A group photo of the three winners of the Research Mentoring and Support winners; Dr Deborah Robson, Dr Melissa Washington and Sharwari Verma

Mentoring & Support Prize Winners 2023; Dr Deborah Robson, Dr Melissa Washington-Nortey and Sharwari Verma

We are pleased to announce the winners of the very first King’s Research Mentoring and Support awards!

The Centre for Doctoral Studies introduced a new Research Mentoring and Support Excellence award to recognise all the non-supervisory members of staff who make important contributions to Postgraduate Researchers’ (PGR) success and support the approximately 4,500 PGR students that are registered at King’s.

We received over forty nominations for the three Research Mentoring and Support awards and the three winners showcased the best of the wider mentoring and support that staff provide to enable King’s postgraduate researchers to succeed.

The winners are:

Dr Melissa Washington-Nortey, Postdoctoral Project Manager, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

A profile picture of Dr Melissa Washington-Nortey

Dr Melissa Washington-Nortey

‘Melissa is a huge help to me when I’m conducting my systematic review. She attended my meeting with supervisors to discuss the systematic review, during which she shared her knowledge of social support and parenting from a cultural perspective, assisted me in clarifying the review questions and built the framework for meta-synthesis.’

‘Melissa is postdoctoral project manager of the NIHR-funded SPARK project that aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children with developmental disabilities and their caregivers in Ethiopia and Kenya. SPARK supports four postdocs and five PhD students; two PhD students are affiliated to KCL. Since taking up the role of SPARK training lead Melissa has gone far beyond what would be expected to support the training of PGRs affiliated to SPARK. She organised a training survey to identify training needs, which suggested the main training gaps centred around qualitative research skills and expertise on clinical trials. In response she organised first an online qualitative research training course, attended by all SPARK trainees, including the two SPARK KCL PhD students as well as a third KCL PhD student.’

‘Since she has joined the lab, she has worked hard to support lab members, especially PGR students, in ways that go above and beyond her responsibilities as a project manager in a burdensome large international project (SPARK) of which some of us PGR students in the lab are not even part of.’

A profile picture of Dr Deborah Robson

Dr Deborah Robson


Dr Deborah Robson, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience

‘Dr Robson – Debbie – is a beacon of mentorship and support. In academia, excellence in mentorship and support often remains unsung, however, without this, the traditionally celebrated measures in academia (robust researchers and teams, high-quality publications, high-value grants) would not be realised. My nomination for Debbie includes case studies of Debbie’s support of several PhD and Master’s students which outline the ways in which Debbie has provided crucial academic guidance; personal mentoring to increase these students’ self-confidence and career ambitions; and a listening ear when they were feeling excluded from the King’s community. Innovative supervisory practice often eludes definition, but in Debbie’s case, this is reflected in her accessibility and the inviting atmosphere of her office. Debbie’s impact extends far beyond the students and colleagues whom she supervises in a formal capacity. Debbie’s consistent commitment to pastoral care and fostering personal and professional growth deserves recognition.’


Sharwari Verma, Senior Research Technician, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine

A profile picture of Sharwari Verma

Sharwari Verma

‘Sharwari is a senior research technician in the lab I am conducting my PhD in. She was not directly involved with any of my work but still spent many days throughout the year to train me on certain techniques, help with trouble shooting, answer my many questions and she was always there for emotional support. She goes above and beyond to help others and I cannot imagine another individual that deserves this prize more than her.’

‘As a lab technician, Sharwari has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for students. She has gone above and beyond her duties to provide not only technical guidance but also personal support, offering a listening ear and practical advice to those facing personal or professional challenges.’

Congratulations to all our winners and nominees, it’s a great achievement, thank you for all the support you give to our PGRs at King’s College London.