Collaboration, innovation, impact

In pictures: Professor Alice Gast's eight years at Imperial College London

President Alice Gast

Professor Alice Gast became President of Imperial College London in 2014. Since then, the world has changed beyond recognition. Imperial’s teaching, research and innovations have never mattered so much to society.

The College has risen to the challenge of the pandemic, delivering award-winning student education through national lockdowns while operating on the frontlines of the world’s scientific response. It has stood firm on international values in the face of Brexit and wider geopolitical uncertainty. It has spoken out, and taken action, against racial injustice. It has created a thriving innovation district at White City, strengthening British science, fuelling global business, and benefiting the local community.

As Professor Alice Gast’s eight-year term as President ends, we reflect on some of the community’s most significant moments and achievements.

Excellence for the benefit of society

Alice speaking at a lectern

The launch of the Invention Rooms in 2017 represented a new and unprecedented approach to community engagement and outreach – bringing members of the local community together with Imperial's academics, students, alumni and partners all under one roof.

The launch of the Invention Rooms in 2017 represented a new and unprecedented approach to community engagement and outreach – bringing members of the local community together with Imperial's academics, students, alumni and partners all under one roof.

I have been struck by the spirit of discovery here, the passion for research and education, the sense of purpose. At Imperial, there exists a compelling commitment to our mission to achieve enduring academic excellence and lasting benefit to society.
President's Address 2015

Alice with the Mayor of London

Opening in 2019, the molecular sciences research hub at the White City campus was the UK’s most significant scientific development since the Francis Crick Institute and the largest investment in a university building in 21st century London.

Opening in 2019, the molecular sciences research hub at the White City campus was the UK’s most significant scientific development since the Francis Crick Institute and the largest investment in a university building in 21st century London.

Alice in the Invention Rooms

Thanking supporters of the Invention Rooms.

Thanking supporters of the Invention Rooms.

Alice laughing with VIP guests

At the foundation stone laying ceremony for the LKC School of Medicine in 2015 with the president of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam.

At the foundation stone laying ceremony for the LKC School of Medicine in 2015 with the president of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam.

Alice with Prince Charles

With HRH The Prince of Wales at the opening of the Surgical Innovation Centre in 2015.

With HRH The Prince of Wales at the opening of the Surgical Innovation Centre in 2015.

Alice in a lecture theatre with VIP guests wearing protective face masks

Michelle Donelan MP visits the Business School to learn more about the College’s COVID-safe teaching in September 2020.

Michelle Donelan MP visits the Business School to learn more about the College’s COVID-safe teaching in September 2020.

Alice walking with the Duke of Cambridge

HRH The Duke of Cambridge visits Imperial to see the impact of the Heads Together campaign in the College’s Data Science Institute in 2017.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge visits Imperial to see the impact of the Heads Together campaign in the College’s Data Science Institute in 2017.

Alice with Althea finalists

With finalists of Althea Imperial in 2015.

With finalists of Althea Imperial in 2015.

A researcher handing over a box of hand sanitiser

During the pandemic, members of the Imperial community volunteered to support frontline NHS staff, including a team from the Department of Chemical Engineering who worked with gin distillery Sipsmith to produce thousands of litres of hand sanitiser for local hospitals.

During the pandemic, members of the Imperial community volunteered to support frontline NHS staff, including a team from the Department of Chemical Engineering who worked with gin distillery Sipsmith to produce thousands of litres of hand sanitiser for local hospitals.

Alice with VIP guests at the festival

With Sir Mo Farah and family, Terry Branch, Dame Mary Archer and Professor Maggie Dallman at the 2022 Great Exhibition Road Festival.

With Sir Mo Farah and family, Terry Branch, Dame Mary Archer and Professor Maggie Dallman at the 2022 Great Exhibition Road Festival.

Alice operating a robot

At the 2019 Great Exhibition Road Festival, working with Robot de Niro in the College main entrance.

At the 2019 Great Exhibition Road Festival, working with Robot de Niro in the College main entrance.

Alice looking at a mock surgery

At the 2019 Great Exhibition Road Festival with Professor Roger Kneebone and visitors in the Medicine Zone.

At the 2019 Great Exhibition Road Festival with Professor Roger Kneebone and visitors in the Medicine Zone.

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Alice with the Mayor of London

Opening in 2019, the molecular sciences research hub at the White City campus was the UK’s most significant scientific development since the Francis Crick Institute and the largest investment in a university building in 21st century London.

Opening in 2019, the molecular sciences research hub at the White City campus was the UK’s most significant scientific development since the Francis Crick Institute and the largest investment in a university building in 21st century London.

Alice in the Invention Rooms

Thanking supporters of the Invention Rooms.

Thanking supporters of the Invention Rooms.

Alice laughing with VIP guests

At the foundation stone laying ceremony for the LKC School of Medicine in 2015 with the president of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam.

At the foundation stone laying ceremony for the LKC School of Medicine in 2015 with the president of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam.

Alice with Prince Charles

With HRH The Prince of Wales at the opening of the Surgical Innovation Centre in 2015.

With HRH The Prince of Wales at the opening of the Surgical Innovation Centre in 2015.

Alice in a lecture theatre with VIP guests wearing protective face masks

Michelle Donelan MP visits the Business School to learn more about the College’s COVID-safe teaching in September 2020.

Michelle Donelan MP visits the Business School to learn more about the College’s COVID-safe teaching in September 2020.

Alice walking with the Duke of Cambridge

HRH The Duke of Cambridge visits Imperial to see the impact of the Heads Together campaign in the College’s Data Science Institute in 2017.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge visits Imperial to see the impact of the Heads Together campaign in the College’s Data Science Institute in 2017.

Alice with Althea finalists

With finalists of Althea Imperial in 2015.

With finalists of Althea Imperial in 2015.

A researcher handing over a box of hand sanitiser

During the pandemic, members of the Imperial community volunteered to support frontline NHS staff, including a team from the Department of Chemical Engineering who worked with gin distillery Sipsmith to produce thousands of litres of hand sanitiser for local hospitals.

During the pandemic, members of the Imperial community volunteered to support frontline NHS staff, including a team from the Department of Chemical Engineering who worked with gin distillery Sipsmith to produce thousands of litres of hand sanitiser for local hospitals.

Alice with VIP guests at the festival

With Sir Mo Farah and family, Terry Branch, Dame Mary Archer and Professor Maggie Dallman at the 2022 Great Exhibition Road Festival.

With Sir Mo Farah and family, Terry Branch, Dame Mary Archer and Professor Maggie Dallman at the 2022 Great Exhibition Road Festival.

Alice operating a robot

At the 2019 Great Exhibition Road Festival, working with Robot de Niro in the College main entrance.

At the 2019 Great Exhibition Road Festival, working with Robot de Niro in the College main entrance.

Alice looking at a mock surgery

At the 2019 Great Exhibition Road Festival with Professor Roger Kneebone and visitors in the Medicine Zone.

At the 2019 Great Exhibition Road Festival with Professor Roger Kneebone and visitors in the Medicine Zone.

We are international

Alice and Joe Biden at a lectern

In 2018, Joe Biden – then the 47th Vice President of the United States – visited Imperial to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Imperial Cancer Research UK Centre.

In 2018, Joe Biden – then the 47th Vice President of the United States – visited Imperial to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Imperial Cancer Research UK Centre.

Our international community, our collaborations, our partnerships, and our own experiences in other cultures and places have an immeasurable and profound effect on the world.
President's address 2019
Alice sitting next to Prof Chen Xu

Signing a funding agreement for a joint seed fund to support early-stage scientific ideas with Professor Chen Xu from Tsinghua University, Beijing in 2017.

Signing a funding agreement for a joint seed fund to support early-stage scientific ideas with Professor Chen Xu from Tsinghua University, Beijing in 2017.

Alice exchanging a gift with a VIP visitor

Meeting the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, at the South Kensington campus in 2021.

Meeting the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, at the South Kensington campus in 2021.

Alice and Joe Biden walking on campus

In 2018, Joe Biden – then the 47th Vice President of the United States – visited Imperial to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Imperial Cancer Research UK Centre.

In 2018, Joe Biden – then the 47th Vice President of the United States – visited Imperial to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Imperial Cancer Research UK Centre.

Alice standing with two Ghanaian VIPs

At an Alumni event in Ghana in 2019.

At an Alumni event in Ghana in 2019.

Alice with alumni at a gala

With alumni at the 35th anniversary gala for the Imperial College Alumni Association of Hong Kong in 2017.

With alumni at the 35th anniversary gala for the Imperial College Alumni Association of Hong Kong in 2017.

Signing a book

In Dubai in 2017.

In Dubai in 2017.

Alice with representatives of TUM

With President of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Professor Wolfgang Hermann, and colleagues from Imperial and TUM. The signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2018 marked the start of a ‘flagship partnership’ between the universities.

With President of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Professor Wolfgang Hermann, and colleagues from Imperial and TUM. The signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2018 marked the start of a ‘flagship partnership’ between the universities.

Alice presenting something to a VIP guest

Welcoming President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, to Imperial in 2014.

Welcoming President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, to Imperial in 2014.

Alice in a roundtable discussion at Davos

At the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

At the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

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Alice sitting next to Prof Chen Xu

Signing a funding agreement for a joint seed fund to support early-stage scientific ideas with Professor Chen Xu from Tsinghua University, Beijing in 2017.

Signing a funding agreement for a joint seed fund to support early-stage scientific ideas with Professor Chen Xu from Tsinghua University, Beijing in 2017.

Alice exchanging a gift with a VIP visitor

Meeting the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, at the South Kensington campus in 2021.

Meeting the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, at the South Kensington campus in 2021.

Alice and Joe Biden walking on campus

In 2018, Joe Biden – then the 47th Vice President of the United States – visited Imperial to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Imperial Cancer Research UK Centre.

In 2018, Joe Biden – then the 47th Vice President of the United States – visited Imperial to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Imperial Cancer Research UK Centre.

Alice standing with two Ghanaian VIPs

At an Alumni event in Ghana in 2019.

At an Alumni event in Ghana in 2019.

Alice with alumni at a gala

With alumni at the 35th anniversary gala for the Imperial College Alumni Association of Hong Kong in 2017.

With alumni at the 35th anniversary gala for the Imperial College Alumni Association of Hong Kong in 2017.

Signing a book

In Dubai in 2017.

In Dubai in 2017.

Alice with representatives of TUM

With President of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Professor Wolfgang Hermann, and colleagues from Imperial and TUM. The signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2018 marked the start of a ‘flagship partnership’ between the universities.

With President of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Professor Wolfgang Hermann, and colleagues from Imperial and TUM. The signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2018 marked the start of a ‘flagship partnership’ between the universities.

Alice presenting something to a VIP guest

Welcoming President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, to Imperial in 2014.

Welcoming President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, to Imperial in 2014.

Alice in a roundtable discussion at Davos

At the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

At the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

Words from peers

Without Alice, all this innovation would never have happened. She was the perfect president at the perfect time in the perfect university. Without her, I don’t think I would have been able to launch WE Innovate as successfully as I did. She planted
the seeds for innovation: it’s a phenomenal legacy. She taught Imperial that there are many ways to be a president, and that you need diversity of thinking, thought and background. That way, you reach beyond what’s comfortable.
Alexsis de Raadt St. James, Founder and managing partner of Merian Ventures
A university does not sit in isolation, it needs to engage with a very wide range of stakeholders. Philanthropic support is a clear indication to the world that it has been found worthy of recognition to the point of financial support. The university has made very important connections with local communities. Alice has attracted the attention of significant donors and focused on student welfare.
David Dangoor (Physics 1971)
As an inspiring leader at Imperial, MIT and beyond, Alice has opened up countless opportunities for faculty and researchers to forge new connections and explore new frontiers. I am deeply grateful for her partnership and for all she has done for academic excellence.
Dr L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT
I don’t think I would have done this if Alice had not been President. She felt the project would be successful – and she knew that Imperial could not achieve its goals without philanthropic support.
Marit Mohn (MSc Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology, 1973)
Alice gets people to work together across the board, on the big sciences. She’s broken barriers within the university to enable large-scale interdisciplinary projects to happen.
Professor Chris Toumazou, Regius Professor of Engineering

The Imperial community

The Royal Albert Hall during a graduation ceremony
We are here for each other and, as a thriving community, we can find the best way to navigate an uncertain future.
Autumn message 2019
The President handing medals to Imperial As One co-Chairs during a graduation ceremony

Presenting the President’s Medal for Excellence in Culture and Community to the co-Chairs of Imperial As One – the College’s staff network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff.

Presenting the President’s Medal for Excellence in Culture and Community to the co-Chairs of Imperial As One – the College’s staff network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff.

Alice awarding a medal to a sporty student

Awarding medals and trophies at the 2016 Varsity tournament at Heston sports ground.

Awarding medals and trophies at the 2016 Varsity tournament at Heston sports ground.

Alice and James Stirling

With the late Professor James Stirling, Imperial's first Provost, at RAG Week 2015.

With the late Professor James Stirling, Imperial's first Provost, at RAG Week 2015.

Alice, Maggie Dallman and Sir Mo at a VIP reception

Meeting with Olympian Sir Mo Farah at a special event during the 2022 Great Exhibition Road Festival

Meeting with Olympian Sir Mo Farah at a special event during the 2022 Great Exhibition Road Festival

Alice, the Dangoors and a community member in the Makerspace

With Judy and David Dangoor meeting community members at the Dangoor Reachout Makerspace at the Invention Rooms.

With Judy and David Dangoor meeting community members at the Dangoor Reachout Makerspace at the Invention Rooms.

Alice speaking at a lectern

The President’s Awards for Excellence and the Imperial Garden Party celebrates staff and students who have made vital contributions to the College over the previous year.

The President’s Awards for Excellence and the Imperial Garden Party celebrates staff and students who have made vital contributions to the College over the previous year.

Alice giving a graduation speech

Graduation ceremonies for Imperial have taken place in the Royal Albert Hall for over 60 years. Commemoration Day and Postgraduate Graduation provide an important opportunity to recognise the achievements of students and staff.

Graduation ceremonies for Imperial have taken place in the Royal Albert Hall for over 60 years. Commemoration Day and Postgraduate Graduation provide an important opportunity to recognise the achievements of students and staff.

A crowd shot at the festival on Exhibition Road

A regular fixture in the summer calendar since its 2019 launch, the Great Exhibition Road Festival brings members of the public in their tens of thousands to South Kensington each year

A regular fixture in the summer calendar since its 2019 launch, the Great Exhibition Road Festival brings members of the public in their tens of thousands to South Kensington each year

The Techtonics a capella group performing at the Garden Party

The Techtonics a capella group performing at the Garden Party

The Techtonics a capella group performing at the Garden Party