University of Sheffield graduates gather in America to support students and research which makes a difference


University of Sheffield graduates in the USA gathered in Boston on Saturday (5 May 2018) to hear more about vital research and student scholarships.

The University has 4,000 alumni living and working in America, and graduates in the US provide generous support for student scholarships as well as world-class research into the study of diseases and environmental sustainability.

The speaker at the 2018 US alumni reunion dinner was Sheffield graduate, investor and a globally-respected authority on environmental sustainability, Jeremy Grantham. He addressed a packed audience of alumni of all ages at the Harvard Club in Boston.

In a speech which outlined the need for urgent change to ensure we do not imperil our ability to grow food and live sustainably, Jeremy described the environmental challenges which drive the work of the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment - a 'race for life' which would demand overcoming wishful thinking and taking action to ensure we did not create a planet hostile to life itself.

The audience also heard from Professor Tony Ryan, former Head of the Faculty of Science and Director of the Sheffield Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield, about the work of Sheffield Grantham scholars. The centre's international researchers work across disciplines and engage with governments, industry and the public to secure positive change.

Finally the audience heard a speech by the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett, who shared his reflections on his work as a scientist in America and the vital importance of the mobility of talent for the future of education, as well as the reliance of the US on migration for its food.

The gathering of American graduates followed meetings of the trustees of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures and the University of Sheffield in America board, both of which were attended by Sir Keith.

Sir Keith also met senior alumni, including Sir Hans Kornberg, who came to the UK as a child from Nazi Germany and went on to become a distinguished biochemist who continues to teach and research at 90 years old. Discussions about the work of the university and its alumni in America were also hosted by the UK Consul-General in Boston, Harriet Cross.

Sir Keith said: "It has been a huge pleasure and privilege to work closely with our American alumni and I am deeply grateful for the support and affection they demonstrate for their University.

“As well as financial support for areas such as scholarships, our graduates have shared their time and advice with me personally but also with University colleagues and students. Visiting them always has a feeling of family about it, and the desire they feel to put something back into the University which gave them their own education is very moving."

While in Boston, the Vice-Chancellor also held meetings at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he discussed opportunities for student exchange and work on digital technologies and knowledge exchange with industry.

Grantham Boston

Additional information

About the University of Sheffield in America

The University of Sheffield in America is a US-registered charity, established in 2004, whose mission it is to help Sheffield alumni in the USA stay connected to the University and each other, and to raise funds to support students and research at the University of Sheffield. There is a volunteer Board of Directors made up of six alumni and donors from across the USA, chaired by Nobel Prize Winner Sir Richard Roberts.

Priorities for fundraising and grant-making are scholarships, Research Fellowships, Neuroscience, Environment, and the Sheffield Scanner appeal. Over the last 13 years, American donors have given $4.5m to the University of Sheffield in America, and another $3m to the University directly.

Find out more

About the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment was founded by Jeremy and his wife Hannelore and aims to protect and improve the health of the global environment. The Foundation seeks to raise awareness of urgent environmental issues and supports individuals and organisations working to find solutions. It offers grants to work which supports communication and collaboration in environmental protection, with an emphasis on climate change, including the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield.

Find out more

About the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures

The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield works across disciplines to develop new ideas and technologies to make local, national and global communities more sustainable, now and in the future. The centre also collaborates with policy-makers, industry partners and communities, working towards policies based on evidence, sustainable business practices and an informed public.

The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures is also focused on developing Grantham Scholars - PhD students who carry out interdisciplinary research, developing the technical skills and political awareness which will be fundamental to effective actions to make a real difference in global sustainability.

Find out more


For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 2221046