The MacQuitty Prizes

Thanks to the generosity of Sussex alumnus Dr Jonathan MacQuitty, Sussex is able to offer students in the Sciences and Arts & Humanities two prizes worth £10,000 each.

Since 2008, the MacQuitty Prize has been presented to Sussex’s highest achieving student across the Sciences. In 2018, the MacQuitty Prize for the Humanities & Social Sciences was awarded for the first time. Both prizes are awarded on merit alone.

Sussex alumnus Dr Jonathan MacQuitty (CHEM 1974) traces the effect of a single act of philanthropy through three generations of his family. In 1884, his great-uncle won a sizeable prize at University, allowing him to continue his studies and then become a successful doctor.

When he died, the legacy of that one gift passed to MacQuitty’s grandfather then, via his father, to him. He used it to support himself as he studied for a DPhil at Sussex in the 1970s. Now, in turn, the MacQuitty Prizes will allow scholars to carry on that legacy for years to come.

Josie Jolley

Josie Jolley, winner of the inaugural MacQuitty Prize for the Humanities & Social Sciences

Delighted at the news that she won the inaugural MacQuitty Prize for the Humanities & Social Sciences, Josie Jolley said:

“I had been homeless for five years when I applied for university. I was tired of sleeping in hostels, public toilets, people's attics, on spare sofas and floors. Nobody wants to employ a homeless teenager and boredom was kept at bay only by fear. On the precipice of giving in to overwhelming desperation and alienation, I began my Geography BA at the University of Sussex.

"The monumental impact the Geography department has rendered on my life is inexpressible. They have stoked the flames of an all-consuming desire to continue learning, and so winning this prize is all the more significant because it offers both a promise and a pivotal turning point.

"It is a promise to follow this passion. It holds the economic security to pursue a PhD without distraction. Throughout my undergraduate degree, studying shared a precarious timetable with three simultaneous part-time jobs. Now, my work need not be stacking supermarket shelves at four am or cleaning student rooms; it can be what I love. It is a privilege beyond all imagining to stand on this threshold, knowing I can now give myself unconditionally to studying, researching and learning.

"It is also a pivotal moment, demarcating opportunity. It will never be a case of ‘then’ and ‘now’ – homelessness and the fear of returning to it will forever haunt everything I do. The difference is that this prize marks those years as worthwhile. Who I am, who I want to be, draws from those experiences. I would love a career in academia: to share knowledge, to be challenged daily and to listen to the voices and stories people have to tell about themselves and their worlds. Receiving this award is testimony to the importance of that work, those voices. Above all, winning the MacQuitty Prize gives me the confidence and courage to continue listening to them.”

Thomas Atherton won the 2018 MacQuitty Prize for Science. Asked what the £10,000 award meant for his future, Thomas said:

“The University of Sussex’s Mathematics Department has helped me achieve things I never thought possible and pushed me to ever-greater heights. This led me to the idea that I might pursue a career in academia, and so the next step is a Master’s course in Mathematics at the University of Warwick. The MacQuitty Prize will make my time there considerably easier, allowing me to focus on my work without financial concerns.”

Dr Marina Pedreira-Vilarino, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, commented on Dr MacQuitty's generous philanthropic support:

“This is a great example of the tremendous impact that alumni giving can have on the lives of students.”

Thomas Atherton

Thomas Atherton, winner of the 2018 MacQuitty Prize for Sciences