Alumni classnotes

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Improving diversity in engineering

Daniel Rossall-Valentine

Daniel Rossall-Valentine (MA Systematic Theology, 2012) was approached by The Royal Academy of Engineering in September 2016 and asked to help with this challenge by creating a major perception-change campaign. The goal was to create a more visible, more powerful, and more unifying message than anything done before, and provide content that all engineering organisations can use to attract the next generation of talent. With his creative team at the agency bandstand, he designed the ‘This is engineering’ campaign, which launched in January 2018. In the eighteen months since launch, the films have been viewed over 35 million times, and have rapidly changed perceptions amongst the 13-18 target audience.

For further information and to find out how to get involved with the “This is Engineering” campaign, email Daniel.


Alumnus elected partner at major law firm

Yasin Keshgarvar

Yasin Keshvargar (English Law and French Law) has been elected partner at global law firm Davis Polk & Wardell LLP. Yasin is a member of Davis Polk’s Corporate Department in New York, practicing in the Capital Markets Group. He advises domestic and foreign issuers and underwriters on a broad range of transactions, including initial public offerings and other equity offerings, public and private high-yield, investment-grade and convertible debt financings, restructurings and cross-border transactions.


Alumnus featured in CEO Magazine

Choy Wai Hin

Choy Wai Hin (Civil Engineering, 1988) has been profiled in the business publication CEO Magazine. Wai Hin, who is Group Managing Director of Federal Furniture Holdings, spoke to the magazine about positioning the Malaysian company for growth in the coming years, drawing on its strong family tradition and looking to the implementation of new technologies.

Read more in CEO Magazine


Alumnus awarded Seaborg Medal

MMR Williams

M.M.R. Williams (Physics, 1958), Emeritus Professor of Nuclear Engineering in the University of London, has been awarded the Seaborg Medal of the American Nuclear Society for his outstanding accomplishments in furthering nuclear knowledge and the progress of mankind. The Seaborg Medal is made to an individual in recognition of outstanding scientific or engineering research achievements associated with the development of peaceful uses of nuclear science.


Finding a match for Meena

MMR Williams

Meena Kumari-Sharma (Business Management, 2000), started 2018 with a life much like many of her peers. She was successfully juggling her career as a recruitment consultant alongside being a mother to five-year-old twins. But then she was diagnosed with leukaemia. Shortly after her diagnosis, Meena found out that she would require a stem cell transplant.

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From Melbourne to Mongolia: a doctor's journey

Friendship medal

In July 2018, anaesthetist Phil Popham (Medicine, 1982) was amongst a group of four doctors awarded the Mongolian silver Friendship (Nairamdal) Medal. The medal, which is the highest honour bestowed upon a foreign citizen by the Mongolian Government, was presented during a private audience with the President of Mongolia, Battulga Khaltmaa.

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Decorating a room of one’s own

Decorating a room of one's own

Susan Harlan (MA Shakespeare Studies, 2002) Decorating a Room of One’s Own, brings together her great loves of literature and design. With tongue-in cheek humour and illustrations by Becca Stadtlander, the book pokes gentle fun at modern designer trends, and uses the type of language more commonly found in design blogs.

Read more.


Transforming Health, Leisure & Tourism in Leicestershire

Phill Turner

Health & Leisure Services Manager Phill Turner (PGcert Sports Law, 2006) is leading on a range of transformational projects to improve Physical Activity, Leisure and Tourism for Blaby District Council in Leicestershire.

‘Active Blaby’, which launches this summer, combines academically proven behaviour change techniques to link residents with their most suitable local physical activity. An exciting concept that is possibly the first such initiative in the country. 

Blaby has also just launched a ‘health hub’ at Enderby Leisure Centre by working with the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to install an Urgent Care Centre (out of hours GP service). This is complimented by the Council about to invest £4.5m into its leisure facilities, allowing them to secure an excellent new contract with an external provider.

Phill also has a remit for Tourism and the Council has recently launched its first ever Tourism Partnership with great support from local tourism businesses.


Brothers setting the pace

Gordon Borthers
Julian Gordon / Jeffrey Gordon (credit: Michael Cross)

Brothers Jeffrey (Law, 1955) and Julian Gordon (Physics, 1957) studied at King’s in the 1950s. Since then, their lives have taken them down different paths and to different continents.

Julian gained his PhD in Biophysics in the lab of the Nobel Laureate Maurice Wilkins. His inventions as an international research scientist have contributed to many fields. His team invented the famous ‘Western Blot’, a protein test used widely in molecular biology and HIV-AIDS testing. He was also behind the technology that led to the first home pregnancy tests. He recently became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Ever the entrepreneur, at 76, he co-founded a start-up to help allergy and asthma sufferers. Inspirotec has a home kit called Exhale that measures allergens in the air using technology originally developed for space travel.

Jeffrey studied Law whilst working for a Soho solicitors. He developed an interest in what is now known as legal aid, representing his first clients under the Poor Prisoner Defence Acts. In 1962 he set up his own legal aid practice and went on to become the UK’s longest-serving criminal legal aid lawyer.

Jeffrey worked on the landmark case that devised the concept of the ‘McKenzie friend’, the practice whereby a person can be helped in an English Court by a ‘friend’ who is not qualified in law. Now in his 80s, he has run the same law firm for 55 years, with a full caseload and many loyal clients. He has truly devoted his life to defending those who are not able to defend themselves. At the age of 84 he still works as a freelance advocate.

Jeffrey was active in many sports as a young man; Julian was more studious. Their interests converged in middle age when both became active runners. So much so that Jeffrey has completed 33 London marathons and was an Olympic torch bearer in the 2012 games. Julian, at age 82, still competes in marathons and has been a pace team leader in 17 consecutive Chicago Marathons.

Both live and breathe the dictum ‘mens san in corpore sana’, or ‘healthy mind, healthy body’.


Choreographer lives his dream

Stuart Hopps
Stuart Hopps pictured recently at Bush House

Stuart Hopps (Spanish 1964) is an award-winning choreographer for opera, ballet, film and TV. He has worked on British film classics such as The Wicker Man, Sense and Sensibility and Much Ado About Nothing and with leading lights Sir Peter Hall, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Sir Trevor Nunn and friend and alumnus Derek Jarman (General Studies, 1963).

Stuart started dancing at a youth club in London’s East End where he directed and choreagraphed a jive group. He went on to study with some of the most celebrated dance teachers including Bessie Schönberg in New York. However, he also attributes much of his success to skills he learnt whilst studying Spanish at King’s. One of his most cherished memories is of Professor Parker, the then Head of the Department of Spanish. ‘He would look at my essay briefly, then throw it to one side and say: “How’s the dancing going?”’ Stuart says: ‘Instead of chastising me for missing lectures because I was too busy dancing, he was encouraging me to further my career and thinking about me as an individual. I will never forget that.’

Stuart says King’s helped him think clearly, put ideas together and hone in on the meaning in works, all skills he applied to his choreography. King’s also gave him the confidence to write. He published his debut novel, The Rainbow Conspiracy, at the age of 75 and is now working on a sequel.

Stuart has been instrumental in dance education, establishing the first bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. He is the only English person to have gained a lifetime achievement award for dance from the Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and has an Honorary Doctorate from City University.

Stuart choreographed for Opera North’s autumn 2018 production of The Merry Widow.


Peace-building in today’s multidimensional conflicts

Malik Al-Abden

After four years as Syria Advisor at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, Malik Al-Abden (War Studies & History, 2003) is now Iraq and Syria Programme Manager at the Brussels-based European Institute of Peace. He is developing and implementing private mediation initiatives in support of international efforts to end the civil war in Syria and stabilise post-ISIS Iraq. Malik is well versed in the field of ‘Track II diplomacy’, an approach involving dialogue between non-government officials – having worked under one of its pioneers, former EIP Executive Director Martin Griffiths, currently serving as United Nations Envoy to Yemen. With six years of experience as a journalist covering the Middle East, Malik brings first-hand insight into the challenges facing peace-building in today’s multidimensional conflicts.


Alumnus awarded honorary degree by the Open University

Jonathan Andrews

Jonathan Andrews (English, 2015) has been offered the honorary degree of Master of the University by the Open University in recognition of his ‘exceptionally innovative and socially responsible business developments’ – in particular, ‘raising the profile of autism and disability in law and business’. The honorary degree will be awarded on 22 November 2018 at the Brighton Centre.


Alumna makes GB synchro swimming team

Ilaria Brandimarte

Italian-born Ilaria Brandimarte (MA Global Ethics & Human Values, 2017) has made her long-awaited debut as a member of the British synchronised swimming team and competed in the 2018 European Championships.


Alumna named in top 100 women in the British car industry

Sophie Ogunbiyi

Sophie Ogunbiyi née Hudson (European Studies, 2006), has been selected in the Top 100 list at Autocar’s annual Great British Women in the Car Industry Awards 2018. Sophie is Manager, External Affairs at Toyota Motor Europe.


Karol Higgins becomes a Chartered Manager

Karol Lorne née Higgins has achieved the highest professional status within management. Karol is Senior Crime Scene Investigator at Greater Manchester Police. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has awarded her Chartered Manager status having completed her Chartered Manager accreditation.

The Chartered Manager accreditation, a qualification which is equivalent to a doctorate, is designed to equip managers with the professional capability to drive and lead better organisations.


Alumna receives Chief Constables Commendation

Karol Higgins (MSc Forensic Science, 1997) and her forensics team at Greater Manchester Police received a Chief Constables Commendation on 15 August. The team are pioneering new methods for investigating and responding to an increased use of drones as a means of trafficking contraband into prisons.


Operation Hadrian – Alumnus walking Hadrian’s Wall for Obesity Action Campaign

On 22nd September 2018, Jonathan Temple (MBBS, 2018) and his father Simon, a retired Major in the Royal Engineers, are walking the length of Hadrian's Wall. The two are making the non-stop 84 mile journey to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining adequate levels of physical activity and exercise throughout life and to raise money for the Obesity Action Campaign.

Launched at the House of Lords in 2011, the Obesity Action Campaign is a UK-registered charity that coordinates and inspires action to tackle and reduce levels of childhood and adult obesity and obesity-induced disease.

If you want to find out more about John’s mission, you can follow his progress and discover more about the Obesity Action Campaign on the Operation Hadrian Facebook page and support Jonathan on his Just Giving page.


Alumnus awarded Friendship (Nairamdal) Medal by President of Mongolia

In July 2018, anaesthetist Phil Popham (St Thomas’ Hospital, 1982) was amongst a group of four doctors awarded the Mongolian silver Friendship (Nairamdal) Medal. The medal, which is the highest honour bestowed upon a foreign citizen by the Mongolian Government, was presented during a private audience with the President of Mongolia, Battulga Khaltmaa.

Phil emigrated to Australia in 2001, taking citizenship in 2004. For the last few years he has travelled regularly to Mongolia with a group of obstetricians, gynaecologists and nurses to teach local medical staff. Initially the group was dedicated to promoting minimally invasive gynaecological surgery, but it has recently expanded its remit to encompass all aspects of women’s health. Their work has enabled rapid advances in surgical, anaesthetic and obstetric care in the country.


A Country Doctor's Commonplace Book

Philip Rhys Evans

Dr Philip Rhys Evans (Guy’s, Medicine, 1971) has had his book A Country Doctor’s Commonplace Book published by Slightly Foxed. Each Christmas for the past 16 years Philip, who is a GP in Suffolk, now retired, has sent his friends and family a small booklet of ‘wonders and absurdities’, gleaned from many different sources over the years. This book selects from these collections to provide a very personal look at the pleasures and eccentricities of English life.