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

Author: Edward Mushett Cole

Meet the January 2024 winners of the King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize!

Congratulations to the first round of winners of the 23/24 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 first round in January 2024.

Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine

Dr Alice Beardmore-Gray

An image of Dr Alice Beardmore-Gray, a winner of the King's Outstanding Thesis PrizeMy journey in research began with my passion for improving women’s health, particularly in regions of the world where the maternal mortality rate remains unacceptably high (800 women die every day due to pregnancy related causes, and 95% of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries). Specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, I realised that research is one of the most powerful tools we have to improve our clinical practice, and ultimately save lives. I was lucky enough to meet my brilliant supervisors (Prof Andrew Shennan and Prof Lucy Chappell) during the early stages of my clinical training, and this led to my PhD which evaluated the best time to offer birth to women with late preterm pre-eclampsia living in India and Zambia. Our trial, The CRADLE-4 Trial, found that planned early delivery significantly reduced the risk of stillbirth in this population, and was published in The Lancet (https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)00688-8). We have produced a short film about the trial (https://vimeo.com/879385985), which has also recently been featured in The Conversation (https://theconversation.com/early-births-between-34-and-37-weeks-for-moms-with-pre-eclampsia-can-reduce-baby-and-mother-deaths-210301). I was awarded the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Harold Malkin Prize in 2023 in recognition of this work, and I’m excited to continue my journey in clinical academia, as I embark upon a King’s Health Partners Post-Doctoral Fellowship, aiming to better understand pre-eclampsia associated acute kidney injury in low income countries. I’m incredibly grateful for the support and encouragement I have received along the way, and very proud to be a member of the KCL community.

If you would like to find out more about Alice’s continuing research then you can find her on Twitter: @alicebgray


Dr Michelle Gibbs

An image of Dr Michelle Gibbs, a winner of the King's Outstanding Thesis prize in 2024I am honoured and grateful to have been awarded an Outstanding Thesis Prize for my PhD in Nutritional Sciences. With the rollercoaster journey that my PhD was, with multiple maternity breaks and the COVID-19 pandemic interruptions, I am incredibly proud of what I was able to achieve. I am eternally grateful for the guidance and unwavering support of my PhD supervisors. I also offer my heartfelt gratitude to the patients, dietitians and key stakeholders, who participated in this research to make it such a success. Thanks also to my funder – without the financial support of The Dunhill Medical Trust via their Research Training Fellowship scheme, my PhD would not have been possible. To my husband and our three children, thank you for being an oasis of unconditional love, support and inspiration throughout my PhD journey.

After completing my BSc, MSc, PGDip, and MRes, I knew I wanted to pursue a PhD and developed my research ideas while I was working as a Dietitian in clinical practice in the NHS. My professional interests in malnutrition and oral nutritional support led me to ask key questions about how, why, for whom, and to what extent dietetic consultations worked, how they were experienced by nutritionally vulnerable older adults and other key stakeholders and how their value was perceived. These questions led me to use a convergent parallel mixed method approach to develop a novel programme theory for dietetic consultations that explained their underlying causal mechanisms, contextual influences and how they worked to generate outcomes, as well as understand how oral nutritional support consultations were experienced by older adult patients, their carers and the consulting dietitians, in various clinical contexts.

Since finishing my PhD, I’ve been putting my research knowledge and skills to good use in my current NHS role. I also continue to support student dietitian training at KCL. I am grateful for the opportunity to advance my clinical academic career in dietetics, with exciting post-doctoral plans to advance the body of work I began during my PhD. Further to this, I am engaged in various forms of dissemination at both local and international levels. Overall, I am grateful to be able to do purposeful work, both within and beyond academia, that contributes to improving the lives of others.

If you’d like to see more about Michelle’s current research you can follow her on Twitter here: @drmichellegibbs 

Dr Mathieu Ruthven

I am delighted and honoured to receive a King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize. I am grateful to my PhD thesis examiners Prof António Teixeira and Dr Chris Carignan fAn image of Mathieu Ruthven, a winner of a 2024 King's Outstanding Thesis Prize.or the award nomination, my supervisors Dr Andy King and Dr Marc Miquel for their guidance and support throughout my time at King’s, and Health Education England (HEE) and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) for funding my PhD.

Prior to starting a PhD, I worked as a medical physicist specialised in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at Barts Health NHS Trust. As a health and care professional, I was eligible to apply for a HEE-NIHR Doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship which enabled me to undertake a PhD while continuing my professional practice and development. My PhD was clinically focused and multidisciplinary, at the interface of MR imaging, artificial intelligence (AI) and clinical assessment of speech. Its ultimate goal was to improve the clinical management and treatment of patients with velopharyngeal insufficiency. The main contributions of my PhD towards this goal were the development of AI-based methods to automatically extract clinically relevant information from MR images of the vocal tract, and creating and making publicly available a dataset to enable others to develop similar methods. More information about the methods and dataset is available in the following journal articles: Ruthven et al. (2021), Ruthven et al. (2023a), Ruthven et al. (2023b).

The outputs of my PhD laid some of the foundations for a successful research funding grant application to Barts Charity. This funding has enabled further research to refine and extend the techniques and bring them closer to clinical translation.

If you would like to find out more about Mathieu’s research you can find him on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthieu-ruthven/

Dr Maria Ibrahim

I am honoured to have received this Outstanding Thesis Prize from King’s. My PhD looked at deceased donor kidney transplantation in the UK. I examined how organs from deceased donors with perceived higher risk characteristics were utilised by UK transplant clinicians, and subsequent patient outcomes using UK transplant registry data. Globally, this is an important issue, as deceased donors become older, with more co-morbidities, thus posing a risk of poor long-term outcomes to potential recipients.

I am a nephrologist by training, and though this gave me an insight into the clinical application of my work, I learnt statistical skills and coding in order to analyse data from the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) registry.

My thesis has resulted in three first author publications (PMID 3175883332690721, and 36706063) and I was able to contribute to a further five papers (PMID 36066902351853663387061933756062, and 34514110).

During the course of my PhD, I was able to identify that many perceptions around ‘higher risk’ organs are inaccurate, thus encouraging the broadening of the deceased donor pool and better outcomes for patients awaiting a transplant. I helped develop transplant outcome prediction tools, used extensively by UK transplant clinicians to support patient decision-making.

I have received the support of many individuals throughout the course of my thesis and am especially grateful to my examiners for their nomination, to the statistics and clinical studies team at NHSBT for their continual guidance, and to my supervisors Chris Callaghan, John Forsythe and Rachel Johnson for their unwavering faith in me.

Following my research time I am back to full time clinical work but hope to use the skills I have developed to pursue dual clinical and academic roles in the future.


Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

Dr Johanna Keeler

An image of Dr Johanna Keeler, a winner of a 2024 King's Outstanding Thesis PrizeI am thrilled to have been awarded a King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize and would like to thank my brilliant examiners for the nomination and for their thoughtful engagement with the thesis, my supervisors Dr Hubertus Himmerich and Professor Janet Treasure for their endless support and guidance, and the Medical Research Council for funding my research.

Prior to my time at KCL, I studied Psychology (Bsc, University of Exeter). Prior to that, my first job as an 18-year-old was working as a support worker in neurosurgical theatres, which sparked my interest in the workings of the brain and particularly in neuropsychology. My interests in neurobiology were further cemented during my undergraduate studies where I was fortunate to undertake some fantastic research placements that utilised methods and study designs including MRI, neuropsychology, and service evaluation/improvement work. Here I also co-founded an eating disorders peer support group for students. The experiences I had progressed my interests in the mind-body interface, translational research, and lived/living experience involvement, which had a huge influence on my PhD project.

My PhD thesis integrated several methodologies such as structural MRI, neuropsychology, investigations of inflammatory markers and growth factors, and qualitative methods, to examine brain changes in anorexia nervosa. A highlight of my research was translating basic research findings to the lived experience using qualitative methodology. I have disseminated these findings through delivering NHS training to a wide range of clinicians and am hoping to develop some psychoeducational resources for service users, clinicians and carers of people with eating disorders.

Several of the studies I conducted throughout my PhD were part of the groundwork that supported a grant application for a randomised controlled trial looking at the potential of oral ketamine to alleviate depressive symptoms in people with AN and treatment-resistant depression. We recently received funding for this project from the Medical Research Council, and I am currently employed as a postdoc at KCL to prepare the study which is scheduled to start in 2025.

You can find more about Johanna’s current research via her Twitter (@jhnnklr) or that of her team (@kingsedresearch) or via her research gate (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Johanna-Keeler) or Pure profiles (https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/johanna-keeler).


Dr Laura Sichlinger

An image of Dr Laura Sichlinger, a winner of a 2024 King's Outstanding Thesis Prize.I am honoured to have received the Outstanding Thesis Prize for my PhD research. My thesis, “A developmental perspective on ZNF804A gene function,” delved into the mechanisms of schizophrenia susceptibility and gene function in neurodevelopment. Under the guidance of Prof Deepak Srivastava and Prof Anthony Vernon, I explored the fascinating world of human-induced pluripotent stem cells and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, shedding light on ZNF804A’s contribution to synaptogenesis and local protein translation in neurodevelopment. I am immensely grateful for their mentorship and support throughout my doctoral journey.

Prior to pursuing my PhD, I completed an MSc in Neuroscience at KCL and a BA in Phonetics and Speech Processing at the University of Munich. These experiences laid the groundwork for my passion for neuroscience and brain disorders.

Currently, I am privileged to be a member of the Heller lab (lead by Prof Elizabeth Heller) at the University of Pennsylvania and the ENDD team at the Children’s hospital of Philadelphia, where we are dedicated to advancing gene-targeted therapies for rare neurodevelopmental disorders such as STXBP1 and SYNGAP1-related intellectual disability.

Beyond my research, I am committed to fostering inclusivity and equality in STEM. During my PhD I had the honour to be co-president of Women of the Wohl, a student-led equality network, advocating for the rights of womxn and marginalised groups in the scientific community. I believe that diversity is not only essential for scientific progress but also enriches the fabric of our society.

If you want to see more about Laura’s current research then you can find her on Twitter via @LSichlinger

Faculty of Law

Dr Farnush Ghadery

I’d like to thank the committee for awarding my PhD project the KCL Outstanding Thesis Prize. My research rests on the intellectual labour and commitment of An image of Dr Farnush Ghadery, a winner of a 2024 King's Outstanding Thesis Prizefeminist scholars and activists who paved the way and continue to struggle for freedom and equality across the world. In my thesis, I developed ‘transnational legal feminism’ as a methodology that argues for the contextualisation of international feminist legal praxis by being informed by local communities and forms of knowledge, which are often excluded from international fora. Focusing on Afghanistan, I attempted to demonstrate the important work that Afghan women’s rights activist have undertaken on the ground following the 2001 military invasion and how international legal and feminist practice should interact more with these actors and their practices. Completing the Transnational Law LLM at KCL before my PhD was instrumental in equipping me with the critical skills needed to undertake this work. The PhD was further made possible through the generous Dickson Poon Postgraduate Research Scholarship. I now work as a Senior Lecturer in Law at London South Bank University where I continue my research highlighting and challenging colonial, racialised, and gendered hierarchies in international law. I am currently working on my monograph based on the thesis. Most recently, I co-founded the Feminist Third World Approaches to International Collective which seeks to amplify scholarship and practice at the intersection of critical feminisms and international law as well as create a space of solidarity and support for those working in this field. I remain committed to the struggle for gender equality and have been active in the ongoing Woman, Life, Freedom movement for equality and freedom in Iran.

If you’d like to find out more about Farnush’s current research then please check out her LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/farnush-ghadery/


Faculty of Natural, Mechanical and Engineering Sciences

Dr Gergely Bodo

I feel honoured to have received the King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize for my research on Stochastic Analysis for Cylindrical Lévy Processes. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the exceptional guidance and support from my supervisor, Markus Riedle (Department of Mathematics).

An image of Dr Gergely Bodo, a winner of a 2024 KIng's Outstanding Thesis Prize

Moreover, I am immensely grateful to my thesis examiners, Rama Cont (University of Oxford) and Stefan Geiss (University of Jyväskylä), not only for nominating me for this award, but also for showing a genuine interest in my research by providing insightful suggestions on possible directions for future work. Their mathematical expertise and careful reading of my thesis led to a rather stimulating discussion during my defence.

In my thesis, together with Professor Riedle, we laid down the theoretical foundations necessary for the successful application of cylindrical Lévy processes as models of random perturbations of infinite-dimensional systems. By developing a comprehensive theory of stochastic integration with respect to cylindrical Lévy processes, our work allowed for the generalisation of fundamental tools in stochastic analysis such as Itô’s formula or the stochastic dominated convergence theorem. These results paved the way for the consideration of stochastic evolution equations driven by cylindrical Lévy processes.

During my time as a PhD student at King’s, I was presented with numerous opportunities to explore the mathematical landscape by giving talks at international conferences, attending summer schools and going on research visits. I would like to thank the Department of Mathematics for making all of these financially feasible.

After finishing my PhD, I joined the stochastics group of the Korteweg-de Vries Instituut of the University of Amsterdam, where I am currently a postdoctoral researcher under the guidance of Sonja Cox.

Dr Yannic Rath

I feel very honored, and I am immensely grateful to be receiving the 2023/2024 King’s outstanding thesis award, which I very much see as a recognition of all the great work done in the group ofAn image of Dr Yannic Rath, winner of a 2024 King's Outstanding Thesis Prize. my PhD supervisor Dr George Booth. I explicitly want to thank him, but also all other past and present collaborators, for providing outstanding support and a stimulating research platform to pursue highly interesting research questions. I also want to extend my gratitude to Prof. Andrew Green and Dr Stephen Clark for the examination of my thesis and nominating me for this award. 

My PhD at King’s College allowed me to build upon my great interest in studying scientific phenomena with computational approaches, which I developed in previous Physics and Computer Science courses at the Leibniz University Hannover and at Imperial College London. My PhD research focused on the development of novel computational tools to simulate the intricate interplay of particles on the quantum scale underpinning the characteristics of various types of matter. The sheer complexity of the quantum physical laws of nature limits accurate computational simulations, making suitable approximations necessary for tractable applications. Complementing a broad variety of algorithms tackling this long-standing task on various levels of abstraction, we were able to introduce a novel numerical toolbox expanding the predictive abilities of numerical simulations by bridging physical intuition with modern machine learning techniques. 

Building on the wonderful experience of my time at King’s College, I continue to follow my research interests as a computational scientist. I recently joined the National Physical Laboratory, where my focus remains the development of algorithms for the description, study, and utilization of quantum physical principles. I am looking forward to continuing studying interesting scientific questions, developing practical computational tools, and communicating research highlights to a broader community. 

 Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care

Dr Lesley Williamson

An image of Dr Lesley Williamson, winner of a 2024 King's Outstanding Thesis PrizeI am delighted and honoured to have been awarded one of the 2023/24 King’s Outstanding Thesis Prizes. I am hugely grateful to my examiners, Professor Susan Shenkin and Professor Bridget Johnston for their nomination, and my PhD supervisors, Professor Katherine Sleeman and Professor Catherine Evans for their support, guidance, and patience.

My thesis was generously funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, Cicley Saunders International, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, and The Atlantic Philanthropies. It focuses on the determinants of emergency department (ED) attendance among people with dementia approaching the end of life. Mapped against the phases of a health programme planning model, I conducted a cohort study of routinely collected hospital and mortality data, a qualitative interview study with people living with dementia and current and bereaved caregivers, and a mixed methods integration to develop a conceptual model and key components of an intervention programme aiming to safely reduce ED attendance among people with dementia.

My PhD was informed by my longstanding commitment to improve dementia care, influenced by my background in psychology, medicine and clinical leadership, and my work as a psychiatry trainee, former National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow, and more recently, King’s Parliamentary Research intern. My thesis was greatly enriched by the valuable contributions of members of an expert panel of public representatives affected by dementia and the support of Alzheimer’s Society Research Network Monitors.

After submitting my thesis, I led the development and Parliamentary launch of a policy brief calling for better palliative and end-of-life care for people affected by dementia. I continue to promote the brief, which includes successfully submitting it to the World Health Organisation’s Global Dementia Observatory Knowledge Exchange Platform (GDO KEP).

I continue to research dementia and end-of-life care as a Research Associate at the Cicely Saunders Institute and NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit. As a Dem-Comm fellow, I am also one of the Dementia Community Research Network (DCRN) coordinators, working with public, community and research partners to reduce inequalities in research involvement among people from minoritised ethnic communities.

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.

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: