Imperial joins forces with Black British in STEM


BB STEM event - group of people standing together

Imperial staff and students pictured at a BBSTEM and Imperial As One event in 2019

Imperial College London is one of the first universities to join the Black British in STEM University Alliance.

"This alliance is more than lip-service. It’s a real commitment that universities are making known, that they are supporting their Black STEM undergraduates and postgraduates." Kayisha Payne Founder, BBSTEM

Black British in STEM (BBSTEM) is a non-profit organisation founded by Imperial alumnus Kayisha Payne (MSc Advanced Chemical Engineering) in 2017. It aims to increase the representation of Black scientists in industry and in academia and inspire young Black people to pursue STEM subjects in university and beyond.   

The College is one of the first to secure their membership. Black students at Imperial will now gain access to a community of individuals with similar experiences, resources to help growth and leadership, and access to employer-led insight days and events. In addition, Imperial also has a fully paid subscription to the BBSTEM Jobs and Opportunities Board which will allow the College to recruit more diverse talent. 

Making Imperial more inclusive 

Woman smiles at camera
Kayisha Payne, Imperial alumnus and founder of BBSTEM

Kayisha, Founder of BBSTEM, said: “We are delighted that Imperial is one of our first members of the BBSTEM University Alliance. This alliance is more than lip-service. It’s a real commitment that universities are making known, that they are supporting their Black STEM undergraduates and postgraduates.  

“Being an Imperial alumnus, it’s been great to see all the changes Imperial has been making and the history they have been addressing to make their campuses and environments more inclusive for Black students and staff over the past few months. I look forward to working with Imperial through the BBSTEM University Alliance.” 

Imperial As One, the College’s staff network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff, was the driving force behind the College’s partnership with BBSTEM. In 2019, Imperial As One welcomed BBSTEM to Imperial for the ‘Empower, Elevate and Entrepreneurship’ event - a day of inspirational talks and workshops on empowerment, overcoming obstacles and achieving success in the workplace.  

Kayisha was also interviewed as part of Imperial As One’s Belonging – Exploring the BAME Experience series last year, which gave an insight into her motivations and drive. 

Imperial As One's push to unlock diverse talent  

two women talking
Dr Sarah Essilfie-Quaye, co-Chair of Imperial As One, pictured at Imperial As One and BBSTEM's ‘Empower, Elevate and Entrepreneurship’ event.

Imperial As One co-Chairs, Dr Sarah Essilfie-Quaye, Desmond Samuel and Dr Wayne Mitchell, said: 

“Opportunities and representation matter - that’s why this University Alliance partnership with BBSTEM is so important for the Black students and early career researchers at Imperial. It will provide greater opportunities to gain insight and advice from sector specialists on navigating the professional working environment from a uniquely Black perspective. We are excited about the potential to unlock the talent harnessed within our staff and students.” 

"...we look forward with them to seeing the value our membership with BBSTEM brings to our students." Professor Ian Walmsley Provost of Imperial College London

Imperial’s membership has been supported by Imperial’s Provost, Professor Ian Walmsley. The Provost said:   

"UK academia suffers from an underrepresentation of Black students and academic staff. We need to create more opportunities for Black scientists both at Imperial and in higher education across the country.  

“I am proud that we have partnered with BBSTEM and that we share its aims to increase the number of Black scientists, engineers, medics and technologically-minded business persons. The wonderful work that our alumnus, Kayisha Payne, is carrying out to create a platform that will help our Black students to thrive and motivate other young Black British people to pursue STEM subjects at university and beyond is inspiring.    

“I would also like to extend my thanks to our Imperial As One co-Chairs, who are helping us make the significant changes needed to improve diversity and representation at the College. Their ideas are stimulating and informing the College's work, and we look forward with them to seeing the value our membership with BBSTEM brings to our students.” 

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Martha Salhotra

Martha Salhotra
Communications Division

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