Dr Imke Sittel (PhD 2017): tackling climate change through plant power 

In 2019, co-founders Dr Imke Sittel (PhD 2017) and Dr David Benito-Alifonso set up Glaia – an environmentally conscious startup which is on a mission to reduce the carbon footprint of agricultural food production. The revolutionary technology behind Glaia, which Imke and David developed at the University of Bristol, uses nanomaterial-based solutions to allow plants to harvest light more efficiently. By increasing crop yields and lowering emissions, this forward-thinking startup could play a pivotal role in tackling climate change and ensuring food security in future years.

We spoke to Dr Imke Sittel to find out more about startup life and to hear her fond memories of her time at the University.

(more…)

Why I’m a Bristol Volunteer

Almost 2,000 people volunteered for the University in this academic year. We caught up with some of our volunteers to find out more about their roles and what being a Bristol Volunteer means to them.

(Top) Fran Wormald (MEng 2012) supported our Bristol Voices programme

Since moving back to Bristol, I’ve wanted to get more involved in the local community and support students at the University. I can imagine the coronavirus crisis has left students feeling isolated and lonely, with limited opportunities to meet and socialise. I wanted to be a friendly contact for a student during this difficult period.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the student I’ve been paired with. She and I have lots in common and get on really well. We’ve been able to talk openly about our difficulties during lockdown and what we’re looking forward to in the future.

(more…)

‘It’s important to find what’s right for you’: Bristol Mentors share their insights

One hundred alumni and students joined us on 16 March for the Big Bristol Mentors Mingle, which was our first ever Bristol Mentors virtual networking event. This was a chance for alumni, students and mentors to meet each other and share invaluable career-focused insights. (more…)

Alumni Award 2021 Winner: Georgie Twigg MBE (LLB 2012)

Olympian Georgie Twigg MBE (LLB 2012) made history as a midfielder for England’s hockey team in the 2016 Rio Olympics, when the team stormed to gold after winning all eight matches in the tournament.

Juggling fulltime training at Bisham Abbey while studying for the final year of her law degree at the University of Bristol, Georgie knows a few things about ambition and working through challenging and stimulating times. As the youngest player in England’s squad at the time, Georgie helped win Bronze at London’s 2012 Olympics the same year she graduated, making her a double Olympic medallist.

Now an Associate at Bird&Bird law firm, Georgie uses her experience as an athlete to advise on sports-related commercial issues. As she accepts the University of Bristol’s 2021 Alumni Award for Achievement in Sport, Georgie shares her insights on the highlights of her sporting career and some life lessons she’s learning along the way.

You can also hear from Georgie at the Alumni Festival in May. Click here for more information on the Alumni Festival and to book your place. (more…)

Alumni Award 2021 Winner: Dr Tom Carter (MEng 2011, PhD 2017)

While studying for his undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Bristol, Tom developed an interest in how humans interact with computers. As his knowledge in the area progressed, he began investigating how ultrasound waves could allow people to interact with virtual objects using nothing but their bare hands.

Tom decided to develop the idea as part of his PhD research. During this time, in recognition of the technology’s commercial viability, Tom formed the company Ultrahaptics with two colleagues from the Department of Computer Science. Within two years, the company had 22 employees and £11.3 million in funding. In 2019, Ultrahaptics and Leap Motion joined to create Ultraleap, combining the world’s most advanced hand tracking solution with the only haptic technology that creates the sensation of touch in mid-air.

This year’s winner of the 2021 Alumni Award for Innovation and Enterprise, Dr Tom Carter reflects on what he’s learnt about himself during the pandemic, the advice he’d give to his younger self and the importance of the connections he’s made in his life. (more…)

Eileen Atieno (MEng 2018): “All of the doors were closing – but I just needed that one door to open.”

Eileen Atieno (MEng 2018) has achieved an incredible amount during her time at the University. But before she could embark on her Bristol journey, there were significant barriers that she had to overcome.

At the age of 11 Eileen moved from her home in Kenya and began studying at a secondary school in London. She achieved top grades but when she tried to apply for university, Eileen found that her visa status meant she didn’t qualify for student finance. Not one to be put off by a challenge, Eileen applied to almost a hundred bursary and funding opportunities, eventually securing one which meant she could join the University of Bristol as an Aerospace Engineering student.

After graduating in 2017, Eileen began a PhD in Advanced Composites and is now at the University exploring the mechanical properties of polymer composites. Alongside her academic work, Eileen has advocated for greater representation for Black students across her faculty and has set up outreach programmes to inspire young Black children in the Bristol area to study STEM subjects. We caught up with her to learn more about what motivates her to keep pushing for change.

(more…)

‘Enjoy the journey’: From criminal defence law to inspiring kindness, Zahra Afshar (LLB 2005) shares her eclectic insights

After working as a criminal defence lawyer in London, Zahra Afshar (LLB 2005) is now in-house counsel for her family business, Ahmad Tea. In this role, Zahra works with charitable organisations all over the world as part of Ahmad Tea’s commitment to philanthropy.

As part of the company’s ethos of giving, Ahmad Tea have recently established a fully funded scholarship for a Black medical undergraduate student at the University of Bristol. This initiative complements the University’s recently launched Black Bristol Scholarship programme, which will create 130 scholarships for Black and mixed-Black heritage students over the next four years.

We speak to Zahra about what motivated Ahmad Tea to make this gift, her fascinating career journey and the other ways she gives back to Bristol. 
(more…)

The view from here: Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (BSc 2019)

Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (BSc 2019) was elected Vice-President (Higher Education) for the National Union of Students last summer. She is the former Undergraduate Education Officer for the University of Bristol’s Students’ Union and a passionate advocate for education. Here, Hillary reflects on how students have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and how the national student body are responding to these major global issues.

(more…)

Inside the BBC Natural History Unit with Creative Director, Mike Gunton

Image: (L) Mike Gunton, (R) The iguana vs snakes scene from Planet Earth II. Credit: BBC Studios Natural History Unit

In 2016, millions of people up and down the UK gathered in their living rooms, biting their nails and peeping through their fingers as a newly hatched iguana fled from a swarm of snakes – narrowly escaping with its life. The iconic scene from Planet Earth II went viral worldwide and continued on to win the ‘Must-See Moment’ BAFTA award a year later. It’s a sequence that Mike Gunton (BSc 1979), Creative Director of BBC Studios Natural History Unit, has watched hundreds of times, both in the editing room and during the talks he’s given on the Natural History Unit in recent years.

‘I still love it every time I see it,’ says Mike, ‘especially the reaction it gets. It’s an extraordinary combination of brilliant camerawork and brilliant editing. That’s a once-in-a-generation kind of sequence to be honest.’

(more…)