UCL Human Resources


Provost’s Excellence Scheme

The Provost’s Excellence scheme has been set up to recognise the most exceptional contributions over and above normal expectations, by UCL staff each year, no matter what their grade role might be.


Launched in 2015, the scheme aims to reward academic and non-academic alike and is dedicated to celebrating the most outstanding personal contributions to furthering UCL values by colleagues across UCL, who may sometimes get overlooked. 

To discover more about the exceptional contributions made by previous winners, please see the list below.


Nominations can be made for staff in any post at UCL - since the overriding consideration is that they make a significant personal contribution and go well above their defined role to any of the following UCL values: excellence, equality, collegiality, innovation, leadership and environmental sustainability.

Any UCL staff member or student may nominate any other employee from within UCL’s staff community. 

Scheme Categories

To put forward an individual for the Excellence Scheme, you will need to provide information about how they have made a truly exceptional contribution to UCL which meets one or more of the following UCL values:

a. Commitment to excellence;
Example: Showing exceptional levels of customer service, by going the extra mile.

b. Fairness, diversity and equality;
Example: Making specific outstanding contributions to the promotion of equality and diversity, beyond the normal expectation.

c. Collegiality and community-building;
Example: Conducting activities across normal boundaries (internal or external to UCL) which have resulted in significant and specific benefits to UCL or the wider community.

d. Innovation and creativity;
Example: Suggesting a new or innovative way of working which improves efficiency, level of service or saves UCL money.

e. Leadership;
Example: Taking personal responsibility beyond the normal expectation, during an emergency.

f. Environmental sustainability  
Example: Suggesting a change which is implemented and significantly reduces waste.

Note: The behaviour described should not be a normal expectation of the role holder’s job description and should not have been recognised through another UCL award scheme.


Nominations should be sent to Mark Rice (m.rice@ucl.ac.uk), Head of Reward Policy, UCL Human Resources in the first instance using a nomination form. Nominations will then be sent to the relevant Faculty Manager or Director of Professional Service who will consider nominations in their area, endorse them where applicable before submitting to the awarding panel who will choose the final award winners. Due to the limited number of awards each year, each Faculty and Professional Services Division will be limited to sending on a maximum of three nominations.


Award Panel and Selection Process

UCL Human Resources will coordinate the process and support the award panel, which shall be chaired by the UCL President and Provost, Professor Michael Arthur.

The panel will take into consideration the extent to which the criteria are met and will aim to ensure that a cross-section of UCL staff are recognised through the scheme each year.

They will expect the following questions to be addressed in all cases:
1. What is the impact of the contribution on UCL as a whole?

2. What are the benefits for staff/ students/ customers? How is this evaluated?

3. How many staff/ students/ customers benefit currently and are likely to benefit in the future?

Award Ceremony

Details of award winners will be published and the scheme culminates in an award ceremony each year where winners are formally recognised by the Provost.

The award ceremony is an important and enjoyable opportunity for award winners to celebrate their successes, to share their achievements with peers and for all at UCL to recognise the talent and innovation of colleagues.

Previous winners

  • Helen Pascoe, Departmental Manager, Philosophy. Helen has had a substantial and extremely positive impact on all aspects of the running of the Philosophy Department. She brought great efficiency to all aspects of the role, which include a myriad of complex processes. These processes all work much more efficiently than they did prior to her arrival. She is an extremely pleasant colleague who has infused the departmental admin team with a very positive, friendly, constructive, and helpful attitude. She works exceptionally well with academic colleagues and is extremely sympathetic to students. In all these respects she has had a significant, positive impact upon the department.
  • Fiona McClement,  Director of EDI, UCL Human Resources. Fiona was chosen as winner here for her significant leadership contribution, particularly her tireless and pioneering work to address bullying and especially sexual misconduct at UCL. To address the problem on the wider scale, Fiona has worked with other universities to develop a bespoke program of workshops (the “Where do you draw the line” program) to tackle misconduct. Fiona has also organized an innovative symposium on Tackling Sexual Misconduct at UCL which has culminated in the creation of a high level Strategy Group to address the problem. The Strategy Group has made a series of recommendations which we are now taking forward.
  • Folashade Akinmolayan, Teaching Fellow, Chemical EngineeringFolashade has made a highly significant and innovative impact on education. She led a variety of education initiatives which have had a significant impact. Her structured PGTA-led workshops led to her cohort gaining the highest exam performance when compared with the others, and the scheme is in the process of being rolled out to every department. She routinely provides formal and informal advice and shares best practice on current teaching innovations within her department and across the faculty. She also took the lead for online assessment in Mathematics with great student feedback. And, developed a community learning environment, ensuring the availability of support through dedicated PGTAs, peer support and clear visibility on any struggling students.
  • Dr Patrick Guio, Senior Research Fellow, Physics and Astronomy.  Dr Guio has made exceptional contributions to education and research and the activities and international profile of his department. Patrick’s role has facilitated UCL’s involvement in a major European project concerned with space weather (of importance to scientists and government) and its effects on the Earth’s space environment. Patrick’s influence and support in the context of scientific / high-performance computing has enormously benefited, and made far more efficient, the working methods of staff and students. Moreover, his notes online at the UCL website on ‘best computing practice’ have been accessed over 52000 times worldwide; at peak time, about 3000+ times per month. Patrick’s contribution to teaching PHAS2443 has benefited ~100 undergraduate students in the last four academic years.
  • Safiyah Patel, Recruitment and Payments Administrator, IOE. Safiyah  was nominated by several senior staff to recognise her positive impact. One has said: “Safiyyah has totally transformed the recruitment process because she understands it so well, offers advice about the best way to proceed, pays meticulous attention to detail and offers advice that is cogent, clear and helpful…She has always been the model of professionalism herself. She has been commended by everyone in my department for the difference in quality and efficiency of service offered”. Since joining the IOE, Safiyyah has gone from strength to strength and made an incredible impact on the faculty.
  • Graca Carvalho, Research Relationships Manager, STEAPP. Graca Carvalho has had a significant impact on creating funding partnerships and generating large amounts of additional revenue. Graca used highly developed business skills to very effectively create and foster research and user partnerships for the PETRAS Cybersecurity of the Internet of Things Hub- a multi-university research initiative. Initial funding of £9.8m from EPSRC has led to a further contribution of nearly £14m from User Partners. At its outset, the Hub had 47 User and Research partners. Through Graca Carvalho’s work these now number over 110; 63 have been brought into active collaboration since the programme began, and this is largely the work of Graca. Associated with the recent partners has been the acquisition of a further ~£1m of cash funding from new partners, again won by Graca. Her enthusiasm and energy are outstanding, as are her insights and intelligence, which have played a key role in the undisputed success of PETRAS.
  • Andreas Opitz, Institute Education and Communications Officer, Institute of Epidemiology & Health CareThrough his extremely efficient, responsive attitude and competence, Andreas has completely revamped and modernised the Institute website so that it is useful and inspiring. Andreas and his colleague, Emma Whitney, have introduced a new Institute newsletter to help facilitate communication within IEHC. He also ensures that the IEHC twitter account is active and well connected. Andreas embarks on the above activities with enthusiasm and competence. He uses his initiative and will try new processes without prompting. Andreas is leading the way in terms of improving the student experience. For example, the film nights he introduced are a unique endeavour within the Faculty, which may be replicated by other Institutes. 
  • Rebecca Allen, Data and Insight Manager (Education), Office of the Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs).  Rebecca has led the introduction of the ‘New to UCL’ survey and the pilot ‘Student Experience Survey’, both of which ran for the first time in 2016-17.The introduction of two completely new surveys in a single year is a considerable achievement, and we owe a great deal to Rebecca’s commitment, dedication and expertise, as well as her willingness to take on additional work.  Rebecca’s work has led to the development of surveys which are tailored to the needs of the UCL community, with targeted questions and a clear rationale for participating. We are now able to generate UCL-specific insights into the first-year arrival experience, and to collect data about the impressions and concerns of the 2nd year cohort in the year before their NSS return. This change improves the experience for all of our UG and PGT students.
  • Rosi Hirst, Academic Administrator, Social Science, IOE. Rosi is excellent in all aspects of her role but also goes out of her way to improve the working environment.  The specific achievement that deserves recognition is her initiative in launching and leading the department’s ‘Great Decluttering Project’.  Many offices and even corridors were encumbered by old files, archive boxes, filing cabinets, unused furniture and equipment, and so on.  The project has already succeeded in creating space and making a large difference to working conditions for everyone. Rosi made repeated visits to offices on every floor of every building in the department to encourage and cajole.  The offices are more attractive and less crowded, with benefits for morale and efficiency
  • Katie Singer, Senior Alumni Relations Manager, Office of the Vice-Provost Development. Katie has been at the forefront of UCL’s efforts to engage its student and recent graduate communities with philanthropy. This has included the development of a series of two innovative and highly successful programmes- Philanthropy Month and UCL Connect - Professional Development Series. UCL was the first UK University to hold a month-long celebration of philanthropy and the UCL Connect series is sector leading by its breath and international reach. Both UCL programmes have gained an outstanding reputation in the USA where philanthropy/alumni programming has been established for decades compared with the UK.  Thousands of students, staff and alumni have actively participated in and benefitted from the above activities, either participating in events, viewing communications or contributing their own time and money in support of UCL. Both the above activities have significantly enlightened these communities to the possibilities presented by maintaining a lifelong relationship with UCL
  • Satinder Sembi, Laboratory technician, School of Pharmacy.  Satinder has stepped up magnificently in taking on responsibility for the departmental high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) service in unforeseen circumstances. This has involved her performing the tasks of an individual at a senior position. She has taken on responsibility for monitoring usage of the instruments, ensuring that health and safety requirements are met, as well as performing maintenance of the equipment and assisting users with experimental design and data analysis. In doing so, she has applied her existing skills but also shown significant initiative in researching topics outside of her experience to date, and making contact with suppliers to seek solutions to problems which have arisen with equipment. Satinder has done an excellent job of engaging with all key stakeholders (students and staff using the HPLC equipment, academic staff and other technicians), managing expectations and maintaining user satisfaction. Importantly, she has done this at the same time as continuing her other duties to a consistently high standard.
  • Therese Johns , Faculty Communications Officer, Faculty of Brain Sciences In response to huge demand across the Faculty, Therese planned, led and delivered the Faculty’s annual ‘Communication is Key’ event in June 2016 and June 2017 consisting of a series of talks and focus sessions about digital communications practices. The event was aimed at all Faculty staff (research, academic, professional services) and aimed to empower them to confidently use digital communications to enhance their work. Therese also has established a regular ‘Social media for beginners’ workshop series. These small classes teach the basics of Twitter to Faculty staff so that they are confident to use it. These are only a few examples of the variety of innovative activities led by Therese which have had a significant impact on improving the reach and engagement of the Faculty’s digital presence and social media channels.
  • Nikki Kolyvani and Sonia Abrams (joint winners), Senior Events Manager and Senior Events Manager – Campaign, Office of the Vice-Provost (Development). In September 2016, UCL publicly launched It’s All Academic – a major philanthropy and engagement Campaign to raise £600m for UCL’s research, students and capital projects. The Campaign was launched with a series of events in the UK and internationally. Altogether over 21,600 people attended at least one event and a further 300,000 joined via live streams from London and Beijing. The launch events were followed in June 2017 with the It’s All Academic Festival. Throughout all the events, Nikki and Sonia recruited and worked closely with a team of student champions to engage guests, providing them with bespoke training and the unique experience of hosting senior VIPs. . All of these events were extremely complex and unlike anything UCL has done. The creativity, attention to detail and initiative of Nikki and Sonia was crucial to the success of these events.
  • Rebecca Smith and Janet Nicholas, Programme Administrators, ICH.  Becky and Janet set up an informal cross programme administrators forum. The purpose of the forum is for staff to get to know one another, provide peer support, talk through common administrative problems and create a community of practice. Becky and Janet immediately saw the value in this activity and invited all administrators to an introductory session. The forums have improved cross-communications across the programmes and vertical integration with other administrative teams.  This increased cooperation has led to offers to help with over-crowding re staff office space, furniture and equipment sharing, the sharing of information on re knowledge and processes and bespoke training on HR and finance issues that are directly relevant to the administrator’s role.  Collegiality has improved and the number of social functions organised and attended by staff has also increased.  This provides a great forum for new staff who can quickly become familiar with their peers in an atmosphere of cooperation and support.
  • Veeru Kasivisvanathan, Surgical Trainee in Urology & NIHR Doctoral Fellow, Division of Surgery .  Veeru is clearly an exceptional individual who is almost certain to become one of our future thought leaders and academic exemplars. Two things stand out, his design of a new way of doing collaborative clinical trials and his setting up the first instructional course on MRI diagnostics in prostate cancer. Veeru, through his MRI master classes has personally brought in over £50k to the UCL Division of Surgery in under a year. UCL students and staff have benefited greatly from attending the course and will continue to do so. Many of the skills that he has innately he has transferred to others at UCL through this course.  His management as leader of a team of around 30 people (UCL Engineering, UCL Urology staff, UCL doctoral fellows, UCL radiologists, UCL medical students, sponsors, UCL Finance, UCL Marketing) has made everybody grow. 
  • Katherine Fletcher, Departmental Manager, Engineering Faculty Office. Katherine has played a central role in the cross-department coordination of the Integrated Engineering Programme (700 students intake per year, >200 staff involved) which has required complex coordination across 8 different departments. This position has also enabled her to show exceptional leadership across the departments creating a professional services community of practice that strives for excellence. She operates quickly, efficiently and openly, producing remarkable results in any aspect of the faculty that she is engaged in. Always willing to take on extremely demanding and complex projects and seeing them to successful completion, handling difficult situations with remarkable patience and dedication to collaboration.
  • James Hetherington, Head of Research Software Development, ISD.  James is an exceptional member of the UCL community whose energy, drive to deliver, commitment to his team and curiosity about the work of others exemplifies many of our core values. Amongst other things he has earned for UCL a widely acknowledged leadership position within the UK Research Software Engineering (RSE) community, Promoted increased coordination of skills development and developed a high-performance culture. In all the above, James has demonstrated a relentless desire for self-improvement which has been widely recognised.

EDI winners:

  • Professor Sara Mole, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology.  Sara Mole is an outstanding proponent of gender equality, especially for women in the sciences. She is a stunning example of how one person can make a huge difference.  In 2008, Sara persuaded the Director of the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology (LMCB), that it should be a very early adopter of Athena principles of gender equality, before many at UCL had engaged with the process, or been persuaded of its importance.  Sara introduced many initiatives that have since been shared feely and adopted by other UCL departments and faculties, especially FLS. The LMCB was one of the first departments at UCL to be awarded Silver (in 2009) and the first to be awarded Gold (2016). Currently there are only 8 Departments holding Gold awards in 5 UK Universities.  

    This work has been a huge undertaking that Sara has led for the last 9 years, but the Department is now reaping benefits in many ways, including a sustained increase in their % female professors from 0% in 2009 up to 37.5% in 2016. It is recognised that almost entirely through her efforts, the LMCB has been an equality trail-blazer at UCL.  Sara is greatly sought-after for advice and inspires others in their work in gender equality. This has helped other departments push at the boundaries using Athena principles, including a second department at UCL being awarded Gold at the last round.
  • Manjula Patrick - Deafness, Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre. Manjula has been involved in a number of highly successful activities that promote equality, diversity and inclusion, from deaf awareness training days, to exhibitions and serving on E&D committees and groups. Manjula undertakes these knowledge exchange activities in addition to her formal role at DCAL.  In addition to the two examples below, Manjula is part of the Disability Standard self-assessment project team.  One of the most significant and on-going activities is her leadership of the ‘Discover UCL Summer School for Deaf and hard of hearing students’, a widening participation event in its 4th year which is unique to UCL. Deaf students are hugely unrepresented in HE and Manjula sees ‘Discover UCL…’ as an opportunity to redress the balance by equipping the students for university life.

    Manjula also led on the ‘History of British Sign Language (BSL) exhibition’ project (2013), securing Heritage Lottery funding to deliver this interactive exhibition to celebrate the 10th anniversary of BSL’s recognition by UK government and showcase the language, history and culture of the British Deaf community. The project required extensive research for materials and included development of a fully accessible online catalogue. The skills Manjula needed to deliver activities like the above examples, were acquired by self-directed learning and achieved through initiative, excellent organisational skills and ability to work collaboratively with a range of people.