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Ziggurat - The e-Newsletter of the UEA Alumni Association March 2017 View in browser
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This month has plenty of news, including award-winning staff and Oscar-winning alumni; enterprising students’ charitable focus and the impact of our academics’ research; new buildings and new international offices; not to mention victory at this year’s Derby Day, more from the gig archive project and our collection of stories from couples who met while they were here at UEA.

We hear from donors and recipients at this year’s scholarships reception, and also hear about the difference a scholarship has made on Syrian refugee Enana al-Assaf. Alumni, through donations, volunteering, and even just by reading these Ziggurat emails, continue to be a key part of the UEA community, helping to shape and enhance the University’s reputation.

Featured Stories


On Valentine’s Day we called for stories from couples who met at UEA, and plenty of you had stories and photos to share!

There were dozens of comments from alumni who met their partner at UEA, and even some whose parents met while they were here. Twenty three couples sent in photos and told us their UEA story. The couples ranged from those celebrating their ruby wedding anniversary, to recent graduates and one couple who just got engaged.

Read more stories of #UEACouples  
Washington DC dinner

UEA strengthens its international links

The University strengthened its ties with North America by officially opening an office in Washington DC last month.

This academic year, 85 UEA students are studying in the US and Canada as part of their degrees, and 153 North American students have chosen UEA for all or part of their studies.

While in the US, Vice-Chancellor Professor David Richardson addressed international higher education leaders at the 2017 Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) conference.

The conference was followed by a small dinner where Professor Richardson and Academic Director of Internationalisation Prof Richard Harvey met UEA alumni who work and live in the Washington DC area.

wall of vinyl

UEA gig history

UEA gig history marches into its fourth month with a poignant guest blog by Ian Dury’s biographer, Richard Balls, about final contact with the performer and attending Dury’s last UEA gig in 2000.

The March Memory Box is provided by John Peel archivist and BBC6music contributor DJ78, aka Dave Guttridge, who offers his Desert Island Gigs along with a number of rare photographs. Intellectual discussion on the @UEAGighistory Twitter feed has led to the creation of a Top 11 (or ‘turn it up to 11‘) UEA Gig Chart with amazing, amusing and often dubious claims made about the loudness of gigs “witnessed” at UEA over the years. 

The Twitter feed has also experienced a ‘moment’ after a mild explosion of #Obscureclaimstofame. Perhaps you have your own tale of little consequence about bumping into musical icons whilst shopping or having a great aunt who used to play bass. Please share if so; the UEA Top 11 Chart awaits.

Photo courtesy of Vice-Chancellor David Richardson, from his own wall of vinyl.

News in Brief
New test distinguishes prostate cancer ‘tigers’ from ‘pussycats’

A new test has been developed to make the vital distinction between aggressive and less harmful forms of prostate cancer, helping to avoid unnecessary, and at times damaging treatment.

New tracking devices can help monitor the world’s wildlife

UEA has helped develop a revolutionary new series of lightweight, long-lasting and low-cost tracking devices to enable scientists to monitor more wildlife.

UEA launches new UNESCO Chair programme to address international inequalities in adult education

A major new research programme at the University will help improve understanding about how adult learning can address inequalities in the poorest communities of the world.

More Stories

Oscar success for CMP alumnus

Alumnus and honorary professor in the School of Computing Sciences Iain Matthews (above left) was among 18 winners at this year's Scientific & Technical Achievements Awards, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. The ceremony was held on Sunday 11 February at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles.

Iain, along with colleagues Luca Fascione and J.P. Lewis, was presented with the award for the design, engineering, and development of the FACETS facial performance capture and solving system at Weta Digital. You can watch their acceptance speech here.

The system enables animators to bring the nuance of the original live performances to a new level of fidelity for animated characters, and was used on the movies Avatar and Tintin.

Read More  
Alumni Awards

Alumni shortlisted for British Council 2017 Alumni Awards

Two UEA alumni were shortlisted in this year’s British Council Alumni Awards.

Alexa Li Ho Shan (pictured above, fourth from right) was shortlisted for the Social Impact Award at the ceremony in Hong Kong, which was attended by Jimmy Choo, a Global Ambassador for the Alumni Awards. Alexa is now working for a local charity as a Programme Officer. She has organised large-scale story-writing and illustration workshops for local primary schools and community centres, helping strengthen the literacy development of more than 1,200 students from low-income families.

Tolu Ogunlesi was shortlisted for the Nigerian awards ceremony, in the Professional Achievements category. Tolu is a journalist, poet, photographer, fiction writer and he was appointed to the role of Special Assistant on Digital Media by the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.

The Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of international alumni who have studied in the UK, and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education. Award winners and finalists are leaders in their fields who have used their experience of studying at a UK university to make a positive contribution to their communities, professions and countries.

Scholarships reception

Awards enable talented students to study at UEA

Donor scholarships are making it possible for some of the brightest students in the region to further their studies at the University. This year’s scholarships reception, held earlier this month, saw 26 students from Norfolk and Suffolk receive over £188,000 in scholarship awards.

This year 68 students shared £276,000 in funding, awarded to gifted and talented young people who might not otherwise be able to afford to continue their studies. The scholarships are made possible through The Difference Campaign, which was established five years ago and has so far supported more than 500 individuals.

Victoria Phillips a former UEA student who, with her sons, founded the Paul Head Memorial Scholarship for Social Sciences in memory of her husband, gave the keynote speech. “We hope that through funding a scholarship we can help qualified students who might otherwise be deterred from benefitting from the opportunities offered at UEA,” she said. “UEA’s donor scholarships ensure that this and future generations of students can achieve their potential and, quite simply, ‘be brilliant.”

UEA Live event

UEA Live: In Memory of Rebecca McManus

A special event will be held on Thursday 23 March at Dragon Hall to celebrate the life and work of Rebecca McManus.

Rebecca was an undergraduate student of Literature and Creative Writing at UEA when, in 2014, she was killed in a road accident a few weeks before graduation. She was a superbly gifted poet and this event will mark the publication of a collection of her work, A Book of Fragments and Dreams, published by Unthank Books.

There will be readings by Rebecca’s friends, her tutors and by current students at UEA. 

Concrete founding members

Concrete25: book your tickets!

On Friday 28 April Concrete will be celebrating its 25th birthday with a reception at UEA's Sainsbury Centre. Tickets are on sale through the Student Union, and there is an event page on Facebook where you can get more details and updates.

If you have memories to share and want to be featured in the 25th anniversary issue, get in touch with Megan Baynes, current Editor-in-Chief, by emailing


Global impact of a single scholarship

Last month The Guardian published the incredible story of Enana al-Assaf, a Syrian refugee, preparing to start a new life studying a Postgraduate Research Degree at UEA.

She has been awarded a scholarship to study a PhD in cancer research and says the opportunity has changed her life. “We have so many smart people in Syria who can’t continue their studies,” she says. “They really want to finish their degrees, but can’t.”

Enana was just five minutes into a pharmacy exam at Aleppo University when a bomb exploded next door. Now living in Norwich with her husband, she says she wants to help Syrians missing out on their studies due to the conflict.

Earlham Hall

Earlham Hall

The UEA Law School has big ambitions for the courtyard area of Earlham Hall. Through the Earlham Hall Campaign, alumni and friends are supporting the redevelopment of the courtyard to create much-needed teaching and seminar space, as well as a new home for the UEA Law Clinic. 

Work on the first courtyard building, the Bothy Building, is well underway and is due to be completed later this spring. The Grade II* Listed building was the Hall’s former coach-house and has some wonderful period features which are being restored, including a vaulted ceiling and arched windows overlooking Earlham Park.

Support The Earlham Hall Campaign  

Derby Day success continues!

The annual Derby Day competition against The University of Essex took place on Saturday 11 March and UEA won, for the fifth year in a row.

UEA:TV made a great film of highlights from the day, which you can watch here.

Student entrepreneur

Students' clothing company makes a direct difference

Making a purchase that includes a charitable donation often comes with an element of doubt about how much the recipient receives, a problem that inspired two current UEA students to set up a company where the value of each donation is clear to see.

“Like many people, we’ve made ethical purchases and wondered how much of our money actually went to the charity concerned,” said Nick Hartshorn, a third year PE student. “As part of his International Development degree, my co-founder Fabio Falter visited Cameroon, where he volunteered in the Self Reliance School for orphaned and vulnerable children and saw that many of the pupils had no basic educational equipment.

“On his return, we came up with the idea of selling T-shirts and donating a rucksack filled with stationery for every purchase made rather than cash. That way, our customers know that they’re making a direct difference with every T-shirt that they buy.”

The young entrepreneurs received the support of UEA’s Student Enterprise team in establishing their company, Theta Alpha Sigma. “They helped us produce a business plan and a brand as well as providing initial funding of £500 to enable us to buy stock and develop our website,, which launched in December,” said Nick.

Eylem Atakav

Recognition for lecturer

Dr Eylem Atakav (AMA) has been awarded a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in recognition of her exceptional teaching.

The award recognises Dr Atakav’s work in offering modules such as Women, Islam and Media, which is the first of its kind in the UK, and providing leadership around internationalising the campus and the curriculum.

Dr Atakav already holds an international teaching award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Pedagogy, for using engagement with media and policy makers in teaching and to provide students with international level opportunities.

Keswick Hall lectures

Exploring religion in Britain today

The 2017 Keswick Hall Lecture series launched on Thursday 9 March with a lively discussion around the issue of free speech.

Three UEA academics each gave a short TED-style talk – Prof Rachel Potter spoke about free speech, Prof Lee Marsden focused on faith speech, and Dr Alex Brown tackled the subject of hate speech. The evening closed with questions from the audience and animated conversations that continued over drinks in the foyer.

The series continues on Thursday 16 March with a panel discussion on British values, with UEA’s Dr Eylem Atakav, Rabbi Roderick Young and Bishop of Norwich Graham James on the panel. And on Thursday 23 March Rt Hon Charles Clarke will be in conversation with MP Stephen Timms, discussing his faith as a Christian and the part it plays in his political life.

Fasting Friends

A healthy business venture

A passion for the environment and the experience of overcoming long-term digestive issues led UEA post-doctorate researcher Emilie Vrain to set up a new type of business venture that’s focused on promoting wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle.

“My interest in the link between digestive and mental health began after I developed severe stomach problems while trekking in India 10 years ago” said co-founder Emilie.

Fasting Friends retreats, new to the UK but based on a holistic fasting and exercise formula developed in Germany, the Buchinger Wilhelmi programme, offers an innovative way for stressed adults to relax and detox.

Global Opportunities

Global Opportunities Week success

Work experience overseas and a global perspective are increasingly important to graduate recruiters, so to meet this growing trend UEA CareerCentral introduced Global Opportunities Week in 2015. 

The annual event is focused on encouraging students to look for international opportunities, and supporting them overcome obstacles they may feel are stopping them. 

Speaking with graduates first hand, in person and through Skype sessions, is a brilliant way to make students feel more comfortable with travelling abroad. Nineteen alumni from around the globe shared their experiences and answered questions from the students, including graduates from China, Japan, Africa, America, Australia, and South East Asia.

If you would like to take part next year and share your story to inspire current students, please contact Lisa-Rose Moller at

Sea Hero Quest

UEA Professor presenting research to the Royal Society of Medicine

Professor Michael Hornberger will be giving a talk about the impact of his dementia research at the Royal Society of Medicine, as part of the Medical Innovations Summit on 22 April. 

Prof Hornberger is the Chair of Applied Dementia Research at Norwich Medical School (UEA) and the Co-Creator of Sea Hero Quest, and he will be joined by Maxwell Scott-Slade, Co-Founder and Game Design Director of Glitchers the video company behind the development of Sea Hero Quest.

Sea Hero Quest is a game that has been played by more than 2.4 million people and contains a diagnostic test for the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. It has become the largest dementia study in history. 

Prof Hornberger will also be giving the next London Lecture on Thursday 27 April, looking at the challenge dementia sets for our society. 

Researcher awards

PhD student wins research award

PhD student Yuli Shan has been awarded the China Scholarship Council (CSC) outstanding overseas Chinese Researcher Prize.

This is a special award given by the Chinese Government that acknowledges 500 young student researchers nationally. Yuli Shan is currently a third year Postgraduate Researcher at School of International Development. He is also an affiliate member in Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and is the postgraduate representative on the China Strategy Group of UEA.

His research mainly focuses on China’s emission accounts and low-carbon development pathway, especially at city level.

Chamber Choir

Spring concert

UEA Chamber Choir will present their spring concert at St George’s church in Norwich on Sunday 19 March.

The 30-strong chamber choir, under the direction of UEA Director of Music Stuart Dunlop, will perform a programme of Russian and British music, including Tchaikovsky's Tyebe Poyem; Kedrov's Otche Nash; Rachmaninov's Tyebe Poyem; Stravinsky's Pater Noster; and Byrd's Mass For Four Voices.

Quadram Institute

Quadram Institute reaches major construction landmark

The construction of the Quadram Institute, Norwich Research Park’s new state-of-the-art centre for food and health research, reached a significant stage earlier this month with the final cement pouring.

George Freeman MP, chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board and former UK Minister for Life Sciences (pictured right), led a ceremony to mark the occasion, which was also attended by representatives of Quadram Institute’s four partners: UEA, the Institute of Food Research (IFR), the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The Quadram Institute is on target to open in mid-2018, when it will house 300 scientists and 100 clinicians, integrating research teams from UEA’s Faculty of Science and Norwich Medical School, the IFR and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s gastrointestinal endoscopy department to create one of Europe’s largest centres of its kind.

Writers' Centre Norwich

Writers’ Centre workshops and masterclasses

Writers’ Centre Norwich has recently launched a programme of workshops and masterclasses for 2017, as well as agent days, and a new publishing day school for anyone interested in the changing world of publishing.

The workshops cover a number of genres such as fiction, poetry, memoir, creative non-fiction. Two of the fiction workshops held in May are 'Experimenting with Style' with May-Lan Tan, and 'Freedom Through Restriction' with Joe Dunthorne, providing fantastic opportunities to work with published authors.

Friend finder

Friend Finder

If anyone is in touch with the following people, please ask them to contact the Alumni office at, as one of their University friends would like to get in touch.

Rachel Bailey (BIO85)                         Ann O'Regan (SOC76)
Alan Bazeley (CHE88)                         Carole Painter (EAS66)
Charisse Brown (LAW82)                    Anastasia Papadopoulou (EAS97)
James Cartwright (SOC67)                 Balkirhsna Rajcoomar (SOC70)
Samantha Cutter (ART97/00)             Pedro Rosas-Bravo (SOC77)
Karen Davis (EAS84)                          Elaine Simpson (ENV98)
Eleana Dimitrioud (SOC97)                 Sara Smith (CHE88)
John Evans (ENV96)                           Christos Sofroniou (SYS82)
Anne Hansen (EAS98)                        Gary Speller (BIO00)
Huw Johnson (CHE88)                       Veronica Stokes (ENV96)
Malcolm Mansfield (SOC72)               Chee Yeoh (LAW85)

What's On

UEA Choir and Symphony Orchestra concert: Verdi Requiem

Friday 24 March, 7:30 - 9:30pm
St Andrew's Hall, Norwich
£4 - £12

UEA Choir and Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Tom Primrose (Choirmaster), warmly invite you to join them for a performance of Verdi’s celebrated Requiem on Friday 24 March at 7.30pm at St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich.

UEA Choir and Symphony Orchestra will be joined in their performance by prize-winning soloists Emily Garland (soprano), Claire Barnett-Jones (mezzo-soprano), Richard Dowling (tenor) and Keel Watson (bass).

Inaugural lecture: The role of internet technologies - are we bridging divides or losing control?

Prof Gerard Parr, School of Computing Sciences
Tuesday 28 March, 6.30pm
Julian Study Centre lecture theatre, UEA

Increasingly, being connected to the Global Internet is viewed as a human right and yet, many in society are not part of this connected digital maze and are part of the 'forgotten billion plus'. This talk will explore whether the benefits of connectivity outweigh the potential harm done by unpoliced content and will ask: what are the opportunities? What are the challenges? Should it be left to big business, should governments intervene or is it in the hands of wider society?

Free, no need to book.

London Lectures: Dementia - the new challenge for our society

Professor Michael Hornberger
Thursday 27 April, 6.30pm
Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW

Dementia rates are projected to double if not triple over the next 30 years in the UK and worldwide.  In his presentation, Prof Hornberger will talk about what are the risk factors for dementia, as well as which cutting edge research is currently performed to prevent, diagnose and treat dementia. Finally, he will talk about what can be done to reduce your risk of developing dementia.

Talk begins at 6.30pm followed by a complimentary drinks reception.

Admission is free but booking is essential.


In the past month the University has sadly been informed of the death of following alumni:

Steve Sleight (SOC71)

An obituary for Steve can be found here.

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