Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.
From fresh insights into the health risks of e-cigarettes, to new funding for a project designing exit strategies for COVID-19 lockdowns, here is some quick-read news from across the College.
Vaping confirmed as safer than smoking
Although e-cigarettes pose some health risk, these are expected to be much less than from continuing to smoke finds a report from the independent Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT). This supports PHE’s approach that e-cigarettes should only be used as a stop-smoking aid. The report also states that risk to bystanders from ambient exposure to vaping is likely to be low.
Professor Alan Boobis, Chair of the COT, said ‘Our assessment on e-cigarettes largely reinforces the scientific consensus to date on their relative safety, that while not without risk they are significantly less harmful than smoking’.
Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, Chair of ASH(UK), commented ‘quitting vaping in the long-term is sensible, though not at the expense of going back to smoking.’ He added ‘we need to identify any toxic components in e-cigarette vapour to minimise the remaining risk as far as possible’.
“Timely and important”
Over 150 people attended Imperial’s conference for Black and Minority Ethnic Early Career Researchers this week. Hosted by Imperial As One, the College’s network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff, the conference helps early career researchers stay in academia.
Speaking at the conference, Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said:
“I want to thank my colleagues who have worked tirelessly to organise this conference. It is both timely and important. I admire your conference theme: positive, pragmatic and practical, and support your mission to help early career colleagues gain the knowledge and tools they need to navigate academia.
“In her TEDx talk, today’s keynote speaker, Professor Iyiola Solanke, spoke about discrimination as a virus that could be defeated by lessons learned from the defeat of other viruses. It is an apt and important description. All of us can help not just kill the virus of discrimination, but grow a new culture of support, understanding and inclusion
“Share your experiences and wisdom, support your colleagues and stay committed to change.”
Imperial has become the only university to place in the 2020 Top 10 Employers for Working Families. The rankings based on benchmarking survey data from the charity Working Families.
The survey data was compiled by Suzanne Christopher, Senior Employee Engagement Managerand Emily Michael, Reward, Engagement & Policy Advisor.
Suzanne commented: “We are thrilled to have moved into the top 10 employers list for Working Families. COVID-19 has shown how important it is for Imperial to encourage flexible working and we have continued running our parents workshops and Babies and Bumps sessions virtually. This is a tremendous achievement.”
Two members of Imperial’s community have won prizes at this year’s National Enterprise Educators Awards.
Director of the Enterprise Lab Ben Mumby-Croft won the Pioneer in Enterprise Education Award which celebrates an exceptional individual who is actively influencing and driving transformational change and creating impact related to enterprise and entrepreneurship education or practice within their organisation and across the sector.
Imperial College Business School’s Dr Harveen Chugh won the Enterprise Catalyst Award, recognising an individual or team delivering exceptional enterprise education or practice inside or outside the curriculum. Harveen also won the People's Choice Award voted for by the public.
Organised by Enterprise Educators UK, the awards recognise excellence within enterprise and entrepreneurship in UK higher and further education.
COVID exit strategy funding
The UKRI is funding £113,258 towards an Imperial-led project designing new exit strategies for COVID-19 lockdowns.
Co-investigator Professor Thomas Parisini of Imperial’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering said: “The difficulty with intermittent lockdowns until a vaccine’s found is timing: lockdown too early, and the peak of infections shifts to a later date; too late and it won’t limit the peak.
To circumvent this, the team, led by Professor Robert Shorten at Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering with University of Glasgow, will develop periodic short-term lockdown strategies to suppress cases while encouraging social and economic activity. They will also develop network-based infection models to protect vulnerable communities.
The four-month project is a worldwide effort also involving universities in Italy, Israel, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Scotland, and France.
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