Irvine Laidlaw

Chair, The Irvine Laidlaw Foundation
  • The Irvine Laidlaw Foundation
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Charlie Rogers (she/her)

Student, University of St Andrews

Hi! My name is Charlie I’m born and raised in Australia but am currently doing my bachelor’s degree in the UK at the University of St Andrews studying International Relations and Psychology. During my time at university, I have also studied Arabic and Italian and in the future, I would love to work in political psychology helping to develop human rights, and climate action policy and campaigns. My research project is, therefore, looking at social identity and climate change reform as I aim to investigate how environmentalism is represented and the extent to which it encourages or marginalises groups from collective action. So if you are also working on something like this or know an expert in the field please get in touch, I would love to hear from you! I'm a diligent worker and have worked in a variety of positions in hospitality, environmentalism, and communications. This includes being a public speaking and debating coach, a legal administrative assistant and a research assistant at Licella, a renewable energies firm. I am passionate about the environment and protecting our planet and love spending time in the outdoors. In my free time, I enjoy cooking and inventing new recipes! My friends describe me as a bit of an amateur chef but otherwise, I love being active and sail competitively for my University team as well as surfing when I'm at home. I would describe myself as adventurous, extroverted, pro-active and open-minded. Having done a fair amount of solo travelling in the past I am capable of being independent and self-sufficient, however, I thrive in groups and love learning from other people’s experiences and expertise.
Jessica Mahon

Human Genetics undergraduate student , Trinity College Dublin

Hi, I'm Jessica Mahon, and I am interested in genetics, both from a conservation and a human standpoint. I'm in 3rd year of Human Genetics at Trinity College Dublin. I'm from Ireland and speak both English and Irish. I spend my spare time taking part in yoga, meditating and enjoying the outdoors. 

My Laidlaw research project is based on the genetic susceptibility of amphibians to chytridiomycosis disease to find a new conservation method for susceptible amphibian species. I'd love to chat with others who are interested in genetics and science!


Student, University of Durham

Joshua William Dexter

Chemistry Student, Durham University

About Me

Currently about halfway through my Chemistry MChem at Durham University (graduate 2023) and I still love every second of it. I am conducting research into amide bond breaking and forming reactions, and similar mechanisms to try to solve fun and tricky synthetic issues (thanks to Laidlaw).

Prior to a Chemistry degree, I worked as charity fundraiser/team leader for 7 years. I have personally raised over £1mil for various charities, and have a huge amount of leadership experience (training and management).

I am super friendly, love to learn, happy teaching, and I am keen to make the most out the Laidlaw Foundation. So, feel free to get in touch about anything; whether you are looking to support, be supported, or just discuss.

Always on the lookout for good research opportunities and ideas. Main interests include synthetic peptide,and organocatalytic chemistry. Nearing the point where I will start applying for doctoral candidate positions. So, if you think you can offer or direct me to a good fit, I would be very happy to hear from you.

Laidlaw Research

My planned Laidlaw research aimed to develop a series of trans-amidation reactions using azanides (amino, R2N- anions) to cleave/trans-amidate at amide bonds. During lockdown, these reactions were independently developed elsewhere. I am happy the reactions work, even if someone else got to do the work. Feel free to compare the proposed reactions in the research proposal, published on my profile, with the article they published. [M. Fairley, Chem. Sci., 2020, 11, 6500.]

Due to Covid, the time spent familiarising myself with this very niche set of reactions afforded a sensible option with an easy transition into a literature review of novel reactions that could be used to solve the synthetic peptoid (R3N-amino acid molecules and polymers) formation issues when bulky/electron-withdrawing residuals on N are used. I had great fun trying to think my way around the problem and the lit. review was passed onto my supervisor and his team to (hopefully) produce literature worthy solutions.

Happy to discuss, share findings and collaborate. Just, get in touch.

Other Interests

I was doing outreach work with children through the university pre-Covid and I am really looking forward to being able to help out again soon. I am a huge sci-fi nerd. I also run 2 student societies and organise events, socials, talks, etc. for each. Both societies have a broad range of aims with activities that support community inclusion, safeguarding, wellbeing and harm-reduction.

Future Plans

I made the tough choice to suspend my university studies for the 2020-21 academic year as I feel ensuring access to the full MChem experience is too important to miss. I have been taking the opportunity of spare time to engage with private study and develop some peripheral skills to compliment what I learnt in the first 2 years. I will start 3rd year in October. 

My second summer with Laidlaw will now be in 2022 and I am hoping that international collaboration will be possible by then.

Seeking doctoral training or relevant internship possibilities to start summer 2023. I am very comfortable being contacted to you are welcome to get in touch, and feel free to pass my details on.

Research Interests

- Innovation of synthetic mechanisms.

- Peptides and peptidomimetics.

- Organocatalysis.

Anna Harris (she/her)

Student, St Andrews University

I'm a third-year English student at the University of St Andrews! My primary research areas are Early Modern Literature and I am particularly interested in the intersection of religious beliefs and gender roles at that time. In my spare time, I'm a CV adviser with the University's careers centre and I manage the programming at St Andrews Radio - the only radio station in St Andrews!
Giammarco Di Gregorio (he/him)

Student, Durham University

I think that happiness is about being committed to something that helps and supports others, and this is why I am so fascinated by research and leadership. They give us the opportunity and responsibility to support and protect our people, especially the most vulnerable. I began my journey in children's homes back in Rome, in Italy. Since then I have been volunteering with children and young people trying to facilitate resilience and recovery from early adversities as my main focus point. My Laidlaw Scholarship research project is all about the effect of alternative care on academic motivation, and along the way I founded two volunteering organisations: Learn With Us Summer Camp, and Towards My Future. If you have any questions about my projects, if you think that your endeavours and mine somehow overlap, or if you just want to chat, please drop me a message! :)

Richard Capraru

Research Assistant and Student , UCL

My research areas include Artificial Intelligence( Machine Learning), Medical Technology, Radar Systems, Nanotechnology and Data Science

Paul Burgum

CEO/Founder & PhD Researcher, BCT Aspire CIC /Durham University

I have spent the last 10 years working on the concept of mental fitness, as counter to the old stigmatized concept of mental health. I am hugely interested in how people can develop resilience and endurance. This has led me to studying applied psychology. My Laidlaw scholarship research project has been looking into the effects of emotion on the performance of Ultramarathon runners at distances of both 60 miles and 110 miles. This is the first sports psychology study that has attempted to measure this actually within-race rather than just pre and post race. Since suffering a nervous breakdown in 2009, and finally admitting to himself his own mental health and alcohol problems. A period of his life that is now looked upon as the positive beginning of a new chapter. Paul has gone on to build an awarding social enterprise BCT Aspire CIC, completed numerous high-profile endurance challenges and applied his learning to helping others and now supporting his academic journey as a mature student. BCT Aspire CIC has over the last decade delivered thousands of successful youth sessions and activity programmes for local children & young people on Teesside. Currently BCT Aspire delivers five youth sessions every week in Billingham including; Youth clubs, fitness sessions, music lessons, Duke of Edinburgh Awards and community events all with a voluntary team. A former talented Rugby player who represented England North at his peak, Paul’s attempt to get to grips with his problems led him to begin walking. This resulted in a 3000 miles adventure spanning the length of Europe, from the Southern Tip of Italy to the edge of the Orkney Islands, also passing through France, England & Scotland. All completed without support and relying on the human kindness of strangers. This has been followed up by running single stage ultramarathons up to 160 miles and last year completed the Wainwrights Coast to Coast completely barefoot to raise funds for his work and supporting his belief in positive thinking. Paul’s first two EBooks from the “Jumping the Cliff” series have topped the Amazon EBook charts for both Depression, Anxiety & Mental Health sections, with his next book from his six-week journey across Italy now out in paperback. Paul started his speaking career talking to pupils at a school with children who had behavioural problems, a place where Paul gained the courage to talk about his own way of trying to reset his own learnt behaviours. Since then he has given talks to a cross section of people including business people, professional sportsmen, youth groups, colleges & universities. Paul has also won numerous Business & Community Awards for his diverse range of work including; Entrepreneurs Forum Emerging Talent 2012; Evening Gazette’s Community Champion for Children & Young People 2012; Gazette Community Awards Finalist twice (Ambassador & Fundraising), Teesside Philanthropic Charity – Teesside Hero Paul is a qualified outdoor leader with BCT Aspire CIC who enjoys sharing these skills with people aiming to build confidence and also relaxing on the hills with his dog Molly and now his young son Pavel. Paul currently mixes his role as Managing Director of BCT Aspire, with speaking work, and studying applied psychology at Durham University. This also includes holding a prestigious Laidlaw scholarship for emerging global research talent, currently researching the mental approaches of endurance athletes. Furthermore, a trustee of Catalyst Stockton on Tees the VCSE infrastructure body for the area.
Emma Franck-Gwinnell (she/her)

Trainee Solicitor, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Hello! I'm Emma, one of the Co-Presidents of the Laidlaw Alumni Society. I'm passionate about entrepreneurialism, diversity in business and ending slavery in supply chains. My Undergraduate Scholarship research focused on legislation which requires organisations to tell the public about efforts they are making to stop modern slavery in their supply chains. In particular, I looked at whether this legislation is making a difference in the fight against modern slavery in supply chains (spoiler alert: it's not!).
Susanna Kempe (she/her)

CEO, Laidlaw Foundation

A graduate of Cambridge University, Susanna’s professional experience includes over 15 years in senior leadership roles in international B2B and learning businesses. Susanna began her career at the Institute for International Research (IIR) where she first worked with Lord Laidlaw, rising to Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). When IIR, which was the world’s largest organiser of commercial conferences, was acquired by Informa plc in 2005 Susanna was appointed CMO of the enlarged group and also led the public company’s investor relations programmes. She subsequently joined Emap Ltd as Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer and CEO of Emap Networks, that group’s conferences business. Later she became CEO of the fashion industry forecaster WGSN and was latterly Group Content and Marketing Partner of the leading strategy consultancy Brunswick Group. A German-American raised and educated in the UK and a committed internationalist, Susanna has been involved in globally trading businesses throughout her career, directing activity in the Americas, across continental Europe, and the Asia Pacific. Susanna has been extensively involved with education and professional development over many years. She was Head of Group Training and led the commercial acquisition and integration of a portfolio of corporate training businesses whilst at IIR; and created learning academies at both Informa and Emap. She believes experiencing and appreciating different cultures promotes better global understanding, creativity and leadership. She is passionate about the power of education to transform lives; and believes that we need to develop a new generation of diverse leaders who are curious, bold and devoted to decency, truthfulness, and innovation. Susanna is committed to diversity not only as a societal imperative but as a critical component of commercial success. As an advisor to the trustees of the Foundation, Susanna first learnt about its purpose and programmes before becoming its Chief Executive responsible for the Laidlaw Schools Trust, the Laidlaw Scholars and its other education programmes. Susanna read English and Philosophy at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. She has five half blues in swimming and water polo; and played netball and rowed for Newnham.