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Class Notes

Explore the achievements of our alumni community in 2023 by month:

December 2023

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Line Break imageThirty three Durham alumni are participating in a 2023 Twice Round the World Triathlon (target distance 80,150km) in memory of Durham alumni Lieutenant Richard Palmer (Combined Social Sciences, College of St Hild & St Bede, 1998-2003) and Flight Lieutanant David Sale (Engineering, St Aidan's College, 1997-2001). The team has covered 67,336.35 km at the time of writing.

Line Break imageBisola Alaka (MSc in Finance, Ustinov College, 2010-12), founder of Ebonimode Fashion Limited and Cocofresh Natural Foods Limited, has been profiled by Leadership.

Line Break imageElizabeth Bell (Music, College of St Hild and St Bede, 2018-21) has placed second in the Doubleday Student Prize at the Royal Society of Medicine's Students Section's prize presentation. The Doubleday Student Prize is awarded annually to a medical student who can demonstrate outstanding principles of patient partnership and patient care. 

Line Break imageDaniel Best (MBA, 2006) has been appointed to the Board of Directors at Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator.

Line Break imageDr Margaret Bradshaw (PhD in Botany) is the subject of a Guardian article, focusing on her fight to save rare plants in Teesdale.

Line Break imageMichael Booth (Economics & Finance, Collingwood College, 2020-23) has signed his first professional contract with Warwickshire County Cricket Club.

Line Break imageGeorgina Burton née Layton (English Literature, College of St Hild & St Bede, 2012-15) is the recipient of a prestigious award from The Shaw Trust. She has been featured in the Power 100 list of the most influential disabled people in the UK this year for her work as an award-winning disabled blogger and influencer / content creator on topics such as disabled travel, modelling and inclusive weddings. 

Line Break imageVictoria Collins (History, Van Mildert College, 2006-09) has been selected as the Liberal Democrat's candidate for the next UK general election

Line Break imageHelena Coles (Economics & Politics, Grey College, 1985-88) joins the Board of HgCapital Trust plc, assuming positions on the Audit, Valuation & Risk Committee, the Nomination Committee and the Management Engagement Committee. 

Line Break imageDr John Cripps (PhD in Engineering Geology, Graduate Society, 1970-77) has given this year's Glossop Medal lecture on engineering properties of mudrocks and the issues they can cause on engineering projects, by invitation of the Engineering Group of the Geological Society.

Line Break imageNatalie Hiller (Natural Sciences, Van Mildert College, 2010-13) was awarded 'Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion of the Year' at the 2023 Turnaround, Restructuring & Insolvency awards. This award recognises her contribution to increasing disability inclusion in the restructuring and accountancy professions.

Line Break imageTessa Howard (Geography, University College, 2017-22) has been awarded the Changemaker Award at the the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards, campaigning for change in female sports kit. She thanked her professors at Durham who encouraged her to publish her undergraduate research in her acceptance speech. 

Line Break imageDr Markus Gershater (Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Collingwood College, 1998-2002; Phd in Biochemistry, Ustinov College, 2002-06) discusses key themes from Synthace's Lab automation & experimentation in life science R&D 2023-2024 report.

Line Break imageEmma Myall (Management Entrepreneurship, Josephine Butler College, 2022-23) has been announced as a new assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara Women's Water Polo under head coach Serela Kay.

Line Break imageDr Olasupo Olusi (MSc in International Money, Finance, and Investment, Graduate Society, 1999-2001; PhD in Economics, Ustinov College, 2001-05) has been appointed MD/CEO of the Bank of Industry in Nigeria.

Line Break imageFlorence Ryan (Law, Grey College, 2016-19) is currently in the middle of an adventure cycling across Africa. She is documenting the entire journey on YouTube, where she has recently released a new video. She is looking to connect with Durham alumni in the course of her travels, so if you are based in Africa, please give her a shout at

Line Break imageRichard Smith OBE (History, Grey College, 1991-94) has been honoured by a tank-pulling ceremony on his final day as director of the Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset after 17 years in position. He moves on to a position as CEO of Gresham College, which provides free educational lectures to the public.

Line Break imageDr Victoria Walsh née Battell (BA in Sociology, St Aidan's College, 1997-2000; MA in Criminal Justice Studies, Graduate Society, 2000-01) has been appointed as Vice President and Chief Academic Officer at State University of New York's Columbia-Greene College. She obtained her Doctorate in Education from Maryville University (St Louis, USA) earlier this year.

Line Break imageDr Michael Young (PhD in Music, St Cuthbert's Society, 1989-1995) has performed in a jazzed-up carols and hit songs gig in Sunderland's Engine Room. Together with a bassist, singer, and drummer, Paul entertained on the piano. 

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November 2023

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Line Break imageNikolaos Antoniou (Mathematical Sciences, Graduate Society, 1989-91; Mathematical Sciences, University College, 1991-94) is currently displaying a blend of collages and acrylic artworks in 'Did I see this?' at the Press Club Brussels. The exhibition runs until Monday 6 November. 

Line Break imageDr Douglas Bachorik (PhD in Music, St John's College, 2013-20) has taken up a position as Chair of the Music Department at Maranatha Baptist University (USA). He was formerly the Director of Music Studies at Bob Jones Memorial Bible College in the Philippines. 

Line Break imageChristina Castling (English Literature, College of St Hild & St Bede, 2005-08) has written play 'Beyond Caring' about care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Line Break imageMark Cooper-Jones (Geography, Van Mildert College, 2005-08) and friend Jay Foreman are now YouTube sensations after posting Horrible Histories-style video as the Map Men on niche geographical subjects, such as 'The world's silliest time zones'.

Line Break imageWill Donnelly (History, Van Mildert College, 2012-15) together with brother Chris, have announced that their company Lottie has raised $21m (£16.35m) in a Series A funding round led by Accel to confront the social care crisis and elevate the standard of later living. Find out more about Will by reading his Durham story.Line Break imageGabriela Knutson (MSc in Marketing, Hatfield College, 2019-20; MSc in Sustainability, Energy & Development, Ustinov College, 2020-22) has won the International Tennis Federation's W40 The Campus Carby Volkswagen Ladies Open in Portugal.

Line Break imageDr Hanna Lucas (PhD in Theology, Ustinov College, 2016-22) has been announced as this year's Think Truthfully Alumni Award recipient at TWU 2023 Alumni Awards.

Line Break imageDr James McGrath (PhD in Theology, Graduate Society, 1995-98) has recently published 'The A to Z of the New Testament'. The book's introduction starts with his experience about finishing up his doctorate at Durham and being invited to give a talk at a Sixth Form Study Day.

Line Break imageDr Marco Palumbo (PhD in Engineering, Ustinov College, 2000-05) has joined Infleqtion, a quantum information company, as Director of Business Development in the UK

Line Break imageMichael Pedersen (Law, University College, 2002-05) has been appointed the new Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh. He has also been shortlisted and highly commended for the prestigious Forward Prizes for Poetry for work from his new book 'The Cat Prince'.

Line Break imageZara Rahman (Modern Languages, Collingwood College, 2006-11) published 'Machine Readable Me' last month, examining how and why data that is gathered about us is increasingly limiting what we can and can't do.

Line Break imageRevd Dr Nathaniel Warne (Theology, St John's College, 2011) has written an article entitled 'The Church's deafening silence amid ethnic cleansing of Armenians'.

Line Break imageStephen Welton CBE (Law, Hatfield College, 1979-82) has been named by the Government as the new Non-executive Chair of the British Business Bank.

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October 2023

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Line Break imageDr Elizabeth Ashton (MA in Education, 1987-89; PhD in Education, 1996, St Mary's College; former staff member) has published 'The Role of Metaphor and Symbol in Motivating Primary School Children'. She has kindly shared discount code FLA22 for alumni to use if purchasing this item.

Line Break imageRevd Andrew Baldock (Theology, St John's College, 1998-2000) has been appointed as Minister-in-charge of the Parish of Ardmore in the Diocese of Dromore.

Line Break imageRebecca Daniel (Biological Sciences, St Mary's College, 2014-17) was shortlisted as one of 20 regional finalists in the Commonwealth Youth Awards. Rebecca also featured in the latest issue of Dunelm magazine.

Line Break imageJack Edmondson (History, Hafield College, 1996-99) has been named as Chief Investment Officer at Oxford Science Enterprises

Line Break imageSom Emadi (Business Finance, Stephenson College, 2001-04) and his company Unicorn Commercial Finance has been awarded Sole Trader of the Year 2023 by the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers. The company has also been shortlisted by the Bridging & Commercial awards for 'Best D&I Campaign of the Year'.

Line Break imageSue Flood (Zoology, St Mary's College, 1983-86) has talked to WalesOnline about her work with Sir David Attenborough and visiting the North Pole 11 times. 

Line Break imagePaul Headon (Zoology, St Cuthbert's Society, 1995-98) was appointed as the new head of service planning at train operator Northern in August, taking on overall responsibility for the timetables of over 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.

Line Break imageFiona Gehring (BA, Neville's Cross College, 1963-67) has penned new novel 'The Bone on the Beach' under the name Fiona Gillian Kerr.

Line Break imageAwais Khan (MA Management Studies, 2010-13) has published third book 'Someone Like Her', following critically acclaimed novel 'No Honour' in 2021.

Line Break imageFrancis Mdlongwa (MBA, Van Mildert College, 2009-13) continues his journey into Business Management, completing a PhD in Strategic Business Management from the University of Johannesburg. 

Line Break imageProfessor Michelle Simmons (Physics & Chemistry of Materials, Trevelyan College, 1985-88; PhD in Physics, St Aidan's College, 1988-92; Honorary Doctor of Science, 2019) will deliver the 2023 Boyer Lecture series on ABC Radio National, with the overarching theme 'The Atomic Revolution'.

Line Break imageDr Catherine Swift (Archaeology, Collingwood College, 1985-88) features on the 'Talking History' podcast with host Patrick Geoghegan, exploring the history of Medieval Dublin.

Line Break imagePhilip Tanedo (Physics, Josephine Butler College, 2007-09) spoke on the topic of dark matter in Seaver College's W.David Baird Lecture Series last month.

Line Break imageOliver Tress (Anthropology, Hatfield College, 1986-89) , founder and owner of UK national fashion and homeware store Oliver Bonas, has been profiled by The Times.

Line Break imageRevd Dr Michael Volland (Theology, St John's College, 2010-13) has been announced as the next Bishop of Birmingham and will be consecrated a bishop on 30 November. As well as completing his PhD at Durham, he also held the position of Director of Mission at Cranmer Hall, part of St John's College.

Line Break imageRevd Ian Yates (Hebrew (Classical), St John's College, 1963-66) was invested as Mayor of Tewkesbury Borough for 2023-24 earlier this year.

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September 2023

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Line Break imageProfessor Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze (French, Grey College, 1996-2000; Teaching & Learning in HE, Graduate Society, 2002-03; current staff member) has recently penned ‘Les Malices’ – a fictional account of the notorious real-life double murder of a bourgeois mother and her adult daughter by their two maids, the Papin sisters in 1933. Line Break imageAngelica Krystel von Kumberg (International Relations, St Mary’s College, 2015-18) published her debut fiction novella ‘The Flowers of Hiraeth House’ in July.

Line Break imageShelby Navone (Museum Studies, Ustinov College, 2019-20) has been awarded the 2022 Geoff Egan Prize from the Finds Research Group for research conducted during her MA at Durham.

Line Break imageSam Newbould (Theology, Trevelyan College, 1990-93) will be touring the UK with his sell-out jazz quintet later this month.

Line Break imageNick Obolensky (Russian, University College, 1977-80) has been accredited as an Agile Business Thought Leader by the international Agile Business Consortium, building on the work of his book ‘Complex Adaptive Leadership: Embracing Paradox and Uncertainty’.

Line Break imageElena Njoabuzia Obwochei-Garcia (Combined Arts, Collingwood College, 2015-19) has been selected for the internationally renowned Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition, launching in Blackpool this month.

Line Break imageDr Eve Poole OBE (Geography, Josephine Butler College, 2008-13) has recently published new book ‘Robot Souls: Programming in Humanity’.

Line Break imageDr Louise Powell (Medieval and Renaissance Literary Studies, St Chad’s College, 2014-15), 2023 Writer in Residence at Josephine Butler College, was announced as the winner of the Sid Chaplin Award as part of the Northern Writer’s Awards in June.

Line Break imageJenn-Hui Tan (Law, St Cuthbert’s Society, 1996-99) has been appointed Fidelity International’s first Chief Sustainability Officer.

Line Break imageJohn Wallace (Doctorate of Theology and Ministry, St John’s College, 2022) published ‘Anglo-Catholic Church Planting: Can it Work?’ in July with Sacristy Press.

Line Break imageDr Anthony Wells (BA in Modern European History, 1962-65; MA in History, 1965-69, St Cuthbert’s Society) features in White House Chronicle episode ‘Protecting Democracy’ aired by America’s PBS. 

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