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 Barker

Dr Martin Barker is senior lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences, with strong teaching interests in inclusion, widening access, pastoral support, disability provisions, staff-student communication and also innovative methods in assessment and feedback. Martin’s research interests focus on plant ecophysiology and forest canopy research. He has promoted plant biology in public lectures, TV and radio. His career has in higher education has previously been centred (chronologically) at the universities of Sussex, Exeter, Hertfordshire, Lancaster, Brunei and Florida. Martin has also been a school teacher and has written several textbooks on biology.

Since joining the University of Aberdeen in 2009 Martin has served on numerous committees, Senate (2017—2020; 2023—) and is also the honorary Quaker chaplain. Outside the university, Martin’s contributions include President of the Friends of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden, and previously Chair of Governors, Bachlaw Projects (Banff), and parent teacher associations of local schools (Aberdeen).

Non-Academic Staff Member

Iain Grant

Iain is an alumnus of the University, having qualified with a degree in Politics and International Relations in 2004. He started his career at the University within Academic Services in 2006, working his way via a number of posts to the position of Head of Strategic Planning in 2017. Iain managed the institutional strategy development process in 2019 for Aberdeen 2040, and his portfolio was expanded in 2021, to include leading the University’s Project Management Office (PMO); reflecting both his experience and qualifications in that space, having completed an MSc in Project Management via distance learning in 2017.

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

Owen Cox is a Security Liaison Officer within the Directorate of Estates and Facilities. He is also the Branch Chair of the Unison Aberdeen Universities trade union, as well as co-chair of the Unison Scottish Higher Education Committee which incorporates all of the HE branches based in Scotland.

He has had quite a varied career across his working life including working for British rail as a shunter, working in hotels in a number of positions (food service, accommodation, housekeeping, conference and events and as an auditor of the daily hotel business).

He also worked as a Facilities Manager in the oil industry, in a number of locations including Africa and Scandinavia. He has worked at the University since 2004.

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

Sai has been elected as the Vice President for Welfare for two consecutive terms, recognising her passion and commitment to student well-being and engagement. She advocates for student's mental and physical health, housing, and cost of living, using her data and active listening skills to lobby for student interests, fundraise for student causes, network with stakeholders, and respond to current trends and initiatives.

Prior to student politics, she has a background in Engineering and Psychology.  Her educational background has given her a unique perspective on how to apply technology and psychology to improve student welfare and satisfaction.

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.

Alison Rankin

Iain Percival

Alison Rankin is a graduate of both the University of Aberdeen and the University of Glasgow and is a Chartered Surveyor.  As an experienced property professional, she has extensive corporate occupier experience across various asset classes and industry sectors.  She is skilled in leading proactive property initiatives, change programmes and has a strong track record in sustainability, procurement, divestment, and acquisition programmes.  Currently she serves as the Global Head of Workplace Services at Schroders plc, a FTSE 100 Company, where she oversees facilities management of the operational real estate, the group travel programme, physical security, and operational sustainability. 

Alison also sits on the Board of CoreNet UK Chapter, which aims to represent the business and public sector occupier and to unify the profession of Corporate Real Estate through a multi-disciplinary approach to education, networking, research and communication.

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 McRae

Gary is a graduate of the University in Economics and of the University of Bath where he completed an MBA.

He trained in Aberdeen as a Chartered Accountant before a career in industry in which he has held senior positions in Corporate Finance/Development, Strategy and Legal at Dowty PLC, British Aerospace and Laird PLC.  Gary has significant experience in Merger & Acquisitions and patents.  At Laird PLC he created Laird Technologies from start-up to become the global market leader with annual revenues in excess of £1 billion and facilities in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Since retiring from Laird PLC, Gary has undertaken a number of non-executive Director roles and is currently on the boards of SAS International, Frimley Health FT, Aster Group and FAC Technology.  Previous roles include Senior Independent Director/Deputy Chair at Hampshire Hospitals FT and Trustee & Audit Chair at the William Harvey Research Foundation.  He is Chair of a number of Board Committees for these organisations including Audit &Risk, Finance and People and a Trustee of Pension Funds.

Adaku Ufere

Collete Backwell

Adaku Ufere is an award-winning energy attorney and sector leader, with extensive experience in designing and delivering large, complex projects in the energy sector and leading teams to successfully transform the energy landscape in sub-Saharan Africa.

As the Chief of Party for USAID and Power Africa’s West Africa Energy Program Adaku provides operational and technical direction and leadership to a consortium of eight subcontractors and over 80 full and part-time staff, to advance energy policy and regulatory reform, accelerate investment, and increase power generation and access to electricity across 23 countries in West and Central Africa.

Adaku has a Law Degree from the University of Nigeria and a Masters in Oil & Gas Law from the University of Aberdeen. She has also earned certifications in Energy Sector Leadership from the UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership, in Public Management from the University of California, Davis and in Gender & Sexuality from the University of British Columbia.

Adaku is a Mandela Washington Fellow, an Obama Foundation Leader Africa and an Exceptional Alumni of the University of Aberdeen.  She has also been awarded one of the 40 under 40 Leading Lawyers in Nigeria, Attorney of the Year at the African Legal Awards, Young African Professional of the Year and 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria, among others.

Adaku is a globally respected conference speaker, and has published articles in energy, gender and project finance.

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

Luke Halliday

Luke is an experienced IT professional, most recently Chief Information Officer of Wood Plc. He is a Computer Science graduate of Aberdeen University and over the last 35 years has worked for a number of large global companies across the energy, manufacturing and engineering sectors. He lives in Aberdeen with his family but has travelled extensively and worked across a broad range of cultures. As CIO of Wood Luke led the global IT Function supporting 36,000 people across 60 countries. His experience includes IT operations, strategy, change programmes, business due diligence, integration, cyber security and risk management. Along with Court Luke is a member of the University Audit and Risk committee and the Pension Advisory Group.

Governance Apprentice

(Not a formal Court member but 'In Attendance')

Susan Bodie

Dr Susan Bodie is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen with a BSc in Pharmacology and PhD in Biomedical Science.  Susan began her career as a Study Director at Inveresk Research, moving to a Senior Study Director at Charles River responsible for developing a new discovery service in support of pharmaceutical development. 

Susan’s interest in early academic research and translation was supported by a move to business development at the University of Edinburgh and is now Head of Business Development for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at Edinburgh Innovations.