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Alumni Magazine | Spring Edition 2012

60 years of optical achievement. Revolutionising telecommunications Celebrating aerodynamic excellence World-leading engineering expertise Our 60th anniversary Recognising our success A century of involvement A conversation with Phyllis Starr

In this issue


I always enjoy writing the introduction to Hartley News, the magazine for University of Southampton alumni. It provides a great opportunity to take stock of the University’s progress, and to show off the extraordinary achievements of our alumni community.


At Southampton this year we too are celebrating our 60th anniversary. Sixty years ago in 1952, one of the new Queen’s first acts as monarch was to sign the University’s Royal Charter, enabling it to award its own degrees. Given that we share our 60th anniversary with Her Majesty The Queen, it was a great honour for the University to be awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2012. On page 6 you can read how this award recognises our innovation and world-leading expertise in performance sports engineering. We will also be celebrating 60 of our greatest achievements in many ways around our campuses. Selecting 60 achievements from the many suggestions we received has been a challenging (and controversial) process. One obvious choice is the work of alumnus Professor David Payne CBE and the team at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). Their work has fundamentally made a difference to the world in which we live and on page 12 we celebrate the achievements of this pioneering research centre through the experiences of alumni that have worked there. We pride ourselves on being a truly international university with educational and research activities that reach all corners of the globe. In 2012 we will accept the first students into the University of Southampton Malaysia Campus in South Johor and we find out what one of our inspirational Malaysian alumni thinks about our international expansion on page 16. Since 1952, the University has changed dramatically, not just in the research and teaching we offer, but in the look of our campuses. On page 18 read about the visit of His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex to open the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Plaza on the University’s Highfield Campus, to celebrate the anniversary of our Royal Charter. I hope you enjoy reading this issue of Hartley News and that you will continue to stay involved with your alumni community. With your continued support we can approach our next 60 years with ambition, pride and confidence. Professor Don Nutbeam (MA, 1983; PhD, 1988) Vice-Chancellor


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

1 Celebrating aerodynamic excellence Read about our world-leading facilities through the eyes of alumni. Page 8 2 60 years of optical achievement Learn how our photonics research forms the basis of the internet. Page 12



3 Our 60th anniversary Find out how we are celebrating 60 of our greatest achievements. Page 18 4 A century of involvement Experiences of Southampton from one of our most treasured alumni. Page 26

More highlights Pursuing education overseas One of our Malaysian alumni gives his opinion on the University’s overseas expansion. Page 16 Get involved Read how you can support our students in choosing the right career. Page 22 Class notes Discover what your friends are up to. Page 24

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton


University Research

NMR forms the basis of MRI in hospitals

Treating blood cancers Researchers from the University of Southampton have been awarded £115,000 by the blood cancer charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research for a project that looks for new ways to treat the most common form of leukaemia.

Best scholarly book

Music rehabilitation There is music to cater for all types of tastes, but for a deaf person, getting enjoyment out of music is challenging. Now, researchers at Southampton are investigating how patients with a cochlear implant can ‘hear’ music. Cochlear implants enable people with severe to profound hearing loss perceive and understand speech. However, complex sounds such as music are not conveyed well by the implants. Dr Rachel van Besouw from the University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research and colleagues from Music, Professor David Nicholls and project composer Dr Ben Oliver, are looking at ways to help patients from the

South of England Cochlear Implant Centre, based at the University, to ‘hear’ music. Through innovative music workshops in conjunction with the Southampton Community Music Project, the team are exploring the aspects of music that can be appreciated by patients through listening exercises, computerbased and practical activities. Verity Burgess, a patient that received her cochlear implant in 2009 has taken part in some of the workshops and believes they have really helped. “I love my music, I follow a lot of bands and to lose that was a big part of my life. To hear music again is just absolutely brilliant,” she says.

detect abnormalities such as tumours. NMR was discovered in the 1950s and is a technique where the nuclei in atoms, many of which are magnetic, interact with magnetic fields. Images of how the nuclei are distributed can then be created.

– up to half an hour in the case of the common substance nitrous oxide, often known as laughing gas. The new research grant has been awarded for a project that combines the hyperpolarisation effect with the long-lived quantum states.

Professor Malcolm Levitt has been awarded a grant from the European Research Council of €2.8 million to support research into enhanced nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) over the next four years. Along with collaborators Professor Richard Brown and Dr Giuseppe Pileio from Southampton and Dr Lynda Brown, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, Malcolm hopes the research will lead to a range of clinical applications.

NMR signals are inherently very weak. However, methods have been developed recently which lead to substances exhibiting a phenomenon called hyperpolarisation, which gives rise to NMR signals that can be more than 100,000 times stronger than normal. The problem is that this incredible enhancement only lasts a short amount of time – up to one minute in favourable cases.

Malcolm says: “This could have benefits for MRI scanning. If you have strong signals, you can detect smaller amounts of substance that are less concentrated. For example, some substances naturally occur in a cell as part of the metabolism process, but occur in greater amounts in cancerous cells. Through this method, we should be able to detect when these substances are present and cells are potentially cancerous, earlier than ever before.”

NMR is the physical principle underlying MRI scanning, which is used routinely to


Research at Southampton has previously demonstrated the existence of quantum states of nuclei that have very long lifetimes

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

A team at the University has developed a revolutionary ultrasonic attachment for taps, which massively enhances the ability of water to clean. Currently, industry uses excessive water, power and additives for cleaning and many industrial processes also generate large quantities of contaminated run-off. For example, each cubic metre of water used for cleaning in the nuclear industry can be very costly to treat.

“One of the reasons I stayed on at Southampton after my PhD is that there is a good research environment, particularly in electrochemistry, and a variety of researchers available to work with and help progress my career,” says Peter. He explains that the new nozzle generates both gas bubbles and ultrasonic waves. Both travel down the water stream to the dirty surface and there the bubbles are driven into oscillation; under these conditions they seek and enter crevices and structured surfaces to remove dirt efficiently.

In recognition of their invention, Peter and Tim were awarded the 2011 Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Dr Peter Birkin (PhD Chemistry, 1994) Innovation. “The Brian Mercer Award from Chemistry and collaborator represents a significant milestone for the Professor Tim Leighton from the development of this technology and its Institute of Sound and Vibration Research possible exploitation,” says Peter.

Researchers from Southampton and Bristol have analysed global sea surface temperature data and found it gives a new measure of climate sensitivity over the last 500,000 years and could help us understand potential future climate change.

University of Southampton professors Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt are to co-direct the world’s first Open Data Institute helping to support the growth of new businesses on the back of government data.

have developed a novel cleaning device that works with cold water, minimal additives and consumes as much electrical power as a light bulb.

New research from the University of Southampton could lead to enhanced MRI scans, producing brighter and more precise images, and potentially allowing for the early detection of cancerous cells before they cause health problems.

Understanding climate change

Open Data Institute

Ultrasonic water

Enhancing MRI

Dr Will May has won the Council for College and University English prize for early career researchers. The CCUE prize is awarded annually for the best scholarly book in the field of English studies by an early career academic within five years of their doctorate.

Boosting crop production New techniques in soil analysis aim to boost the UK’s crop production. Researchers in Southampton and Nottingham can combine new techniques to accurately predict how much water roots take up from the soil, thanks to a £740,000 grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Music composer prize Music’s Ben Oliver has been awarded a prize at the International Composer Pyramid (ICP) 2011 for his new work, Momentum. The prize was given by an international jury that included Daniel D’Adamo, Piers Hellawell and Paul Edlin.

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton


University News

Confucius Institute launch

University of Southampton awarded Queen’s Anniversary Prize The University of Southampton has been awarded a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its innovation and worldleading expertise in performance sports engineering. The prize recognises four decades of innovation in design and testing, and technical expertise – supporting high-performance sports competitors. The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are the UK’s most prestigious form of recognition for a UK academic or vocational institution, with approval from Her Majesty The Queen and Parliament. The Performance Sports Engineering Laboratory (PSEL) has had a major influence on competitive sailing, highperformance motor racing, cycling and winter sports. The PSEL team of academics, consultancy engineers and postgraduate

students conducts a diverse range of research covering fluid and structural dynamics, simulation technologies and sports science. It has also had a long-term impact on the aerodynamics of Formula 1 racing cars and has become established as an international leader in performance sports engineering. “The University of Southampton continues to produce graduates of the highest quality that are among the best new young talent coming into this highly competitive industry,” says Adrian Newey (BSc Aeronautics, 1980; Hon Dsc, 2000), Chief Technical Officer, Red Bull Racing. “As an employer and prior student of the University, I recognise the quality of Southampton’s engineering graduates, the facilities provided and the broad world-leading research undertaken by your academics in areas related to

aerodynamics and performance. My general advice to students wanting a career as a race car engineer is to study aeronautical engineering at university, and within this context I consider Southampton to be one of the leaders,” he adds. The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam, says: “This is great news for the University, offering much deserved recognition for the PSEL. The award recognises the outstanding work of our academics and students in supporting competitive sport and demonstrates Southampton’s world-leading expertise in engineering and the impact we have globally.” Academics and students working in PSEL have built strong links with industry and both undergraduates and postgraduates have benefited from first-class training in the specialist disciplines it provides.

A new centre to promote Chinese culture and language has been launched at Southampton. The Confucius Institute has been created to promote China, its history and culture to university students, local businesses and schools, and joins 17 similar centres in the UK in a global network of Confucius Institutes.

Local science partnership

Create Your Campus Creating an environment that supports the learning of our students is a key feature of the University’s Learning and Teaching Enhancement Strategy. With this is mind, we run the Create Your Campus competition where student teams are invited to develop innovative new designs to reshape ineffective or under-utilised parts of the campus. Each team has to create a design that satisfies a technical and financial brief and then ‘sell’ it to both an expert panel of judges and the wider student community. The focus of this competition is to put student ideas at the forefront of creating a new social learning space that meets their needs. The winners of our 2011 competition created the ‘fgConcept’ (pictured) that incorporates areas for individual and group study. A wallmounted display area, interactive, haptic, touch-pad screen and projector allow easy team working and visualisation of ideas.

“It was very important that the study room was designed by students for students,” says Mahmuda Yesmin (BM Medicine, 2011), a member of the winning team. “I entered the competition because I wanted to be involved in a project that would require me to be more creative and imaginative.” Create Your Campus provides a unique opportunity for students to get directly involved in shaping their campus and our alumni have played a significant role in this too. The project was partly funded by £60,000 of donations from alumni who have been making gifts in support of the student experience and to provide relevant learning environments that suit them. You can make a gift in support of the student experience at www.

High-performance sports athletes have benefited from our first-class facilities and expertise

Images by James Roche

UNICEF award for training The University has been awarded a Certificate of Commitment from the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative for the high levels of training in breastfeeding provided to students on its midwifery and health visiting courses.

Chemistry prize for Southampton alumna

Solar-powered classrooms in developing countries An innovative project at Southampton is using solar generators to provide IT resources and ‘hands-on’ science for students in developing countries.

A new partnership between the University of Southampton and INTECH Science Centre and Planetarium will provide unlimited free entry to INTECH for school children in Southampton on organised school trips. Working with INTECH and Southampton City Council, the University will provide financial support for school visits to INTECH through its Student Centeredness Fund, created from student fees and alumni donations.

“The lack of electricity is a particularly serious matter for rural schools and this situation is unlikely to get better in the near to medium future,” says Tony. “With drawbacks to petrol A major difficulty in teaching science subjects in generators, due to difficulties in getting supplies and safety hazards, solar energy generators have developing countries is that students are rarely able to get ‘hands-on’ experience of experiments. become available at cost-effective prices and provide a sustainable answer.” This could be partly due to a lack of equipment, chemicals and facilities, but mainly because of a The solar energy generators, which consist lack of electricity and running water. of solar panels, batteries and inverters, can be linked to the projector for students to get Professor Tony Rest, a visiting chemistry practical classes via multimedia resources to academic at the University, and Keith Wilkinson, show laboratory experiments and practical formerly a teacher at the International School at techniques. They can also be used after school Lusaka in Zambia, have devised a solar-powered solution based on a digital projector and low-cost hours to provide instructions and training for the local community. solar energy panels so that students can gain

Recent MChem graduate Emma Stuart was awarded one of five prestigious Salter’s prizes in 2011, recognising her scientific knowledge and commitment to pursuing further work in the world of chemistry. Emma, the first Southampton student to win this award, has already started a PhD at the University of Oxford.

Award for one of our computer scientists Dr Mike Wald from Electronics and Computer Science won his third major award in 2011 for his development of accessible technologies, such as Synote. Synote makes multimedia resources such as video and audio easier to access, search, manage and exploit.

access to IT and other modern teaching methods.


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton



Celebrating aerodynamic excellence The University of Southampton is dedicated to maintaining relationships with its alumni community and in this, our 60th anniversary year, we celebrate the large number of alumni who either stayed on after their studies to build a career here, or continue to collaborate with the University by using the world-leading research facilities on offer. Our world-class facilities provide the foundations for our research, education and enterprise activities at the University and in Engineering and the Environment the wind tunnel complex is no exception. Managed by Dr David Marshall (MEng Aerospace Engineering, 2005; EngD Motorsport Aerodynamics, 2011), the wind tunnel complex is classed as an enterprise unit that works with commercial partners on external aerodynamics research. “We are able to work with a lot of different companies and industries, so there is a large variety of research going on,” says David. “But, even

though we are an enterprise unit, we have always dealt with both undergraduate and postgraduate research projects as well.” David explains that the University has many wind tunnels ranging from small teaching tunnels that undergraduate students use for projects, to the R J Mitchell tunnel, which is the largest. “The Mitchell tunnel and the slightly smaller 7’x5’ wind tunnel are the two that we predominantly use for commercial and research work,” he says.

“I sent off letters when I was at secondary school to Formula 1 teams to ask what type of degree I needed to do to get into the industry. Aerospace Engineering at Southampton came back as the course of choice.” Dr David Marshall Southampton Wind Tunnel Manager


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton


“I’m pleased to be back testing at Southampton and working with past colleagues as the basis of the working relationship is already there.” Dr Darren Coe Aerodynamicist at Aston Martin

Widespread impact

Aerodynamic aspirations

One of the reasons the wind tunnels are such a fantastic asset for the University is that they impact on a whole variety of industries. David explains that researchers at Southampton have carried out aerodynamics work for performance sports teams, the motorsports industry, Formula 1 teams such as McLaren, and sports car manufacturers such as Aston Martin. In addition, civil engineering projects that involve wind turbines, aerospace engineering, marine technologies and high-speed train design have all been conducted for commercial partners in the wind tunnels.

From an early age, David was interested in aerodynamics. “I sent off letters when I was at secondary school to Formula 1 teams to ask what type of degree I needed to do to get into the industry. Aerospace Engineering at Southampton came back as the course of choice,” he says.

Dr James Roche (BEng Ship Science, 2006; EngD Ship Science, 2010) is an engineer at McLaren Applied Technologies and is responsible for winter sports projects. Refining the aerodynamics of athletes in winter sports can shave fractions of a second off their times and so aerodynamic design is vital in the equipment. “We plan to use the wind tunnels at Southampton for various projects in the lead up to winter sporting events in order to develop new equipment and techniques,” he says.

Aeronautics and Astronautics at Southampton is the largest specialist undergraduate course in the UK with a variety of wind tunnels used in the undergraduate and postgraduate study programmes. In his final year of his undergraduate degree, David was offered the chance to study for a doctorate by his supervisor. The project was sponsored by a rally team and involved aerodynamic design in the wind tunnels, he explains. “It was exactly what I wanted to do.”

During his postgraduate studies his supervisor Dr Charlie Williams was tragically killed in a kite surfing accident. For a year, David and fellow postgraduate student Darren Coe (MEng Aerospace Engineering, 2005; EngD Experimental Transient Ground Effect Aerodynamics, 2011) helped to manage the wind tunnels. When the wind tunnel manager As a postgraduate, James was involved in the aerodynamic position became available, David applied and was testing, aero-design, development and race simulation successful. “The job ticked all the boxes,” he says. “It’s of the Skeleton on which British athlete Amy Williams something that I have always wanted to do and the flexibility won a gold medal at Vancouver in 2010. He believes his and variety that is involved in the work here suits me.” experience at Southampton has helped him get to where he is now in his career.

Engineering versus beauty

Over the years the wind tunnels have also been used extensively by world-leading aerospace companies, for aeroacoustic testing, wind engineering research and for work on racing yacht sails for the marine industry. “The special thing about the Southampton wind tunnels is they can almost take all comers, from yachts to sleds to race cars and various other wacky things,” says James. “They are set up to be flexible and this helps attract interesting projects.” “We also do a lot of certification studies. So customers with products that get exposed to the wind come to us because they need to know the maximum wind speed their products can survive,” says David. “Examples of such products include advertising hoardings, TV aerials, traffic lights and road signs – just anything the wind can act upon. We put them in the wind tunnel under controlled conditions and observe what happens,” he adds.


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

Having completely left the University after his postgraduate degree, Darren took a different path in his career. He now works for Aston Martin as an aerodynamicist: “I head the experimental aerodynamic research as well as conducting computational simulations,” he says. Aerodynamics plays a major role in the capability of high-performance sports cars. Wind tunnel testing looks to achieve a balance between meeting engineering requirements while maintaining the beauty of the car, explains Darren. Factors such as engine cooling, wind noise, high-speed stability and achieving environmental targets are developed in conjunction with the style. “This requires forward-thinking engineering proven with robust testing,” he adds. “Collaboration between industry and research institutions has to be based on a strong mutual

Aerodynamics plays a major role in the capability of high-performance sports cars Image supplied by Aston Martin

relationship,” says Darren. “By working together the potential benefit to both parties can produce stunning results. I’m pleased to be back testing at Southampton and working with past colleagues as the basis of the working relationship is already there,” he adds.

Great career advice Charlie Williams also inspired Darren when he was an undergraduate at Southampton, but he explains that his initial decision to study at the University was due to Adrian Newey (BSc Aeronautics, 1980; Hon DSc, 2000), now Chief Technical Officer at Red Bull Racing. “I contacted him seeking career advice and he was kind enough to reply, suggesting that if my interest lay with aerodynamics, Southampton was a good choice,” says Darren. As an undergraduate student Darren worked closely with a number of clients including Aston Martin, on cuttingedge aerodynamic programmes in the R J Mitchell wind tunnel. “Being able to tap into the wealth of knowledge that these clients possess along with the experience I gained conducting the research, undoubtedly led directly to where I am today,” he says. David explains that there is something very welcoming about the University and that helped him to forge a career here. “The team atmosphere here is great, but at the same time the University is still very highly regarded in research terms,” he says. One of the biggest selling points

for the Southampton wind tunnels, explains David, is the fact that the team of experts that supports the facility is incredibly flexible. “We can accommodate anything and offer some of the best support in the country for wind tunnel testing,” he says. James agrees and adds that the relaxed environment enables companies to have a lot of freedom to work in the way that best suits them, while the wind tunnel team provides support along the way.

Proud achievements David explains that most of the marketing for the wind tunnels is done by word of mouth and is based on reputation. “Most companies that would require wind tunnels on a regular basis know we are here,” he says. Southampton’s wind tunnel complex is the largest facility in the UK available for commercial use. “Most Formula 1 teams have their own wind tunnels, but we offer worldleading expertise as well as the facilities,” says David. The combination of unique facilities, world-leading expertise and a flexible working ethic at the wind tunnels shows how the University is supporting its alumni both during their studies and in their future careers. “As an alumnus, I am proud of the University and what it has achieved,” says James. For more information, visit

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton



60 years of optical achievement Our 60th anniversary year is a time to celebrate and reflect on the successes achieved at the University over the last 60 years. One such success story, the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), has revolutionised the telecommunications industry by developing optical fibres that have formed the basis of the global internet. Three of our alumni tell its story. The results of research at the ORC have touched everyone’s lives one way or another, according to Professor David Payne (PhD Optical Fibre Telecommunications, 1967), Director of the ORC. Arguably the most important breakthrough here is the development of low-loss optical fibres which now form the basis of the global internet, he explains. “The whole global internet relies on our invention of erbium-doped fibre amplifiers that amplify optical signals, which allow fast telecommunications. Whenever you use a mobile phone you are probably using our amplifiers, because the phone signal goes to a mast that is then optically connected through fibres to other masts,” he says.

Solid foundations The ORC was established in 1989, but the research that forms its foundations at Southampton began in the 1960s when researchers started work on a newly invented device – the laser. One such researcher was Dr Robert (Bob) Smith (BSc Physics, 1957): “When I was an undergraduate at Southampton, there were just a few red brick buildings

that included the library,” Bob says. “There were only about 2,000 undergraduate students then and only two student cars on campus!” The heart of the social life was the Saturday ball, explains Bob. “You had to wear a suit and tie to the event,” he says. “To give you a feel for how life was different, the Vice-Chancellor came to dinner one evening in my hall to talk to us about choosing an architect for the next phase of building work at the University,” he adds. “Basil Spence, the architect of Coventry Cathedral, was subsequently appointed by the University.” After completing a PhD at Guy’s Medical School in London, Bob re-joined the University in 1961 as a postdoctoral researcher in the electronics department under Professor Alec Gambling. He started his laser research about 12 months after the first laser was demonstrated in the US, by basing his laser on the American design. “It was centred on a piece of ruby crystal with a flash lamp to put power into it. Both ends of the crystal were polished flat and coated in silver,” he explains. “The light would bounce backwards and forwards between the two flat ends – nearly all the first lasers were like that.”

“There is enough optical fibre installed globally today to circle the world over 30,000 times.” Professor David Payne Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton


Bob explains that the laser research was blue sky thinking. “We talked about a range of applications from optical communications to possible medical applications – lasers are used extensively in eye surgery these days along with many other treatments,” he says.

Looking to the future

Research at the ORC now has changed massively since the 1960s, but the ethos of blue sky thinking and pushing the boundaries of the field is still very much a part of the culture. Dr Anna Peacock (PhD Nonlinear Fibre Optics, In Autumn 1964, Alec presented a paper to the Southampton 2004) is aiming to revolutionise optical communications meeting of the British Association for the Advancement still further with her research. The age of optical of Science, in which he suggested that optical fibres – communications has been enabled by semiconductorflexible, transparent fibres made of silica that transmit based chips used to process optical data, and the low-loss light between the two ends – could be used for high-speed optical fibres, used to transport the data, she explains. communications. The team then started collaborating “The aim of my research is to combine these two with a military unit in Christchurch, in the New Forest, technologies by incorporating semiconductor materials as the development had great potential for battlefield inside the fibres. This will enable the fibres to act as communications. “On the battlefield there is a lot of electrical interference, but light is not an electrical signal processors as well as transmitters of light, transforming the way information is distributed,” she says. Anna hopes so wouldn’t be interfered with,” Bob says. By 1966 the to develop fibres that will increase the speed and capacity group was focusing on trying to make long-distance of telecommunication systems, while at the same time light communication a practical reality. offering reduced energy consumption. “The broad wavelength range over which these fibres can transmit light means that their applications also extend beyond “There is enough optical fibre installed globally today to communications and into areas such as medicine, circle the world over 30,000 times,” says David. At the sensing, imaging and security monitoring. For example, time of starting his PhD at Southampton the thought of compact mid-infrared laser sources could be used in covering the world with optical fibres that carry a global tissue imaging and drug analysis.” internet never occurred to him. “We thought at the time that it would be good to get from Southampton to London Anna explains that the reason she wanted to work at the University was because of the ORC. But more recently and even that seemed impossible,” he adds. she has been exposed to more of the multidisciplinary David explains that when he was an undergraduate and research that goes on at Southampton. “The amount and postgraduate student at Southampton, it was a very young quality of the interdisciplinary research that is carried out university and the environment in the UK was that the at the University is very impressive,” she says. “We also impossible could be achieved. “We were in an interesting have access to many instruments and facilities that we situation of being the only low-loss fibre developers can use in our research in other areas of the University, outside of big, heavily protected corporate research labs such as Chemistry, which is a great benefit.” and as a result the world literally beat a path to our door,” he says. By 1969 the first optical fibres were being drawn using the unique fibre drawing tower at the University. “They just couldn’t believe that they could come to our labs As well as developing cutting-edge technology, the ORC and see kilometres of low-loss optical fibres being made.” has been instrumental in commercialising products and supporting local business. “There are at least 10 companies Today, the impact of the ORC spreads way beyond global in the local area that owe their existence to the ORC and telecommunications with the research penetrating many they are selling globally and employ large numbers of industries, especially manufacturing. David explains that people,” says David. “For example, the world’s premier every single ‘special’ optical fibre in the world today, apart special fibres supplier, Fibercore, trades on the University from one type, was developed at the ORC. These optical of Southampton Science Park,” he adds. fibres are used in a variety of applications, such as Bob believes that the University now has a very high-powered lasers for machining, cutting or welding interesting phase ahead because global competition is and medical devices. “They are also found in the Moon getting much tougher. “The ORC is an example of the Rover and Mars Explorer among other things,” he says. University nurturing an idea which has now become a The ORC has 64 laboratories and the leading fibre world-leading research centre. It is about consistency,” manufacturing clean rooms in Europe. As well as fibre, he says. “Southampton is very clear, even when I was an it carries out research on new concepts relating to silicon undergraduate student that it has a research mission, as interconnects on microchips, light-emitting devices well as an educational mission,” he adds. involving silicon, next-generation nanotechnology and “The work that we do here, not just in the ORC, but in the investigating new materials that can be manipulated to whole University, is very focused on creating wealth for behave in ways that nature has not intended. “We cover an extremely wide range of research. The reason for this is the nation,” says David. “We are an entrepreneurial and agile university that loves to work with industry and take that photonics is pretty much anything to do with light,” real tangible things forward for the benefit of the economy says David. “The last century was one of electronics and and mankind. And long may it continue,” he adds. it has been said that this is the century of light.”

Making the impossible possible

Enterprising edge

For more information on the ORC, visit


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

“The amount and quality of the interdisciplinary research that is carried out at the University is very impressive.” Dr Anna Peacock Senior Research Fellow at the Optoelectronics Research Centre

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton



Pursuing education overseas As the University opened enrolment for student engineers at its first overseas campus in South Johor, Malaysia, in November 2011, Hartley News talks to one of our Malaysian alumni about Southampton’s expansion overseas.

Engineering students from all over the world will be able to benefit from a University of Southampton education at our first overseas campus in Malaysia

Haji Azmil Daud (BSc Economics, 1958) retired in 1984 as Registrar of the University of Technology Malaysia. He has had an illustrious career in the Malaysian government and has helped to form the Malaysia branch of our alumni community.


Why did you decide to study at Southampton?

I had wanted to further my education under the British education system. Initially, it seemed like I would be continuing my studies in Australia, but I was unable to obtain a visa. This led to me choosing the UK as my destination for further education. I first enrolled at the Municipal College, Southend-on-Sea, to secure the required GCE qualifications. Thereafter, I had three options available – the universities of Hull, Manchester or Southampton. The tutors at the Municipal College suggested Southampton, so it became my university of choice.


What was the journey from Malaysia to Southampton like?

I boarded a ship for the journey from Malaya (as it was then known) to the UK. All there was to see was the ocean, but I was thankful for the various stops during the journey, namely when the ship called at Colombo, Aden and Suez. I finally arrived at Tilbury and stepped foot onto English soil for the first time, 21 days later.


What do you remember of university life?

I studied economics in the hope that it would equip me with the relevant knowledge to carry on my father’s business when I returned home. I cannot recall how the main campus had looked back then, but I certainly remember Glen Eyre halls of residence. There were five two-storey blocks and each block had 20 rooms. I stayed in block E, room 10. A fellow Malayan, and a very close friend of mine, Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, who would later become the fourth Governor of Sarawak (one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo), was in room 5 of the same block.



Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

What did you do for a career?

Post-emergency, I served in the Ministry of Transport, as Deputy Secretary General in the Ministry of Public Enterprises and as Registrar of the University Technology Malaysia.


Why do you think it is important to stay in contact with the University?


What is the aim of the University of Southampton Society – Malaysia Branch?

In my view, it is very important to stay in contact with one’s university. Apart from keeping abreast with the latest developments, alumni should consider how they could either collectively or singularly, whether in monetary form or in kind, contribute to the University’s continued successes. It’s certainly one of those values that I have sought to instil in my two sons. Incidentally, the younger of the two is a Southampton alumnus himself!

The setting up of the University of Southampton Society – Malaysia Branch was through the combined efforts of a few alumni. I was happy to contribute where I could. Those who were involved in the establishment of it shared my sentiments that the presence of such an association would help strengthen friendships made during one’s time at the University. It would also facilitate the formation of new friendships between individuals who share a common bond.


With the launch of the University of Southampton Malaysia Campus, is it a positive step to expand overseas?

I think it is a positive step that the University is expanding overseas and in particular in establishing an engineering campus in Malaysia. The last few years have witnessed Malaysia promoting itself as a further education hub in the South-East Asian region, attracting not just Malaysian students, but also international students from abroad.

After graduating, I returned to a post-Independence Malaya and joined the Administrative and Diplomatic Services. By 1969, I was serving in the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department as Principal Assistant Secretary in charge of technical aid. In May that year, one of the darkest episodes in Malaysia’s history took place – the race riots. A national emergency was declared and Parliament and the State Assemblies were discontinued.

The fields of engineering and technology are very much areas in which the Malaysian government would like to see local expertise being nurtured and developed. With the setting up of the engineering campus, Malaysian engineering students who may find studying in Britain cost prohibitive will now have the opportunity to be trained in one of the top educational institutions in the world without having to bear significant financial burden.

The leadership of the country was entrusted to Tun Abdul Razak Hussein (the late father of Malaysia’s current prime minister) who assumed the position of Director of Operations of the National Operations Council (NOC). I was seconded from the EPU to the NOC and from 1969 to 1971 the NOC governed the country in lieu of an elected government.

Who knows, there might be the next Adrian Newey (BSc Aeronautics, 1980; Hon DSc, 2000) among those looking at pursuing their studies at the Iskandar campus.

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton



HRH The Earl of Wessex visits Highfield Campus to launch our 60th anniversary celebrations

Celebrating our 60th anniversary The University of Southampton’s 60th anniversary is a time to reflect on and celebrate past achievements, as well as a chance to look to the future. We will be commemorating our successes with many special events throughout the year, to promote and showcase how we have changed the world for the last 60 years. In order to officially begin our 60th anniversary celebrations, HRH The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO visited the University on 23 March to open the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Plaza on Highfield Campus.

Transforming lives The event was attended by many notable dignitaries and alumni and Phyllis Starr (Geography and Mathematics, 1931), who turned 100 in April, played a key part in the event. “This is the greatest honour that I could be given to address such a distinguished audience,” Phyllis said. “I am most grateful to my University, for all it did for me and I wish it a very happy day, but also many good years to come,” she added. Over the past 60 years, the University has been transforming the lives of its staff and students and has made discoveries that have quite literally changed the world for the better. By telling the story of its greatest achievements in a variety of different ways – on our campuses, in our city and across the world through an interactive website – our staff, students and alumni can share their successes and memories from their time at the University.

Showcasing impact Throughout 2012, we have a combination of 60 on-campus installations and plaques, each marking one of our most significant achievements. Our successes, from how our DNA vaccines and antibody treatments promise to change the way we treat cancer to how our musicians are completing unfinished classics to reveal new layers of meaning, showcase our world-leading impact.


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

“The University’s strong emphasis on research makes it a leader in both national and international terms in a number of diverse fields, which attracts some of the brightest and best candidates from all over the world. Every time I hear of significant advances made in the areas of, say medical science, or digital technology or oceanography, I feel that in some way I am sharing in the successes because it is my university that is making these advances possible,” said Sue Wilson (BA English, 1991; MA Medieval Studies, 1999; PhD Medieval History, 2003) who was a guest at the official launch by The Earl of Wessex. On 30 June, the local community is being invited onto campus so they can discover more about the world-class university on their doorstep. It is an opportunity for them to take a journey around campus, visiting all 60 of the installations and plaques and get a flavour of what the University has achieved. Another important event not to be missed this year is the Reunion Experience 2012. If you graduated in 1962, 1972, 1982 or 1992 it is your chance to reconnect with classmates and experience first-hand our impact on the world. For more information on this, see page 27. At the opening of the University’s celebrations on 23 March, The Earl of Wessex thanked the University for its hospitality and for giving him a little taste of what it is all about. He also added his congratulations for the University’s very special year in achieving its 60th anniversary. With many chances to come and visit the University this year, make sure you are a part of the celebrations. For more information on the University’s 60th anniversary and to record your successes and memories from your time at Southampton, visit

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton


Alumni News

Hartley Circle celebrates our 60th anniversary In this, our 60th anniversary year, we are celebrating the significant impact that gifts from alumni and friends continue to have on campus.

Our Hartley Circle members are investing in the future of the University and playing a vital role in securing our continuing success as a leading teaching and research institution. They are a mix of alumni and interested individuals who share one passion: to see our students, our academics and our researchers, thrive. Nick Pike (BSc Mechanical Engineering, 1980) is a Hartley Circle member, who since graduating has held a number of important roles in IT, including being a Vice-President of Dell Computer Corporation. “I feel indebted to the University for the way that it prepared me for life and want to honour this debt by giving something back,” says Nick.

31 August to 2 September 2012 Will you be joining us? A ‘who’s who’ of British sailing competed in the Southampton University Team Racing Reunion Event on 28-29 January 2012, at Spinnaker Sailing Club.

We will be celebrating the important milestone of our 60th anniversary by welcoming our first 100 members of the Hartley Circle at our annual event in June. The support of our donors enables Southampton to look forward with confidence to further achievement.

Please visit for further details or call the Office of Development and Alumni Relations on +44 (0)23 8059 9079.

Strengthening relationships

Law reception success

At the start of the autumn term, we appointed a select group of student ambassadors with a passion for the aims and values of the University. Over the course of this academic year, these student ambassadors are inviting local alumni back to campus for informal meetings over coffee. “I thoroughly enjoyed the hour I spent with the student ambassador,” says Malcolm Walter. “I will recommend the experience to those local alumni with whom I remain in contact.” Meeting with a previous graduate will be an inspiration for our students and will provide them with networking skills to assist them in the future, as well as an opportunity to learn about Southampton history and achievements. The project, which is the first of its kind in the UK, has been generously supported by 1978 alumnus, David Rauch.


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

Southampton sailing reunion

Southampton’s 60th anniversary Alumni Reunion Experience

The Hartley Circle – named after Henry Robinson Hartley, who founded the Hartley Institution, which later became the University of Southampton – recognises donors who make an annual gift of £1,000 or more to the University.

Half of our UK alumni live within a 50-mile radius of Southampton and this year we are piloting a groundbreaking project intended to build and strengthen relationships with our local alumni community.

Save the date

Our annual law reception took place on 1 March 2012, kindly hosted by Andrew Lilley (LLB Law, 1984), Managing Partner of Travers Smith LLP. One hundred and fifty of our law alumni gathered in London to network, mingle with old friends and to hear a University update.

Keeping in contact in Indonesia A successful Indonesian Alumni Society dinner was held in Jakarta on 11 November 2011, hosted by Karen Arnold from the International Office. Thirteen alumni who graduated between 2001 and 2011, attended the dinner. Ksatrio Yudho Sampurno was voted in as Chairman of the Alumni Society and he plans to organise a lunch or dinner every couple of months to keep alumni in contact with each other. Frances Holley would like to thank Yudho for his excellent help in organising the dinner.

Celebrating our Malaysia Campus Last November, enrolment opened for student engineers at the University of Southampton Malaysia Campus (USMC). To celebrate and promote the exciting opportunities that USMC gives our students, four VIP events took place in March 2012. A prestigious lunch attended by Vice-Chancellor Professor Don Nutbeam and key dignitaries from the Malaysian Ministry of Education took place on 8 March to raise the profile of Southampton and develop and enhance relationships with key sponsors and government officials. The lunch was complemented by a pre-launch event for VIPs at Grand Millennium Hotel in Kuala Lumpur that a number of key alumni attended, a round table meeting at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Kuala Lumpur to discuss a range of topics relevant to engineering firms and students, and an Open Data talk at the University of Malaya. All three events took place on 9 March. For more information on USMC, visit

A total of 84 sailors in 14 teams, including all six helms to have ever won the ISAF Team Racing World Championships for GBR were competing. The reunion was won by the ‘Wessex Hawks’ consisting of Andy Cornah, Kate Fairclough, Ben Field, Tom Foster, Matt Findlay and Sophie Harrison (graduates from 1999–2005), who triumphed in all 13 races they competed in over the two-day round robin competition. The alumni sailors, whose joint University careers date back to circa 1986, were joined by the current University of Southampton Second Team to race for the Great White Telephone Trophy, held for only the second time. Sailors competing included countless national, European and World Champions in all manner of classes and disciplines. Southampton has the only university sailing club known to hold such a vast reunion event, and the club remains active and successful to this day.

Dates for your diary 16 June 2012 Medicine’s 40th anniversary event 30 June 2012 60th anniversary open day celebration 1 September 2012 The Reunion Experience 2012 for graduating classes 1962, 1972, 1982 and 1992

More ways to keep in touch To keep in touch, and to view more photos of the events on this page, visit Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (University of Southampton Alumni)

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton


The Atlantides are statues in the image of Atlas. Originally from the Hartley Institution’s High Street façade, they are now positioned outside the Hartley Library on the Highfield Campus

Get involved Providing help and advice to current students is a great way you can contribute to the University’s continued success. Hartley News talks to one of our entrepreneurial alumni about nurturing enterprise skills in order to give students a more rounded education. To be a successful entrepreneur you need a good idea, but you also need to be able to turn that idea into a commercial product, explains Max Toti (BSc Electronic Engineering, 1983), founder and Managing Director of Captec Ltd. “As an alumnus I feel indebted to the University and want to give something back by helping students develop as entrepreneurs,” he says.

path. But Max is also involved in other ways to help students get ready for their careers. “I have lectured at the University about enterprise, because I think that many undergraduate and postgraduate students are deeply steeped in the technology, but lack the commercial common sense and the softer skills needed to get ahead in industry, such as team working,” he says.

Max started Captec in 1985 after spending some time working in Silicon Valley in the US. “Working there gave me an entrepreneurial buzz,” he says. At the beginning Captec was a one-man company, but now it has grown in to a global firm specialising in the manufacture of industrial computer equipment. “We design and make computer equipment that can operate in hostile environments such as war zones and large industrial infrastructures,” Max explains. “A large proportion of the computers on the London Underground are supplied by us,” he says. “In these situations there are lots of stresses on equipment whether that be shock or vibration, thermal or even operational stress – we protect equipment so it can operate reliably in these conditions,” he adds.

“From my background I got a taste of commercialisation of products and that is why I started my business. I want to be able to do the same for students now because in my personal opinion the electronics courses provided by Southampton are the best in the country,” says Max.

Over the years, Captec has offered placements to Southampton Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) students to give them experience of a working environment. Placements in different areas of industry can help students realise what they enjoy doing and help them decide on a career


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

Max is also about to start mentoring three students at the University. “I want to engage with students and get to know them and make them aware that there are good career choices in small- to mediumsized businesses as well as in larger organisations,” he says. Along with his company, Max is also involved in ECS recruitment fairs at the University. “We are a regular participant both supporting and encouraging recruitment of ECS graduates,” he says. He is also involved in the ECS and the Engineering and the Environment liaison committees that advise the University on business issues. “Through working with the University and its students we can really benefit the nation as a whole by developing the next generation of entrepreneurs, particularly during these challenging financial times,” he adds.

There are many ways you can support your University. You can get involved with events to share your expertise with students, become an ambassador for the University or even link your business with Southampton through our enterprise activities. For more details on how you can contribute, visit getinvolved

Make a lasting difference. Leave a legacy By leaving a legacy to the University, you can help us change the world for the better through our research and offer lifechanging opportunities to our students.

If you feel you could help make that difference, and would like to discuss leaving a gift in your Will, please contact Ellie Shaw, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, on +44 (0)23 8059 9079 or email

Throughout our history, legacy gifts have helped support and inspire our excellence in research and education, making the University of Southampton Thank you. the world-leading institution it is today.

Class notes Every issue we receive many more class notes than we have space to print, but you can view full updates and photos at



Rodney Smith (BSc (Eng) Engineering, 1950) writes: “Old age has compelled me to move into a nursing home.”

Mark Avery (LLB law, 1980) has lived in Yorkshire for the past 20 years and has three children who are all “more grown up than me.” Mark continues: “I was lucky in love. It must be the heather I bought in the Bargate in 1978.”

1960s Allan Bocci (MSc Applied Mathematics, 1966) has had an enjoyable career in aerodynamics research and design and computational fluid dynamics. He would love to hear from anyone who remembers him from his time at Southampton. Megan Eggeling née Andrews (BA French, 1965) has taught French for many years and lives with her husband in south-west France. She would love to hear from fellow graduates from the class of 1965. David Jeens (BSc Civil Engineering, 1969) works in quality assurance and is based in Abu Dhabi.

1970s Rod Dawes (BSc Mechanical Engineering, 1977) has retired from being Quality Manager at Perkins Engines, Stafford. He is now involved with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and has been elected to the Council. Eduardo Embry (MPhil, 1979) has been awarded the Premio de la Critica 2011, which is awarded annually by the Art Critic’s Circle of Valparaise, Chile, for the best work of fiction.

Dr Glyn George (BSc Mathematics, 1980) has enjoyed teaching mathematics at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, since 1988. In his spare time he has served on two school boards and a school council. Dr Paula James (PhD Arts Research, 1985) followed her PhD with time as a lecturer at Southampton, then went on to take up a post with the Open University. She has published several works. Philip Croome (BA English and French, 1985) lives in Houston, Texas, and is eager to hear from long-lost friends, wherever they may be. Paul Sawyer (BSc Physics, 1983) wrote in to say that the University Judo Club is still going strong after 55 years. In January Paul won the Commonwealth Judo Championships gold medal in the Masters Under 66kg category. 1958 University Judo Club

Paul Lee (BSc Physics, 1993) helped with the research for Frances Wilson’s book How to survive the Titanic or the sinking of J. Bruce Ismay. He is currently working on a second book about the Titanic. Andrew Markland (PGDip Social Work Studies, 1999) is enjoying working in Western Australia and would love to hear from anyone who remembers him.

Mike Jackson (BSc Environmental Botany and Geography, 1970) was awarded an OBE in the 2012 New Year’s Honours, in recognition of his work over many decades in international agricultural research and food science.

Morten Lau Smith (LLM Law, 1989) spent a number of years as a partner in a Danish law firm and now works for the Copenhagen-based NOVI Attorneys. He would love to hear from anyone who knows him.

Hernan Moreano (MSc Oceanography, 1978) has enjoyed a career as an oceanographer and was the Chief Scientist for the first Ecuadorian expedition to Antarctica in 1988. He is now the Director of the Institute for Scientific Research and Technology Development at the Universidad Estatal Peninsula de Santa Elena.

1990s Tamsin Gammie née Crabbe (BSc Biochemistry and Pharmacology, 1996) and David Gammie (BSc Chemistry and Mathematics 1995; PhD Science) have just celebrated 10 years of marriage, having met at Southampton 16 years ago. They have three daughters, aged six, four and two.

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

Marriages The following couples were married recently: Richard Castanheira (MPhys Physics, 2006) and Claire Castanheira née Plumpton (BSc Geology, 2008) recently married in Worcestershire, with many friends from Southampton in attendance.

Matthew Milnes (BA Music, 2009) and Sophie Milnes (BA Music, 2009), September 2011. Anne Elise Mosely née Carouge (BSc Management, 2004) and Daniel Mosely (BSc Human Sciences, 2004), 28 May 2011.

We are sorry to announce the deaths of the following alumni and former staff: Professor Peter Figueroa (Department of Education 1976–2001) Gordon Gale (BSc Engineering, 1956)

Joanna Evans née King (BSc Sociology and Social Policy, 2007) and John Evans (BSc Mathematics, 2003), 20 July 2011.

John Genge (BSc Chemistry, pre-1952) Margaret Kyrle (BA English, 1959) Michael Long (BA English, 1958) Their obituaries are available at: hartleynews or can be requested from the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

Jayne Osgood (BSc Sociology, 1996) has had a book published called Narratives from the nursery: negotiating professional identities in the nursery.

2000s Lisa Bullock (MA Film Studies, 2007) has recently been appointed Development Coordinator at Carleton University, Ottowa. Lisa writes: “I credit my time on the Annual Fund at the University of Southampton for sparking my interest in advancement and university development.” Dr Teresa Burdett (PhD Education, 2010) has achieved a hat trick, gaining a BSc in Community Health Nursing, an MSc in Health Education and Health Promotion and a PhD in Education, all at the University of Southampton. Teresa writes: “It has been a roller-coaster ride, especially as I worked full-time while undertaking all the courses, but it was definitely well worth it.”

Sarah Jane Helliwell née Harland (BSc Physiology with Biochemistry, 1979) is married with three children and lives in Australia, where she trained as a science teacher and has spent 14 enjoyable years teaching in public high schools. She writes: “I couldn’t have done it without my science degree. Thanks Southampton – you started me on quite a journey.”


Dr Frank Mathias Huber (BEng Electrical Engineering, 1992) is working as a neurologist in Luxembourg and lives in north-eastern France with his wife and their two children. He would be very pleased to hear from anyone who knows him from Southampton.

Charlotte Hudd née Matthews (Bachelor of Nursing, 2009) has progressed from being a staff nurse to deputy matron in just two years and says she couldn’t have done this without the support of her family and her tutor at Southampton, Moira Sugden.

Joanna King and John Evans

Punam Kenth (BSc Physiotherapy, 2006) and Kunal Sofat (BSc Mathematics with Actuarial, 2005; MSc Risk Management, 2007), summer 2011. Punam Kenth and Kunal Sofat

Anne Elise Carouge and Daniel Mosely

Chris Taylor (BEng Mechanical Engineering, 1996) and Tara Stoop, 8 October 2011. Daniel Wright (BA History, 2008) and Rebecca Wright née Laker (BSc Mathematics with Musics, 2007), 3 September 2011. They met in South Stoneham House in their first year at Southampton and have been together ever since.

If you would like to get back in touch with a former friend from Southampton, take advantage of our ‘Find a friend’ service. Contact the Office of Development and Alumni Relations with a message for your friend and we will send it on to them if we have their current contact details. If they choose, they will then get in touch with you. For further details and a form under ‘Services’ section, see or write to us at: Office of Development and Alumni Relations, University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO17 1BJ.

Francis Martin (BA Fine Art, 2009) has won the Young Artist of the Year from the Society of All Artists and his winning portrait was exhibited at the Business Design Centre, Islington. Dr Joe Viana (PhD Management, 2011) continues to take part in several challenge events to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society, having looked after his grandmother – who has the disease – during his PhD.

Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton


Alumni Profile

A century of involvement

Make your comeback. The Reunion Experience 2012

Phyllis Starr (Geography and Mathematics, 1931), retired teacher This April Phyllis Starr, one of the University’s most treasured and active alumni, turned 100. She tells Hartley News about her experiences at Southampton and her subsequent involvement in the alumni community.

In 1929, when Phyllis Starr (née Maton) was 17 and first came to study here, the institution was called Hartley University College and was associated with University College London. “At the time it wasn’t a University in its own right, there were only about 500 students and we all had to take external degrees,” she says. The buildings at Highfield, the only campus at the time, were very different to today. The Turner Sims was a two-storey brick building and the library was just one room. “The other buildings were remnants from the war. There were wooden huts behind the Turner Sims which had been used during the Great War as hospital wards and it was in these that we had some of our lectures,” Phyllis explains. She also remembers that University Road was lined with small houses that some of the lecturers, all of whom worked part-time, lived in. Born in 1912, Phyllis was surrounded by teachers in her family. Her grandmother was a head mistress and her mother was an uncertified teacher – someone who taught in schools, but didn’t have a formal qualification. “I realised that if I wanted to teach anyone other than small children, I would need a college education,” she explains. In 1929, like now, higher education was not free and Phyllis wasn’t in a position where her family could pay for her course. But she managed to get a part-time job at Southampton as an assistant librarian. The job offered a free studentship as the salary paid for her fees. “My duties were to put the books back on the shelves and help to catalogue the books,” she says. Like most of the University’s first-year undergraduate students today, Phyllis lived in halls of residence accommodation. “I was in Old Highfield Hall; I had the luxury of a room to myself,” says Phyllis. She explains that most of the accommodation was made up of dormitories and that the only washing facilities were communal. “The halls of residence were single sex only, you had to be in by 6pm and if you wanted to be out later, you had to sign a book to say where you were going,” she explains. “There was no hanky panky allowed,” she laughs. Phyllis also found time for sports and other social activities. “I used to play tennis and hockey and occasionally at lunchtimes we were able


Hartley News | Spring 2012 | University of Southampton

to dance in the Assembly Hall, accompanied by the college orchestra,” she says. Phyllis also remembers going to see ‘Earth’, a 1930 film by Alexander Dovzhenko, at the cinema. “And on Saturdays there was the Freshers’ Social, which we used to go to,” she adds. An occasion that stands out in Phyllis’s mind from when she was studying was the opening of the original Nuffield Theatre. Dame Sybil Thorndike – a famous Shakespearian actress – attended the opening. She was married to Sir Lewis Casson, the brother of Mr Randal Casson, one of Phyllis’s lecturers.

“I have always been grateful to the University and wanted to give something back because it enabled me to do what I wanted to do, which was teaching.” Phyllis explains that she has always been interested in people and this prompted her to stay involved in the University’s alumni society after her degree. While pursuing her teaching career, she attended the first meeting of the London branch of the society in 1948: “There were between 40 and 50 alumni there at the first meeting, but this grew as more and more joined,” she says. Today it is the longest running active alumni branch. Phyllis has also been an active member of the University Court, a large body of some 190 members that provides a forum for consultation with the local and regional community to help promote awareness of the University. The University Court was set up in 1952 when Southampton became a university. “I have always been grateful to the University and wanted to give something back because it enabled me to do what I wanted to do, which was teaching,” she says. “The attitude to students at Southampton has always been a caring one and I am also very proud of the research that is carried out there.”

We are marking our 60th anniversary with the Reunion Experience 2012. It’s your opportunity to come back to Southampton, take a trip down memory lane with your friends and experience first-hand everything that makes the University what it is today. Explore the astrophysics of the universe, experience breathtaking optical engineering with the Light Express show, or just relax by listening to live music. You can even experiment in our chemistry labs or take a tour around our Humanities campus. Our programme of exciting and interactive activities is growing daily; the only thing missing is you! To find out more, visit or call +44 (0)23 8059 2747

Hartley News, Spring 2012  
Hartley News, Spring 2012  

University of Southampton alumni magazine