Giles Watkins (BSc 1986) spent some of his formative years at Bristol writing for the University paper Bacus and has since gone on to write a sell-out book on sleep Positive Sleep: A holistic approach to resolve sleep issues and transform your life, via a career that spanned sales, marketing, oil trading, learning development and general management. Giles credits Bristol with giving him a wide breadth of experience and the confidence to pursue his passions. After working overseas in many different countries, Giles can now be found living back in Clifton where he started out as a student many years ago.
Ronald Hutton, Professor of History in Bristol’s Department of History, is a renowned and beloved academic and author of multiple books and publications. He is a leading authority on the history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.
Professor Hutton shares with us his views on Bristol, why it’s so important to him, and why he’s left a gift in his Will to the University. (more…)
Kathryn Moore (BA 2005) has fond memories of sitting in the quad at Wills Hall in the summer sunshine, with her fellow students of English at the end of term. While everyone else was busy with exams, Kathryn and her classmates could enjoy some freedom as the university year ended because at that time, English students were continually assessed throughout the year, rather than having an intense period of exams at the end. Like many of our alumni, Kathryn is still in close contact with the friends she met while studying, and is a regular visitor back to the city.
‘Studying at Bristol was such a happy time in my life. I picked a subject I really enjoyed and met like-minded people wherever I went – on my course, in halls and in the various societies.’ (more…)
Barrister Alastair Hodge (LLB 1996) is determined that those following in his footsteps will benefit from everything his Bristol education afforded him, by pledging a gift in his Will to the University.
Graduating with a degree in law & german, Alastair went on to take the Bar Vocational Course, followed by his one-year pupillage, and today is a successful barrister working in London. Alastair regularly returns to Bristol to speak to current law students and offer career advice, something he says he benefited from when he was a student. “If I derive a benefit from something I always try to give back,” says Alastair. “I love to see the enthusiasm of students when I come back to give talks, all those interested and expectant faces in the audience.” (more…)
Dr Valerie Marett MBE, (BA 1950, Cert Ed 1951) 93, has crystal clear memories of her time at Bristol, where she took up her place to read History in 1947, not long after the end of the second world war.
Resplendent in a bright sweater which was a gift from her late husband (Dr Marett refuses to wear the ‘uniform’ of a white cardigan, which is prevalent in her residential home) she tells us of her time at Bristol.
Dr Marett came to Bristol from a state grammar school in her native Wales and found herself surrounded by ex-service personnel and pupils of independent schools. She liked Bristol because it wasn’t the University of Wales where other members of her family had gone. At that time her halls of residence (Manor Hall) were female-only, headed by the warden Miss Morgan. Because of the austere conditions in post-war UK, she vividly recalls the gasps from her fellow students when one young woman appeared ready for a ball in a Christian Dior New Look dress, glowing from her holiday on a film star’s Caribbean yacht. Dr Marett appreciated the supportive atmosphere at Manor Hall, as at that time only 5% of the student population was female. For her, the drama students and those involved in their productions were the life and soul of the University at that time, in particular a Gerald Lloyd-Williams (Sub Lt), who had served in the navy during the war.
As we look back on the maelstrom of 2020 and the continued impact of COVID-19, I hope you will take some solace in the way in which your University has been weathering this storm and continuing to be excellent in all its endeavours.
Researchers, businesses, government and diverse communities must come together to proactively shape our digital future, say Professors Susan Halford and Dimitra Simeonidou, Co-Directors of the University’s Bristol Digital Futures Institute (BDFI).
The BDFI is led by Professor Susan Halford (School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies) and Professor Dimitra Simeonidou (Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering). For the past decade Professor Halford’s work has focused on the interface between social and computational sciences, while Professor Simeonidou specialises in high-performance networks and future internet research. This complementary expertise feeds into the BDFI, which aims to transform the way we create, utilise and evaluate new digital technologies to benefit our society now and in the future. (more…)
COVID-19: Discovery of a druggable pocket in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein
When husband-and-wife dynamic duo Professors Imre Berger (Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology) and Christiane Schaffitzel (School of Biochemistry) found themselves in lockdown in March 2020, unable to teach or run their normal workday at the University of Bristol, they did not hang up their lab coats. Instead (while complying with all necessary safety measures) they assembled a cohort of volunteers from their teams and set to work to do what they could to stop COVID-19 in its tracks, as part of the bigger Bristol University COVID-19 Emergency Research Group (UNCOVER). (more…)
COVID-19: Looking at different ways in which aerosol research can support the fight against COVID-19
As Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Aerosol Science and the Bristol Aerosol Research Centre, Professor Jonathan Reid’s approach to tackling COVID-19 is, naturally, focused on aerosols. ‘Aerosols’ is a term that is used to refer to a collection of particles that are airborne and with sizes typically smaller than the diameter of a human hair. When we speak, breathe, cough or even sing, we generate hundreds of these particles that someone else could breathe in, transmitting the virus responsible for COVID-19.
A key piece of work from Professor Reid has shown that there is significantly less risk of COVID-19 transmission from anaesthesia procedures than was previously thought. This is an important finding at a time when many operations and NHS procedures have been postponed or cancelled, causing problems for patients in the UK.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been much debate about the danger to hospital staff from anaesthetic procedures. Concerns include that inserting a tube in the patient’s airway (intubation) before surgery or removing it at the end (extubation) may produce a fine mist of small aerosol particles and spread the COVID-19 virus to nearby staff.
COVID-19: Immune correlates of hyperinflammation and protective immunity in COVID-19
As we grapple with the nightmare scenario of a global pandemic, scientists around the world, including at Bristol, are diving into research around as many aspects of the COVID-19 virus as possible. One of the key findings to date is that in serious cases the body’s immune system goes into ‘overdrive’. Evidence accumulated so far suggests that the life-threatening COVID-19 complications are related to immune dysregulation, arising because of viral infection in the form of a hyperinflammatory syndrome accompanied by increased plasma levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.(1-2)
Immunologist Dr Laura Rivino is conducting a pilot study that should provide us with a clearer understanding of the immune response underlying both the immunopathology and immune protection in patients with COVID-19. Her team’s hypothesis is that it would be beneficial to use a combination of strategies where the anti-inflammatory response can be blocked while simultaneously boosting the anti-viral immune response, with an expectation of ensuring viral clearance and establishment of immunological memory.