Students behind innovations to help improve road safety, health, food choices, fashion options, the workplace and the environment are a step closer to realising their business dreams after being selected as finalists in the University’s 2021 Enterprise Challenge.

A total of 10 students have been announced as finalists in the Challenge, run by The Graham Shapiro Foundation and powered by ARCET Global.

Some of the finalists in the University’s Enterprise Challenge
Some of the finalists in the University’s Enterprise Challenge.

The competition offers the chance for emerging entrepreneurs from any degree discipline to have their ideas tested by a panel of business experts with an impressive pedigree of enterprise, and win £1,000 plus a mentorship programme from the Foundation.

The finalists, chosen from almost 70 entries, are:

  • Gena Fraser – Road Signs Aloud – an app/device that reads written traffic signs and written traffic information aloud, designed for – but not exclusive to – drivers with dyslexia.
  • Lina Tejoprayitno – Fast Pop Specs Limited, trading as Pop Specs, in partnership with Daniel Barnes – assembling a full set of prescription glasses within 15 minutes.
  • Liam Boyle – Pop-a-Drops – vitamin drops developed with expert advice from the University’s NoWFOOD Centre.
  • Marcin Jasinski – Rapid – an electric scooter hire service for residents of Chester.
  • Shakir Tahiri – Renewable Energy Storage – developing storage of hydrogen from renewable energy sources.
  • Sondra Butterworth – RareQoL Limited – a not-for-profit social enterprise, working to improve quality of life for the rare disease community and under-represented groups, as well as families and individuals working and living with the effects of rare dementias.
  • Alzbeta Nelson – Making Eden – a design and consultancy company, connecting people and nature in sustainable places.
  • Hanna Andersen – As We Are – a coaching and training consultancy, with the aim to increase diversity in leadership and happiness at work.
  • Atinuke Owoeye – Sieuft Trading Limited – exporting (mainly food) products that are produced in Africa.
  • Valerie Hutson – Lokarbo Nutrition – creating a range of food with the NoWFOOD Centre, helping people achieve a healthy weight and combat Type 2 diabetes.

Graham Shapiro, driving force for the Challenge and Entrepreneur in Residence at University of Chester Business School, said: “We want to give young entrepreneurs every possible encouragement to realise their dreams.

“The standard of entries was excellent, exhibiting outstanding innovation and ambition. We look forward to finding out more about each student and business, announcing the winner and helping to transform their vision into successful enterprise.”

Mark Hamill, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of ARCET Global said: “We’ve been thrilled with the entries from such inspiring young entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“The finalists have now been invited to submit a 10-minute video pitch of their business or idea. The judges and everyone involved is excited for the live-streamed virtual ceremony on July 14, when the winner will be revealed.”

Dr Connie Hancock, Head of Department for Management at Chester Business School added: “With core aims relating to everything from health to the environment, our students are developing enterprises which can make a big difference. This competition is one of many ways we encourage such entrepreneurship and is highlighting new initiatives and ideas with much promise for the future.

“We are extremely grateful to Graham Shapiro for making this Enterprise Challenge possible, in addition to all the support he provides as our Entrepreneur in Residence, and to ARCET Global for helping to run our competition so brilliantly.”

Students have described how they are “thrilled”, “delighted”, “proud” “honoured” and “excited” to be chosen as finalists, in addition to how it has given them “confidence” and drive to do well in the competition and grow their initiatives.

The Graham Shapiro Foundation is a charity that supports mental health, well-being, innovation and young entrepreneurialism in the UK and ARCET Global is a leading provider of professional services.

For further information about the Enterprise Challenge, please visit:


Some of the students share their reaction to being chosen as finalists:

Gena Fraser said: “I am thrilled to be a finalist in the 2021 Enterprise Challenge. Road Signs Aloud will help to make driving safer for so many drivers and I am honoured to have the opportunity to showcase my work via this platform.”

Liam Boyle said: “It is extremely exciting to take part in the Enterprise Challenge as there are some amazing prizes to be had; I feel very proud to be shortlisted.”

Marcin Jasinski said: “I am incredibly grateful and excited to be one of 10 finalists. I am looking forward to taking part in the final stage and I wish the very best of luck to my competitors.”  

Shakir Tahiri said: “It feels a substantial achievement to be selected, in particular as a student with an engineering background. I seek to help people and bring a smart change in the future through the development of sustainable energy, photovoltaic systems and low-cost storage solutions for renewables – and hopefully, this programme will help achieve my goal.” 

Sondra Butterworth said: “I am thrilled that RareQoL is one of the 10 finalists for the University of Chester Enterprise Challenge. With the guidance and support of my supervisors Associate Professor Dr Andrew Mitchell and Professor Elizabeth Mason-Whitehead, during my Doctoral studies, I have really gained a solid grounding in the practice of psycho-social research, and set up social enterprise RareQoL Limited in July 2020. As part of this I am leading a ‘Whose Voice is it Anyway?’ campaign to draw attention to the voices of those who are often under-represented in discussions about issues that affect the rare disease community, looking at the UK Rare Diseases Framework and the English Action Plan, and working with Medics4RareDiseases and NHS England. The competition provides another opportunity to further the campaign #WhoseVoice.”

Hanna Andersen said: “I’m thrilled to be in the final with such a talented group of student-led businesses. It feels reassuring that all the work it takes to sustain a business alongside studying is worth it.”

Atinuke Owoeye said: “I am delighted to be in the finals of the competition. It is an acknowledgement that I am doing something good, giving me more confidence to keep growing in my entrepreneurial experience and growing my own business someday.” 

Valerie Hutson added: “I’m absolutely delighted to be shortlisted as a finalist. Studying for my Food Science and Innovation MSc has given me the knowledge and confidence to want to get into the development kitchen and formulate some delicious, low carb products. Having reduced my carbohydrate intake over the last two years, I know the benefits and challenges first-hand and am excited to make it easier for others to follow this way of eating too.”

On the judging panel are:

John M Mohin OBE D.Univ, Chairman of Graham Shapiro Design; Alissa Koopal, Chief Executive Officer at Pennine Events Ltd; Rob McKay, Managing Director of Sherrington Associates; Martin Nolan, Business and Leadership Coach; Cody Gapare, Founder of multi award-winning C-Lash as seen by Eylure, and Joel Blake OBE, Business Leader, Entrepreneur and Public Speaker.

Jonathon Roberts
Jonathon Roberts

A Business and Marketing student is embarking on his dream digital career – with a little help from graduates who have led the way in the industry.

Jonathon Roberts, who is set to graduate soon, is excited to be starting a new role as Web and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Assistant at Clicky Media.

The Business Management and Marketing Management student has joined the multi-award winning digital agency which is led by University alum, Oli Yeates.

Jonathon said: “I have strived to work for Clicky Media, so when the chance to work for them straight out of University came up, I was so happy.

“I’m really enjoying meeting all my colleagues, working with a wide range of clients and continuing to develop my experience in digital marketing.”

The 21-year-old from near Frodsham added that the University’s Graduate Peer Mentoring Programme had spurred him on in achieving his ambitions.

“The Graduate Peer Mentoring programme has been fantastic. I am able to talk to a graduate who has gone through the same University experience as me, share ideas, future plans, and even share marketing tips and techniques.

“Talking to someone already working in the marketing industry is really beneficial – if I have any questions, I can easily get them answered.”

The mentoring programme is just one example of how Jonathon has made the most of opportunities to enhance his experience and employability throughout his three-year degree.

“It has been great to work within the industry during my studies, through freelance roles, internships and volunteering, especially helping a wide range of businesses and charities with their Digital Marketing,” he said.

“During the first lockdown, I worked with a local travel company to provide marketing support during their rebrand. More recently, I secured a freelance role with an alum who was looking for support with website design, development, maintenance and SEO.

“Alongside this, I have also completed the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) qualification, and taken part in the Chester Difference Award, which recognises students who take part in a variety of extra-curricular activities, as well as the Venture Programme which supports students to explore their entrepreneurial potential.

“I have also been part of the Business Society committee as Digital Marketing Lead and more recently Vice President.”

As can be seen in Jonathon’s work experience, he did not let the challenges of the pandemic deter him from building his portfolio – and in fact, cemented his goals.

“Looking back at 2020, it was actually a great year for me in terms of gaining experience and developing my knowledge. I attended a few workshops during lockdown, which really helped me to develop new skills and influenced my decision to search for an SEO role in a digital marketing agency after graduating.”

He added that the University of Chester and its Business School had proved the right choice for his undergraduate degree.

“One of the main reasons I decided to study at the University of Chester was due to me being able to stay at home and commute to Chester. Another reason was because of the friendly community I experienced when attending Open Days.

“It was a good decision – now I’m working for an amazing agency with its headquarters in Chester, and looking forward to what’s ahead.”

A unique competition is fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship at the University with the chance for students to win an exciting four-day adventure combining business workshops and intrepid outdoor activities.

Santander Universities UK is giving 10 lucky students the opportunity to enjoy both business sessions and adrenaline sports at the famous mountaineering venue of Plas Y Brenin, National Outdoor Centre, in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.

The Venture Adventure aims to develop entrepreneurial thought and action, helping to turn business ideas into a reality, through a memorable mix of interactive talks and activities including kayaking, open boating, stand-up paddle boarding, raft building, indoor and outdoor climbing and abseiling, this August.

Man in a canoe
The Venture Adventure will help students to develop their entrepreneurial ideas, through a combination of business sessions and outdoor activities.

The competition closes on June 1 and entrants just need to be a University of Chester student with a business idea to apply. To find out more, please visit the competition web page at:

The Venture Adventure has been organised with Chester Business School, which has a dedicated entrepreneurship module supporting students to start their own business as part of their degree. 

Dr Henry Sidsaph, Lecturer at the University of Chester Business School, said: “We are dedicated to fostering a culture of entrepreneurial endeavour at Chester, and we are grateful to Santander Universities for all the support they provide to our enterprising students.

“The University of Chester Venture Adventure offers an unforgettable experience and is an example of a partnership that brings about many opportunities for our students through mentorship, learning and backing, to help transform ideas into feasible new ventures.”

Robert Simmonds, Deputy Relationship Director at Santander Universities UK added: “It is a tremendous pleasure for us to be part of the journey for such inspiring students and help them progress towards their goals.

“The entries are already coming in and we look forward to reading them all and choosing the winners. To be able to see the vision and passion, and help take students on their next steps in business through the Venture Adventure, is an extremely rewarding, incredible experience.”

Striking artwork by two students has been chosen to feature on the cover of the official magazine for University of Chester graduates and alumni. 

Fine Art student, Alex Dai Williams’ artwork has been selected for the cover of the 2021 digital edition of ACH1EVE and Interior Design student Alexandra Costache’s illustration stood out to editors as the cover choice for the print edition.

Both Alex and Alexandra are the 2021 recipients of the ACH1EVE Prize run by the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office. The Prize, which was established in 2020 in partnership with the Department of Art and Design, is funded by alumni donations. The Prize invites Art and Design students to submit their artwork to appear on the digital and print front covers of ACH1EVE, and also receive a monetary prize. The digital front cover is displayed on the website and sent out to digital subscribers, while the print copy is sent to more than 4,000 postal subscribers and is available at events.

Here the students give us insights into the artwork and the inspiration behind each, as well as sharing how it felt to win the cover competition.

Describing his work, Alex Dai Williams said: “Clouds cover the person’s mouth, symbolising physically how we have covered ourselves. As a student, I don’t know my classmates faces in person, only through a screen or from the eyes up. I placed clouds around the person to represent how this facial covering has already lifted for people in other places. I wanted to present that as a wisp because a mental and emotional weight is also being lifted, and the bright colours represent hope and a positive energy.

“I feel society has shifted, especially at the beginning of this year, following dropping COVID cases and the distribution of the vaccine. The unusual appearance of the figure represents a fantasy theme, as for many the idea of changing back to the normality of pre-COVID seemed far away and unattainable, however now it seems possible again.”

On featuring on the cover, he added: “To receive the email that my artwork had been chosen was incredible. The confidence and happiness that washed over me was unreal. In high school I was the kid who hid their drawings, so for my artwork as an adult to be shared through my university was unlike any experience I have ever had.

“I feel I have made myself, and my family very proud. I definitely hold myself to a higher esteem knowing I was chosen for my artwork by my university. I am grateful for the opportunity, and astounded to have been chosen.”

Alexandra Costache said: “My artwork, titled ‘Back into the Future’ is about the idea of moving forward with our lives by going back to the way things used to be, with a greater appreciation for what we have.

“The illustration is divided into two parts: the background which represents the past, and the main colourful figure that represents the future. The link between them is the holding hands, a symbol of unity, showing that we can only move forward together.”

She continued: “I was extremely pleased when I found out that my illustration was chosen for the magazine cover, it somehow validated that the message I wanted to communicate was clearly understood and I am glad that was very well received.

“I am also grateful that the university gave us this chance, I think that any positive feedback is a boost for any artist, especially when it is curated and shared.”

Hayley Naldrett, Editor of ACH1EVE and Engagement Officer in the Development and Alumni Relations Office, said: “This year we received some fantastic entries for the ACH1EVE Prize, but Alex and Alexandra’s artwork really stood out to us.

“Alexandra captured our theme of ‘looking to the future’ perfectly, encapsulating elements of 2020 that have defined such a turbulent year. Alex’s abstract artwork for the digital front cover is exactly the kind of visionary artwork that defines our students and sets them apart. I am positive that both students have an extremely bright future in the world of art and design.”

If you would like to contribute to the next issue of ACH1EVE, or be notified when the next ACH1EVE Prize cycle begins, please email

To see more of the students’ work, visit:

Community arts, media, development and regeneration organisations are among the initiatives that are set to benefit after seven students and graduates were successful in applications for national enterprise-boosting grants.

The students and recent graduates have each been awarded £1,000 by Santander Universities UK to carry out freelance work for a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise.

James Messenger
Student and freelancer, James Messenger, who will use his grant to further the growth of social enterprise, Alchemy Arts.

James Messenger, who is studying a Master’s in Digital Marketing, is one of the successful applicants and is looking forward to using his grant to support Manchester-based Alchemy Arts. The media and arts social enterprise uses innovative education and outreach programmes to support ethnic minority and wider under-represented communities across the North West.

James works with the organisation as a digital marketing freelancer, creating and distributing a range of social media and written content, as well as supporting the development of projects.

The 22-year-old from Warrington said: “I am delighted to receive this funding as part of the Santander UK Freelancer Scheme. Many freelancers like myself have struggled during the pandemic, but ventures like this really enable us to make a difference across a number of fields.

“It is fantastic to see my hard work recognised. Alchemy Arts is a very worthwhile organisation doing some great work within the community, and I cannot wait to continue supporting their growth across Greater Manchester.”

Fellow successful applicants also shared their joy at being awarded the grant.

Adeyinka Olushonde, who is from Merseyside and studying a Doctor of Professional Studies (DProf) in Practical Theology, is preparing to use his grant to support organisations as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “I am extremely pleased and grateful to be accepting the £1,000 award for the Santander Freelancer Scheme. Having worked for many years in the areas of community arts, community development and regeneration, I provide a range of project support and delivery on a freelance basis to organisations, focused on business and personal mentoring/coaching services.

“I am currently engaged in delivering financial support and signposting to those who have been adversely affected by the global pandemic. This award will enable me to continue to provide a high quality service.”

Nikki Gladwin-Stride
Student Nikki Gladwin-Stride whose grant is enabling her to re-start her freelance events business.

Nikki Gladwin-Stride from Wokingham, who is studying School Business Leadership (Apprenticeship) and is also a children’s entertainer, providing birthday parties and workshops as well as festival and corporate entertainment, said: “The grant is enabling me to re-start NikNak Events – something I am passionate about, as I have not been able to operate during the last year due to the pandemic, while also offering a nice treat for local pupils to enjoy some disco fun to boost morale after a year of restrictions.”

Adebowale Ademola, from Manchester, who graduated from the University of Chester with a Master’s in International Business added: “I am incredibly grateful to Santander UK for this opportunity. It is a great privilege to be awarded the funding from the Freelancer Scheme.

“As a freelancer, I create content, manage social media pages and help in creating marketing plans and strategies for self-employed individuals. This will really go a long way to support my business in the most effective way.”

The applications to the scheme were made with encouragement and support from Student Futures, which includes the University’s Careers and Employability department.

Kirsty Badrock, Entrepreneurship Co-ordinator at the University of Chester, said: “Congratulations to all of our students and graduates who have been awarded this funding.

“Thank you also to Santander UK for selecting our successful seven and enabling them to give enterprises a much-valued boost through their freelance work.”         

Robert Simmonds, Deputy Relationship Director,Santander Universities UK, added: “Santander Universities is committed to supporting entrepreneurship and we are delighted to be able to support freelancers who have been particularly affected by the pandemic.

“We hope that this support will help to kick-start some really important projects that will have been put on hold while businesses have adapted to the incredibly difficult circumstances of the past 12 months and we hope to see those relationships between freelancers and businesses rekindled.”

For further information on the Santander UK Freelancer Scheme please visit:

Robin Lilley FCIPD ACC, Global Director of Leadership, Learning and Development at The Coca-Cola Company.

A director from one of the biggest brands in the world talked to postgraduate Business and Management students about whether there is a secret formula for engagement and leadership.

Robin Lilley FCIPD ACC, Global Director of Leadership, Learning and Development at The Coca-Cola Company, shared his expertise on how engagement is changing in organisations and how the nature of leadership can evolve to respond.

In the online talk, he discussed some of the science and theories behind what motivates staff, explaining that money is not always the strongest incentive, with drives such as self-directing work, mastering skills and making a contribution proving increasingly important to people.

The talk was one of a series that students benefit from as part of their courses.

Robin said: “A big thankyou to the University of Chester Business School, Senior Lecturer Karen Cregan, staff and students for inviting me to join them earlier this term. I really enjoyed the session and we plan to continue the conversation online.”

Karen Cregan, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management said: “We’re really grateful to Robin for giving up his time. It was great for the students to explore future trends and reflect on their own leadership styles in this new world.”

Alphonsa Carisma, a Management Master’s student said: “Attending the session with Robin on the future of leadership has been a truly invaluable learning experience for me.

“I have gained so much from all of the constructive input and guidance throughout the learning. It has helped me to understand the overall importance of future leadership and I feel it will be very beneficial to me and those I deal with professionally.”

Fellow Management Master’s student Rachel White added: “We are really fortunate to have had this opportunity for a great discussion with Robin regarding the three categories of engagement, and how an engaged workforce means better outcomes for the organisation.”

With entrepreneurial spirit thriving despite the pandemic, an award-winning business leader in a key enterprise mentoring role at the University has shared five tips to help young people succeed in their endeavours.

Graham Shapiro, internationally celebrated British inventor, designer and digital entrepreneur, and the University of Chester Business School’s Entrepreneur in Residence, has offered the insights in a new video.

Graham Shapiro
Graham Shapiro

Graham’s five top tips for students and entrepreneurs are:

  1. Make a plan.
  2. Surround yourself with good people.
  3. Believe nothing is impossible.
  4. Adapt to change.
  5. Stay positive.

Graham talks about the five areas in more detail in a video which can be viewed at:

His advice comes as data highlights promising UK business start-up figures, with experts predicting a continued vigour for new enterprises. Despite the events of the year, nearly half a million businesses were registered in the UK in 2020 (468,371), according to Companies House.  

Graham’s guidance is based on a raft of experience in the business world. For the past 25 years, his company, Graham Shapiro Design (GSD), has created branding and websites for some of the world’s leading companies including Fiat Chrysler, Philips, Siemens, Komatsu, Liverpool FC, Rolex, Rybrook, Samsung and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, which Graham is a Partner of.

The tips and new video are just one of the many ways he is supporting budding business minds as part of his Entrepreneur in Residence role and beyond. This includes recently launching a competition for the University to find the best student business ideas: the Graham Shapiro Foundation Enterprise Challenge. With a closing date of May 3, an impressive panel of judges will select the winner to receive £1,000 and a mentorship package from the Graham Shapiro Foundation. 

About his University role and its impact, he said: “For some years now, it has been a privilege for me to serve as Entrepreneur in Residence at Churchill House, the Business School of the University of Chester. During this time, I have found my work with aspiring entrepreneurs to have been constantly rewarding and endlessly fulfilling.

“Working alongside professional academics has been enhanced by the opportunity to liaise with an array of business people who collectively bring a rich variety of skills, all honed and practised in real-life business scenarios; I have seen at first-hand that the focus they bring imparts strong commercial discipline. It is evident that as a direct result, the students have acquired a mindset that equips them to face adversity and overcome obstacles.

“The Business School is founded upon a tradition of excellence but one that encourages students to look to the future with confidence because after all, that’s where they are going to spend the rest of their lives. It has been very much my privilege to be a part of the University of Chester and to have the opportunity to encourage young entrepreneurs to become who they want to be.”

Dr Connie Hancock, Associate Professor and Head of Chester Business School’s Department of Management, said: “Graham Shapiro is passionate about supporting and encouraging young people towards entrepreneurial endeavour. He is an outstanding role model for our student community, sharing his extensive experience and expertise in workshops and classes. 

“Graham’s commitment for mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs is reflected in his role as Entrepreneur in Residence for the Chester Business School. We are indeed fortunate to have his input in all of our student entrepreneurship activities.”

Graham is also a Fellow of both The Chartered Society of Designers and The Chartered Institute of Marketing and he serves as Ambassador of Innovation for The University of Cambridge. Graham was elected a Member of Walpole, The British Luxury Index and was admitted as a Freeman of the City of London.

Graham’s own innovations include the invention of the interloopmailer which transforms ordinary publicity material, and Reggie – a pioneering school registration app – both acclaimed, in their own field.

He also established The Graham Shapiro Foundation, primarily to alleviate mental suffering and as such, this has now become a charity with the commendable vision to increase support for mental health, enable greater wellbeing and at the same time, to inspire innovation and entrepreneurial spirit among young people in the UK.

Megan Johnstone with her award-winning dissertation.

The future looks bright for a University of Chester graduate whose dissertation on enhancing solar energy efficiency and wider degree work has earned an engineering and technology award.

Megan Johnstone, who studied Mechanical Engineering, received an award from the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) for her first-class dissertation on an increasingly important area of research – and for outstanding efforts during her three years at the University.

She’s excited about her next steps, knowing that her degree and achievements while studying have put her on the right path to becoming an Officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers – and are contributing to global efforts to improve the environment.

Talking about her award-winning dissertation, she said: “Solar cells are a well-known technology for harvesting energy from light. Although they are effective, the ability to improve solar cells is always available, with room for improvement and efficiency gains to be made.

“My dissertation focused on improving light scattering to increase photon capture, leading to increased efficiency and reduced manufacturing costs while minimising surface damage.

“I was really proud that the project worked in practice. After many hours in the laser lab and analysing data it’s very rewarding to achieve a successful result.”

She added: “I actually didn’t know I was nominated for the award until I found out I had won, which was a massive surprise and I felt so honoured that my supervisor Simon felt that my work deserved a nomination.”

Megan explained that looking back, she’d definitely made the right choice in her course of study – and thankfully it had been an easy decision.

“I grew up in a military background, with my family working in engineering – and science has always been my strong point of interest so studying mechanical engineering was almost a given.” 

She continued by outlining that she couldn’t have achieved all she had without the support of others at the University.

“Throughout my time at University, Dr Simon Hodgson has been a major help, with not only my dissertation, but also with other aspects of the course. He always guided me in the right direction when I got off track or confused, but always let me have the chance to work out the answer.

“My PAT (Personal Academic Tutor), Dr Paul Folan, was also a big help throughout the three years.”

During her degree course, Megan also undertook two placements, one in a factory that produces specialised gearboxes, where she was designing, and another in a company that produces RF (Radio Frequency) equipment, where she was creating automated codes for mechanical processes. 

She really enjoyed the placements, choosing areas of particular interest.

“For new students I would suggest to always go out and look for a placement somewhere you would like to be. A placement that you don’t enjoy is no use to anyone so always aim for what you think you’ll enjoy,” she said.

But Megan’s achievements at University did not end with her academic studies, and included being part of the University rowing team for three years, competing in numerous races.

Reflecting on her University experience and offering advice to others, she added: “Never underestimate yourself. Always strive for the best and as long as you give it your all, that’s all that matters.”

Student Mia Cooper

From raising awareness of skin cancer in ethnic minority groups to the need to recycle mobile phones, students are aiming to make a difference by highlighting health, crime and environmental issues.

During the next few weeks, Media, Music and Performance students will research and bring attention to a range of issues as part of their Experiential Project in Media module, while adopting the University strategy Citizen Student approach.

They will work on real-world briefs – looking into and producing both digital and printed materials to place the spotlight on the pressing subjects.

Set by D&AD (Design and Art Direction), a global educational organisation promoting excellence in design and advertising, other subjects include knife crime which UK Government figures show to be on the rise.

They will also look at ways to encourage people to recycle and re-use old mobile phones, with increasing options now available, and with May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, they will raise awareness of skin cancer in ethnic minority groups. Although minority groups are at a lower risk of developing skin cancer, when it occurs, they are often diagnosed at a later stage and, as a result, have a worse prognosis.

In the true spirit of the Citizen Student culture, the Experiential Project module encourages students to take control of the briefs, actively applying the skills and capacities they have developed – and to discover new abilities.

For the module, the students will be based at the COVID-secure Warrington site from Monday, April 19 for five weeks.

The module tutors, Dr Chris Hart and Dr Kate Sillitoe, Senior Lecturers in Advertising, said it was important to give students the opportunity to work on a ‘premium, purposeful, personalised’ experience of tackling real issues and problems.

Dr Hart said: “Modules such as Experiential Project in Media alongside vocationally oriented academic programmes such as Advertising, Photography, Radio and Media Studies provide concrete experiences for students to develop resilience and lifelong learning behaviours.

“And by working on social issues, with real-world briefs, producing messages that talk to their generation, students will see the impact their learning and application of their skills can have on the wider world.”

Digital Photography and Media Studies student Mia Cooper added: “The Experiential Project in Media module is beneficial in enabling students to work on the sorts of tasks we might look at as media professionals in the workplace, with specific requirements and time-frames, providing invaluable experience for our next steps in employment.

“With support from lecturers, the module requires students to not only create but encourages them to think about the task at hand and work with others to take responsibility to deliver high-quality work.

“I’m looking forward to being challenged creatively, not to just rely on what I know but to learn and develop over the duration of the course, and help raise awareness of important issues.”

Budding physicists, or those with an interest in science, are invited to join a free webinar series organised by students of the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University.

The Physics Student Seminar Series is being organised by students on the BSc Physics programme and is supported by the Institute of Physics (IOP), which is the professional body for physicists in the UK.

The students invite experts to give a 45-minute webinar in modern areas of Physics that are not covered in the University curriculum, to expand their knowledge and understanding further in a wide range of topics. At the end of each webinar there is a Question and Answer session divided into two parts – scientific questions related to the webinar and career prospects in the scientific field of the invited expert. The sessions are aimed at those who have a grounding in Physics already – from first year undergraduate level and above.

On Tuesday, April 20, Professor Dimitra Darambara will deliver the next webinar which is related to novel applications in medical physics and cancer research. Places are free and can be booked here.

Professor Darambara is a Senior Team Leader at the Joint Department of Physics, Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging of the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London, where she established the team of Multimodality Molecular Imaging. Earlier in her career she held senior research positions at Yale University, CERN, UCL and University of Surrey, always sponsored by prestigious personal research career development fellowships.

Her research interests focus on the conceptual design, development, system-level performance optimisation and realisation of emerging medical imaging techniques and innovative instrumentation for precision and quantitative molecular imaging. This will influence the next generation of healthcare hardware in close collaboration with major healthcare manufacturers, radiation detectors and the electronics industry.

The previous seminar in the Series focussed on accelerator science and its relevance to society. It was given by Professor Carsten Welsch, who leads the QUASAR group at Daresbury Laboratory, and was supported by IOP Wales, the IOP North Wales and Cheshire Centre, and the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences of the University of Chester.

Third-year Physics students Alexandra Hammond and Georgia Tierney, have been organising and hosting the events.

Alexandra Hammond
Georgia Tierney

Alexandra explained that helping to organise sessions has broadened her career goals as well as taught her valuable new skills. She said: “I’ve enjoyed organising the Series because it’s given me the opportunity to reach out and communicate with experts in various fields of Physics. I’ve also learned a lot about the type of research that’s being undertaken by these experts – and being able to talk with them about it and gain a more in depth understanding of their objectives has been really interesting.

“By taking part, I feel I’ve improved my communication and organisation skills, especially since the talks are taking place remotely during the pandemic. Ensuring that everything lines up and technical issues are foreseen and dealt with swiftly has helped my problem solving and taught me how to manage the challenges that a pandemic brings to these types of events.

“The Series has broadened my horizons in terms of what types of career paths I could follow, from research to industry. It has also introduced me to the types of research physicists are currently working on, and how these could be incorporated into a Master’s project and beyond, should I decide to continue with further study.”

Georgia mentioned that the event was a very positive experience for her. She said: “Hosting the last webinar allowed me to gain an insight into fields of Physics that I am not so familiar with, such as Nuclear Physics and the work being conducted at CERN with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It made me more confident in speaking to a group of people that I did not know, and the environment was relaxed enough for myself and other students to feel comfortable asking a range of questions about topics that sparked our interest during the seminar. This experience was definitely enjoyable and helped me to find a range of resources to help in planning my future aspirations and career.”

Dr Theodoros Papadopoulos, Programme Leader for BSc Physics, Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, who is supervising the Series, said: “I am so proud of our students for organising these wonderful webinars! Engaging with experts at this level means that undergraduate students are able to have a glimpse of frontier research and relate to recent advances in a wide range of Physics fields; participate on events supported by their professional body such as the IOP; expand their professional network and seek up-to-date career advice from academic and industrial experts in their respective fields. It also provides a friendly platform for people who have a passion for Physics to come together and share ideas and knowledge during the pandemic.”