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…)

Alumni share their career insights within Education

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

On Tuesday 26 January, our alumni volunteers shared their career stories with students and recent graduates. The event was part of our Bristol Connects Live series- our online series of career and professional development events. The session focused on careers within Education and our alumni experts shared their career stories and experiences to inspire students and recent graduates to help them understand more about the sector.

The event was hosted by Shanice Swales (BA 2014) who works as a Senior Policy Advisor in Higher Education Access and Admissions at The Department for Education. Shanice was joined on the panel by Abbigael Bainton (PGCE 2014/MSc 2018), Assistant Principal at the the Cabot Learning Federation. Mark Barrow (BSc 1995), Chief Executive Officer at the Seckford Education Trust and Dr Nigel Newton (PhD 2016), Lecturer, Education Consultant and Writer.


Alumni welcome new School of Accounting and Finance students

As our students started to arrive back to Bristol in October, or for those that embarked on their online learning from home, 
our School of Accounting and Finance alumni were on hand to provide a warm welcome to new students at their first online lectures. Students were no doubt facing a different term of learning ahead and having our alumni there to welcome them helped bring the student experience to life. 

Five graduates from the School of Accounting and Finance shared their experience with current students, giving advice from their studies at the University and details of their career development after graduation.  


University of Bristol Alumni of Eastern Canada Virtual Reunion!

Heather Proctor (BSc 1964):

On Tuesday 22 September 2020, the University of Bristol Alumni of Eastern Canada held their first ‘virtual’ reunion. Joanna Sochacka from the Development and Alumni Relations Office gave a very interesting overview of how Bristol has coped during Covid-19. Joanna informed us that the Eastern Canada Alumni group is the oldest continuously-running group in the world. The group has been organising annual reunions for the past 18 years.

Among the group, there were several old University of Bristol scarves to be seen, as well as photos of Bristol on walls. Dennis Osmond (MBChB 1954) showed a big photo of our dear Eastern Canada founder, John Bull (BSc 1958), and we virtually toasted him as Dennis waved a bottle of Bristol Cream! We talked of canoes, bears, a bobcat, skis snowshoes, a kayak, a wedding and a cross Canada drive, as well as ways we’re coping and trips we haven’t taken. All agreed it was so nice to hear from each other, and to meet a new member, Roger Moore (BA 1966).

Next year we look forward to welcoming as many alumni as possible to the 2021 reunion, it may be held in Kingston, if it is safe to do so.

If you are interested in holding your own online reunion and would like us to help please contact

Alumni share their government and third sector career insights with students

On Tuesday 21 July, our alumni volunteers shared their career stories with students and recent graduates. The event was part of our Bristol Connects Live series – our online series of career and professional development events. The session focused on careers in government and the third sector and our alumni experts shared their career stories and experiences to inspire students and recent graduates to help them understand more about the sector.

The event was hosted by Kim Slim (LLB 2016) who works as Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister’s Independent Grenfell Adviser and Head of Grenfell Community Support Team at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Kim was joined on the panel by Annabelle Pemberton (BA 2018), Organisational Development Officer at Redearth Education and Shailini Vora (BSc 2016), Trust Fundraising Officer at St Mungo’s.


Inspirational student speakers at Class of 2020 Virtual Celebrations

Our Class of 2020, who are enjoying their Virtual Celebrations this month, had some inspirational student voices speaking at their digital events. We caught up with some of them to hear about their time at Bristol, their passions, and their plans for the future. And we welcome them into our alumni community!


Renowned speakers to join Class of 2020 in Virtual Celebrations

Top row L – R: The Right Honourable the Baroness Hale of Richmond, Vanessa Kisuule, Sir Paul Nurse. Bottom row L -R: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Jenny Griffiths MBE, Dame Julia Slingo.

From final-year medics graduating early to work on the NHS frontline, to groups organising foodbank donations, throughout this year Bristol students have been stepping up to assist those impacted by the pandemic. Many of our final-year students have been taking part in such activities, all whilst working hard to complete their degrees.

For these students, their time at the University is almost at an end. So, to mark their incredible achievements and commemorate their final year, the University is hosting a series of virtual celebrations for the class of 2020. The events will be hosted online and will see Bristol students from all over the world signing in from home to watch with their friends and family.


In celebration of our fantastic Bristol scholars

On Tuesday 25 February the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) hosted our inaugural Scholarship Celebration in the Great Hall of Wills Memorial Building.

The event brought together students who have benefitted from scholarships with some of the donors who made it possible. Celebrating with our students and donors was a poignant reminder of the significant impact scholarships have on our whole University community, as well as the individuals who receive them.

My story is one of the many lives you have touched and on behalf of all the scholars, we are eternally grateful – Omolola Funsho

Omolola Funsho, spoke about how receiving the Futures Scholarship eliminated her financial worries in her first year of studying Physiological Science:

It has also allowed me to completely immerse myself in university life. I have made many friends from different backgrounds, courses and walks of life. I’ve joined the African and Caribbean Society, I joined a dance class, I’ve joined the Neuroscience and PhysPharm Societies and I’ve been able to attend many talks led by professors at the University, quiz nights and Christmas balls.

Thanks to the scholarship, Omolola has been able to focus on her studies (rather than working multiple part-time jobs to support herself), join societies and purchase a laptop which has allowed her to study flexibly.

James Watts, whose PhD scholarship was funded in honour of Dr Ian Keil, an alumnus who had also benefitted from a studentship in the 1950s, also spoke about the difference a scholarship makes.

The support of Dr Keil’s family, given in his honour, has enabled James to further his career by supporting his research in an area where funding is scarce. If you’d like to find out more about our scholarship and PhD programmes, you can read about some of them in our latest impact report.

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.