You’re mentoring those who need it most

Yousuf stands in a park, he is wearing a suit, holding his glasses in his hand and smiling at the camera

Yousuf Chowdhury (BSc 2020) shares his experience of the Bristol Mentors programme and how it helped shape his career path.

My undergraduate degree was in Economics. So many of us assumed we were going to go into Finance, without really knowing any specific area we wanted to get into. I was applying to internships in my second year without much success and I didn’t know many people in the sector to turn to. I wanted someone to help me through the process and share their experience of the industry, and that was why I applied to Bristol Mentors.


You’re shaping new graduates’ careers

India is smiling, looking away from the camera. She is standing next to a wall in a garden with trees behind her.

India Fallon (BA 2014) tells us how her time at Bristol encouraged her to give back by volunteering as a Bristol Connects Career Expert.

Studying at the University of Bristol had such an enormous impact on my life and defined it in so many ways. I was eager to give back and do something to support current students and recent graduates.


You’re rising to a global challenge

Dr David Matthews (left), Reader in Virology and Dr Andrew Davidson (right), Reader in Systems Virology in front of their new microscope. The screen shows a virus interacting with cells.

Professor Adam Finn, of the Bristol Medical School, provides an insight into an extraordinary year for Bristol’s community of biomedical researchers.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, my laboratory was focused on the impact of vaccinations on respiratory infections in children. But when COVID-19 hit, we were compelled to pause that work, and redirect our efforts. The nature of our research meant it was possible to make that shift rapidly and we weren’t alone: researchers across the University of Bristol were applying their expertise to the emerging pandemic. The University’s COVID-19 Emergency Research group (Bristol UNCOVER) emerged organically and within a month, there were over 100 researchers, from a vast range of disciplines, meeting online each day to pool resources and expertise, and share progress.


You’re creating space for research

Robert Chapman sits outside a University of Bristol building. He is wearing a blue shirt and looking away from the camera

Robert Chapman, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, explains how this fellowship is advancing important research.

The first year of my fellowship researching Health and Wellbeing for a Neurodiverse Age has been amazing. My PhD explored the philosophy and ethics of autism, challenging the notion that living with autism is inherently at odds with living a good human life. With the fellowship, I’ve been expanding on my previous work to explore neurodiversity more broadly, using my background in Philosophy and Disability Studies to explore the models we’ve developed to understand whether or not someone is psychologically healthy or unhealthy and how they might be ‘disordered’.


You’re opening doors through scholarships

Laura Frude is photographed smiling at the camera. She is wearing a striped top and a green jacket. She is standing outside and trees can be seen in the background.

Laura Frude (BA 2009, MPhil 2010, MPhil 2019) describes her role as Futures Scholarship Coordinator at the University of Bristol and the incredible impact it has on students.

The Futures Scholarship programme provides funding for students from a widening participation background and includes £2,000 in the students’ first year to use at their discretion and £2,500 they can access over the course of their degree to support employability. It supports those who may not start university on a level playing field with their peers or have the contacts to support them to build a career, and many of the students are the first in their family to go to university.


Together, we go from strength to strength


Professor Hugh Brady sits outside one of the University of Bristol buildings. He is wearing a suit and looking directly at the camera

Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Hugh Brady and Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Andrew Monk, reflect on your remarkable generosity over the last year

Thank you for the incredible support you have given to the University of Bristol this year. As you will read in these pages, your generosity has had an immense impact on the global Bristol community, and you are ensuring that our University will continue to realise its ambitions for the future.


Alumnus Alfie awarded top prize at Crowdfunding challenge

The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards is a UK-wide entrepreneurial business pitching competition for students and recent graduates. This year, the competition included a ‘Crowdfunding challenge’ where the businesses worked with the team at Crowdfunder to create a campaign for their business.  

Working with Crowdfunder, Student Travel Tips created a campaign for the business, winning a cash prize of £6,000 from Santander at the final and crowdfunding over £5,000.  

Alfie Laurence set up Student Travel Tips while studying at Bristol to provide peer to peer advice for students studying abroad. From paperwork and accommodation to culture and socialising, Alfie aims to reassure students as they embark on a daunting, yet exciting, year abroad.


Bristol Memories: ‘We had masses of fun together and forged lifelong friendships’

We love hearing your stories from your time at Bristol, especially when they’re accompanied by great pictures like these from David Dance (MB ChB Medicine, 1979).

David regularly meets up with other University of Bristol cricketers of the 1970s and would love to hear from other team-mates who are interested in meeting up. If that’s you (or someone you know!) get in touch with us at

Take in Adelaide in 2017. Mark Winter, Andy Blaxland, David Dance and Nick Birchall.


Celebrating our newest alumni: February 2020 graduation

Graduation at Bristol is one of the highlights of the University’s year: it’s when we celebrate the achievements of students and the support of their friends and family, and we welcome thousands of new graduates to the Bristol alumni community.  

This year, the drizzly February weather didn’t dampen the atmosphere at the Wills Memorial Building as postgraduate graduands prepared to cross the stage and reunite with their friends.

We set out to meet some of our newest #BristolGrads, and hear about their time at Bristol, their passions, and their plans for the future 

Michelle Windle, MSc Strategy, Change and Leadership 

I worked part time during the two years of my MSc, but to be honest, as the chief executive of a charity, it was more like a full time job. I found the days I was studying or attending seminars were almost like a holiday: I loved the intellectual stimulation, the chance to explore different threads, and studying alongside an inspiring cohort of people from different sectors and backgrounds.  

My dissertation was challenging: my first degree was in History, so adapting to science research methodology was tough. I looked at collaboration within the third sector: how leadership across boundaries can enable charities to work together. My case study was a consortium of Bristol-based charities that my organisation was a part of, which worked together to tackle sexual abuse, and I explored why this consortium worked, when others have failed.  

What next? I’m hoping to move into consultancy, particularly for charities going into consortia together: I’d like to apply what I’ve learnt in my MSc and my professional experience to facilitate and coach organisations collaborating.

Leila Matavel, MSc Robotics 

What I loved about Bristol was the diversity, the friendships, the clubs and the beautiful views! 

The classes and the lecturers were very, very good too. I feel like everything I learnt here was relevant to my career and I’m now I’m actually working in robotics.


Lesley Silvester, Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa, and Dr Hayley Ellis (BSc 2014, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, PhD 2018) 

Lesley: I met Hayley with Dr Kathreena Kurian (head of the Brain Tumour Research Centre and Hayley’s PhD supervisor) before she had even finished her undergraduate degree at Bristol. What was really interesting was that Hayley had already published an important literature review at that point. I thought she was just so impressive, there was a really nice connection there.

Hayley: I would never have been able to continue my studies at Bristol without Lesley and Terry’s financial support. In my PhD research I was tracing genetic mutations through recurrent brain tumours, so when the same patient comes back and they have another sample taken, we could see the potential impact of different drugs.

Lesley: I feel privileged to have been able to support Hayley’s PhD. One of the most special things was when a copy of her PhD arrived, and it was dedicated to Terry and I – we were really gobsmacked!

Hayley: I’m so happy to be here to celebrate Lesley today as she receives her honorary degree.

Jasmeet Khalsa, MSc Advanced Computing, Machine Learning, Data Mining and High Performance Computing 

Since I finished my MSc, I’ve been living and working in Germany. I didn’t really know too much German beforehand, but I’ve found it really easy to integrate. In terms of what I’m doing there, it’s pretty similar to what I did my thesis on here in Bristol, so that’s great – it’s an area I’m really passionate about.  

My course was intense: I needed a strong work ethic during my time here. But there were so many highlights of my yearthe music scene in Bristol is great, and so are the bars, museums and restaurants. I particularly loved spending summer days down by the harbourside, ideally with a pint of West Country cider! 

Venexia Walker, PhD Medicine 

I submitted my PhD last year and moved into a post-doctoral role here at Bristol. Right now I’m on a one year placement at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia: there’s a key dataset for my research which can only be used within the United States.  

My work looks at disease progression. I’m using a statistical method called Mendelian randomisation to explore how, once someone has a disease, we can prevent progression. Lots of studies focus on the period before disease, looking at risk factors or preventative medication. For those sorts of studies, you can use general population data, but the statistical work becomes more complicated when we’re looking at disease within an individual.  

My PhD at Bristol was funded by Roger and Kate Holmes, two donors who have given generously to research into Alzheimer’s Disease at Bristol. I met them a few times during my PhD; having the chance to talk to people outside of academia who were really interested and invested in my work was very meaningful for me.

Rujie Sun, PhD Advanced Materials.

I really enjoyed the five years that I spent in Bristol. It’s such a nice city to live in! The environment is great, there are so many beautiful buildings in the city and around the University – like the Wills Memorial Building!  

Now that I’ve graduated, I plan to stay in academia. I’m already doing some postdoctoral research in London.

Sulagna Ghosal, MSc Management (Marketing) 

I’m from Kolkata, and I came to Bristol initially because of its strong reputation among employers. My year here has gone so quickly. As an international student, it can be a steep learning curve to understand the academic system here: the assignments and assessments, for example, are quite different to in the Indian system. It almost felt that I’d finally got the hang of it, and then the year was over!  

A highlight of my time here has been the friends I’ve made on my course. We’ve shared lots of experiences together. I’m heading back to India next month, and I hope that I might move into a PhD programme.

Alexander Palmer-Walsh, PhD Aerospace Engineering 

My time at Bristol was definitely made by the people I met here and the things that I’ve learned along the way.  

I know that working on a PhD can be quite an independent process but the fact that, here at Bristol, you can be in an office with lots of people going through the same thing really helps. You can chat to people, bounce ideas around and, to be honest, everyone just gets behind you and are really willing to help you out.  

Doing a PhD can be a bit of a rollercoaster so being able to persevere through the tough bits and having people there to talk to is really useful 

For anyone starting at Bristol this year, I’d say to make the most of your time here and the community around you. If you feel like you’re getting into a rut and closing in on yourself, know that there’s so many people here to support you and make sure you utilise that.

Climate emergency – what now?

Artist Luke Jerram stands underneath a replica of the earth
In August this year the University’s Cabot Institute for the Environment hosted Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram’s Gaia in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building. Measuring seven metres in diameter, Gaia features incredibly detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface, providing a unique opportunity to see our planet on this scale, floating in three dimensions. Image copyright: Ben Birchall/PA images.

The University of Bristol has declared a climate emergency. We hear from just some of Bristol’s experts about what’s happening.

Portrait of Rich Pancost


Professor Rich Pancost

Professor Rich Pancost, Head of School for Earth Sciences considers the University’s role and its commitment to become carbon neutral in 2030.

‘Rather than ignore what’s happening we can, in our different areas of expertise, work together on sustainable solutions for all.’





Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and naturalist talks about the scale of the problem and how we have the power to tackle it.

‘If we have an obligation to our children, our grandchildren and further generations then it is time we took that seriously.’




Jack Farmer

University of Bristol alumnus and Co-Founder and Operations Lead at LettUs Grow Jack Farmer is an expert in controlled environmental agriculture.

‘We want to enable new business models for local growers and play a key part in creating a non-wasteful food supply chain by supporting alternative, resilient food production’




Dr Alix Dietzel

Dr Alix Dietzel is a lecturer in Global Ethics at the University of Bristol, specialising in climate change and global justice.

‘We are at a critical crunch point with climate change and it can no longer be ignored’.