Feeling like a scientist

Imperial students and staff share insights and advice for forging a path in science

Ji Young Yoon in an engineering lab

When does a scientist feel like a scientist? 

That’s not the setup for a punchline. It’s a very real question that is a lot more difficult to answer than you would think.

When a child tracks the flight of a bumblebee from flower to hive, is she a scientist? When a school pupil gets a glowing report from the physics teacher, are they now a scientist? What about the PhD student crossing the graduation stage, or the medic holding the hand of an anxious patient, or the professor of climate studies presenting evidence to a UN committee – are these the official hallmarks of what it means to become a scientist?

If the answer is ‘yes’ – how does it feel?

If it’s ‘maybe’ – why is it not so clear cut?

If it’s ‘no’ – what's stopping you from claiming the title? 

And for that matter, if it’s so difficult to pin down what it actually means to be a scientist, why would someone want to pursue a career in it? 

In this miniseries, we hear from our students and staff about what being a scientist means to them, and why – though not easy to put into words – science is the place they gladly call home.

Click below to meet our scientists

Tani smiling

The medical student

Tani Akinmoladun is a Medicine student at Imperial. At secondary school, she grew to love the sciences, especially biology and chemistry. It really caught her imagination, and led her in the direction of studying medicine at university. But as for feeling like a scientist, it’s something that’s only recently happened for her.

Faith smiling

The immunologist 

Professor Faith Osier is a pediatrician, scientist, strategist and educator. Among the many hats she wears, she is Executive Director of Imperial’s Human Immunology Laboratory, Visiting Professor of Immunology at Oxford University, and President of the International Union of Immunological Societies.  

For Faith, being a scientist has many facets. 

Jesús on an airfield, standing next to a parabolic flight plane

The space scientist

Jesús Manuel Muñoz Tejeda is studying for a PhD in Space Propulsion Technology. His natural curiosity has been the biggest driving factor in his scientific journey, and he’s only just begun to scratch the surface. When the Universe is your muse, it takes a lot of curiosity to begin to understand it. 

Ji in an engineering lab

The engineer

Ji Young Yoon is a Mechanical Workshop Technician in the Faculty of Engineering. She began her university journey in dentistry, but quickly realised her real interests lay in engineering.

She made the brave choice to change her path, and has never looked back. 

Chris in the College main entrance

The professor of innovation

Chris Tucci is Professor of Digital Strategy & Innovation at Imperial College Business School and Co-Director (Education) for I-X, Imperial's new campus concept centred on AI, data, and digital.  

Chris’s journey into science hasn’t been a direct one. From launching his career in industrial research, to training in technology and policy, to a pathway in academia, he has experienced many sides of innovation management. 

Shivani delivering a presentation

The diabetes scientist

Dr Shivani Misra is Consultant Physician in Diabetes & Metabolic Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer within Imperial College London. 

For Shivani, science comes in many forms. This is something she knows well, as her career straddles two very different – though interconnected – paths. 

Richard looking at bugs

The bee scientist

Dr Richard Gill is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences. He studies how human activities affect insect populations, biodiversity, and function. A significant amount of his career has been spent exploring the impact on bees. He conducts his research at Silwood Park, a hub of world-leading research and teaching in ecology, evolution and conservation. 

For Richard, being a scientist isn’t just about the science; it’s about the friends you make along the way, and the life changing experiences you have.