Chemical Engineers scoop President’s and Provost’s Awards for Excellence


President Alice Gast standing in front of a sign reading 'President's Awards for Excellence'

The Department of Chemical Engineering has been recognised in several categories at the annual President’s Awards ceremony.

Academics, researchers and professional staff have received awards in recognition of their achievements and their impact on life and the community at Imperial College London.

The awards are an annual recognition scheme for staff at all levels across research, teaching and professional services roles who have shown outstanding commitment and demonstrated a valuable contribution to the College's mission. Those awardees judged to have made particularly exceptional contributions within each category are selected to receive the President’s Medal.  

President’s Medal for Excellence in Culture and Community

Professor Nilay Shah was awarded the Medal for his work chairing the Imperial History Group. The Group was commissioned to examine the history of the College through its links to the British Empire, and to report on the present understanding and reception of the College’s legacy and heritage in the context of its present-day mission. 

Professor Nilay ShahProfessor Shah commented: “I’m delighted to receive this award. Chairing the History Group was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve done for many years.  

“It was particularly a great pleasure to work with a diverse set of colleagues who were all committed to exploring and understanding our history and to making the College a more inclusive institution for staff, students and stakeholders.” 

President’s Medal for Excellence in External Collaboration and Partnerships

Dr Salvador Acha was awarded the Medal recognition of his lasting and impactful collaboration with Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd.  Salvador is the Project Manager and Research Fellow leading the day-to-day activities of the Imperial-Sainsbury’s partnership, a long-lasting collaboration between academia and industry that started in 2010. The goal of the partnership is to research new technologies and innovative approaches to help the business achieve its net zero commitment by 2035.

Dr Salvador AchaDr Acha said: “I feel very happy and fortunate in in being granted the President's Award and Medal for Excellence in Research. I would like to thank all the people that throughout the years have collaborated and supported in conducting exciting projects in the areas of energy and sustainability; this includes many talented researchers and industry experts as well as friends and family.

And of course, the support from our project sponsors Sainsbury’s has been invaluable in creating research that has an impact in industry – thank you. The partnership is a testament of how academia and industry can collaborate effectively to address problems that have no straightforward answer. Lastly, it is great that the college has these awards to recognise the contributions of so many great people that make up what Imperial College is today.”

President’s Award for Teaching Innovation

Dr Vijesh Bhute received the award in recognition of his work as a Teaching Fellow in improving accessibility in math and developing innovative approaches for formative assessment. Vijesh has designed and implemented technology to shorten the assessment-feedback timeframe, developed pre-sessional content to bridge differences in students’ Mathematics background, improved accessibility and inclusivity in Mathematics and assisted in developing a hybrid way of delivering undergraduate labs.

Dr Vijesh BhuteDr Bhute commented: "I feel honoured to be recognized for my efforts in improving accessibility and developing learning-style resources in Mathematics courses as well as the transformations in the delivery of UG Teaching Labs.

“This would not have been possible without the valuable contributions from highly motivated UROP students and StudentShapers partners who have worked with me and support from colleagues in the Department. I hope to collaborate further with colleagues to make engineering courses more engaging and accessible.”

President’s Award for Excellence in Research Supervision

Professor Karen Polizzi

Professor Karen Polizzi received this award in recognition of the exceptional research supervision, encouragement and support she provides to her students. Awards are given to celebrate excellence in creating a stimulating environment for research, encouraging students to innovate and push boundaries and being available, approachable and supportive.

Professor Polizzi said: “I was very honoured to be nominated for the Research Supervision award.  Mentoring the next generation is one of the best parts of the job and I'm pleased to know my team think I do a good job!”

President’s Award for Outstanding Assistant Supervisor

Dr Selene Pirola was recognised with this award for the valuable contribution that she’s made as a postdoc towards the supervision of PhD students. This award celebrates excellence in being approachable and supportive, fostering a welcoming and inclusive working environment, and providing effective feedback.

Dr Selene PirolaDr Pirola said: “It has been an honour for me to receive the President’s Award for Outstanding Assistant supervisor. Working with so many bright and amazing students in the past has enriched me as a researcher and a supervisor, and I wish to thank them all for submitting and supporting my nomination.

“I also wish to thank Imperial: the existence of the Assistant Supervisor title and of this Award shows that our community recognises and values Postdoc contribution to student supervision, which far too often goes unnoticed. I would encourage all Imperial PostDocs to apply to become an Assistant supervisor.”

President’s Award for Excellence in Supporting the Student Experience

Mrs Faith Ross received the award in recognition of her commitment to her role as Student Wellbeing Adviser, in which she has worked tirelessly to champion student wellbeing in the department. The role celebrates staff for their outstanding contributions to enhancing the student experience, through implementing innovative approaches and good practice, delivering excellent student and customer service, and providing high quality pastoral support for students.

Mrs Faith RossMrs Ross said: “I am honoured to receive this award for trying my best to help students through the challenges posed during the last few years, which have impacted wellbeing and student experience.

“I would like to thank our well-being assistant Omar Abdulla and all of our well-being reps this year, particularly for their help with well-being events which has enabled me to be able to focus on providing one-to-one support for students.” 

Julia Higgins Award

Dr Claudia ContiniDr Claudia Contini was recognised with the Julia Higgins award which celebrates individuals, groups, and departments that have made a significant contribution to the support of academic women at the College. As a L’Oréal and UNESCO UK Rising Talent Engineering Fellow, Dr Contini has been active as a STEM ambassador, through giving media interview, organising and participating in STEM and EDI events, and as an active member of the EDI committee in the Department of Chemistry.

Dr Contini said: “I am overwhelmed to receive the Julia Higgins Award. Supporting women in academia should be everyone’s duty. Female scientists continue to encounter many obstacles in their careers and it is fundamental to recognise and facilitate the outstanding scientific research of women scientists.”



Sara West

Sara West
Communications Division

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