analyses simple enough that they’re easily accessible to the wider clinical community. I think it helps that I’m a biologist by training, not a mathematician – so I’m not so interested in the mathematical modelling per se, but in getting at the biological or clinical meaning.”

Dr Philip Ramsden, Director of Cross-Curricular Mathematics Education, Department of Mathematics 

Dr Philip Ramsden was awarded the President's Medal for Societal Engagement for his contributions to outreach, widening participation and national secondary education.  

Philip Ramsden
Dr Philip Ramsden speaking at a masterclass as part of the mA*ths programme

Professor Maggie Dallman, Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships), said: “Since Phil joined the Department of Mathematics in 1993, he has worked tirelessly to widen participation and increase the popularity of maths. He is a top contributor to the College’s work with schools and has taken a leading role in improving UK-wide provision for secondary education in mathematics. His work is outstanding and his long track record makes him a very deserving winner.” 

Philip leads the mA*ths programme, a large outreach initiative aimed at Year 12 and Year 13 students from underrepresented backgrounds aiming for an A* grade at A-level. He also jointly developed and now runs both the Mathematics strand of the College’s widening-participation focused Summer School (joint with the Sutton Trust) and the College’s Homework Club in White City

There has been a palpable cultural change at the College Dr Philip Ramsden

In addition to his outreach work, Philip has taken a leadership role in improving the UK-wide provision for secondary education in mathematics. He is currently working with Mathematics Education Innovation and the Digital Learning Hub to develop a teachers’ offering to complement the mA*ths programme. 

Philip said: “I first joined the College as part of an outreach project, and outreach and widening participation has continued to be a very important part of my work.

“I was involved in setting up the very first Sutton Trust summer school and it has been great to see it evolve into the multi-strand programme it is today, one of the jewels in our outreach crown. I’ve spent the last few days developing an online version of the maths strand for this summer.

“There has been a palpable cultural change at the College – there was more of an ivory tower culture when I joined than there is now. We have always situated ourselves internationally, which continues to be important, but I am glad that we are also beginning to see ourselves as having an impact on the local level within west London.”

Celebrating achievement  

As well as the President’s Awards for Excellence, a number of other staff and students were also celebrated at the event.  

Professor Alice Gast thanked the President’s Ambassadors, outstanding students who represent the College and help Imperial to connect with visitors and inspire future students. She congratulated students who have received Union Awards and Colours, which recognise those who have given significant and repeated contributions to the student experience.  

Professor Gast also congratulated the Garden Party nominees – staff were nominated by their managers, peers and colleagues for their vital contributions to the College over the last year. This group will be invited to next year’s Garden Party celebration, along with the other award winners.  

Professor Ian Walmsley congratulated the winners of the Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Health and Safety, the Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Animal Research, and the Julia Higgins Awards and Medal

View the slides from the virtual celebration

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Martha Salhotra

Martha Salhotra
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