Student Academic Choice Awards

SACAs Winners 2019

The winners for the Student Academic Choice Awards 2019 are...

Best Graduate Teaching Assistant: Dr Esma Koca

"Esma is an unbelievably committed, supportive and effective teaching assistant, with genuine passion for the subjects she assists with, as well heartfelt interest in giving the best support to her students. Esma will go over and beyond in explaining the subject matter; she dedicates a lot of time to finding additional resources to the classes to help students better grasp concepts; she is extremely creative in finding ways to stretch students to enhance their understanding, by building out custom examples fit for the students and following up on their understanding effectively."

"Esma demonstrates genuine dedication in ensuring that every question asked by her students is answered fully and completely, going beyond her mandate to meet the learning needs of her students. How many tutors do you know gives you a spontaneous Slack call on Saturday evening to guide you through a problem, or makes sure that she has answered your question before she signs off? She makes the learning experience less stressful and thereby infinitely more enjoyable. You feel she is there with you, on your side, even when you are frustrated with your own progress. This I love, and she should be recognised!"

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Best GTA. 

Best Tutoring: Dr Lucy Bingham

"Dr Bingham is one of the best tutors and best sources of all round support that I have received during my time at Imperial. She has been a constant source of support in every way possible. It is very difficult for me to put into words just how helpful she has been. Upon reflection, I have been through many personal issues during my time at Imperial, perhaps more than a 'normal' student. For example, only last week I was the target of a random act of racially motivated hate crime. However, Dr Bingham was there to support me every step of the way. She was in touch with me immediately and as always offers to see me at a time that suits me. She is just a genuinely kind, fun, hardworking, caring personality that is easy to talk to about anything (which isn't always the case with some tutors that I have been in touch with over the years). Admittedly, I very rarely engage in this kind of feedback/nominations as I do find it quite hard to put my appreciation of someone into words like this without it sounding boring and uninspired. But I whole heartedly believe that Dr Bingham deserves this recognition and much more. She is the perfect example of a model tutor and that is the simple reason why I have decided to nominate her today."

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Best Tutoring.

Communities Champion: Dr Colin McClure

"Dr Colin McClure is a truly exceptional member of Imperial College, going way beyond expectations to contribute to the student experience at the individual, departmental and College levels. He has organised and played a crucial role in multiple events aimed at fostering a community that encourages learning. Dr McClure actively brings together different groups of students, and is very conscientious to provide extensive career and well-being advice for all. The most remarkable event Dr McClure has pioneered is Science Fridays, which provides second-year life scientists with the opportunity to speak to early-career researchers (PhDs & PostDocs) in an informal session and to get laboratory tours. This unprecedented initiative promotes a dialogue between researchers and students, allowing researchers to become better mentors and students to have a better perspective of their career. Participating in his initiatives and learning from Dr McClure has been key to my development as an aspiring scientist.”

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Communities Champion.

Best Supervision: Prof Dominik Weiss

"Dominik has always been there to support me throughout my PhD. He provides just the right amount of advice to push me in the right direction without taking over or preventing me from learning new things. He is extremely open to collaborating with different people from all over the world, by both suggesting people to collaborate with, and by allowing us to find our own collaborators. My research was supposed to focus on experimental methods, but because I was interested in computational chemistry, he actively encouraged me to develop my skills in this area. He went outside his comfort zone to learn this discipline with me, and how to apply it to environmental problems. This is a trait of all great researchers and supervisors. He has now incorporated the discipline into other PhD student projects.

He encourages all his students to explore areas outside of academia. He regularly tells us about internships he comes across which he thinks we will find interesting. He supported me when it looked like there would be funding issues, and did everything in his power to make sure I could do it.

The most important thing though is that he always puts us first before the research. He always wants us to have a good work-life balance. This can often can be forgotten by PhD students like me who get absorbed in their research! His door is open regardless of whether you want to discuss research or a personal issue. "

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Best Supervision.

Diversity & Inclusion Champion: Mary Bown

"Mary created the Halls disability rent subsidy this year which enables students with a disability to not be financially disadvantages. These students can receive money towards the rent of more expensive halls that they have to be in to study at Imperial, when their financial situation may have led them to preference a cheaper more distant hall. Initiatives like this really impact students ability to come to Imperial and break barriers. This piece of intersectional work is rare and special considering both students with disabilities, who are from lower socio-economic backgrounds. While there is still a long way to go, this is a huge step in Imperial being a more inclusive university for students with disabilities and should be recognized as a fantastic achievement."

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Diversity & Inclusion Champion.

Best Innovation: Dr Lucy Millar & Dr Lauren Misquita

"Many medical students are understandably apprehensive before starting work as doctors. Studying can only go so far to prepare you, and the gulf between being a medical student and a doctor is a vast one. But Lauren and Lucy have set out to change this. Together, they run the Virtual On-Call sessions for final year medical students at Chelsea & Westminster hospital. The initiative simulates the on-call experience, allowing students to experience first-hand what it’s like to be the junior doctor on-call. We are given an imitation bleep, which we answer when we are buzzed. Lauren and Lucy create virtual patients on the wards which we then assess and formulate a management plan. We are then expected to phone the senior doctor on-call (played by Lauren/Lucy!) to discuss our plan/raise any concerns. Throughout this experience we are expected to answer any additional bleeps that come up, which can range from anything as benign as a prescription that needs writing, to a collapse which we are expected to attend and manage.

Lauren and Lucy ensure that there are a wide range of cases, meaning we cover all the things likely to come up as a junior doctor from unconscious patients to certifying deaths the kind of things you really can’t learn in a lecture theatre. Not only this, but they run the Virtual On-Call sessions not just once, but twice! This ensures we are given the chance to learn from our experiences, and put those lessons into practice. I would rank the Virtual On-Call sessions as among the most useful, high yield, teaching I have ever received at Imperial. I know I am not alone in saying that these sessions have made me feel significantly more prepared for life as a junior doctor."

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Best Innovation.

Best Teaching for Undergraduates: Dr Eleanor Sein

"Dr Sein is the one reason why I have enjoyed my O&G placement, and now considering it as a possible career path. The way she teaches is so engaging, she explains concepts in ways that allows you to apply the same method to other topics.

She strikes the perfect balance of being relatable and reassuring as well as being formal and challenging us. The fact that she has a good understanding of how we are examined and what we should be aiming to achieve as an FY1 is really useful.

She is the most committed tutor I have had so far - always seeking to improve the course by asking for our opinions and feedback. Alongside other things, the ways in which she ensures we are getting the most out of this placement is so evident - I, and without a doubt the rest of the group, are very grateful. She has been able to establish and build on the rapport between her and her tutees. This has allowed for us feel comfortable enough to go to her with our concerns both academic and personal - which I think is so important and often overlooked as a vital part of being a tutor."

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Best Teaching for Undergraduates.

Best Support Staff: Julia McShane

"Julia utilises her extensive knowledge and relationships within the Business School to support students, student reps and their ideas. No idea is too big or too small. Julia never turns down a student idea but instead facilitates them to develop and implement it- whatever it may be.

Julia supports all the student leaders and reps within the Business School. She works with each programme team to ensure their reps are supported and engaged in their roles while feeling comfortable with the balance of studies and their student leadership role. This year she has helped us set up a Business School wide Summer Ball, develop plans for a new Wellbeing representation network, set up an annual wellbeing awareness campaign and develop a new societal engagement student team which will be fed into the rep structure for next year.

Julia is a strong advocate for students and somehow manages to support the entire student experience of every student at the Business School!"

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Best Support Staff.

Best Teaching for Taught Postgraduates: Dr James Rosindell

"James is an absolutely outstanding tutor, the quality of which I have not seen in any of my years as a student in higher education. The learning objectives were clear throughout, and James' method of a series of problems slowly increasing in difficulty struck a perfect balance between allowing us as students to problem solve ourselves, while also guiding us so we did not feel lost or unsure. He also spent each day giving constant 1 on 1 advice, making sure that each student was seen individually so he could help explain any concepts that were giving people difficulty. His use of metaphor and examples made sure that every student could understand, and he was happy to approach any blocks in understanding from multiple angles until the student understood. James' commitment to learning each person's name really helped to give the class a relaxed and caring atmosphere, which allowed us to work more efficiently. We felt more confident tackling the puzzles as we knew that James would take any issues we had seriously, not belittling us or make us feel as if any question was too small. James also hosted help sessions in the run up to the hand-in deadline that really helped make the final push feel less stressful and helped answer last minute questions."

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Best Teaching for Taught Postgraduates.

Best Feedback: Dr Thomas Clarke

"Dr Clarke provides individual feedback as well as group feedback with the best solution. Both of the feedback are given in the same week and the general feedback is very detailed. For some submissions he even provides extra early feedback for people who have submitted earlier encouraging not leaving everything for the last minute.

He also makes the best effort to makes sure everyone can get in-person feedback. In addition to lab sessions, he also provides additional help in his office even close to the deadline providing support for people who struggle. Dr Clarke has even created a slack channel which anyone can join and ask questions. Him or his GTA's often respond quickly and clarify anything in worksheets."

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Best Feedback.

Student Wellbeing Champion: Dr Francesco Restuccia

"The primary focus of Subwardens in halls is student welfare and Francesco went the extra mile in each and every individual case. Francesco was a vital point of contact in all welfare cases and ensured that we as a team provided the best care we could to our ill students. Francesco commonly went further than what was required by the Subwarden role and did everything in his ability to facilitate the life of struggling students in halls.

Francesco’s welfare support and guidance was not restricted to our severely ill students. Francesco was well known and liked amongst all 150 students of his hall. He spent time getting to know them, giving them advice on how to lead a healthy life style at Imperial and helping them to arrive in the best way possible.

He moved up in the Wardening system and became Assistant Warden and then Warden of Wilson house. Even though he was working in another hall I was still constantly reminded of Francesco’s hard work for students welfare, with him organising mental health first aid training for Subwardens of different halls and continuously pushing to improve the Wardening protocol and procedures."

Watch our video to find out what students said about all staff shortlisted for Student Wellbeing Champion.