Chair and trustee, Roderick Rhys Jones

Chair and Trustee, Roderick Rhys Jones

I graduated in Civil Engineering from Imperial College in 1964. Whilst at College I was Vice-President of the engineering faculty student's union and an editor of Phoenix, the arts magazine founded by HG Wells. After graduation I worked as a surveyor in Antarctica before travelling through South America, the United States and ending the trip by sailing the Pacific in a small ketch. Returning to London i worked as a journalist on business magazines before working in the engineering industry. In 1978 I founded a management consultancy in the construction and engineering industry with my wife Sandi working on projects all over the world.

I have been involved in alumni activities since graduation firstly editing and then publishing the Imperial Engineer and subsequently in building up Friends of Imperial College as an independent association concerned with promoting public understanding of the advances in science and technology and thereby supporting the mission of the College. In 2013 I was awarded the Imperial College Gold Medal for my contribution 'for substantially increasing Imperial's engagement with the public, alumni, supporters, and local people.

Honorary treasurer and trustee, Bill Blackburn

Deputy Chair and Trustee, Bill Blackburn

Bill studied Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College while working for Rolls-Royce aero engines in Bristol. He specialised in combustion engineering, combining R&D activities alongside computer modelling. Bill has worked in a range of defence, manufacturing firms and financial institutions supporting technology-enabled business transformation. He now works as an independent business consultant supporting organisations on major business change programmes. Bill joined Friends of Imperial College in 2009 and recognised the importance of blending interesting events with the social aspects. The accessibility of Friends promotes the work of Imperial College into the wider community.

The position of Treasurer became vacant in 2010 and Bill volunteered for this role. His goal has been to streamline processes and manage our finances so that we can invest in promoting our exciting programme of events and grow membership. Bill has enjoyed recording our talks and many of these are available to download from the website. Bill lives in Dorking, Surrey and enjoys walking, cycling and music, particularly live jazz.

Committee member, Rita Leek

External events co-ordinator, Rita Leek

I have lived close to Imperial for many years now and joined the committee in 2006 after attending, and being very impressed by, Friends lectures at the College. My background is somewhat eclectic. I began my undergraduate life by taking an Arts degree, followed by a BSc in PPE at Birmingham University and then reading for the Bar. However, after completing my pupillage, I decided than the courtroom was not for me. Instead, I bought a restaurant in the City. This was a great challenge as I had absolutely no prior experience in catering. Nonetheless, I ran it very successfully for five years before selling and moving into property. This has been my field ever since, despite the sometimes dramatic ups and downs of the economy and the market. Originally I was very much a non-scientist, it was my worst subject at school. My interest in it has developed over the years and I will now readily share my enthusiasm for science with my friends (or anyone else who will listen!). Many of my own friends have now become members and staunch supporters of Friends. I hope I have also helped Friends not only to grow, but also to 'spread our wings' a little by organising trips further afield, such as Diamond Light, STFC, and the inaugural Friends visit to CERN in April 2013. These visits have proved hugely popular and I hope to help initiate some more for our future programmes.

Committee member, Prof. Richard Kitney

Committee member, Professor Richard Kitney OBE, FREng, FRSE, DSc (Eng), FCGI   

Dick Kitney is Professor of Biomedical Systems Engineering; Chairman of the Institute of Systems and Synthetic Biology; and Co-Director of the EPSRC National Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation.  He was Founding Head of the Department of Bioengineering, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. He chaired The Royal Academy of Engineering Inquiry into Synthetic Biology. He is a member of the Ministerial Leadership Council for Synthetic Biology and was one of the main authors of the UK Roadmap for Synthetic Biology.

Dick is recognised as a leading researcher in synthetic biology and, with Professor Paul Freemont, has been responsible for developing the Imperial College Hub for Synthetic Biology, recognised as one of the leading international centres in the field.  In 2013, they were successful in winning the national competition to establish the UK national industrial translation centre for synthetic biology.  Kitney was made a Fellow of the World Technology Network in 1999 for his innovative work in the fields of health and medicine.  He was made an Academician of the International Academy of BioMedical Engineering in September 2003 (this is the highest honour bestowed by the International Federation of BioMedical Engineering Societies). He is also a Fellow of AIMBE, the America Academy of BioMedical Engineering. In 2006 he was made an Honorary Fellow of both The Royal College of Physicians and The Royal College of Surgeons. 

In June 2001, Professor Kitney was awarded The Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to Information Technology in Biomedicine.

Event promotion, Paresh Parmar

Event promotion, Paresh Parmar

Currently I am a senior tutor at Westminster Kingsway College, responsible for the delivery of the digital arts curriculum, mainly within a further education sector. Although my teaching experience extends to the HE sector, developing multidisciplinary teaching and learning materials that promote knowledge transfer between research and post graduate.

I am particularly interested in how new technology is embedded in everyday life along with its social, cultural and ethical implications. My other interests include colour communication, digital colour reproduction and design applied to both visual art and science, sensory responsive technologies, database and network art, intersection of technology and users, and phases of the technological development from mechanical, electronics to digital.

I decided to join Friends of Imperial College and volunteered since 2009 as a committee member mainly focusing on event promotions and outreach activities and efforts.

Event reception, John Sanderson

Event reception, John Sanderson

After serving as an RAF radar technician with 617 Squadron, I read Physics at the Royal College of Science, then a branch of Imperial College. I then joined Elliott Automation designing and maintaining the first computer controlled air defence systems. And becoming responsible for computer aided design and automatic testing. After designing integrated circuits for Philips to upgrade the London telephone system I stood as an independent candidate for Parliament. (and lost my deposit)

With a family of two boys and girls I became a consultant to the M o D Navy on the use of microcomputers in training sub-mariners and designed early touch screen devices. Which were also used by patients of the Cheyne Centre for Spastic Children where my wife, Marion and I helped.

Our family moved to Borrowdale in the Lake District to run a hotel, intending to start an educational software company but were caught by a recession in 1991. Working with an avionics company at Stapleford, I designed GPS and autopilot interfaces for light aircraft and worked in Texas on specialist radio systems. When Marion died I spent more time with the Friends and the RCS Association were I eventually became president. Currently I am chairman of PSI, a group of scientists trying to explain the folly of anthropomorphic causes of climate change and the drift away from the scientific method in many areas. As a member of the committee I try to keep everyone smiling as I collect cash at the reception desk with Angie.

Committee member, Stewart Katz

Hon Treasurer and Trustee, Stewart Katz

Born in Reading in 1946 Lived in Edgware, Brighton, Stanmore, Beverley Hills, Brighton, and finally West London. But still found time to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. Despite doing three science A- levels, I never went into science. But, I have always had an abiding passion for all the sciences, including sociology, psychology, astronomy, biology and nutrition. Self-taught, well-read and still keen to increase my knowledge.
Someone even wrote my tombstone epitaph: "From bookworm to earthworm"
I trust my financial background and my passion for science will be of use to the Friends Committee and I took over the role of Treasurer in September 2019.

Committee member, Alan Grant

Committee member, Alan Grant

Born in Dundee, I graduated in Physics at the University of St Andrews, followed by a PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge. I continued experimental work in solid state physics at the Cavendish Laboratory with a research fellowship at St John's College and subsequently as an IBM Research Fellow at the Thomas J Watson Research Center at Yorktown Heights, New York. I have spent most of my career in the Civil Service, first at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Malvern, and then in Whitehall. Since leaving the Civil Service, I worked as an independent consultant on IT related projects. Now retired and living in Dulwich, my interests include cosmology, genetics, and golf. The Friends of Imperial College offer an excellent way to keep the remaining grey cells stimulated!

John Evans, photographed for Friends at IC

Committee member, John Evans

I came from Manchester to Imperial in 1979 to do a Physics degree. Despite spending my adult life in the real world of risk and safety engineering, I always followed developments in my subject. I attended Brian May's long awaited Doctorate lecture in 2007 and I found that there was more of interest going on at Imperial than I had realised. I have now been coming back for lectures at IC for longer than I attended as a student! I was very happy that after attendance at the Friends lectures, I had to chance to provide input into the committee. I am exceptionally pleased that among those showing an interest in the subjects Rod, Angie and the team organise are my family and friends.

Katri Yates, photographed for Friends at IC

Katri Yates, Membership Secretary

Katri read Business Studies with a major in Finance at University of Helsinki before moving to London where she now advises a number of investment funds and Banks on their investment strategy.