Lauren Steadman and Dr Nira Chamberlain

Paralympic athlete, mathematician and architect included in the New Year’s Honours list.

5 January 2022

5 min read

Three University of Portsmouth alumni have been recognised for their significant achievements in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Lauren Steadman has been awarded an MBE for services to Triathlon, Dr Nira Chamberlain has been awarded an OBE for services to Mathematical Sciences and Selasi Setufe has been awarded an MBE for services to diversity in architecture.

29-year-old Lauren won Paralympic gold and silver medals at Tokyo 2020 and Rio 2016 respectively. She has also been world champion and European champion multiple times since her triathlon debut in 2011.

Lauren – who was born without her lower right arm  achieved a first-class degree in psychology from the University of Portsmouth in 2014 and then went on to study for a Master’s degree in business and management, from which she graduated in 2017 with distinction.

I’d like to recognise the university, the staff and support they’ve provided me to help me achieve the gold medal.

Lauren Steadman, Paralympic athlete

She has since gone on to star in reality TV shoes including Strictly Come Dancing, where she became the first-ever female disabled contestant, and Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, where she was crowned joint winner. 

Lauren said: “Becoming Paralympic Champion was a dream come true, years of hard work and determination – but an impossible feat without a relentless support network to push me to be stronger. I’d like to recognise the university, the staff and support they’ve provided me to help me achieve the gold medal. 

“To then receive an MBE for recognition for sporting endeavours was an honour. I am truly grateful to be awarded and it has encouraged me to continue to push my own boundaries and share my enthusiasm with others.”

I am very proud of Lauren and Nira – this is tremendous recognition for the inspirational work they both do. I wish them both my sincere congratulations.

Professor Graham Galbrait, Vice-Chancellor

Dr Nira Chamberlain was the president of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications 2020–21. He has two mathematical doctorates and is listed among the Top 100 Most Influential Black Person in the UK by the PowerList 2022.

He has 30 years of experience writing models and algorithms that solve complex industrial problems within industries including defence, aerospace, automotive and energy. In 2018, he was voted the World's Most Interesting Mathematician.

Nira completed a PhD in mathematics at the University of Portsmouth, graduating in 2013. He has gone on to enjoy a successful career in mathematical modelling and now contributes to the University’s scholarship and support initiative for black students.

Architect Selasi Setufe co-founded the Black Females in Architecture (BFA) network, which aims to support and champion black and black mixed heritage females within the architecture and built environment industries. She is also a trustee and ex Co-Vice President for Students and Associates at the Royal Institute of British Architects. 

Selasi graduated from her bachelor’s degree in architecture in 2012 and is currently a senior architect and innovative sites programme manager at development and urban regeneration company Be First Regeneration Limited. 

University of Portsmouth Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith was also recognised in the New Year’s Honour list, receiving a CBE for services to Higher Education. 

He said: “I am very proud of Lauren, Nira and Selasi – this is tremendous recognition for the inspirational work they do. Lauren’s determination and dedication saw her win gold at her fourth Paralympics and she is an excellent role model for all, especially other young disabled athletes. Nira is one of the UK’s top scientists who is a passionate enthusiast of maths and a champion for other science, engineering and technology subjects. Selasi is working hard to tackle issues of visibility, access and diversity within the architecture profession. I wish them all my sincere congratulations.”