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Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund – 2019/20 Winners Announced

The Trustees of The Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund (JSSF) are delighted to announce that, following the extremely high standard of entries this year, they have selected two winners for the 2019/2020 award, with an additional two students receiving commendation. The winners for this year are Stella Destephanis Murray and Krina Christopolou. Commendations were awarded to Sydney Nguyen and Meryem Ozmen.

Stella Destephanis Murray – Winner

Currently in the final months of studying for an MSc in Architecture and Architectural Engineering at Penn State University, Stella will graduate with honours in both subjects in May 2020. Whilst 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, both of which influenced in her decision to pursue lighting design as profession. Her Master thesis explored the role of light in the Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul and the importance attributed to it by the Qur’an. In lighting design, Stella 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. Following graduation, she plans to use the scholarship funds for three purposes: Firstly, to become a WELL Accredited Professional in order to better understand and practice human-centric design. Secondly, to be able to attend the IALD Enlighten Europe conference. Lastly, the scholarship will assist with her living expenses as an intern with the lighting design firm Horton Lees Brogden in Boston.

Krina Christopolou – Winner

Krina 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, Krina 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 within 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. Krina plans to use the scholarship to further develop her thinking and research in this emerging field, using it to fund a 1:1 experimental model of the future home where she can explore the role of lighting in a physical environment that is overlaid with multiple virtual ones through emerging augmented and virtual reality technologies.

Sydney Nguyen – Commended

Sydney is currently studying at California Polytechnic State University. Her work integrates elements of social justice and provocative dialogue into lighting and the built environment, seeking to understand how we can better create conditions for all people. Her thesis examines political intersections of immigration, surveillance, and urban-cultural landscapes of borders,and specifically investigates how light as an important historical, cultural, and social marker can play a significant role for social action. The commendation funding will support her continued study.

Meryem Ozmen – Commended

Meryem is currently a second-year student on an ARB prescribed BA (Hons) Interior Architecture programme at Northumbria University. During her studies she has developed a deep fascination for light as a creative tool and its effects on the perception of form, proprioception and generation of atmosphere. She plans to use the commendation bursary to further her education in lighting design.

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’s being called, is certainly going to be tremendously different 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.

“This year we received an exceptional and diverse range of candidates from which we are delighted to announce the recipients of two JSSF scholarship as Stella Destephanis Murray from Penn State University and Krina Chistopolou from The Barlett, UCL. Both made outstanding submissions which concisely and clearly expressed their phenomenal passion and drive to use light as a major part of their ongoing studies, as well as their intended 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 a 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.

“As always, we would like to thank our group of benefactors, sponsors, contributors and supporters for their continued generosity, which allow us the privilege of providing these well-deserved bursaries.”

Our award relies on the generosity of a number of companies and individuals. Our pledge was that we would make a minimum of one award each year until 2023. We would therefore once again like to appeal to companies, professional practices and individuals who knew Jonathan Speirs, or who have benefitted from his incredible insight into light and architecture, to continue to help us to support and nurture talented students in this field. If you wish to help please contact or visit for further information.

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