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Vice Chancellor’s Alumni Award 2014

Thank you to everyone who nominated for the University of Surrey Vice Chancellor’s Alumni Award 2014. We’re delighted to tell you that the winner this year is music editor and sound engineer Chris Benstead. He has been honoured after having a highly successful twelve months which saw him win both an Oscar and a BAFTA for his work on the blockbuster Hollywood film Gravity.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Award, now in its third year, is presented annually to a graduate who has made an outstanding contribution to their field or to society during the previous year.

The calibre of nominations was as high as ever, showcasing the exceptional work of our alumni across the globe. Chris has enjoyed extraordinary success this year, culminating in the Oscar win as part of a sound-mixing and editing team which was honoured for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing at the 86th Academy Awards.

In addition to Chris’ overall award, the Vice-Chancellor recognised the significant contribution made by Surrey or Battersea graduates in the following categories: enterprise, industry, arts, humanitarian and charities. For arts, the winner was Chris Benstead, who was then chosen from the four shortlisted candidates to receive the overall award.

The winner of the enterprise category is Zhe Zheng (MSc International Event Management 2011). Within the first year of graduating Zhe set up her own company which is dedicated to promoting and building relationships between companies in China and the UK. Her company has already been selected as the sole Chinese agency to represent the AidEx exhibition by Centaur Media and she has successfully organised the Oracle Financial Services Global Leadership Services Summit in China, which was awarded Best International Event and Best Conference Internal Staff Event.

Dr Katie Perry (BSc Physics 1990) is the winner of the humanitarian and charities category. Katie was inspired by Dr Daphne Jackson (prof. Physics at Surrey from 1971 – 1991) to nurture scientific talent in women. Following Daphne’s death, Katie joined a charity set up in Daphne’s name to remove barriers to individuals wanting to return to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) research after a career break. In the past year she has taken the charity from strength to strength introducing a model that has provided sponsorship for a further 20 fellows to return to their careers.

The winner of the industry category is Alec Kyriakides (BSc Microbiology 1987). Alec was awarded the Sainsbury’s Colleague of the Year in 2013 for the work he did during the horsemeat crisis. He has also been influential in terms of advising the UK government on microbiological safety of food.

We will be hosting a celebratory lunch for Chris and will be adding his name to the commemorative plaque in the library which marks the achievements of our alumni award winners.

Details of previous alumni award winners can be found here.

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