Court Members

Court Members

Members of Court may be contacted via the Clerk to Court Bruce Purdon


Martina Chukwuma-Ezike portrait photoMartina Chukwuma-Ezike

Martina Chukwuma-Ezike is Chief Executive of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, Scotland’s only dedicated asthma charity, which she founded in 2009. The charity set up the first Asthma Support Centre in the UK to provide support services for people with asthma and allergies in the northeast of Scotland. The organisation now has offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh and supports 13,826 people with asthma annually.

Martina is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, having completed her MBA in 2009, and has a longstanding relationship with the student body, offering mentoring, volunteering and work placement opportunities at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, enabling students to gain vital experience.

Martina has a range of skills and experience occupying several management positions within the oil & gas sector and from her time leading a charity with national reach. She has demonstrated herself to be a powerful advocate in her professional role, she is well placed to advocate on behalf of University of Aberdeen students.


Senior Governor

Julie AshworthJulie Ashworth

Julie is Chair of the Institute of Directors (IOD) Edinburgh and Deputy Chair IOD Scotland. She is also a member of the Scotland Advisory Board and sits on the Expert Advisory Group UK for Diversity and Inclusion. 

She is the Scottish lead for Women on Boards UK, and Founder and CEO of Broadreach Leadership , which works with companies and organisations worldwide in Board and executive  development. Julie is also an active member of Chapter Zero, The Directors Climate Forum and sits on the advisory Board of Scottish Business Networks.  

She is an experienced Executive and Non-Executive Director, Chair, Board Advisor, Angel Investor and Founder, she has worked with a range of businesses and charities across a range of Sectors and geographies. 


Professor BoyneGeorge Boyne

Professor Boyne is Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, an appointment he has held since August 2018.

Senate Assessors

Professor Joachim SchaperJoachim Schaper

Professor Joachim Schaper studied Theology, Philosophy and Assyriology at the University of Tübingen and Theology at the University of Cambridge. He was a Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge and taught as a Privatdozent in Old Testament at the University of Tübingen from 1999 to 2005.

In 2005 he joined the University as a Reader in Old Testament, was appointed to a Personal Chair in 2006, and translated to the Chair of Hebrew and Semitic Languages in 2012.

Neil Vargesson

Professor Neil VargessonNeil is Professor in Developmental Biology at the University of Aberdeen and was a member of Senate 2008-2013 representing the School of Medical Sciences and again since 2016 representing the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition.

Neil is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and teaches both Undergraduate and Postgraduate taught students and is Degree Programme Coordinator for Developmental Biology courses. His research is focused on understanding how birth defects come about, specifically those caused by medicines, such as thalidomide, as well as drug safety and he has advised national and international Governments and Agencies regarding his research.

Diane SkatunDiane Skåtun 

Dr Diane Skåtun is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen. Her first degrees are in Political Economy and then Economics from the University of Glasgow before coming to Aberdeen and being awarded a PhD in Economics. She joined the Health Economics Research Unit at the University in 1999 where her research focuses on how financial and non-financial incentives influence the behaviour of the healthcare workforce.

Ilia Xypolia

Dr Ilia XypoliaDr Ilia Xypolia is Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at University of Aberdeen. She is an elected senator for the School of Social Science since 2018. In 2022, Ilia was elected as a Senator Assessor to the Court.

Ilia is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is also the Reviews Editor of the refereed periodical Journal of Global Faultlines. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on democracy, nationalism and imperialism.

Elected Staff Members

Academic Staff Member

Dr Martin MillsMartin A Mills

Dr Martin A Mills is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, and the academic staff representative to Court. He is also an elected member of the University Senate of fourteen years experience in both the Schools of Social Science and Divinity, History, Philosophy and Art History. He is a research-active specialist on Tibetan and Chinese political and religious affairs. Dr Mills has worked at Aberdeen University since 2000, having previously worked at the Universities of Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Sussex.

Non-Academic Staff Member

Mr Nick EdwardsNick Edwards

Nick is an alumnus of the University‘s School of Law and qualified as a Solicitor in 2011, working in corporate Pensions and Employment. He re-joined the University as a staff member in 2013, leading on the development of the institution’s immigration compliance processes across the student population.

Since 2018, Nick has headed our Student Support Services and, in Autumn 2019, was appointed as acting Deputy Director of People. Nick is the Policy & Procedure lead on the staff LGBTQ+ Network and co-chairs the Universities Gender Based Violence Working Group.

Externally, Nick is a member of the Law Society of Scotland and is the institutional lead member of AMOSSHE Scotland.

Trade Union Nominated Staff Members

Academic Trade Union Member

Helen Martin

Dr Helen Martin is a lecturer in Mathematics Education where she specialises in pedagogical design capacity and professional decision-making. Her research and teaching are based on the design principles ‘valuing diversity, developing flexibility and making connections’ with an emphasis on how ‘others’ make sense of doing mathematics, becoming and being mathematicians within a community.

Helen has led collaborative projects across universities around E-Formative Assessment, online study sessions for primary pre-service teachers and Multiplicative and Algebraic Reasoning across Scottish schools as well as continuing to work at a National level with the Scottish Government, Scottish Mathematics Council and Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Support Staff Trade Union Member

Owen Cox

Biography to follow

Students' Association Members

President of the Students' Association

Vanessa Mabonso Nzolo

Vanessa is the Student President of the student union for the year of 2022/2023 and a trustee for Court. She graduated from University of Aberdeen in 2022 with a Master of Arts in Anthropology and International Relations. Her research is focused on the challenges of race equality practice in HE and the felt effects of coloniality in the intersocial environment of the university. She started in student politics through the student union in 2020, as committee member of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Students’ Forum, and later, took on the role of convenor.

AUSA Vice-President for Welfare

Sai SS Viswanathan

Biography to follow.

Independent Members

Ms Anne Minto OBEAnne Minto OBE

Anne is a lawyer by profession and a graduate of the University of Aberdeen. She has worked in several senior management global roles Shell and Smiths Group and latterly served on the Centrica Executive Committee as the Group Human Resources Director from 2002 until 2011.

She has served on the boards of Shire, Tate and Lyle and Northumbrian Water as a non-executive director. She is currently on the Board of EXL Services Holdings Inc. She is a former chair of both the Institute of Employment Studies and the Engineering Development Trust and served for over ten years on the National Employers Committee for the Reserve Forces. She is a member of the International Women’s UK Forum and mentors a number of senior women in preparation for board roles.

Anne is Chair of the University’s Finance and Resources Committee and was also Chair of the University Development Trust until September 2021. She set up the The Robert and Elizabeth Mitchell Law Scholarship in 2011. Both undergraduate and Masters students have received scholarships to cover the full period of their university law degree courses.

She was awarded an OBE in 2000 for services to the engineering industry.


Iain MackayIain Mackay

Iain became Chief Financial Officer of GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) on 1 April 2019, he is an Executive Director of the GSK Board and a member of the GSK Leadership Team.  Prior to joining GSK, Iain was Group Finance Director of HSBC Holdings plc, a position he held for eight years and before that he served as Chief Financial Officer of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. and Chief Financial Officer (Asia-Pacific) of HSBC Holdings plc. Iain is an alumnus of the University of Aberdeen (MA in Business Studies & Accounting and was recognised with an honorary doctorate - Honoris Causa - by the university in 2015), and a former member of the British Heart Foundation Board of Trustees.

Iain Percival

Iain PercivalIain graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a BSc (Hons) in Geology. He joined Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum in 1973 as a production geologist and spent over 30 years working for the company in a number of positions in locations across the world ending his career as the global Chief Petroleum Engineer. During this  time he also graduated from Heriot Watt with a Masters in Engineering and from Brunel University with a MBA.

An active member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Iain played a key role in creating a campus ambassador programme between the University and Shell, and in establishing a new petroleum engineering undergraduate degree. He was named an honorary professor in 2012 in recognition of his ongoing activities in support of the schools of engineering and geoscience.

Lyndsay MenziesLyndsay Menzies

Lyndsay is CEO of Eight Million Stories, an award winning content and digital marketing agency. Prior to founding 8MS she was CEO of bigmouthmedia, which merged with LBi to be acquired by Publicis Groupe in 2012. Credited with the operational excellence at the agency for 13 years, she was an integral part of its phenomenal growth. Winner of numerous awards, Lyndsay has led some of the largest global digital campaigns for brands such as IKEA, Hilton Corporation and British Airways.


Eleanor BentleyEleanor Bentley

Eleanor is a Chartered Accountant and a graduate of the University of Aberdeen. She has extensive experience of corporate governance, risk and financial management having spent the majority of her executive career in senior finance roles with international and complex public companies.
Eleanor is a Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Ballet and Celtic Renewables Limited and chairs both their Audit & Risk Committees.  She is a Trustee of the Scottish Ballet Endowment Fund and is a Member of the Audit & Risk Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).

Gary McRae

Gary McRaeGary is a graduate of the University and of the University of Bath.

He trained in Aberdeen as a Chartered Accountant before a career in industry in which he has held senior positions in Strategy and Corporate Finance/Development at Dowty PLC, British Aerospace Defence and then Laird PLC, where he created Laird Technologies which grew globally to revenues in excess of £1 billion.

Since retiring from Laird PLC, Gary has undertaken a number of non-executive Director roles and is currently the Senior Independent Director/Deputy Chair at Hampshire Hospitals FT and non-executive Director at SAS International and at the William Harvey Research Foundation.

Colette Backwell

Collete BackwellDr Colette Backwell is currently Chief Executive of CLAN Cancer Support. A graduate of the Queen’s University, Belfast, Colette began her career as a research scientist, completing a PhD in neurochemistry. She has since gained a wealth of experience in policy development, research, industry support and business management within the charitable, public and private sectors.

Colette took up her appointment at CLAN Cancer Support, a long standing local charity providing cancer support services to anyone affected by a diagnosis of cancer in North-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland, in 2015. In this role, Colette is the current Chair of the Grampian Cancer Partnership Group which provides a forum for cancer charities operating in North-east Scotland and sits on the NHS Cancer Strategy Group. She also represents cancer charities on the NHS North Cancer Alliance. Colette has held several non-executive director positions and is currently President of the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

Colette’s previous roles include Director of the Scottish Food and Drink Federation as well as a number of senior policy development positions in the UK, Scottish and local Governments. With more than 20 years’ experience working across various business sectors, she has a diverse knowledge of agriculture, rural affairs and the food and drink industry.

Charlotte Pope-Williams

Charlotte Pope-Williams

Charlotte is a Barrister with full rights of audience specialising in financial services disputes. She frequently works on large scale complex multi-jurisdictional commercial litigation and investigations.  Charlotte previously worked in the Bank of England's Legal Directorate as an Employed Barrister.

Charlotte is an elected member of Bar Council and has worked with a number of the Bar Council’s committees including but not limited to, the Employed Barristers Committee and Young Barristers Committee.  She also sits on the Commercial Bar Association's Equality and Diversity Committee and is a member of the BACFI General Committee.  

Since her adolescence to date Charlotte has been a strong advocate and supporter of the Elderly Hairoun Older Adults Day Centre which support older adults in Buckinghamshire where she grew up, helping to safeguard them from isolation and promote overall good health and quality of life.

Charlotte is passionate about education.  She is an advocacy tutor for the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn.

Otto Thoresen

Otto Thoresen

Otto Thoresen is the serving chairman of NEST, the BT  Defined Benefits Pension Scheme and Aviva International Insurance. In addition, he has served on the Board of the Association of British Insurers and is the former Chief Executive of  life and pensions company AEGON UK.

A Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries, Otto has been involved during his career in advising government and regulators on consumer issues in financial services. In 2007, he led a review for HM Treasury on delivering generic financial advice which was published in 2008 with its recommendations accepted by the Government.

In Scotland, he chairs the Board of the life subsidiary of Abrdn.

Robert L. Traynham II, Ph.D.

Robert L. Traynham II

Robert Traynham is a respected political veteran and communications expert, who, for nearly 25 years, has designed and executed impactful communications, marketing and external campaigns for elected leaders, political organizations, non-profits and Fortune 50 companies such as Wal-Mart, Comcast and currently Facebook.  Dr. Traynham is currently the Head of Public Affairs for Facebook in their Washington, DC offices where he oversees the external engagement relationships on behalf of the company to reporters, nonprofit leaders, universities and other thought leaders across the globe.

Dr. Traynham has been at the intersection of communications, technology, politics and public policy.  Dr. Traynham has revolutionized the integration of data-driven communications with digital and campaign style organizing to improve reputations, manage crises and drive people to action.  He has successfully relaunched a news network; restored the reputation of a multinational retail institution; reshaped a national storyline on behalf of a leading United States Senator; and successfully managed an ongoing global crisis communications for a well-known consumer technology platform along with being a senior spokesperson for an incumbent United States President running for re-election.

Caryn Miller 

Caryn Miller

Caryn is a finance lawyer and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. 

She is a Partner at international law firm CMS Cameron Mckenna Nabarro Olswang LLP and is Managing Director of their business in Asia and the Middle East. She is also the Chair of their Audit and Risk Committee. Prior to its merger with CMS in 2014, Caryn was joint managing partner of Dundas & Wilson CS LLP. She is qualified as a lawyer in both Scotland and England and has over twenty years of experience in all areas of debt finance, acting for both financial institutions and corporate borrowers. Caryn was also a member of the CBI Scotland Council 2016-19