Meet the team

Louise Thomson

Head of Programme Management

Louise joined the Chevening team in 2013. She grew up near Brighton and graduated from the University of Sussex in 2009 with a BA in American Studies and Film Studies, and spent a year studying at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia as part of her course. She also completed a Master’s degree in Film Studies in 2013. Louise previously worked as an administrator in the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy at Birkbeck College before returning to the University of Sussex to work as a departmental coordinator for the School of Life Sciences, where she also helped visiting and exchange students within the school. Louise enjoys watching films (especially because she doesn’t have to analyse them anymore), reading, and exploring London.

Frankie Clarke

Senior Programme Officer

Frankie is originally from Newcastle upon Tyne but has lived in London for the past 5 years. Before joining Chevening she worked at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), organising academic events for one of LSE’s research centres and working closely with PhD students reading finance and economics. Prior to LSE, Frankie worked in alumni relations for the University of Newcastle upon Tyne where she spent her days helping to raise ‘friends and funds’ for the university. In her spare time Frankie can be found cycling through the Essex countryside or training for her next half marathon. 

Ceri Waddington

Senior Programme Officer

Ceri is originally from Llandudno in North Wales and studied her Bachelor’s degree in Theatre, Film and Television at Aberystwyth University.

Ceri previously worked at Bangor University for two and a half years where she encouraged students to become involved with the Students' Union. She then worked at Llandrillo College in Colwyn Bay, where she interacted exclusively with international students.
In her spare time Ceri likes to travel, knit and spend time with friends and family. In April 2013 she ran her first London Marathon. 

Becky Duffy

Programme Officer

Becky is excited to join Chevening as a Programme Officer! Originally from Lancashire, she moved to London after completing her Masters in ‘Health and Society in South Asia’ in Heidelberg, Germany, completing her research in Mysore. Prior to this she completed her undergraduate degree in ‘Comparative Religion and Social Anthropology’ at The University of Manchester, spending one semester at The University of Missouri in the US. She has lots of experience of working with and supporting both home and international students having worked at The University of Manchester, UCL and most recently Kings College London.  

In her free time, Becky loves to travel, bake, and spend time hanging out with her friends and family.

James Farren

Programme Officer

James is originally from Cambridge and studied Modern History at the University of Essex. Before joining Chevening in 2013, James worked at Leeds Metropolitan University in the Arts, Environment and Technology Faculty.
James enjoys cricket, tennis and football, and is a Newcastle United supporter. He is also a film and music fan. Woody Allen is James’s favourite director and hip-hop is his favourite genre of music.


Jenny Johnson

Programme Officer

Jenny was born and brought up in Bristol, before studying for a BA in History and Politics at the University of Essex in Colchester. During her studies, she worked as a student adviser and for the student volunteering team, and spent a year studying in London, Ontario in Canada as part of her degree. Before joining Chevening, Jenny worked as a visa adviser at Newcastle University, providing immigration advice and support to international students. Jenny enjoys reading, baking, and exploring new places. Being new to London, she is keen to discover all the city has to offer.

Kadri Paju

Programme Officer

Kadri is originally from Tallinn, Estonia. She did part of her undergraduate degree in Palermo, Italy, and has an MSc in International Public Policy from Queen Mary University of London. Before joining Chevening, she worked for a study-abroad provider organising academic courses and events. Kadri has also worked for the British Red Cross helping refugees settle in London, and she has spent a year supporting international volunteers in Italy. She enjoys discussing current affairs and spends her free time trying to improve her photography skills.

Lydia Wood

Programme Officer

Lydia is excited to join the team as a Programme Officer. She is from the beautiful Cumbrian countryside and attended the University of Sheffield and completed a BSc in Biomedical Science then an MSc in Science Communication.

Her work experience has been varied and includes being a full time elf, explaining to Science Museum visitors how the internet works and organising a safe cracking competition (in the name of physics).

Lydia enjoys walking from climbing Mount Fuji to walking in loops round London with friends!

Marzana Khanom

Programme Officer

Marzana hails from East London. She studied Geography at Queen Mary University of London. Before joining Chevening, Marzana worked at Queen Mary University of London within student services and the Muslim Council of Britain in events management and administration. Most recently she worked at The National Deaf Children’s Society where she came to appreciate the issues that deaf children face.

In her spare time Marzana likes to read, travel and explore new cultures.

Matthew Kon

Programme Officer

Matthew is excited to join the Chevening Secretariat as a Programme Officer, following student advisor roles at Essex Students' Union and then at London South Bank Students' Union. He has good knowledge of higher education support services and administration functionalities. Matthew was born in Malaysia, he also grew up in Sunderland – although you won't hear a strong northern accent. He's looking to develop his Mandarin speaking further, and loves the London art scene.

Noeme Santana

Programme Officer

Noeme joined Chevening Secretariat as a Programme Officer in the Programme Team. Originally from South Africa, Noeme moved to Portugal at the age of ten. In 2007, she moved to the UK where she completed an undergraduate degree in photography and video and a master's degree in photographic history at De Montfort University, Leicester. In 2013, Noeme joined the Science Museum as a collaborative doctoral researcher working on a photographic research project in collaboration with the Science Museum and Royal Holloway, University of London. Previously, she worked as a programme administrative assistant at the School of Education, University of Leicester and was a short term AHRC-Huntington Library research fellow in Los Angeles, California. In her free time Noeme enjoys visiting exhibitions, walking in the countryside, swimming and exploring what London has to offer.

Samantha Mercadante

Programme Officer

Sam is from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and joined the Chevening Secretariat after completing an MA in International Relations at King’s College London, and a BA in Latin American Studies & Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She has work experience ranging from a cookie bakery in St. Louis to the U.S. Embassy in Paris, and most recently worked as a freelance writer for an international relations blog. She speaks decent French and gets by with gringo Spanish, can code a very basic web page, and spends her free time exploring London’s parks and bookshops with a coffee in hand.

Sophie Thomsett

Programme Officer

Originally from a tiny seaside town in Cornwall, Sophie graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English and French in 2013. Since then she has organised events for international students at the University of Leeds’s Language Centre, spent 2 years teaching in rural Japan on the JET Programme, and worked for King’s College London in admissions. Her favourite things are going to gigs and music festivals and learning languages (she speaks rusty French, can get by in Japanese and would love to pick up another soon).  

Sophie Willson

Programme Officer

Sophie grew up in Reading before moving to Canterbury to complete a BA in History and Anthropology. After a brief spell in Oxford, and some time spent travelling throughout South America, she moved to London and began working at the Association of Commonwealth Universities in 2014. Sophie is moving to this new role in the Chevening team from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission where she worked as a programme assistant.

Her interests including exploring new countries, cooking and playing squash (very badly!)

Susie Pike

Programme Officer

Susie is originally from Eastbourne in East Sussex, but owing to her father's job spent much of her early childhood living in Spain and Japan. This instilled a love of travelling in her. She completed a BSc in Nutrition at the University of Nottingham and a postgraduate diploma in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Chester. She then spent the majority of her twenties travelling, working and volunteering abroad in Malaysia, New Zealand, France, Tanzania, and Japan. Immediately prior to joining Chevening as a programme officer, Susie spent a year in Australia where, having never previously owned a bike, she cycled 5031km solo from Perth to Sydney in aid of UK and Australian mental health charities. Her main passions in life are meeting people, travelling, adventure, photography, snowboarding, yoga, drinking tea, and eating cake.