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Archive of wonderful things

The invention of a game-changing laser

In 1986, Alf Adams invented the strained quantum well laser – considered to be one of the top ten greatest UK scientific breakthroughs of all time.

Surrey’s Distinguished Professor of Physics

In recognition of this pioneering work, Alf Adams was awarded the Duddell Medal and Prize in 1995, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1996 and received the Rank Prize in 2014.

“Adams essentially made the digital world we live in possible. His discovery is the ‘strained quantum well laser’ – or the lasers that power the internet, CDs, DVDs, computer mice and supermarket checkouts, to name but a few.”
Stephen Sweeney, The Guardian, February 2012

Alf Adams Lecture Series

The Alf Adams Lecture Series was established in 2012 to showcase the University of Surrey’s groundbreaking research.

Professor Adams gave the inaugural lecture, Semiconductor Lasers Take The Strain, held at The Royal Society.

Learn more about Professor Adams and our Department of Physics, and read our press release about the top ten greatest UK scientific breakthroughs of all time.

Home of the E.H. Shepard Archive

In 1974, E.H. Shepard, illustrator of Winnie-the-Pooh and Wind in the Willows, donated his personal collection to the University of Surrey archives.

Born on 10 December 1879 Ernest Howard Shepard, MC, OBE was to become one of the 20th century’s most well-known black-and-white illustrators in the Victorian tradition. His iconic drawings of Pooh bear, Tigger, Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger, through collaboration with two of the greats of children’s literature – A.A Milne and Kenneth Graham – are recognised and loved worldwide.

The Surrey connection

E.H. Shepard lived in Guildford and the surrounding area for much of his adult life and the University of Surrey is now the guardian of a captivating collection of personal correspondence; business papers; family photographs; and original artwork. This includes precious childhood drawings on the back of school homework which show evidence of his early talent as an artist and memorabilia from his time as an officer in the First World War.

Learn more about E.H. Shepard.

Visit the Archives

Anyone is welcome to visit the University's Archives & Special Collections.

For opening times and further information, visit the University of Surrey archives website.

Support for sporting excellence

In 2012, Surrey alumna Margaret Adeoye made her Olympic debut in the 200m sprint at London 2012.

Margaret, a Business Management graduate, won the 200m at the Olympic trials before stepping out onto the Olympic Stadium track in front of a fervent crowd of 80,000 people. Her semi-final time of 23.28 seconds only narrowly kept her out of the Olympic final.

Inspired, she went on to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Home to Olympic talent and facilities

Although her athletics career has taken her onto the biggest stage of all, it was while at the University of Surrey that Margaret began to hone her sporting talent. She graduated in 2010, the year our £34 million Surrey Sports Park opened.

Equipped with world-class sports facilities, Surrey Sports Park supported the training of Margaret and 17 Olympic and Paralympic nations ahead of London 2012. It has hosted Harlequins Rugby Union, the England Men’s and Women’s Rugby squads, England Cricket, Great Britain Women’s Basketball, England Netball, Swansea City FC as well as athletes including Chemmy Alcott, Ben Ainslie, Denise Lewis, Louis Smith, Ellie Simmonds, and Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.

“The facilities at Surrey now are just amazing and it’s good to see that they are being used by young kids. Having access to [a facility] like Surrey Sports Park is definitely going to inspire the next generation.”
Margaret Adeoye, Olympic runner

Sport at Surrey

Offering a range of Olympic-standard facilities, a gym and a wide range of team sports and classes, Surrey Sports Park is open to all. Learn more.

Watch the video to see the facilities and find out more about Team Surrey, the sporting arm of the University Students’ Union.

The car created from a crisis

In 1957, distinguished alumnus, Sir Alec Issigonis designed the Mini.

Nearly 60 years after it first launched, the Mini has become a cultural symbol synonymous with Britain, as loved as a cup of tea or a red phone box. More than a car, it became a fashion icon that owners could personalise - it was even a film star in its own right thanks to the Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour and The Italian Job.

Student engineer

A student of engineering at Battersea Polytechnic (the University of Surrey’s predecessor) Sir Alec was, surprisingly, not adept at mathematics. He once stated that, ‘Pure mathematics was the enemy of every truly creative man’.

Radical design

In 1957, in response to the Suez Oil Crisis, Issigonis’ employer – the British Motor Corp – set him a challenge to design a small, fuel-efficient car.

His radical design used a transverse engine to power the vehicle’s front wheels and could comfortably seat four passengers in a remarkably small 10 feet (3 metre) long chassis.

Launched in 1959, the affordable Mini became instantly popular. Over five million Minis were sold before Sir Alec Issigonis’ death in 1988.

Read Sir Alec’s profile in the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Mechanical engineering at Surrey

Surrey has a long history of mechanical engineering teaching and offers a range of degrees with specialisms including aerospace, automotive and medical engineering.

Learn more about our mechanical engineering degrees and research within the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences.

Setting new standards to tackle vitamin D deficiency

In 2016, Surrey’s research into the vitamin D needs of ethnic communities in the UK - and our discovery that animal-based sources are the most effective forms of the nutrient - informed Public Health England’s new national guidelines on vitamin D.

Vitamin D guidelines

The guidelines recommend an intake of 10 micrograms daily and that supplements are taken during winter months when we are unable to synthesise vitamin D ourselves from sun exposure.

They were based on recommendations from a large-scale review of research, including that conducted by Surrey, and a full risk assessment undertaken by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), of which Surrey’s Professor Susan-Lanham New is a member.

Read the full Vitamin D report by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.

Levels of vitamin D deficiency in Britain are now recognised as being the highest they’ve been in 50 years. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone pain, muscle ache and lethargy, and more seriously, osteoporosis in adults and poor bone growth or rickets in children.

The impact of deficiency

“What we have now shown is you don’t make enough (vitamin D) in summer to last you through the winter. Vitamin D does not last as long in the body as was once thought and lifestyles now mean we don’t get the same amount of sunlight exposure – we don’t go outside as much, when we do we tend to cover up, and sun cream blocks vitamin D manufacture.”
Professor Susan Lanham-New, Researcher and Head of the Department of Nutritional Science

Nutrition research with real world impact

Learn more about our research in the field of biosciences and medicine - including our study that revealed that timing your exercise and meals can lead to weight loss.

Explore our courses in the field of food, nutrition and dietetics.

The appointment of the UK's first female professor of physics

In 1971, Daphne Jackson became the first female professor of physics in the UK.

Daphne Jackson’s career at the University of Surrey began when she moved to Battersea College of Technology to begin her research in theoretical nuclear physics.

She was appointed the University of Surrey’s first professor of physics in 1971, and later became the Dean of the Faculty of Science.

A campaigner for women in science

Professor Jackson’s academic contributions were eclipsed by her fervent campaigning for the careers of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

She often met talented women who were forced to take on low-level jobs when returning to the workplace after a career break as they could not return to research at the right level without retraining and publications.

This inspired her to develop a fellowship scheme to address this issue and a pilot programme designed to help them return to their chosen careers.

“Daphne Jackson was an amazing lady, and quite an inspiration and mentor to me in my career, so the fact that I have come full circle from my degree and PhD at Surrey to now running the Daphne Jackson Trust makes it very personal for me, and something I am passionate about. I think Daphne would be very proud of what her Fellowships have accomplished.”
Dr Katie Perry, Chief Executive, Daphne Jackson Trust and University of Surrey alumna

The Daphne Jackson Trust

The Daphne Jackson Trust, established in 1992 after her death, continues Professor Jackson’s work.

It has now helped over 300 female and male STEM researchers successfully return to their careers through fellowships.

Learn more about the Daphne Jackson Trust and meet more of our inspiring women.

Going for gold at the Invictus Games

In 2016, Surrey’s own Andy Kelsey, a technician within the School of English and Languages won gold in cycling at the Invictus Games.

The Invictus Games bring together competitors from 13 nations to help inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and promote understanding for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.

A Surrey sporting hero

Andy served in the RAF as aircrew and was injured while on duty, resulting in damage to his spinal cord and brain.

While a member of British Cycling’s world class performance programme, he was invited to attend trials for the first Invictus Games in 2014 in London.

Andy won two silver medals at these inaugural games so was delighted when he went one better by winning gold at the 2016 event in Orlando, Florida.

Sport at Surrey

The University’s Surrey Sports park offers world-leading sporting opportunities for students, staff and the public.

A regular host to Harlequins Rugby Union, the Sports Park was selected as an official London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Training Base, which saw it host 17 nations for training camps.

Watch the video to see our amazing facilities and find out what it's like to be part of the Students’ Union’s Team Surrey.

Learn more about Sport at Surrey.

The supersonic legacy of Surrey’s first Pro-Chancellor

In 1966, Sir George Edwards, leader of the British design team for the Concorde, was appointed the University’s first Pro-Chancellor...

Sir George Edward’s outstanding 40-year contribution to aviation cannot be overstated.

A world-class engineer and industrial leader, his career spanned the design and development of biplanes and the Vickers Wellington Bomber (a mainstay for the RAF in disarming magnetic mines in home waters during the Second World War), to passenger aircraft and, finally, the supersonic Concorde.

The creator of Concorde

Edwards was knighted in 1957 and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1968. His contribution to British aviation, particularly his participation in the development of the Concorde, was acknowledged by appointment to the Order of Merit in 1971.

“My Father was very proud of his association with Surrey University. From its birth from Battersea College of Advanced Technology his mission was to produce excellent engineers and scientists.  In his own words: ‘The university was not simply a factory for turning out technologists, but citizens capable of making a contribution to the nation's welfare’. 

He remained close to the University right up until his death in 2003.”
Angela Newton, Daughter of Sir George Edwards

Mechanical Engineering at Surrey

Surrey has a long history of mechanical engineering teaching and offers a range of degrees with specialisms including aerospace, automotive and medical engineering.

Learn more about our mechanical engineering degrees and research within the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences.

Saving a forgotten language

In 2007, Surrey’s linguists created a modern dictionary and online resource for Archi, an endangered language spoken by about 1,200 people in the remote highlands of Dagestan, Russia.

This permanent record is not just of day-to-day language, but of cultural artefacts, giving pride and strength to a community's cultural identity.

Explore the Archi dictionary and learn more about the research.

Preserving language diversity

Language is probably our most uniquely human attribute, and the study of language offers insight into both the way the mind works and the way people interact with each other and their environment. Preserving language diversity is a crucial step in maintaining cultural diversity and heritage, and to keeping open important channels of scientific enquiry.

Language research at Surrey

It is estimated that 50% of the world's languages will die out in the next 100 years, a loss which will impoverish us all.

The Surrey Morphology Group, led by Professor Greville Corbett – a world expert in the subject, concentrates on some of the most complex and interesting languages in the world.

Besides Archi, group members have recently worked with speakers of languages spoken in Mexico, Nepal, Senegal, South Sudan, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Belarus and Finland, as well as engaging in large-scale typology research embracing hundreds of other languages.

Interested in learning a language?

We offer a range of evening language classes taught on our Campus in Guildford.

Languages offered include Chinese, French, German, Italian and Russian. You can also learn British Sign Language.

Find out more.

The 5G revolution

In 2015, we opened the £70 million 5G Innovation Centre, Europe’s the largest academic research hub dedicated to the development of the next generation of mobile and wireless communications.

What is 5G?

Capable of handling our ever-increasing demand for mobile data, 5G will provide 'Internet of Things' connectivity and control for billions of devices and trillions of applications.

It is yet to be seen exactly how 5G will change our lives.

Our vision is that cars will act like smartphones on wheels that can park themselves and collect you at the end of the day. Data about our health and well-being will be collected constantly so that we can predict disease before we get sick. And while you ride on a digitally controlled rail network, you can play chess with a friend in Edinburgh on a holographic board.

It’s not science fiction – it’s happening today as we speak. All we need to think about are the realms of possibility.

5G at Surrey

Bringing together leading academic expertise and an unrivalled number of industry partners, the 5GIC will help to define and develop the 5G infrastructure that will define how we interact with our digital world.

It’s the only centre in the world with a large scale, campus-wide testbed capability for research and innovation.

“The development of 5G presents a significant economic opportunity and this world-leading centre will position the UK at the forefront of research into the next generation of communications technology. The Government wants Britain to be the best place in Europe to innovate and we are committed to supporting collaborations like this one to ensure pioneering research continues to improve people’s lives.”Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science

Discover more about 5G at Surrey.

Award winning architecture

The iconic Duke of Kent building was officially opened by its namesake, HRH The Duke of Kent, Chancellor of the University, in 2000.

A hub for healthcare training

Providing the ideal learning environment for those at the forefront of healthcare, the completion of the building – named one of the top 100 buildings in the world by Concrete Society and winner of the Guildford Heritage Award and the Guildford Society Award - drew local and national attention to the wider campus renaissance.

Speaking at the launch, former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Dowling, said: “It is one of the best-equipped centres for health research and education in England.”

Iconic design

The 7,500sqm building was designed by architects Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners and looms over the lake like the prow off a ship, its shape reminiscent of a giant ocean liner. Visible across the town, the Duke of Kent stands on the edge of campus on the pedestrian route between Guildford town, the University and the Cathedral as a linking point for the three areas.

Today the building is equipped with the latest facilities responding to the fast changing pace of health care needs to deliver safe patient care in the practice setting.

Healthcare courses at Surrey

Did you know? Over 9,400 nurses, midwives, paramedics and operating department practitioners have been trained at Surrey?

Read about a typical week in the life of a student nurse at Surrey and explore all of our degrees in the field of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Sciences.

Visit the University

Our self-guided campus tour will enable you to take yourself around campus and see our distinctive buildings and art.

You can download the self-guided tour or get a printed copy of the brochure from Reception on the ground floor of Senate House, Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 5:30pm.

It is advisable to follow the tour between 9am and 5pm when most University facilities will be open for you to see.

We also run weekly guided campus tours for prospective students.

The fingerprint drug detection test

In 2015, mass spectrometry techniques developed at Surrey resulted in a new technique that can detect if someone has used cocaine from a single fingerprint.

This research is now paving the way for simple, and potentially portable, drug testing methods that will have far-reaching impacts for law enforcement agencies and the billion-pound, global drug testing market.

How the test works

Someone who has taken cocaine will excrete traces of benzoylecgoine and methylecgonine from their skin. The test works by spraying a beam of solvent onto the fingerprint slide (a technique known as Desorption Electrospray Ionisation, or DESI) to determine if these substances were present. DESI has been used for a number of forensic applications, but no other studies have shown it to demonstrate drug use.

“The beauty of this method is that, not only is it non-invasive and more hygienic than testing blood or saliva, it can’t be faked. By the very nature of the test, the identity of the subject is captured within the fingerprint ridge detail itself.” Dr Melanie Bailey, Lead researcher and Lecturer in Analytical and Forensic Science

Successful trials

Dr Melanie Bailey and her colleagues are now working with a company to develop the test further for practical application outside the lab, with recent trials showing a 100 per cent success rate in confirming positive samples.

Tests for other drugs

Research is taking place to widen its use to other drugs such as heroin.

The technique has also received ethical approval for further development as a non-invasive test to help health authorities ensure that patients are compliant when taking medication for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.

Watch the Sky News report into the research.

Home of The Supervet

Professor Noel Fitzpatrick is the director of Fitzpatrick Referrals, the UK’s premier small animal surgery referral centre, and was a key member of the team who conceived and founded the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

The Supervet

Noel, Professor of Orthopaedics at the School of Veterinary Medicine, is well known as Channel 4’s The Supervet for his pioneering surgical techniques, including the most advanced bionic limb prostheses in the world today.

He said: “When a small group of people discussed a possible new Vet School, we felt there was only one reason big enough to do it – to light an unquenchable fire for the greater good of society and the planet. That’s what it’s about for me – making the world a better place for one animal and one human who loves that animal – and inspiring others to do the same.

“Animals have given me way more than I have ever given them. I strongly believe that drugs and implants should be studied in the same way as diseases in animals and man so that all win, rather than just the conventional model of animals as a model for human disease. “My mission is convergence of purpose such that ‘one medicine’ is a two-way street. This has underpinned my clinical practice, The Humanimal Trust charity I founded and the University Vet School.”

Learn more about Noel Fitzpatrick and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Noel Fitzpatrick interview

Watch our ‘Jim meets… Noel Fitzpatrick’ film to learn more about The Supervet and his work at Surrey.

Regius Professorship for electronic engineering

In 2013, the University of Surrey’s Electronic Engineering Department received the prestigious Regius Professorship.

The Regius title, a rare privilege, was bestowed on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years since her ascension to the throne.

Twelve outstanding universities were presented with this internationally recognised hallmark, which honours the exceptional high quality of teaching and research in different disciplines.

Awarded by The Queen

A Regius Professorship can only be awarded by the British Monarch, and just two were created in the previous hundred years.

The University of Surrey is the only university in the country to be awarded the title for Electronic Engineering, a clear recognition of the Department’s stature and outstanding achievements.

Learn more about the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and discover our electrical and electronic engineering degrees.

The UK’s first tourism degree

Rik Medlik - the UK’s first Professor of Hotel and Catering Administration - had a vision. As early as the 1950s and 1960s he saw that the future of Britain lay in the service industry, rather than manufacturing.

The University of Surrey embraced this vision, appointing him as Professor in this field. Our first tourism short course commenced in 1967, with the first tourism degree launching in 1972.

Surrey tourism graduates

Rik Medlik’s foresight was well realised; the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management is ranked number one in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2017 and 2017, and has been in the world’s top four schools since 1980.

Our 8,000 graduates can be found in the best hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations across the globe.

Learn more about the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and discover our degrees in tourism, events, hospitality and transport.

Cracking the code of love

In 1996, Surrey mathematician Dr Philip Aston, deciphered an old diary written in numerical code.

It revealed the experiences of RAF Squadron Leader Donald Hill while he was held as a prisoner of the Japanese during the battle for Hong Kong in WWII, helping his wife understand a time in his life he refused to speak of.

Forbidden record

Donald had written his diary in code as he was forbidden to keep such a record, and titled it Russels Mathematical Tables so that he could smuggle it home. The diary was brought to Dr Aston by Donald’s wife, Pamela, who had waited ten years after his death to have the diary decoded so that she should finally learn her husband’s story.

Dr Aston was not a cryptologist, so through research into old coding styles, and with the help of a computer, he spent eight months deciphering the twelve-page document, slowly revealing a story of a terrible time in history.

Discover how Dr Aston decoded the diary.

Book and film

The story of the diary, and Pamela’s quest to understand it, were translated into a book: The Code of Love by Andro Linklater, and later a musical written by a Surrey Mathematics student.

Learn more about our maths degrees and the Department of Mathematics.