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.

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‘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. 
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An update from Jonathan Phillips (BSc 1994), your Alumni Association Chair

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.

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A Bristol life: Dr John Reeks (MA 2010, PhD 2015)

For over 12 years Dr John Reeks has been a part of the University of Bristol: first as an MA student, then as a PhD researcher and now as a lecturer in the Department of History. Here he tells us more about what makes the University such a special place for him.

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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.

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Owning our Digital Destinies – a look at the University’s Bristol Digital Futures Institute

Image (C) Shutterstock

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…)

Spotlight on COVID-19 research: Professors Imre Berger and Christiane Schaffitzel

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…)