What do you do?

Meet Dr Jess Walkup Station Leader for the British Antarctic Survey, BSc Biology, 2009. She proves that the world really is your oyster when her studies and time at York has taken her all the way to Antartica. We caught up with her to find out more. 

What do you do? 

I work for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) where I am the Station Leader of Rothera Research Station in Antarctica. I am responsible for the day to day running of the station that is home to up to 170 scientists and support staff as well as the safety and welfare of everyone on site. 

How did you get into this role? 

I started in a science role with BAS working as a Zoological Field Assistant at Bird Island Research Station spending 16 months on a remote island in the middle of the South Atlantic monitoring albatross colonies. I have since spent over 3 years on the Antarctic continent in leadership roles during polar winters and summers.

I am the first woman to have wintered at 3 of the 4 BAS stations.

What do you love most about the work you’re doing now and why? 

The favourite part of my job is the unpredictability and need for quick thinking and decision making and of course the location. I can plan my day in detail but normally something else will come up that will need to be addressed immediately. The weather is always in charge in Antarctica so logistics often change last minute with knock-on effects. 

I can see humpback and killer whales from my office window and regularly get distracted by penguins on my way to lunch.

How did York prepare or help you in following your chosen career path? 

My time at York definitely built the foundation blocks of my current career. I took a year out to work in industry where I gained skills in wildlife monitoring and tracking, along with a first class degree that experience allowed me to go straight from my Undergraduate course to a PhD. I realised towards the end of my degree that I didn’t feel like I had finished learning and was inspired by the fantastic lectures and academics that I had been tutored by at York. 

Away from the Biology department my time in the caving club gave me a grounding not only in team work but also a good understanding of safety and keeping your head in times of stress. 

York is a great city and the University itself exceeded my expectations. The teaching fuelled my interest in learning and pushed me on to further study. The pastoral system gave me the personal support I needed to succeed academically. And away from my studies, the University Caving Club gave me the self-confidence and the sense of adventure that carried me all the way to Antarctica. 

Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, London

A couple of months ago, we caught up with Fleur Anderson to hear about her time at York and life since leaving university. This interview was conducted in February 2020, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Tell us a bit about your time at York and what you studied

I was in Goodricke College and I studied Politics between 1990-1993. Then I stayed on for a year to be President of the Students’ Union. My degree opened my eyes to all sorts of thinking about different issues. Politics is really wide ranging, from philosophy to American politics, to the politics of fiction. It was a really varied degree and I really enjoyed that.

I was very inspired by Harriet Harman, who is an alum herself. Her writing about the numbers of women in politics really inspired me then. Not that I wanted to be an MP particularly, but I was just very interested in politics. It’s not as if I was sat there thinking about being an MP, things happened along the way and now I am!

What is your fondest memory of your time here?

Great parties! Apart from that, one interesting memory was when I was President, it was Professor Cooks first year and we wanted to demonstrate against student fees being introduced. So we had a demonstration in Central Hall, which was overtaken by others and became an all night sit in (he wasn’t happy at all!) It became a big protest – quite a few demonstrations were held in Central Hall back then. 

Continue reading Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, London

Hackney’s Pop Harpist – York Alumna Olivia Ter-Berg

To entertain her neighbours during lockdown, Olivia Ter-Berg, a University of York Music Department graduate, decided to put on a concert from her doorstep when she was passed by a journalist. Watch her interview and concert below.

On Monday, I decided to put on a concert for my street, playing the harp and singing pop songs, to try and cheer everyone up. I’ve been playing music everyday inside and I thought why not take this outside so other people can enjoy it too.

Olivia Ter-Berg, Graduate, 2018.

Olivia is also taking requests for songs, so if you would like her to do an arrangement of your favourite song get in touch with her on her social media: Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Take a tour

As people around the world stay indoors, many York alumni are thinking back to happy times spent exploring this beautiful city. In this alumni magazine article from 2018, alumnus Matthew Greenwood from Exploring York gave his insight into the city of York and his work as a tour guide.

What is the most enjoyable thing about being a tour guide?

I would say it is the expression on people’s faces when they’re surprised by learning something new about York, or when things piece together and they make connections between things.

What is your favourite place, area or building in York and why?

Well actually, it’s quite appropriate because it’s Kings Manor, which is a University of York property. I would say because it’s such an understated building in terms of its history – the fact that it was the council of the North for a period, so therefore it was parliament for the North of England, essentially. And that’s not a well-known fact outside of York. And for the fact it is such a beautiful building! A mini palace in York.

Tell us a weird fact about York which not many people would know.

Continue reading Take a tour

Willow to Fibbers: York’s lost nightclubs

York is renowned for its abundant pubs, but since the University’s founding in the 60s an influx of partying students would allow the nightlife of the once slumberous city to flourish.

Unfortunately, many of these establishments have folded and been unceremoniously replaced over the years. Alas, the legendary Willow restaurant closed in recent years and is now a Clintons cards.

What’s left of these venues are hazy memories and a just few photographs – a selection of which can be viewed below. Do you remember when Fibbers used to be Fazer’s Fun Club? (And when Nevermind used to be Fibbers?)