Tag Archives: Birkbeck Effects

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 Effect: Siobhan Baker, STEM Learning UK and ‘Coding Black Females’

A full-stack software developer, Siobhan Baker first entered the tech industry in 2017 as Community Manager for a social enterprise aiming to get more women into tech. She continued to work while studying a part-time Master’s in Philosophy at Birkbeck.  

8th Light, a network of software, design and technology professionals, offered her a job as a software intern and she has since risen through the ranks to become a senior software developer. She also now works as a strategy consultant for non-profit Coding Black Females, which aims to provide development opportunities and a safe space in which black women can thrive in the tech industry. This is especially important as, according to national statistics, only 1% of people in the IT industry are black women. 

Siobhan acts as a role model for other black women, giving talks to inspire those in the early stages of their career to reach their potential in this traditionally male-dominated industry. 


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Simon Fourmy, director of Julia and Rans Rausing Foundation

Grants manager for a series of philanthropic initiatives, Simon Fourmy is now Head of Grants for the Julia and Hand Rausing Trust, responsible for gifting millions in funding to charities in the United Kingdom working in the space of health, welfare, education, arts and culture. The Trust aims to provide opportunities for all in these areas, as well as benefiting society by supporting initiatives that foster care for those in need.  

Simon studied Management at Birkbeck in 2012 while he was director of grants for the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity offering grants in the education, science, culture and health industries. While at the Wolfson Foundation, he developed a flagship postgraduate scholarship programme. 


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Sarah Weir, Fellow of Birkbeck

She began her working life as a gofer for Aldgate Group Brokers, making her way up over 15 years to become its Managing Director and the first female MD in a Lloyd’s broking firm. However, having got to the top she felt a sense of anti-climax and lack of complete fulfilment. She then started a part-time degree at Birkbeck, aged 31, left her City insurance career a year into this and changed direction completely into the arts world. 

While studying for her History of Art BA she took a job at the Purdy Hicks Gallery, moving to Arts and Business as Deputy Chief Executive, before joining the Royal Academy of Arts as its fundraising director. She then became Executive Director of the Almeida Theatre and by 2003 was running Arts Council England, London. Between 2008 and 2011 she was Head of Arts and Cultural Strategy for the Olympic Delivery Authority, developing over 40 permanent artistic commissions integrated into the Olympic Park. 

From there, Sarah went on to found The Legacy List, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park charity. This was set up in 2011 to encourage creative connections between people and the park, with a focus on arts and culture, education and skills.   

Sarah was awarded an OBE for services to the arts in the January 2012 New Year Honours. 


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Samuel Kasumu, special advisor to the Prime Minister

Samuel is an award-winning social entrepreneur, commentator, and strategist. He served as Special Advisor to PM Boris Johnson where he held the Civil Society and Communities brief. His work included leading on the cross-government vaccine deployment confidence programme. He was the most senior black Advisor in government. 

He has extensive senior leadership and board experience, acting as Non-Executive Director at challenger energy firm Ovo’s Foundation arm and under former Prime Minister Theresa May he was a member of the Race Disparity Audit Advisory Board. He is the founder of Inclusive Boards, an executive headhunting firm specialising in non-executive board appointments across sectors. Samuel is an elected local councillor in Hertfordshire and brings extensive knowledge of how local and national government works. 

Samuel has been involved in setting up and growing a number of initiatives to support the progression of Briton’s black and minority ethnic population. This includes setting up a student network connecting peers with employers whilst at university that grew to 30,000 members. 


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Ryan Wilson, economics student

Left disabled after taking part in a failed drug trial, and needing to pivot from his intended career path as a plumber, Ryan Wilson enrolled on an undergraduate Economic and Social Policy course at Birkbeck. Alongside studying, he raised his young son and worked as an independent prison monitor, ensuring the decency of prisons and humane treatment of prisoners.  

On his experience at Birkbeck, Ryan paid tribute to the disability and mental health service as well as the academically rich environment in Economics: “I worked so hard and loved the lectures – my favourite modules were Economics and Public Policy, and Macroeconomic Theory and Policy. I struggled in my second year with studying for my degree and overcoming some personal hurdles, but the support I received from the disability team and the mental health service really increased my confidence and drive to succeed.” 

He graduated in 2020 with first class honours. 


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effects: Roy Foster, historian of Ireland

Roy is a Professor of Irish History and Literature 

Foster’s best-selling Modern Ireland 1600-1972 (1988), written and published while he was at Birkbeck, was an influential example of historical scholarship whose sensitivities to the different but interwoven cultures of Northern Ireland opened up dialogues between communities. It was his emphasis on complexity or, as Foster put it, on the “varieties of Irishness”, that changed the way Irish history was understood. 


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effect: Robert A. Shaw, chemist

Professor Shaw was regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on phosphazenes, a group of cyclic and acyclic phosphorus-nitrogen compounds that he was responsible for naming. He had a distinguished international reputation, and over the course of his career was applauded for forging a vast array of international research collaborations with scholars in Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, the UK, and the U.S. For roughly two decades, Professor Shaw was also on the nomination panel for the Chemistry Nobel Prizes, with both of his successful nominees going on to receive the Nobel Prize. 

His first post at Birkbeck, as Assistant Lecturer started in 1953 and his eventual promotion from Lecturer directly to full Professor at Birkbeck was known for being the first such appointment in the University of London. 


200th Anniversary Birkbeck Effects: Rob Martin, learning development tutor

Rob Martin was a Learning Development tutor and Disability Support Officer at Birkbeck. One of the students he supported, Ruth Ojadi, says: “When I began my studies at Birkbeck in 2015, I knew I’d experienced barriers to learning because of my disabilities but wasn’t necessarily aware of how my learning difficulties, disabilities and long-term health conditions affected me disproportionately. When I came to Birkbeck as a 29-year-old, not only did I know more about my various disabilities but also how my lived experiences had shaped me, making it far easier to verbalise them.  

“Birkbeck was the first university where Wellbeing and Disability Services made themselves known loud and proud from their Open Day through to the enrolment process. I knew where to go for support and that’s where I met Rob Martin. From the first meeting I had with Rob, I knew he was on the side of my success. I felt his passion as a Disability Support Officer and his best intentions for me as a student. Rob listened diligently and was able to identify and signpost the support that would best meet my needs.  

“From the recommendation of a Dyslexia assessment, SFE’s Disability Student Allowances and navigating the whole system within that. Rob was able to reassure me when it came to Needs Assessments as well as practical guidance of wait times for the processing of paper work which relieved much anxiety for me. I have Tourette’s Syndrome and this was a new experience for the university and teaching staff. Rob was a professional ally and took the time to suggest access recommendations that weren’t necessarily included on the Student Support Plan as well as helping me to reach out to teaching staff within my department (BSc Social Sciences) to discuss best practice and how they could support my learning experience.  

“Having Bipolar as well as the negative experiences from learning in the past meant that I had to repeat my 2nd year and took a year study break after that. My desire to return never wavered and neither did Rob’s belief that I indeed would. I’m truly grateful and feel lucky to have been a 1st year student in 2015/16 as Rob now works in a different capacity however, still within Birkbeck.”