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Vicki Hope, 1988, aged 21

Now: Lecturer in geotechnics, University of Surrey.

Qualifications: MA, PhD.

Winning paper: geophysical seismic tomography.

Then: Employed on a graduate teaching company scheme jointly between University of Surrey and Wimpey Laboratories.

Afterwards: Stayed at Surrey to complete my doctorate, moved to consultant Gibb for a year, then back to Surrey as a lecturer in the geotechnics group.

Professional highs: Becoming an academic.

On the downside: Site work in winter.

Did winning have an impact on your career? Not directly, but I now recognise that writing, presenting and defending a paper - and attending an international conference as part of the prize - was a very valuable experience.

How did you spend the prize money? Can't remember any money, but I still have the rather nice decanter.

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