We were delighted to welcome Dr Suzie Imber back to Sutton Valence School last night to deliver the inaugural Kingdon Society Lecture on ‘Adventures in Space’. Dr Imber spoke to a large group of students, governors and staff with great passion about her journey and experiences, from her early academic and sporting interests in school to her winning of the BBC Two competition Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?.
Suzie’s success in the competition and her subsequent recommendation from Commander Chris Hadfield, are rooted in her inestimable determination and energy. An elite rower, high altitude climber, intrepid explorer and space weather researcher, Suzie’s prowess as a polymath was truly inspiring. She detailed her current work on the BepiColumbo project, having been a key member of the team who built the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) instrument which will map Mercury’s surface, with the ultimate aim of improving our preparedness for an adverse space weather event. We saw a video of Suzie during astronaut training in a centrifuge machine and heard the effect that g-force has on the human body. Another clip showed Suzie and two other contestants in a capsule bolted on the seabed, dealing calmly with an impaired oxygen supply. Various other photographs of Suzie and friends climbing 5,000+ metre peaks in the Andes were awe-inspiring.
One of the things that came through strongly was the importance of grasping life with both hands and taking the opportunities which present themselves. During informal talks afterwards, Suzie encouraged some members of the Upper Sixth to “get involved with everything” at university – valuable words!
Following the lecture and a fascinating question and answer session, the audience enjoyed refreshments and they were able to view some hugely impressive Scholars’ projects completed during the Summer Holiday. The quality of this work was excellent and the students should be very pleased with their achievements.
We are immensely grateful to Dr Imber for speaking with such verve and expertise and we look forward to hearing of her future adventures.
Head of Academic Scholars