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.

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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.’

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Eco-entrepreneur: we speak with Alumna Rhea Singhal (BSc 2004), Founder and CEO of Ecoware

Rhea Singhal, Founder and CEO of Ecoware – India’s first and largest sustainable food packaging company – tells us about her move from Pharmacology to environmentally friendly tableware, what she learned from her time at Bristol, and how to confidently follow your passion.

I fell in love with Bristol on my open day at the University. The city had such a nice feel to it, not too large but big enough to be interesting. It was easy to navigate as a student and I always felt at home, which was particularly important, as I was an international student. I made a great bunch of friends at Bristol that I’m still in touch with today.

I had wanted to be a medical doctor since I was very little, but when it came to actually attending university I wavered, and I wasn’t so sure. So instead I chose to study Pharmacology. But I found the degree to be very research based and I personally didn’t like that, I wanted more face-to-face interaction. It was very hard, but I also knew that nothing lasts forever. I was also lucky in that the faculty were always super supportive and honestly felt like family. And I loved all of the societies and extracurriculars that I was part of. (more…)

Alumni interview: Sally Earthrowl, Mission Leader at eXXpedition and Environmental Advocate

Image credit: Eleanor Church, Lark Rise Pictures – eXXpedition North Pacific Leg 1 Hawaii to Vancouver

Sally has always had a passion for our planet, graduating in 2004 with a BSc (Hons) in Geography and then continuing her studies to qualify as a Geography teacher. Over a 12-year teaching career Sally has been department lead and had whole-school responsibility for Teaching and Learning. Whilst teaching in Indonesia Sally led the charge on environmental action, facilitating the school becoming single-use plastic free, and working with the local community to raise awareness about the upstream solutions to this environmental challenge. Sally has since swapped her classroom for a sailing vessel and now leads all-female sailing voyages with eXXpedition, carrying out scientific research into plastic pollution and educating about the issue, the solutions and the role that everyone has to play in overcoming this environmental challenge.

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