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We’ve created a studentship with Churchill College to mark the life and achievements of our colleague, Dr Stuart Warren, who died in March 2020.

Stuart had a remarkable impact on his students. It is hard to overestimate his influence on generations of chemists, many of whom have gone on to fill leading roles in academia and industry.

The studentship commemorates Stuart’s inspirational teaching by allowing an outstanding PhD student from sub-Saharan Africa to undertake chemistry research in this Department. The four-year studentship is held jointly with Churchill College, where Stuart was a teaching fellow for many years.

Connection with Kelly Chibale

One of the reasons we have chosen to focus the studentship on this area is because of Stuart’s connection with Professor Kelly Chibale, who was a PhD student with Stuart in the 1980s. Born and brought up in impoverished rural areas and townships of Zambia, Kelly was given the rare opportunity through a scholarship to study at Cambridge.

Kelly went on to found Africa’s first and only integrated drug discovery centre, H3D, and has been recognised by Fortune magazine in 2018 as on of the 50 World’s Greatest Leaders. Kelly recognises the high-quality academic training he received from Stuart as the foundation for who he has become.

After Stuart died, Kelly wrote: “Since starting my independent academic and research career at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, I have made every effort to treat people from disadvantaged chemistry backgrounds who join my group the way Stuart treated me – with patience, understanding and kindness.”

Kelly believes this studentship holds huge benefits for young Africans who are historically disadvantaged and under-represented in chemistry. Read more about Kelly and other former students who wrote in with their reminiscences.

First student

The fund is sponsoring its first student, Choonzo Chiyumba, who started her PhD in 2022 and is jointly supervised by Dr Paul Barker and Dr Sally Boss. Choonzo is designing artificial metalloenzymes that can act as catalysts.

As an undergraduate, Choonzo was inspired by Kelly Chibale, because like Kelly, she studied at the University of Zambia.  And Kelly says: "I had nothing to do with her being selected, but it's remarkable that Choonzo is also from Zambia, where I came from."

Like Kelly, you also could be helping a student to fulfill their potential.

A permanent reminder?

A more ambitious target for our fundraising would be to create an endowment to fund a studentship in perpetuity. This would require at least £625,000 (based on a 4% drawdown), which would generate £25,000 annually.  With this in hand, the remainder would likely be forthcoming as matched funding from the Trust.

Stuart was an outstanding leader, mentor and teacher whose ideas and example have inspired generations of chemists. If you would like to contribute, you can do so through the Churchill College website.

Should you have any questions about donating to this fund, please do not hesitate to contact Head of Department, Professor James Keeler,  or Fran Malarée, Development Director for Churchill College.