Dr Binoy Paulose Nadappuram
Research Associate, Department of Chemistry
"Moving to the UK from India was definitely a culture shock for me. I first came to the UK to complete my PhD at the University of Warwick in 2011. In India, you don’t spend time with your professors outside of work.
It felt like we were breaking barriers.
I was amazed when we all went to the pub for a drink with my supervisor! I remember having a conversation with him that wasn’t work-related and feeling surprised at how different the interactions with peers and colleagues was in the UK. It felt like we were breaking barriers.
I was born and raised near a city called Kochi in Kerala, then moved to Singapore to complete my Master’s degree at the National University of Singapore, and decided to stay there to work as a Research Engineer at the Centre of Innovation in Environment and Water Technology. I joined Imperial in 2015 as a Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry.
Celebrating my heritage
I’m really proud of my Indian heritage. Kochi is like a cultural melting pot where people from different parts of the world and different religions unite. I come from a family and city where we accept and treat everyone as one — that’s definitely something I was taught to do early on.
I can’t celebrate Onam as I once did in Kerala, so in London I always make sure to have a full Kerala meal to mark the festival.
I miss home a lot. Every year in Kerala we celebrate Onam Festival in August/September, which is the harvest festival. We celebrate this to commemorate the rule of King Mahabali, who is believed to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.
I can't celebrate Onam as I once did in Kerala, so in London I always make sure to have a full Kerala meal to mark the festival. The meal consists of Kerala rice and savoury dishes such as sambhar, aviyal, rasam and erissery. We'll top off the meal with a sweet dessert called payasam. The festival is incomplete without this meal!
Being myself, wherever I am
I do feel that I can bring my whole self to Imperial. British people are surprisingly welcoming. I have always been invited out for drinks at the pub or other social gatherings and I feel that a lot of colleagues have been patient with my Indian accent. I’m not 100% Keralite when I’m at work as I’m not speaking my native language, yet I also don’t feel like I’m entering a different world when I’m at work.
I genuinely believe that I am accepted for who I am, regardless of how I look or sound
I come from a small city in India and the UK has given me amazing opportunities. I’m working with people who are the best in their field and I am at the centre of advanced research and development. I would not have had even half of the personal and professional opportunities I’ve had if I hadn’t come to the UK.
I have never felt like I don’t belong at the College. My friends always say ‘maybe you’re not treated differently because you’re a scientist!’ but I genuinely believe that I am accepted for who I am regardless of how I look or sound. I feel extremely fortunate to be sitting in a room full of brilliant minds and I owe so much of this to my parents and teachers who helped me get where I am today."
Binoy shares his story as part of Shifting the Lens: a celebration of diversity at Imperial.
This interview was edited by Martha Salhotra and photographed by Jason Alden.