Centre for Doctoral Studies

Equipping doctoral research students at King's College London to excel

Meet the winners of the second round of the 22/23 King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize

Congratulations to the second round of winners of the 22/23 King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize!

Each year a limited number of awards are given to celebrate truly outstanding research and theses completed by King’s doctoral students. The prizes are nominated by the external examiners and are judged by a panel consisting of the College’s Director of Research Talent and the Chair of the Research Degrees Examinations Board. There are two rounds, in January and June, and these are the winners from the second round in June 2023.

Meet our winners: 

Dr Jonathan Powell, Faculty of Arts and Humanities 

I am delighted and very grateful to have received this award, which would not have been possible without the support and kindness of some extraordinary people. In particular, the brilliance, patience, and guidance of my supervisor, Prof. Lucy Munro, was instrumental to the researching and writing of a thesis that looks very different to its original conception. My time at King’s has been backdropped – and to a large extent defined – by my work for the Centre for Early Modern Studies (CEMS), and I am grateful, too, to centre directors past and present for their trust and advice over the past four years. I am especially indebted to Dr Hannah Murphy, under whom it has been a privilege to learn and who has shaped my thinking in myriad ways. Thanks are also due to the Institute of Historical Research for their award of a doctoral fellowship, and to King’s more generally for the opportunity to pursue this research. 

My thesis proposed a new approach to early modern English theatrical history through the legal record, resulting in new understandings of how common law shaped theatrical consciousness during a period of extraordinary and still unsurpassed litigiousness. Key to this work was close readings of hundreds of Latin entries in the plea rolls of the common law court of King’s Bench, with a particular interest in the voices and experiences of many previously invisible women connected to England’s first commercial theatres. I have been fortunate enough to continue developing this aspect of my work through a pair of postdoctoral research fellowships: the first, a three-month position on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘Engendering the Stage: The Records of Early Modern Performance’ (jointly based at King’s and the University of Roehampton), and now at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where I’m part of the ERC-funded FEATHERS project investigating early modern manuscript culture and the mediation of authorship. 

Dr Cathleen Hagemann, Faculty of Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial studies

Photo of Dr Cathleen Hagermann, winner of the 22/23 Outstanding Thesis Prize in Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial sciences

I studied biology at the University of Bonn and discovered my fascination with the brain and its intricate functions. To deepen my understanding, I continued my studies at the 

University of Tübingen, specializing in cellular and molecular neuroscience. During this time, my focus was on the molecular composition of the neuronal cytoskeleton, utilizing super-resolution microscopy and click-chemistry techniques. 

I was fortunate to join Andrea Serio’s lab for my PhD, where I applied bioengineering methods to model the relationship between cell shape and function in vitro, with a specific emphasis on neurons. Our primary goal was to create a platform enabling us to investigate how neurons adapt to varying axon lengths. By using this platform, we were able to uncover significant changes in biological processes that occur with an increase in axonal length. Notably, we found that homeostasis and metabolic processes undergo significant alterations when comparing 1cm long axons to shorter ones measuring 3mm in length. We were happy to share our findings by publishing this work in Advanced Healthcare Materials. Outside of my PhD research, I thoroughly enjoyed supervising students through the in2 science program, aiming to inspire others about the fascinating intersection between engineering and biology. 

Currently, I am actively using our platform to delve deeper into the intricacies and communication processes within neurons. Simultaneously, we are working on developing protocols that would enable biologists, even those without prior bioengineering knowledge, to utilize bioengineering tools. Our hope is that this effort will contribute to making cell culture-friendly devices more accessible to everyone, allowing for modifications and creations in this field. 


Dr Emma Williams, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine

A photo of Dr Emma Williams, a winner of a 22/23 Outstanding Thesis Prize for Life Sciences and MedicineI qualified from University College London Medical School in 2013 and subsequently entered into a paediatric training programme in South London. Throughout my clinical training I developed a strong interest within the field of neonatal pulmonology which led me to undertake a PhD in neonatal respiratory physiology at King’s College London. My

research focused on newborn lung disease including the novel use of non-invasive monitoring techniques, pulmonary mechanics, and predictive models of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. It was an honour to be awarded the Bengt Roberston award by the European Society for Paediatric Research (ESPR) in 2020 for research concerning the neonatal lung, and I was recently elected as a junior council member onto the ESPR pulmonology board.

As a clinician I remain determined to improve the clinical outcomes of newborn infants by combining my passion of academia with clinical medicine. I am currently undertaking a neonatal fellowship in Canada at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto – expanding my clinical experience, forming research collaborations, and gaining an international perspective on healthcare. It was a huge privilege to be awarded a King’s Outstanding Thesis Award and I would like to thank my supervisors (Professor Anne Greenough & Professor Theodore Dassios) for all their support throughout this journey, without whom none of this would have been possible.

A photo of Dr Luo Li, winner of the 22/23 Outstanding thesis prize in Law


Dr Luo Li, Faculty of Law

I am Luo Li, and have acquired my PhD degree this spring from School of Law, King’s College London. Before I came to King’s, I studied law for many years in China and acquired the PhD degree in Wuhan University, China. Thanks to my strong interest in legal research, I chose to continue my study in King’s since Oct, 2018. With Professor Ozlem Gurses’ patient guidance during these four and a half years, I made deep research into the topic of how the assured can be remedied for the insurer’s late payment by Section 13A of Insurance Act 2015. I also published two relevant papers, “Compound interest for late payment of the indemnity insurance claim” in British Insurance Law Association Journal, (2001) Issue 134 and “Reconsidering the reinsured’s damages and costs for late payment: a comparative analysis between English and American law” in Business Law Review, (2022) Issue 6. Now I have gone back to China and worked as an associate professor in Law School of Central China Normal University. 


Dr Julia Griem, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

It’s an honour to be awarded this prize and to have my doctoral work recognised by King’s College London. Thank you to everyone involved! I greatly enjoyed my time.

I studied Psychology (BSc, Royal Holloway) and Clinical Neuroscience (MSc, University College London) and was always planning to complete a PhD. This meant I spent valuable years before my PhD working as a research assistant – time I’d advise anybody wanting to complete a PhD to take! The RA work triggered my curiosity to study what is going on in the brains of people with personality disorders, and through the support of my colleague Dr John Tully, my supervisors Prof Nigel Blackwood and Prof Declan Murphy, and my funders the NIHR Maudsley BRC, I was able to pursue this for my PhD. I investigated the brain structure and function, as well as the impact of oxytocin, in males with a history of violent offending and antisocial personality disorder or psychopathy. I received the “Best Presentation” honourable mention award at the international congress of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy for parts of my PhD research.

I was also awarded funding to conduct some patient and public involvement work. Together with 2 colleagues, we spoke to individuals in probation, prison, as well as medium- and high-secure forensic hospitals with the goal to break down barriers between academia and the criminal justice system. This was very informative for future research planning and helped us understand what people with lived experience want more understanding about. A summary of this work can be found here.

I am now working as a postdoctoral research fellow at University College London, studying the computational behavioural and neurobiological features of borderline personality disorder and mood disorders.

Dr Jessica Mundy, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

A photo of Dr Jessica Mundy, a winner of a 22/23 Outstanding Thesis Prize in Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceI am delighted and grateful to be awarded an Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Prize. I would like to thank my examiners for nominating me, my supervisors for their support throughout my time at the Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre, and the Lord Leverhulme Trust who funded my research.  

Prior to starting the PhD, I studied Human Sciences at Oxford University. This is where my interest in population genetics began. As part of the 1+3 PhD, I completed the MSc in Genes, Environment, and Development in Psychology and Psychiatry, which paired research methods in statistical genetics with the study of psychopathology. My PhD thesis explored how we can use self-reported data to improve the phenotypes used in genome-wide association studies of mood disorders.   

  A highlight of my PhD was working with Helena Davies to set up a study that investigated how we can educate people with mental health disorders about genetic and environmental risk factors, which is an area close to my heart. Other highlights included teaching MSc students to use R for statistics and presenting at conferences/seminars. Finally, it was a brilliant experience to be part of the SGDP’s Anti-Racism Working Group, which includes some truly inspiring people who do such valuable work for the SGDP community and beyond.   

  After leaving King’s, I started as a post-doc at the Department for Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University, Denmark. Here, I research how we can use polygenic scores to predict clinical outcomes in people with major depressive disorder. I also research the issue of genetic confounding in epidemiological studies. Once I have finished my position in Aarhus, I will be joining a team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who research child and adolescent mental health in the UK.   

Dr Mary Tanay, Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care

I am extremely honoured to have been awarded an outstanding thesis prize for my PhD in Nursing. This achievement would not have been possible without the motivation and support from my supervisors Prof Glenn Robert, Prof Jo Armes, Prof Anne Marie Rafferty, and Prof Rona Moss-Morris. I am grateful to the National Institute for Health and Care Research for awarding me aA photo of Dr Mary Tanay, winner of the 22/23 Oustanding Thesis Prize in Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care Doctoral Research Fellowship, and to all patient and clinician participants who contributed to the success of my research. 

My background as a cancer nurse significantly influenced my interest in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Prior to my PhD, I have explored the lived experiences of patients and the negative impact of CIPN symptoms on their quality of life particularly after cancer treatment. This greater understanding of CIPN motivated me to undertake research aimed at improving patient experience.  

A self-regulation model of CIPN was developed through my research. The model illustrates the complex processes involved in experiences of CIPN and ways to address this condition. By working with patients and clinicians, we co-designed a behavioural intervention for patients to help them self-monitor CIPN symptoms, communicate and report symptoms to clinicians early and participate in making chemotherapy dose modification decisions with their clinicians. The intervention also supports patients to engage in self-management and safety strategies to reduce the impact of symptoms.  

Since finishing my PhD, I have been working on the feasibility randomised controlled trial of the intervention which is ongoing.  I have also been invited to present my research in various local, national, and international conferences. I continue to work with the scientific community networks I have made links with during my PhD. Currently, I am a Lecturer at the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care of King’s College London and President -Elect of the United Kingdom Oncology Nursing Association. 

Dr Hui Huang, Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy

A photo of Dr Hui Huang, winner of a 22/23 Outstanding Thesis Prize for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Public PolicyIt is really my honour to get my work recognised by King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize. This achievement can’t be made without the endless support from my supervisor Dr Ye Liu and Pro. Jelke Boesten throughout my PhD journey. I also want to deliver my gratitude to my examiners Pro. Yawen Lei and Dr Nana Zhang.  

Prior to commencing a PhD at King’s Department of International Development, I got a master degree in University College London majoring Development Administration and Planning. My PHD thesis, entitled “The Algorithmic Antagonism: The Digital Contested Terrain of Control and Resistance in China’s Platform Economy”, which examines how the digital technology reshapes the capital-labour relations in the new digital workplace in China’s context. For this, I did almost one-year ethnographic research through working as a food-delivery driver in a famous food-delivery company. Due to this in-depth participatory study, my work was published in prestigious journals like Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and New Technology, Work and Employment. The research findings were also quoted in famous media includes Wired and Al Jazeera. 

I am now working as an assistant professor at the Department of Public Economics and Social Policy in Shanghai Jiao tong University, where I will continue and expand my research on the algorithmic management, platform economy and gig migrant workers.  

Dr Jamie Kwong, Faculty of Social Sciences and Public PolicyA photo of Dr Jamie Kwong, winner of a 22/23 Outstanding Thesis Prize in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

I am incredibly honored to receive the King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize. I am especially grateful to my supervisors, Professor Matt Moran and Dr Heather Williams, for their steadfast guidance and to my examiners, Professor Andrew Futter and Professor Michal Onderco, for their thoughtful engagement with the thesis.  

My PhD examined U.S. public opinion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. It introduced an original framework for assessing how various factors shape public responses to nuclear proliferation, shedding light on the public’s role in and engagement with nuclear issues. While studying as a Marshall Scholar, I also worked as a research assistant at the Centre for Science and Security Studies, working on projects related to the P5 Process, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; transatlantic deterrence; and the impact of social media on conflict escalation. I also worked in the Nuclear Policy Programme at the Royal United Services Institute on projects related to strategic stability, disarmament verification, and the UK Project on Nuclear Issues. I completed my final year of the PhD as a Stanton Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  

Since finishing the PhD, I have stayed on at Carnegie as a Fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program. There, my research focuses on public opinion of nuclear weapons issues; challenges climate change poses to nuclear weapons; and multilateral nuclear regimes. 

Announcing the winner of the 2022 Tadion Rideal Prize 

We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2022 Tadion Rideal prize, Dr Francesca Mattedi!

This award was instituted in 1983 by a gift of £10,000 from Dr J. Tadion to commemorate his association with the late Sir Eric Rideal FRS and King’s College London.

The prize of £1,000 is awarded annually and is open to doctoral students of King’s College London who have carried out research for a PhD degree in Molecular Science. ‘Molecular Science’ is defined broadly and inclusively as: Research that involves studies at the molecular level.

Students are nominated by their supervisors; an expert panel of academics in the relevant fields assesses the nominations and provide a shortlist to the Director of Research Talent who selects the winner based on their recommendations.

Meet this year’s winner, Dr Francesca Mattedi:

It is a great honour for me to receive the 2022 Tadion Rideal Prize for my PhD thesis. I would like to thank my supervisor Dr. Alessio Vagnoni for his guidance over the years, as well as the members of the lab and all those who supported me during this time.

Before my PhD, I studied Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Trento. During my Master’s I enrolled in two ERASMUS programmes, which gave me the opportunity first to join the lab of Prof. Dorothee Dormann at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich and then to move to UCL in London to work on my Master’s thesis. There, under the supervision of Prof. Pietro Fratta and Prof. Giampietro Schiavo, I investigated the effects of an ALS-causing FUS mutant on RNA metabolism and translation. During this time, I developed a strong interest in the mechanisms regulating intracellular trafficking, a crucial process for the maintenance of neuronal functionality because of the distinctive cellular architecture of neurons.Image of the 2022 winner, Francesca Mattedi

With this in mind, in February 2018 I started my PhD in the lab of Dr. Alessio Vagnoni at the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, King’s College London. My work focused on the study of the interplay between mitochondrial dynamics and function, to understand how they influence each other and how their impairment contributes to neuronal ageing. To this aim, a significant part of my project involved the development of optogenetic tools for the manipulation of both mitochondrial function and dynamics with spatiotemporal precision. I really enjoyed this process and I believe that generating innovative techniques is essential to improve our ability to answer scientific questions and our understanding of biological processes.

After my PhD, I was keen on applying the expertise I gained during this experience to investigate the pathways leading to neurodegeneration in human cellular models. Therefore, I have joined the lab of Prof. Pietro Fratta at the UCL Institute of Neurology as a postdoctoral research fellow. Here, I model the loss of TDP-43 nuclear function in human iPSC-derived lower motor neurons to study how it affects axons and neuronal physiology in ALS.

Top 10s – Getting the best from supervision


Nigel Eady Director of Research Talent

Nigel Eady, Director of Research Talent.

Far and away the most important relationship during your PhD is with your primary supervisor.


Many successful academics were launched into their careers by a fantastic supervisor. However, it’s not a given that everything runs smoothly.

We know how important good supervision is and are part of a UK-wide project to develop the very best continuing professional development for research supervisors.

Having worked with numerous PhD students and supervisors in various guises since I finished my own PhD in 2003/4, here are my top 10 tips for getting the best from your supervisory relationship.

1. Discuss expectations and agree ways of working early on

It’s not a given that a student and supervisor’s expectations of how to work effectively together will match. You might be fortunate, but don’t make assumptions. Ideally in your first few supervisory meetings you should discuss how you’re going to work together and what you can expect of each other.

Your faculty should have a template document to guide you and your supervisor in this conversation. You can also download our template to get you started.  If you didn’t have that conversation at the start, don’t worry, have it now!

2. Review ways of working regularly

It’s also important to revisit the expectations conversation every now and then. As you progress in your PhD, your needs will change and the support your supervisor provides will likely change too. So revisit that conversation.

3. Remember your supervisor isn’t perfect!

It sounds obvious, but some students definitely have an unrealistic view of their supervisor. Remember they are human and likely have many other draws on their time, whether other students or other responsibilities, at work and at home. Be careful of slipping into bad habits – submitting work at the last minute and expecting a speedy response, for example.

4. Ask for help when you need it

Most PhD students are highly successful, hard-working people, used to getting top grades. Seriously! That’s you! As such, a PhD can be a challenge. You’re (suddenly) expected to be self-directed and you may come up against all sorts of issues. Your ideas are critiqued and pulled apart. Seemingly fruitful avenues of enquiry turn out to be dead ends. Experiments don’t work, archives don’t yield the information and insights you hoped for, fieldwork takes twice as long to plan as you’d imagined! Something happens in your personal life. You’ll need help. It’s normal.

5. If there are problems then raise them, don’t let them fester

Just ask for help sooner rather than later! There’s no shame in it. You’ll probably address the problems more quickly if you nip them in the bud. We’ve all been there, I can assure you.

There are lots of routes you can go depending on the issue:

  • Is there a PGR officer in your dept? Someone in Professional Services who can help with practice things.
  • Maybe you need to speak to your academic PGR Coordinator.
  • There may be confidential advisors or personal tutors, depending on your faculty.
  • There is also the Associate Dean for Doctoral Studies, your faculty PGR lead.
  • And there is lots of support through Student Services – for mental health and wellbeing, counselling, money & housing advice and more
  • Our PGR Wellbeing Hub has all the links and information com/pgrwh

6. Make use of your second supervisor

I hope you know who your second supervisor is! There’s no one shape for what a second supervisor can offer. Just make use of them. Have regular meetings even if they’re not that frequent. They might be a sounding board for new ideas. They might have a specific skill/interest/expertise that will enrich your research/thesis. They might be very experienced and therefore be a fount of knowledge or provide access to networks. Like I say, there’s no one type.

7. Manage upwards

If you’re not getting what you need from your supervisor then you may need to be more assertive. We can help you with that… book for our workshop

Getting the Best from your Supervisor (PGR324)

This course will help you to understand your supervisor’s perspective and expectations and will highlight areas for autonomy and supervision throughout a doctoral journey. Learn how to be assertive and persuasive in the way that you communicate with your supervisors to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

8. Celebrate your supervisor if they’re doing a good job!

A lot of supervisors put a lot of time and energy into supervision. If that’s your supervisor then I can assure you that a kind word of thanks goes a long way.

If your supervisor really is excellent then you might like to nominate them for one of our Supervisory Excellence Awards.

Supervisor Excellence Award Winners standing on the stairs in Strand Building.

Supervisory Excellence Award Winners 2022/23

9. Remember it’s your PhD!

I’m probably speaking more to scientists and lab-based researchers here but fundamentally the PhD is yours! In some disciplines your supervisor may play a very close guiding role, especially the start, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of dependence. You will have to defend your thesis in the final exam. So don’t be afraid to try things you think are important and to discuss options robustly with your supervisor(s). As you progress in your research you should be becoming an expert, so don’t give way to critique too quickly.

In other disciplines, you may be only too aware that it’s your PhD! So…

10. Draw on as many sources of wisdom and support as you can

It can be easy to get stuck in a rut. So don’t!

Seek out other sources of support, find a mentor or two. Attend seminars in other related departments. Approach other researchers and academics. Make the most of being at a comprehensive research-intensive institution. Time spent thinking about bigger issues, the broader research context is rarely wasted and may yield information, stimulate new ideas and help you move forward.

I wish you all the very best in your doctoral research.

Nigel Eady
Director of Research Talent

Top 10s – Who’s on your team?

Nigel Eady Director of Research Talent

Nigel Eady, Director of Research Talent.

Who are the people who are helping you to be successful? Are you making the most of that support? Is there more support you could draw on?



I’ve been watching a lot of the Athletics recently. My father loved running and whilst he wasn’t ever close to being national standard, he had friends who were pretty close to it. When I was young, the TV would always be on if there was a big event happening, especially the Olympics or European Championships.

I think athletics is a pretty good analogy for the journey of the PhD.

We tend to think of athletics as an individual sport, but it struck me how many of the athletes talked about all the other people who had enabled them to be successful – family, friends, coaches, other current athletes, former athletes, the list went on.

When it comes down to it, like the athlete in the championship on the race track, there’s only one person who writes the thesis and goes through the oral exam.

Yet also like the athlete, to be really successful, you need a whole host of people supporting you and cheering you on.

Thirty or more years ago, a PhD was a solitary pursuit. You did everything on your own, with just the guidance of your solitary supervisor. However those days should be long gone. It’s well recognised that effective training of inexperienced researchers requires much more than one person! So who is on your team? Every athlete draws on a slightly different group of people, or perhaps draws on some people more than others.

Here is a Top 10 of people whom you might draw on. There’s no ‘one size fits all’. However, I’d dare to suggest if you’re not making use of most of these possible supporters, then you’re giving yourself an unnecessary handicap!

1. Supervisor

Certainly the most crucial person in your team. How well are you working together? When I’m discussing challenges with doctoral researchers, it’s often the case that there are mismatches in expectations between student and supervisor. Maybe you discussed expectations when you started your research degree but things change. If you’re in the final phases of the PhD and writing up, you’re likely entering new territory in your relationship. What can you expect from your supervisor then? What do you think you need? Have you had a proper conversation about writing the thesis or is it all based on assumption, what you’ve heard from others? Use your time effectively by having a clear discussion with your supervisor about what you think you need and what they can offer you. And this is true throughout the PhD.

2. Second supervisor

Hopefully you know who your second supervisor is! How often do you meet them? What do you discuss? Every second supervisor will be a bit different. Maybe yours brings a particular interest or skill to the table. Maybe their research interests are related but in a somewhat different area. What do you need from them? Maybe it’s just general discussions about how to tackle the PhD. Do you know their strengths? What can you learn from them? How can they add either to your research or your skills?

3. Other academic colleagues, researchers/staff at different levels

Sometimes you just need someone who gets the academic and research environment but isn’t connected to your project. Someone else in your department or even in another School or Faculty. Maybe you share an interest outside your research. Maybe you’ve had an interesting conversation in a dept seminar and they seemed like someone you’d get on with. It’s great to have a few people around you who understand your world and can offer advice, contacts or experience.

4. Mentors

Do you have a mentor? There are many ways to get a mentor – formal schemes and informal approaches. A mentor can be invaluable for navigating complex environments or for considering what next. Having run mentoring schemes in the past, I think you get the most value from a mentor when you, as a mentee, are in the driving seat, making sure the mentoring is providing what you need.

5. Peers

I hope you have a few people around you who know exactly what you’re going through now. You may be fortunate and have lab colleagues or peers in your dept who share an office with you. Downloading your woes to someone who understands can definitely be cathartic (as long as you promise to be that person for them when they need you!)

6. Staff who support doctoral students – academics and professional services

You should have a PGR Coordinator or equivalent in your department, whose role is to support and advise doctoral researchers. You may also have PS staff who support PhDs. They may be the people you ask very basic questions about the PhD and the process, they may be the ones who can guide you if problems arise, whether complex ones or very simple ones.

7. One-to-one expert support

Did you know you can meet one-to-one with a careers consultant to discuss any career related issue or question? You might have no idea what to do next or what you want to do? They’ll help you to start working that out. You might need advice on a job application or an interview. You can also meet one-to-one with a professional writer to help you with your writing. Maybe you’re struggling to get words on paper. Maybe you’ve got the words down but you’re struggling for clarity or to communicate your argument.

8. Support services

In a similar vein, there is lots of support at King’s – start with Student Services (housing, money and more), who will point you to the relevant team. Ask for help before it all gets too much.

9. Friends

Sometimes you just need someone to tell you to forget your research for a few hours or a weekend and do something completely different. As a friend of mine says, “Have breaks, make breakthroughs!”

10. Family

I know not everyone is close to their family, but if you are, they are clearly a great resource. Perhaps your family are far away? If so, why not plan ahead – put a home visit in the diary, something to look forward to.

Like I say, different people need different help at different times. Just don’t suffer in silence!

Nigel Eady
Director of Research Talent

Introducing our new Royal Literary Fund Fellows for 2023-24

A black and white profile photo of Alex Wong

Alex Wong

This year, to help students and staff with the various challenges of academic writing, the Doctoral School at KCL will host two new fellows of the Royal Literary Fund. My colleague, Miranda Seymour, will be available for appointments on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. My name is Alex Wong, and I’ll be working on Thursdays and Fridays. We’d be delighted to see you in our office on the Waterloo Campus, and will also be offering some sessions online.

RLF fellows are professional writers, working in various genres, who hope that their experience of planning, writing and editing will enable them to give good, practical advice (and cheerful encouragement) to those who are finding the task of writing difficult, as well as to anyone who simply wants to find ways of improving the clarity, economy and elegance of their scholarly prose. Come to us if you’re stuck, or baffled, or have a problem to solve; but you’ll be just as welcome if you have no particular problem, only aspiration!

Miranda is an acclaimed biographer and novelist, and I am primarily a poet, though I also have extensive experience in prose nonfiction. We both know what it is like to undertake long, complex projects involving significant research, and we’re familiar with many of the hurdles one can meet along the way. More fundamentally, we know about the essential mechanics of sentences. Writing clearly and precisely may often be a matter of writing more ‘simply’, but that is not always an easy or intuitive thing. The challenges of effective and communication are real ones; but they are also—when approached in the right way—interesting, enlivening challenges that engage imagination as well as intellect.

A colour profile photo of Miranda Seymour

Miranda Seymour

Our sessions will be highly individual, tailored to each person’s particular needs and aims. Our hope, in each case, is to help people write in ways that feel satisfying to them. We’ll help you clear away any unnecessary complications, cumbersome jargon and unhelpful rhetoric, so that you can articulate your thoughts and arguments in ways that are at the same time more natural and more creative.

Although I do have a background in academic teaching myself, it’s important to note that Miranda and I are here as writers, not as scholars. We’re not academic staff of KCL, don’t discuss students’ work with their supervisors (or anyone else), and are entirely outside the systems of supervision and assessment. This means we’re able to offer confidential, impartial and unjudgmental advice, purely on the business of writing and editing. We’re not here to evaluate the content of your work. In fact, we’re not here to evaluate your work at all: we need only to understand it well enough to guide you, where useful, towards better expression.

Some sessions will look at big, structural concerns, on the level of the whole article, thesis or book; others will deal with small concerns, on the level of the sentence. Depending on what you hope to address, you might send us a short sample of work in advance (which can be very helpful), or you might just bring a piece with you when you come, which we can go through together, line by line.

Are you struggling to get your thoughts down on paper at all? We can certainly sympathize, and will offer some tips on waging the battle against blockages and procrastination.

Maybe your supervisor corrects your grammar or punctuation time after time, and you’re not entirely clear why? Or maybe a peer reviewer finds your tone too casual, too defensive, too dogmatic? We can help you make sense of critical feedback (vexing as it can often be) and find constructive ways forward.

Perhaps you want to discuss the best ways of structuring different kinds of material, such as argument, exposition, narrative or ‘literature review’. You may have a specific passage in mind, presenting unique difficulties: something you’re not sure how to approach. Or else you may want to talk about general qualities of your writing—the basic ‘nuts and bolts’ of paragraphing, for instance. We might spend a whole session discussing the pros and cons of different potential titles for your work.

In short, there are many different reasons why you might come to see us, and many different ways in which we could help. Each session is a unique encounter for us, and the writing we’re going to see will be extremely various in subject matter, approach and style. The various disciplines of the academic world all work in different ways, but the fundamental need for clarity and precision applies in all of them, as does the value of a flowing and engaging style. The means by which these are achieved are ultimately more constant than one might assume.

Do come and see us if you think we could be of any help. We look forward to meeting you!


Appointments are available Tuesday to Friday during term time and will be available primarily in-person on Waterloo Campus;, but some will be available online. Appointment bookings will open on 2nd October 2023. Email one Fellow in the first instance to make an appointment:

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