Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund Winners Announced

Stella Destephanis Murray (left) and Krina Christopolou (right), winners of the 2019/20 Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund.

(UK) – Stella Destephanis Murray and Krina Christopolou win the 2019/20 award.

The Trustees of the Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund (JSSF), have announced the winners for the 2019/20 award.

After receiving an extremely high standard of entries this year, the winners are Stella Destephanis Murray and Krina Christopolou. JSSF also awarded commendations to Sydney Nguyen and Meryem Ozmen.

Currently in the final months of studying for an MSc in Architecture and Architectural Engineering at Penn State University, Destephanis Murray will graduate with honours in both subjects this month.

While studying as an undergraduate in architecture, she interned at Buro Happold Engineering as an electrical engineer, and participated in bi-annual outdoor ‘storytelling’ lighting competitions, which influenced her decision to pursue lighting design as a profession. Her Master’s thesis explored the role of light in the Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, and the importance attributed to it by the Qur’an.

In lighting design, she believes that she has found a profession that will enable her to deliver on her childhood dream to shape the world, and one that will fulfil both her creative and analytical interests. She plans to use the scholarship funds to become a WELL Accredited Professional, to attend the next IALD Enlighten Europe conference, and to assist with her living expenses as she interns with HLB Lighting Design in Boston, USA.

Krina Christopolou is currently completing her second and final year of postgraduate RIBA II studies at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. Her interest lies in how lighting can redefine spatial experience, exploring the idea that light as a building material is able to transcend an architectural space beyond its physicality.

During her practical work experience with Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Christopolou designed a light system for a façade in Shenzhen, and also created a responsive skylight system for a technical dissertation. For her final year project, she has explored the primary role that lighting might assume in future mixed reality domestic environments, both from an immersive standpoint and as an interface. She believes that in this new paradigm, the role of light will surpass its traditional use in delivering visual comfort or mood creation, and become an essential cognitive tool for perceiving and navigating space. She plans to use the scholarship fund to further develop her thinking and research in this emerging field.

John Roake, Chairman of the JSSF, commented: “We live in extraordinary times, with today’s crisis providing a pivotal point and generating a potential step change in how we will continue to live our lives. The future, or ‘new normal’ as it is being called, is certainly going to be tremendously difficult in so many ways.

“There is a new generation of students who have a burning ambition to succeed, not just in traditional careers, but in those which they can approach with a greater social conscience. One of the most satisfying aspects of the JSSF has been how we as a Board of Trustees view, reflect and discuss the breadth of creative and innovative ideas from each candidate’s submissions for our scholarships, and how we can try in a small way to positively encourage this new talent.

“Both Stella and Krina made outstanding submissions with concisely and clearly expressed their phenomenal passion and drive to use light as a major part of their ongoing studies, as well as their future careers.

“Competition was delightfully fierce this year, so much so that the Board also agreed that two further candidates in Sydney Nguyen and Meryem Ozmen also merited our support by way of a commendation and bursary. It is with great pleasure that we are able to reward so many exceptionally talented candidates, and provide some additional support.

“Studying is going to be challenging for the foreseeable future; students will face greater financial difficulties in finding work to support their studies. The Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund will continue to help tomorrow’s potential lighting designers through this next difficult period. Jonathan himself would have absolutely encouraged this.”