Author Archives: Katrinah Best

200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Yakama Manty Jones, Economist, lecturer, entrepreneur and philanthropist

With her finance and economics PhD from Birkbeck, Yakama Manty Jones works in Sierra Leone as an economist, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

She co-founded the Peninsular Innovative Group, an indigenous company operating in the shipping, manufacturing and agri-business industries in Sierra Leone, working mainly with youths and female owned businesses. Yakama has held several consulting positions, including for the President’s Office in Sierra Leone, and she has worked as director of research and delivery in the Ministry of Finance since 2019. She has been invited to speak about her work by the Blavatnik School of Government, the University of Oxford and the World Bank.

She was awarded Amujae Leader 2021 – an initiative to promote female leadership in Africa – and has featured as one of the 50 Most Influential Young Sierra Leoneans as well as on the 100 Women West Africa list.


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Yousuf Joondan, CEO of Birkbeck Students’ Union

Yousuf serves as CEO of the Students’ Union at Birkbeck and was initially brought in to turn the Union around after a difficult few years, which had seen the Union fall into financial hardship and troubles with governance.

He has been hugely successful in transforming the Union back into an organisation with which students can feel proud to be involved and which has a real impact on the student experience at Birkbeck.

Yousuf works hard to facilitate the work of officers and Union staff, and to ensure that the Union stays true to its charitable aims and provides students with value added to their university experience. Many have commended Yousuf’s approach to managing his staff with respect, patience and flexibility, especially during the difficult time of the coronavirus pandemic.


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Stewart Sutherland, House of lords and philosopher of religion

Stewart Sutherland, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood is one of the most distinguished figures of his time in the field of education and in public life and was made a Fellow of Birkbeck in 2004.

He was appointed as a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University College of North Wales in Bangor in 1965, moving after three years to the University of Stirling. It was here that he began the series of philosophical investigations which would establish his reputation as a theological thinker of versatility, reach and imagination. In works such as Atheism and the Rejection of God (1977), Faith and Ambiguity (1984) and God, Jesus and Belief (1984).

He explored the problems of maintaining moral responsibility in a world of competing faiths and values. He responded to and stimulated the broadening mood in theological thinking with his influential edited volumes World Religions (1988) and The Study of Religion: Traditional and New Religions (1991). In 1977, he was appointed to a Chair in the History and Philosophy of Religion at King’s College, London, but the demands of university service had already begun to assert themselves in 1981, when he became Vice-Principal of King’s, taking over as Principal of the college in 1985.

During his period as Principal of King’s, he served also, from 1988 to 1991, as Governor of Birkbeck.


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Steven Connor, Professor of English and cultural phenomenology

Steven Connor was appointed as a Lecturer in English at Birkbeck in 1979. He became Senior Lecturer in 1990, Reader in Modern English Literature in 1991 and Professor of Modern Literature and Theory in 1994.

He has served the college in many capacities, including as Pro-Vice-Master for International and Research Students from 1998 to 2001 and as College Orator from 2001 to 2012. From 2003 to 2012, he was Academic Director of the London Consortium Programme in Humanities and Cultural Studies. Not only through his many books and essays, on a huge variety of topics, but also in his extensive work for radio, he has enlarged the scope of English studies and opened up new methods and subjects in cultural history.


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Stephen Frosh, Professor of psychosocial studies

Stephen Frosh was appointed to Birkbeck’s department of Psychology in 1979. A specialist in the psychosocial approaches to human psychology, he initially worked part-time in the College, dividing his time with clinical jobs in the NHS and at the Tavistock Clinic as Consultant Clinical Psychologist. He stopped his clinical work in 1998 when he was appointed professor.

Due to the pressures of competing with the neuroscience branch of psychology for research funding and prestige, he eventually helped to found the current Psychosocial Studies department which then had five staff including Frosh.

To help the process of forging an intellectual community, Frosh founded and co-directed with interdisciplinary scholar Sasha Roseneil the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research (BISR) as an umbrella centre for people working in the field.


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Sophie Bray – Olympic hockey player

Occupational psychology graduate Sophie Bray is best known for her international hockey success on the England team. She helped England to a gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in a tense final against the Netherlands that went to a penalty shoot-out. Sophie retired from international hockey in 2019 but still plays in the Investec Women’s Hockey League for East Grinstead. She was named the league’s Player of the Season in 2018-19.

Along with the rest of the England hockey team upon their success in Rio, she was made an MBE for services to hockey.


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effects: Judith Mayhew Jonas, Solicitor, local politician and former chair of Royal Opera House

Judith Mayhew Jonas was the first woman to hold a number of public roles in the United Kingdom such as a two-year term as Provost of King’s College, Cambridge and chair of the Royal Opera House. Born and educated in New Zealand, she moved to the UK as a lecturer in law at the University of Southampton, then King’s College London. She was appointed chair of governors at Birkbeck in 1999. She was Provost of King’s College, Cambridge from 2003 to 2005, the first woman to hold this post. She was also the first woman to chair the Royal Opera House.

She was closely involved in the running of the City of London from 1986. In that year she was elected to the City of London Corporation and chaired the Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee from 1996–2003. From 2001 she was City and Business Advisor to Ken Livingstone, then Mayor of London. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2002 Birthday Honours “for services to the City of London”. In 2004 she was made New Zealander of the Year in Britain. She was Global Award Winner at the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards in 2015.


200th Birkbeck Effect: Joseph Clinton Robertson, Founder of London Mechanics’ Institute

Joseph Clinton Robertson was a Scottish patent agent, writer and periodical editor. He was born into a comfortable nonconformist family and was considered a political radical, prominent in the debates within the Mechanics’ Institute movement.

He was a tricky character, however: easily offended, undeterred by legal threats and bankruptcy courts, and with a proclivity for fraud and blackmail. He was also a talented editor and passionate about the empowerment of working men.

In 1823, in his mid-thirties, Robertson founded the popular Mechanics’ Magazine, printed by John Knight and Henry Lacey. In the Mechanics Magazine Robertson first proposed the London Mechanics’ Institution but he later became a long-term critic of the Institution.


Jonathan A. Smith, Professor of psychology

Over the past two decades during his time at Birkbeck, Jonathan A. Smith has developed and established Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), one of the leading experiential methodologies both in and beyond psychology. Originally introduced by Smith in the 1990s, IPA has become one of the most popular qualitative methods for basic and applied psychological research, influencing many associated disciplines across the social and health sciences. It is taught widely across the UK and is the methodology of choice for thousands of doctoral theses worldwide.

Smith was the lead author on the highly influential book about IPA, which remains a top-selling publication over a decade after it was first published. In July 2020, Smith was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the British Psychological Society (BPS) in recognition of his pioneering role in establishing and enhancing the place of qualitative research in psychology.


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: John Enderby, Physicist

Knighted for his services to physics in 2004, he is best known scientifically for his development of new techniques using neutrons to study the structure of liquids.

John Enderby earned a first-class honours degree in physics from Birkbeck College, University of London in 1957. He remained at Birkbeck to pursue a PhD in the properties of liquid metals, before embarking upon an academic career, working at the universities of Huddersfield, Sheffield and Leicester, and accepting a Chair at the University of Bristol in 1976, where he remained until he retired.

Between 1985 and 1988, he was seconded to Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France, a leading international centre for neutron science. As British director there, among other achievements, he assisted in the planning of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1985 and was an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics. He was President of the IOP between October 2004 and September 2006 and had a long association with Institute of Physics Publishing (IOPP) in Bristol, where he served for many years as scientific advisor.