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

Category: Prizes (Page 1 of 2)

A list of the announcements of the winners of the various doctoral student prizes that are awarded by King’s College London.

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.

Announcing the winners of the first King’s Research Mentoring and Support awards

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.

Announcing the first round of winners of the 22/23 King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize

Congratulations to the first 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.

Meet our winners:

Dr Jacob Gracie,  Faculty of Arts and Humanities

I am very grateful to have received this award. Completing the thesis would not have been possible without the support of my supervisor, Dr. Jon Day, and the company of my friends and family. Thank you also to my examiners – Prof. Bettina Bergo and Prof. Josh Cohen – for their engagement and receptiveness to my project. I am grateful to have had the time to undertake the research for the thesis, which was hugely fulfilling and at no point followed a linear trajectory! Thank you to King’s and LAHP for the opportunity. Thanks also to the members of the KCL Fair Pay for GTAs campaign and all the PhDs, GTAs, and other students and staff who attended various meetings and events related to the campaign – it was a privilege to work and learn in your company over the last few years.

Dr Harriet Fagerberg, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Prior to commencing a PhD in Philosophy on KCL and Humboldt’s joint PhD programme, Harriet completed an MA in Philosophy of Psychology at KCL and a BA in Philosophy, Psychology and Politics at Maastricht University College. Her PhD thesis – entitled ‘Disease, Dysfunction and the Brain’ – defended a new theory of pathology as a special kind of biological dysfunction, and applied it to the brain. Three chapters of Harriet’s thesis were adapted and published as journal articles in Philosophy of Science, Biology & Philosophy, and The European Journal for Philosophy of Science. After handing in her PhD in August of 2022, Harriet took up a Postdoctoral Fellowship on the Templeton Foundation funded project ‘Agency, Directionality and Function’ at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is currently working on the nature of biological function and whether psychiatric disorders should be understood as dysfunctions.

Dr Heather White, Faculty of Dentistry, Oral and Craniofacial Studies

Dr Heather White I am honoured to receive this thesis award and have my work recognised by King’s. My research explored the relationship between cranial sutures and skull morphology across mammalian taxa.

My PhD was completed in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, where I accessed museum specimens to build a comparative ontogenetic dataset spanning the phylogenetic breadth of Mammalia. Through a series of distinct and interlinked chapters I found that the development of cranial sutures was highly integrated with overall cranial morphology. Consequently, I proposed that developmental mechanisms shaping suture morphology are central to the evolution of mammalian cranial phenotypic diversity. I would particularly like to thank my supervisors for their support and enthusiasm throughout my PhD, Prof. Abigail Tucker and Prof. Anjali Goswami.

My research has led to many outreach opportunities which I am forever grateful for. These have included Nature Live talks hosted by the Natural History Museum, school talks, and NHM Lates. I have competed in the London final of FameLab, received a conference poster prize, presented my research in the prestigious D. Dwight Davis Award at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology conference, and have been invited to present my research at an upcoming conference symposium.

Following my PhD, I have completed a postdoctoral research position extending my work on cranial sutures into evolutionary time to study the synapsid to mammal transition. Additionally, I have used my quantitative morphometric skills to analyse the impact of plastic pollution on bird wing shape. Most recently, I have started a job as a Data Scientist at the Office for National Statistics working on the UN Sustainable Development Goals project. Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of my PhD journey, without whom this research would not have been possible.

Dr Aimee Cheesbrough, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine

Dr Aimee CheesbroughBefore beginning my PhD, I studied Medical Engineering (MEng) at the University of Leeds. With an interest in stem cells and regenerative medicine and an eagerness to move into the Biosciences, I joined the BBSRC London Interdisciplinary (LIDo) DTP in 2017. My PhD project was co-supervised by Dr Ivo Lieberam at KCL Centre for Gene Therapy & Regenerative Medicine, and Prof. Wenhui Song at the UCL Centre for Biomaterials in Interventional Science. During this time, I developed an in vitro model of skeletal muscle function, made from a combination of electrospun nanofiber scaffolds and optogenetically controlled human iPSC-derived myofibers. I was fortunate to have this work published in Advanced Materials in March 2022. Towards the end of my PhD, I worked closely with colleagues at KCL to use this technology as a platform for modelling neuromuscular diseases. We developed a 96-well screening platform for identifying phenotypic variation in neuromuscular co-cultures generated from ALS patient-derived iPSC cell lines.

Outside of my PhD, I really enjoyed getting involved in public engagement activities. I spent 3-months doing an internship at The Royal Institution, where I worked as part of their Masterclass team to organise and deliver engineering, mathematics and computer science masterclasses to school children. I was lucky to be working there during December, during the lead-up to their famous BBC Christmas Lecture series which was very exciting! I was also involved with public engagement activities for KCL Stem Cells, where we developed a ‘Growing New Body Parts’ stand for the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

Since finishing my PhD I have been working at Ivy Farm Technologies – a cellular agriculture biotechnology start-up based in Oxfordshire. I am really excited to be working in such an innovative sector and to be able to apply the skills and knowledge gained during my PhD to contribute to a better future for animals and the planet! I am truly honoured to have received the King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize and would like to thank all those who made my time at King’s so memorable – Thank you!

Dr Luis Alameda, Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Dr Luis Alameda

I studied medicine at the Universities of Sevilla, Lund and Florence, and trained in psychiatry and psychotherapy in Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) where I specialised in early intervention in psychosis and started exploring various aspects on the link between childhood trauma and psychosis doing my thesis (MD) on this topic. From 2017 to 2022, I worked in South London and Maudsley as a Consultant psychiatrist, mainly in early intervention and treatment resistant on psychosis, while I did a PhD at the Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London.

My PhD explores the nature of the association between childhood trauma and psychosis, covering epidemiological, clinical and molecular data, with the intent to improve the care of patients with psychosis who suffer from these experiences and to better understand the mechanisms involved. My research has helped a better understanding on the epigenetic mechanism linking trauma and psychosis; previously hypothesized but never explored, and has also opened new venues for clinical applications, such as the key role of anxiety, mood, and dissociation in this population; and the differential role of abuse and neglect, both in terms of clinical manifestations and epigenetic mechanisms.

Just after my PhD submission, I was appointed as the head of the Treatment and Early Intervention for Psychosis Program (TIPP) in CHUV, in Lausanne Switzerland, where I am applying my skills in early intervention learned at the Maudsley and expanding my research in Switzerland and beyond.

Dr Brittney Regal, King’s Business School

Dr Brittney RegalBritt Regal’s doctoral research explored the role that organizational leadership cultures play in embedding co-production (citizen participation) in public services. Through examining six cases across three sectors, she drew conclusions about how certain leadership cultures impacted public service organizations’ engagement with citizens, particularly young people. Her supervisors, Dr Alexandra Budjanovcanin and Professor Ewan Ferlie, provided invaluable knowledge and expertise. She was also a recipient of the King’s Business School Collaborative Studentship.

During her PhD, Britt worked as a research assistant on the Horizon 2020 project, COGOV. She oversaw the delivery of case studies from partners across Europe and provided overarching analysis, alongside Professor Ferlie, on these case studies. She also supported the delivery of a toolkit for co-creation and provided analysis on the governing mechanisms fostering co-creation within the culture sector. To disseminate the findings from her PhD and COGOV, she hosted a day-long conference attended by professionals in non-profits as well as local government officers.

Previously, Britt worked in the education sector supporting schools and mentoring teachers at Teach First. She also worked as a secondary teacher in the United States.  Currently, she is a research associate at King’s College London working on an ESRC-funded project overseen by the Productivity Institute. Within this project, she is exploring the transition to sustainable mobility alongside Professors Damian Grimshaw, Marcela Miozzo, and Jonatan Pinkse. Her research interests include organizational studies, public management, and public policy particularly in relation to collaborative innovation, citizen participation, and sustainable development administration.

Dr Giuseppe Brandi, Faculty of Natural, Mechanical and Engineering Sciences

Dr Giuseppe Brandi

I am humbled and grateful to have been awarded the King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize for my work on Multidimensional Data and Multiscaling Time Series. This achievement would not have been possible without the exceptional guidance and support of my supervisor, Professor Tiziana Di Matteo. Throughout my research, her expertise and encouragement were pivotal, particularly in bridging my previous research background in Economics and Econometrics with the field of Quantitative Financial Data Analysis. This mingling of research approaches had a profound impact on my research forma mentis, shaping my identity as what I refer to myself today, a Datametrician.

I also express my sincere gratitude to the members of my thesis committee, Professor Elsa Arcaute and Professor Andrea Gabrielli, for their valuable feedback and support for my future pursuits. My research has been significantly enriched by the feedback and insights received from the scientific community during workshops, seminars, and international conferences, thereby strengthening its potential impact. Furthermore, the collaboration with Yewno proved to be instrumental, highlighting the potential spillovers between academic research and the Fintech industry. I owe a debt of gratitude to my family and loved ones, whose constant encouragement and inspiration have been key to my success.

Moving forward in my career as a Research Associate in Climate Risk and Analytics at Imperial College London, I am eager to continue exploring the intersection of applied mathematics and real-world problems that have a tangible impact on society.

Dr Naomi Wright, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine

Dr Naomi WrightIt is an absolute honour to be awarded an outstanding thesis prize for my PhD in Global Surgery undertaken at King’s Centre for Global Health and Health Partnerships. What a wonderful and long journey it has been to get to this point.

By trade, I am a Paediatric Surgery Registrar, with my training post in the Southeast of England Deanery. However, I have always been interested in and hence actively participated in global health research at every opportunity throughout my career.

Prior to the PhD, I had undertaken a BSc in International Health at the University of Leeds in 2004/5 and an MSc in Global Health with Global Surgery at King’s in 2016. I had also undertaken a 1-year Royal College of Surgeons Research Fellowship alongside the MSc. During this year, I had established a paediatric surgery research network across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and collectively we had undertaken the first and largest multinational, prospective cohort study into children’s surgical outcomes across the region. This highlighted a huge disparity in survival compared to high-income countries, particularly for neonatal surgical conditions. For example, gastroschisis (a condition where the baby is born with their intestines protruding through a hole in the abdominal wall) had a 76% mortality across SSA compared to 2% in the UK (published in BMJ Global Health).

It is this research that led onto my PhD. It involved expanding the above prospective cohort study to include a wider range of congenital anomalies (also known as birth defects) and this time in low, middle, and high-income countries across the world (published in The Lancet ). This involved establishing the first truly global paediatric surgical research network with over 1500 children’s surgical care providers involved in the study from 74 countries. We ran the study in 12 languages. Team members have been involved in disseminating the results throughout the globe, both within the medical community and to the public through newspaper articles, social media, and television.

The second part of my PhD involved a hands-on clinical interventional study aimed at tackling the unacceptably high mortality from gastroschisis in seven paediatric surgery centres across Ghana, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. This involved working with over 2000 team members, including surgeons, paediatricians, neonatologists, junior doctors, nurses, midwives, obstetricians, ministers of health, hospital managers, and other key stakeholders, to develop an evidence-based care bundle, and implement in across the seven tertiary hospitals and their referring hospitals and health centres.

Prior to the study the mortality from gastroschisis was 97%; at the end of the study the overall mortality had reduced to 65%. In real terms, 68 neonates survived from gastroschisis during the 2-year study, compared to just 3 neonates in the 2-years prior to the study. Many more have survived since too and further funding has been awarded to continue expanding the project. The study protocol has been published (Wellcome Open Research) and the results publication is in progress.

During the PhD, I had the opportunity to participate in and undertake numerous other associated research projects resulting in 15 publications, and many presentations at international conferences across the globe. I was blessed with winning the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons (BAPS) President’s Prize for best Clinical Research twice for the above work. I also helped organise the Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery (GICS) 3rd Global Congress in India, 2018.

Dr Francesca Ghirretti, Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy

Dr Francesca GhirettiFrancesca Ghiretti received her PhD from War Studies, King’s College London where she was awarded the Leverhulme Scholarship as part of the project ‘Interrogating Visions of a Post-Western World: Interdisciplinary and Interregional Perspectives on the Future in a Changing International Order’.

At King’s College London, she is also a fellow at the Centre for Grand Strategy.Currently, Francesca is an analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) where she covers EU-China relations, economic security, China’s engagement in the Global South, China’s footprint in Southern Europe and UK-China relations.

Francesca is also a Visiting Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFR). Before joining MERICS, she worked as a Research Fellow Asia at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in Rome leading a project on the Belt and Road Initiative in Italy. Previously, she also worked as a geopolitical analyst for CQS, a London-based hedge fund and as assistant to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, former Secretary General of NATO.

Francesca’s Thesis, The securitization of Chinese foreign direct investments in the EU, researched the phenomenon of foreign direct investments (FDI) originating from China and flowing into the European Union has been receiving growing attention, particularly in light of the implications Chinese FDI carry that transcend economy.

This research seeks to give its contribution to the state of the art by looking at the phenomenon through the lens of the theory of securitisation of non-traditional security issues (NTS). Rather than measuring the nature, scope and impact of Chinese FDI in the EU, this project seeks to understand why the EU and two states, Italy and the UK, have begun to view Chinese FDI as a security threat and thus, transformed an economic matter into a security concern.

2122 King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize (Round 1)

Congratulations to the first round of winners of the 2122 King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize!

A limited number of awards are given across the year 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. 


Take a look at some reflections from the 2122 winners:

Dr Rana Alkattan, Dental Materials for Operative and Restorative Dentistry

As my time as a PhD student at King’s has come to an end, I look back at it as a period of growth, learning, and opportunities. My experience, although it had its ups and downs, was truly a positive and rewarding adventure. For this, I must thank my supervisors, family and friends who were with me every step of the way. I am honoured to have been recognized by King’s for my work, and am very grateful for all the time I spent here and all that I have learned.



Dr Olakunle Oginni, Behavioural Genetics

I really enjoyed learning about twin models and applying this knowledge to understand the health disparities among lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals compared to those who are heterosexual. I am very grateful to my supervisors – Prof. Frühling Rijsdijk (who was the overall winner of the 2020/21 Supervisory Excellence Award) and Dr. Patrick Jern (of the Abo Akademi University, Finland); the SGDP community, my family and friends, and the UK Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. Since completing my PhD, I have continued work as a lecturer and honorary consultant psychiatrist at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria; and I am a part-time postdoctoral research associate at Prof. Thalia Eley’s EDIT Lab at the SGDP Centre.



Dr Julia Burrill, Molecular Biology

I’m very grateful to receive this award and must, of course, thank my supervisors, Dr. Nunzianda Frascione and Dr. Barbara Daniel. Doing a PhD can be a real roller coaster and I’m so glad the rest of the gang in King’s Forensics was along for the ride. For those of you en route to submission, keep it up! Everyone thinks of chucking it in at some point, but it helped me to keep reminding myself of why I was passionate about the work in the first place. And remember to take breaks, whether it is going for a run or to the pub. My passion for the topic has now led me back to the U.S. to do a postdoc in Forensic Science Communication in the Courtroom at Stony Brook University, but I will always remember my time in London and at King’s with great fondness.


Dr Giles Masters, Musicology

It was a lovely surprise to be awarded this prize! I am, of course, very delighted and honoured. There are so many people I could thank, but I’ll just mention two. First, I’m very grateful to everyone at the Music Department at KCL – a truly vibrant community of intellectual and artistic endeavour – and especially my dedicated and brilliant supervisor Heather Wiebe. Second, I’d like to express my love and appreciation for my wonderful friend Clara Benjamin, who died last year.



Dr Laura Knopfel, Law

It is an honour to win this outstanding thesis prize in law for a socio-legal project. I thus read the award as an appreciation and encouragement for interdisciplinary and empirical research in legal scholarship. My thanks go to my supervisors Prof. Peer Zumbansen and Prof. Davina Cooper as well as the Law Department, in particular Dr. Eva Pils, the department’s former Director of Doctoral Studies, who gave me the freedom and possibility to pursue my research and supported me throughout the PhD journey at KCL.


Dr Harriet Cook, Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

I’m incredibly grateful to have been nominated for this award and it feels exciting to be able to share a few very public ‘thank you’ notes in this blog post. Firstly, to my supervisor Julian Weiss who has continuously supported me and shared in any and all of my cantiga-related excitement. Secondly, to my examiners whose kindness and encouragement during my viva meant so much to me. Thirdly, to my friends and colleagues in medieval studies at King’s and the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, all of whom I really look up to. Finally, thank you to the medieval troubadours I care so much about and who I hope know the relevance their poetry continues to have today. Roll on more cantiga moments for me and the world at large! And to PhD candidates nearing completion, I wish you all a lot of luck as you complete your projects and decide what you’d like to do next – I send my admiration your way!


Dr Sophie Carruthers, Psychology

I was very fortunate to complete my PhD under the supervision of Professors Tony Charman and Andrew Pickles, who generously invested in my learning and development, ensuring it was a wonderful experience. A special mention to the PACT-G Consortium and all the families who participated in the research for their contributions.



Dr Ana Caetano, Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine

I feel incredibly honoured to have been awarded the King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize. I am most grateful to my supervisor, Professor Paul Sharpe, for his intellectual guidance, relentless support, and for introducing me to the joy of being a scientist. Also, heartfelt thanks to my secondary and clinical supervisors, Dr Ana Angelova Volponi and Dr Veronica Booth. Thank you, too, to my external supervisor, Dr Eleanor D’Agostino, for her generous support; this work was jointly funded by the BBSRC and Unilever. Finally, I am deeply grateful to all my lab members and colleagues at the Centre for Craniofacial and Regenerative Biology, who made my time at King’s so memorable.


Dr Sarah McAllister, Health Services Research

It was such a surprise and honour to be awarded a King’s College Outstanding Thesis prize!  My heartfelt thanks go out to my supervisors Professor Glenn Robert, Professor Alan Simpson and Dr Vicki Tsianakas for all their support over the years.  Also, to the National Insititute for Health & Care Research for the incredibly generous research and training budget.  My favourite part of my PhD was getting to work alongside so many inspirational service users, carers and clinicians.  The work would not have been what it was without them.  My three wisest words of wisdom for completing a PhD: listen to those who use and deliver your services, always have a notebook handy to write down thoughts and ideas (they come at the strangest times) and make sure you make time for yourself to relax, sleep and eat.


Full list of winners from the first round of the 2122 King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize:


Dr Giles Masters Musicology, A&H
Dr Harriet Cook Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, A&H
Dr Rafael Lubner English Literature, A&H
Dr Rana Alkattan Dental Materials for Operative and Restorative Dentistry, FoDOC
Dr Ana Caetano Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, FoDOC
Dr Sophie Carruthers Psychology, IoPPN
Dr Olakunle Oginni Behavioural Genetics, IoPPN
Dr Matteo Montecchi Management Research (Marketing), KBS
Dr Alison McFarland Management, KBS
Dr Laura Knopfel Law, DPSoL
Dr John Whitaker Global Health Research, FoLSM
Dr Julia Burrill Molecular Biology, FoLSM
Dr Natasha Hezelgrave-Elliot Obstetrics and Gynaecology, FoLSM
Dr Edward Baker Nursing Research, NMPC
Dr Sarah McAllister Health Services Research, NMPC
Dr Malte Probst Theoretical Physics, NMES
Dr Ecaterina Burevschi Chemistry, NMES
Dr Duncan Wane Middle Eastern Studies, SSPP
Dr Eduardo Ortiz Juarez Development Economics, SSPP


To see the list of previous winners, please visit our website.

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