Graduation Day — with a taste of Latin America (and ice cream)

The Lownds family spent three fascinating years living in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, from 2003 to 2006. During their time there they travelled through Brazil, Argentina and Chile, leaving indelible images in their memories from Salvador and Recife on Brazil’s northeast coast down to the cities of Ushuaia and Punta Arenas in Patagonia – following in Darwin’s footsteps through the Beagle Channel and rounding Cape Horn in the process.  The Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas is therefore a firm family favourite – and the natural place to gather in Brighton ahead of the University of Sussex’s Summer 2019 School of Life Sciences graduation ceremony on 22 July.

After a pleasant lunch spent catching up with Harry’s flatmates his family and a few close friends made their way down to the Brighton Centre where the graduation ceremony was taking place.  There they joined hundreds of students and their families there to celebrate their academic achievements and to witness them receiving their degree certificates from the University’s Chancellor, actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, who shook Graduands warmly by the hand, hugged and danced with them.  

 At the end of the ceremony comes the point where posthumous awards are conferred on students who have died before they have concluded their studies.  Harry was in his final semester at Sussex studying for a BSc in Genetics when he died suddenly and unexpectedly.  But by that point he had already submitted his dissertation [you can read it here] and amassed sufficient course credits to graduate.  The University therefore decided to award him an ‘Unclassified Honours – Aegrotat’ degree; these are awarded very rarely to students who have demonstrated ‘higher level academic achievement’ but who have been unable to conclude their final examinations due to serious illness or death.  Harry was given a standing ovation by the Faculty and Graduands as his Dad, Matthew, collected his degree certificate – a very, very proud moment for his family.  A video clip of the brief, but very moving, ceremony can be seen here.

 After the formalities had concluded the new Sussex Graduates and their families spilled out of the Brighton Centre into a gloriously sunny summer evening – enjoying ice creams and cooling drinks along the sea front. 

Harry’s Great British Diplomatic Bake Off

Thursday 11th April marked another red-letter day for the scholarship fund established in Harry’s memory when Matt’s colleagues at the Foreign Office in London, British Embassy in Moscow and British Consulate General in Ekaterinburg got together to organise a cake sale to raise money for the fund.
Busy bakers old and young, including Harry’s family and colleagues’ children, contributed a veritable feast ranging from Victoria sponge cake to home-made Pains au Chocolat, banana bread and old-fashioned ginger cake to lemon bars and brownies.  A special ‘science’ cake was raffled in London. And colleagues in the Russia Network prepared local delicacies including Medovik honey cakes and Torte Napoleon.

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How to Donate

This page has been set up by Harry’s family to help create a lasting legacy to ‘pay forward’ all the love that has been shared with them since his sudden death at the age of 21 from a cardiac arrest on 20 February 2019.

The Harry Lownds Memorial Fund offers scholarship support to a graduate student at the University of Sussex whose personal circumstances might otherwise prevent them undertaking the Master of Science degree in Genetic Manipulation and Molecular Cell Biology.  Studying Genetics was Harry’s dream and he had planned to start this course in September 2019 following completion of his BSc in Genetics at Sussex.  Harry had a lifelong love of science which he expressed eloquently in his Personal Statement when he applied for a place at University (you can read it here “Harry’s Personal Statement“)

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Harry’s personal statement

I can’t point to one moment when I became interested in science. I started simply by enjoying the spectacle of it: from the Science Museum bubble show, or my teacher in second grade getting out a box of pig hearts for us to see how blood was pumped around the body, to the fizzing and explosions of lower school chemistry club. As I began my secondary education, I moved into appreciating the real science behind the spectacle and began my love affair with the life sciences.

Above all I became enthused by the sense of potential it offered, particularly when we studied more recent developments such as genetics and the workings of biotechnology. The newspapers seem to report new developments constantly, such as the possibility of organ transplants without donors thanks to a combination of iPSCs and bioprinting; or using genome editing to eliminate HIV.

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