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

Category: Research

Meet the King’s Doctoral Students’ Association Board for 2021/22

The King’s Doctoral Students’ Association (KDSA) is the recognised representative body of the Postgraduate Research Student community. It is an autonomous body within the KCLSU representative structure and drives for the changes that doctoral students want to see.

Aim & Mission

KDSA is independent of King’s and works with the university to drive the changes doctoral students want.

  • Uphold, extend and defend the rights of doctoral/ postgraduate research students at King’s.
  • Establish a Peer Support Network for both academic and non-academic issues.
  • Promote student-led activity amongst new and existing PGR communities to build professional skills, share research ideas & network.

Watch the KDSA introductory video and meet the board members below:

 

Dionysios Malas, President 

Dionysios graduated with an MEng Mechatronic Engineering degree from the University of Manchester in 2020. He realised what is the preferred professional career he would like to pursue from a young age and after a patellar dislocation for which, due to surgical error, he had to be operated on several times. The incident intrigued him to become a Medical Robotics researcher to help in the development of innovative solutions to precision surgical procedures.

His research interest includes the lack of tactile feedback in medical robotics systems and tool, which is a widely cited disadvantage associated with robotics. Currently he is a PhD student trying to develop a novel technique to enable real-time force and shape sensing of an endoscopic tool called, MorphGI.

Check out Dio’s LinkedIn, Surgical & Interventional Engineering CDT

 

Mauro Bonavita, Vice President 

Mauro is a second year Ph.D. student in International Relations, based at the King’s India Institute and War Studies. Mauro’s research focuses on Indian foreign and maritime policy in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as great power competition taking part in the Indo-Pacific. He obtained a Master’s degree in Geopolitics and Strategic Studies from University Carlos III of Madrid, and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Genova. He is currently affiliated with the Centre for Grand Strategy at King’s College London. In the KDSA board for the academic year 2021-2022, he is the Vice President.

 

 

Davide Ferrari, Secretary & Treasurer

I am Davide Ferrari, scientist, blogger, and learner.

In 2021 I started my PhD at King’s College London, at the King’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Data-Driven Health.

After a Master’s in Musical Arts and a Master’s in Computer Science, I decided to devote my strengths to medical application of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.

I share my experience online on my blog.

Check out Davide’s YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter

 

Katie White, Representative for the part-time PGR community

I am a 2nd year PhD student in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience. My research explores how and why people engage with remote measurement technologies (wearables, smartphone apps) for symptom tracking in major depressive disorder. I am completing my PhD part-time whilst also working as a research assistant on the RADAR-CNS Public Private Partnership study. Before joining King’s, I completed a Psychology BSc at the University of Bath. I am thrilled to be the first part-time PhD rep on the KSDA board and look forward to ensuring that part-time students’ voices are heard and championed during their PGR journey.

Check out Katie’s LinkedIn, KCL Pure, Twitter

 

Roger Carles Fontana, Event Coordinator and Wellbeing Lead

I am a second-year PhD student at King’s College London studying the role of miRNA present in extracellular vesicles in cancer metabolism at the Roger Williams Institute of Hepatology (School of Immunology and Microbial Sciences). My working PhD title is “ExomiR resetting of the energy profile in HCC via the mitochondrial proteome”. I am the KDSA Event Coordinator and Wellbeing Leader, from where I hope to implement measures aimed at improving PGR students wellbeing by addressing issues concerning burnout, work-life balance, PGR sense of community and student-supervisor relationships. Prior to my PhD, I conducted research projects in cancer and extracellular vesicles in the United States and the Netherlands in the context of his master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, awarded with cum laude. I also worked as a research assistant at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park, where my work focused on the potential adverse effects of ionising radiation from medical procedures.

Check out Roger’s LinkedIn, Research Gate, Twitter

 

Chiara Mignani, Diversity and Inclusion Lead

I am a cultural manager and a Ph.D. candidate in lacemaking and Data Visualization. I am investigating the social and economic impact of cultural institutions within the urban environment. I use digital semantic mapping and analysis to understand and map urban dynamics. Particularly, my work focuses on the city of Venice and aims to contribute to the maintenance of the city as a center for artistic production and engagement.

Prior to my PhD I have worked as Marketing Manager in Istanbul and Venice, and helped start-ups in the field of urban development and sustainability to develop their marketing strategy.

I am Diversity and Inclusion co-lead and I want to contribute to design inclusive policies and work hard to demonstrate how much an inclusive approach can be a powerful asset for the university and its students and staff.

Check out Chiara’s LinkedIn, Twitter

 

Sangeeta Bhagawati, Social Media Coordinator

Sangeeta joined King’s College as a PhD student in 2019. She is based in the Department of Comparative Literature and her research project is titled ‘Literature about and from the periphery: Identity and Belonging in Assam’.

Sangeeta has previously worked as a Communications Assistant at King’s Arts and Humanities Research Institute, and she is the current social media coordinator for King’s Doctoral Students’ Association.

Sangeeta holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature (Gauhati University, India), an MA (First Class) in English Literature (Gauhati University, India), an MPhil (First Class) in English Literature (Gauhati University, India) and an MA (First Class) in Postcolonial Studies (SOAS).

 

James Rowland, Representative for Faculty of Arts & Humanities

I am a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of History at King’s College London. My research utilises contemporary newspapers and periodicals, parliamentary debates, works of political philosophy and travel literature to explore the influence of America on nineteenth-century British political reform debates leading up to the Second Reform Act. Prior to my PhD, I was a master’s student at King’s where I completed my thesis examining the impact of the American Civil War on the British Press. I am the representative for the Faculty of Arts & Humanities on the KDSA and look forward to working with the board to promote student welfare and strengthen the research community this year.

Check out James’ LinkedIn, KCL Pure, Twitter

 

Natalie Sanford, Representative for Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care

Natalie is a third-year PhD student at King’s College London studying resilient healthcare and interprofessional teamwork. She is the KDSA representative for the Florence Nightingale faculty of Nursing, Midwifery, and Palliative Care, where she also serves as the Research Executive PhD representative, chairs the faculty Journal Club, and teaches as a GTA. Outside of her faculty, Natalie is involved with a number of projects through King’s Centre for Team Based Practice, including the Simulated Home Environment project, the When Harm Happens pilot, and the implementation of Student Schwartz Rounds. She also works with King’s Academic Skills for Learning as an Academic Skills Tutor. Natalie was a 2021 KCLSU Laurel Award Recipient and was also shortlisted for 2021 Student Representative of the Year. Prior to her PhD, Natalie worked clinically in the U.S. with internal medicine and cardiology patients and taught medical-surgical and high-acuity nursing at the University of Maine. She was an original participant in the development and trial of the Interprofessional Partnership to Advance Care and Education model in collaboration with Maine Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, and the ACGME. She completed her master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh in 2016. Her working PhD thesis title is: “Resilience and Adaptive Capacity in Hospital Teams in England.” In 2021, she presented her preliminary PhD findings at multiple international conferences, where she won an award for Best Paper (EHF 2021) and was selected as an Emerging Talent in Resilience Engineering (NDM & REA 2021).

Check out Natalie’s LinkedIn, Research Gate, Twitter

 

 Sinuhé Perea, Representative for Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences

Hello there! I’m a PhD student in the Photonics and Nanotechnology Group, literally trying to see (with light) what is hidden. I like to solve problems, but since I rarely find any solution, preferring to learn and ask. I graduated in Physics and in Mathematics at University of Oviedo (Spain) where I was also a Computational Assistant and participated in European Exposcience and being awarded as best young researcher for CEULAJ & ICMAT (CSIC). Currently, I am GTA in the Physics Department while researching in near-field and topological photonics systems, algebraic Number Theory (OPN) and skyrmions.

And remember, even primes are odd.

 

Mireille Kouyo, Representative for Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy 

Mireille Kouyo is a third-year Joint PhD candidate in leadership and security studies at the African Leadership Centre (KCL) and the department of political sciences (University of Pretoria). Outside of her faculty, Mireille co-organised the workshop in April 2021 titled: “Decolonising the Researcher” funded by LISS-DTP. And she is currently facilitating the DTR Reading Group that seeks to create a space for researchers and practitioners, to discuss, reflect, agree, or disagree about the subject of decolonisation in their own work.

Mireille’s thesis explores the empirical reality of what local actors are doing at the grassroots level when dealing with micro-level community conflicts. Her research seeks to understand the relationships between actors, dynamics of influences and basis of power used to build peace and reconciliation.

Mireille is the KDSA representative for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy (SSPP), and she is committed to create a space where students can have interactions beyond their departments. She is working closely with the SSPP PGR Student Association’s team and the Associate Dean for Doctoral Studies to create a deeper PGR Community across the faculty through social events, career events.

Check out Mireille’s LinkedIn

 

Mikel De Iturrate Reyzabal, Representative for Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine

I am a 2nd year PhD student in the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences in the Department of Surgical & Interventional Engineering. My research analyses different ways of combining visual and haptic information to create a reliable low-latency data transmission using mobile networks for telesurgery.  My focus now is on the use of GANs and other Deep Learning methods to compress the data and reconstruct it using the less amount of information possible, ensuring maximum performance at the same time. Before joining the PhD program at King’s, I studied my BSc in Biomedical Engineering in Universidad Carlos III in Madrid and the MSc in Healthcare Technologies here at King’s. I am thrilled to be the representative of the FoLSM on the KDSA board and look forward to helping every faculty PhD student.

Check out Mikel’s Linkedin, SIE Bio

 

Juliette Giacobbe, Representative for Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

Juliette is a 2nd-year PhD student at King’s College London. Her project is part of the H2020 EarlyCause project and focusses on the interactions between inflammation, stress, and hippocampal neurogenesis as pathophysiological mechanisms of depression. She is the KDSA representative for the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience. She completed a BSc in Psychology and Education at the University of Mons, Belgium, and a MSc in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience specialised in Fundamental Neuroscience at Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

Check out Juliette’s Twitter.

 

KDSA represents all postgraduate research students at King’s, and they are keen to hear from you! If you’ve got feedback to share or would like to find out about PGR events, get in touch via kdsa@kclsu.org, Twitter, or Instagram.

New Scholars for the Africa International PGR Scholarships Announced

 

Three new scholars have been awarded funding under the competitive 2021/22 Africa International PGR Scholarship scheme. Established by the Centre for Doctoral Studies in 2020, this scheme invites students from African countries to apply to a PhD programme at King’s and conduct research that is relevant to Africa, particularly in the interdisciplinary areas across Conflict, Peace and Security, Global Health, Development and Digital Technology. Successful candidates receive full funding for up to four years, including tuition fees, a stipend, and an annual research support grant.

“The Centre for Doctoral Studies is delighted to appoint three new PGR students to our Africa International PGR scholarship program after an exciting competition of truly excellent applicants. We look forward to welcoming our new international students in October who will begin their research projects in the areas of oral healthcare, palliative care app development and the social impact of digital innovation.”

Professor Rebecca Oakey, Dean for Doctoral Studies, Centre for Doctoral Studies

“I’m delighted to welcome three more doctoral researchers to King’s through our Africa International PGR Scholarship programme. This programme is an important strand of our commitment to diversify our PGR community, as described in our Race Equality Charter action plan. Our African scholars will all undertake interdisciplinary projects which focus on African issues, consistent with King’s service ethos and a core value of our internationalisation vision of having a global problem-solving mindset.”

Professor ‘Funmi Olonisakin, Vice President & Vice Principal (International)

 

 

2021/22 Africa International Scholars:

Scholar Research Project Title
Birke Bogale Lema Health system strengthening, redevelopment and modelling oral healthcare in post-conflict countries and fragile health systems: a case study of Ethiopia
Nuhamin Tekle Gebre Co-development and piloting of an app for community health workers to expand palliative care coverage in Africa

 

Mmekidmfonabasi Umanah Tech for Good: The Social Impact of Digital Innovation and how it is applied by Social Enterprises in Nigeria

 

Comments from the scholars:

“I feel really excited and humbled to be able to win this award out of the hundreds of applicants. This scholarship will enable me to complete my PhD at one of the most prestigious universities in the U.K., researching on a topic that is very dear to me, which is the role of technology in social impact organisations, and working with really experienced and accomplished supervisors. It is really a dream come true and I am super grateful for the opportunities. This research has practical benefits to Africa and I’m excited to be able to work on it because of this prestigious scholarship.”

Mmekidmfonabasi Umanah

 

“It is a great privilege to be awarded the Africa International PGR scholarship. I am very excited to start my Ph.D. studies at King’s College London, a world-leading institution in health research, to be exposed to the essential experience I require to impact palliative care coverage in Africa.”

Nuhamin Tekle Gebre

 

We are delighted to welcome Birke, Nuhamin, and Mmekidmfonabasi to King’s College London, and wish them all the best with their innovative research degrees.

 

 

 

 

King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize 2021

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2021 King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize!

Twenty 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. 

We have an exceptional community of postgraduate researchers at King’s. Each year we recognise 20 of the very best, who have been nominated by their examiners. The standard is incredibly high, in terms of the quality and impact of the research and the clarity and skill of the written thesis. Most winners have published multiple papers and won prizes at conferences, some are already shaping their fields, forging new avenues of research and changing national policy, whether in the UK or abroad. It is definitely one of the most inspiring and enjoyable part of my role to read the submissions from the examiners and the supervisors’ supporting statements.

-Dr Nigel Eady, Director of Research Talent & King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize panellist.

 

Take a look at some reflections from the 2021 winners:

 

Dr Cheng Lin, Dickson Poon School of Law

Thesis: The legal nature of export credit insurance and export credit guarantee: a comparative study between the UK and China.

I feel greatly honoured to be awarded this prize. I would like to thank Prof Özlem Gürses and Prof Eva Lomnicka QC (Hon), my dear supervisors at King’s, for their endless support. I am also grateful to King’s for offering me a generous PhD scholarship and various conference and research allowances. My PhD is a pleasant and unforgettable journey in my life. I enjoyed a number of interesting training courses organised by the Centre for Doctoral Studies, which substantially improved my academic skills. I also benefit from my internship research project at the International Union of Credit & Investment Insurers, where I was able to examine whether the legal theory fits the practice in the real commercial world. For those who are about to submit, I encourage you to keep a health daily routine. Do work hard, but also eat well, sleep sound and get some exercise every day. And always take notes when you come up with some fresh ideas even if they are not directly related to your thesis. Happy research and good luck!

 

Dr Michelle White, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine

Thesis: Informing the knowledge gap of implementation of the World Health Organisation Surgical Safety Checklist in sub-Saharan Africa.

I loved every minute of my PhD at King’s and am indebted to my supervisors Dr Andy Leather and Prof Nick Sevdalis for their constant guidance and encouragement. They created an atmosphere that was both intellectually stretching and supportive. For me, writing my thesis was a way to express all that I had discovered and become passionate about over the last three years, which meant it was an enjoyable experience rather than a chore. I would encourage anyone interested in doing a PhD to find subject you love and supervisors who you can connect with – then you will have some of the best years of your life.

 

Dr Luis Medina, Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Thesis: Where are the Borders? (Re)Imagining the Nation in Contemporary Ecuadorian Literature.

I remember my PhD years at King’s as some of the happiest of my life. I can’t help but smile when I think that I was privileged enough to spend so many hours reading and writing about the literature that I love. One of the most decisive aspects of my doctoral experience was my fantastic supervision team. I’ll be forever grateful to Dr Elisa Sampson Vera Tudela and Professor Catherine Boyle from the Department of Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American Studies. Their unconditional academic and emotional support helped me to produce a thesis that won three prizes and is already being edited for publication. After receiving my award in August 2020, I held a teaching position at the University of Manchester, and I’m thrilled to share that, from September 2021, I’ll be joining the University of Birmingham on a permanent lectureship in Modern Languages (Spanish).

 

Dr Emma Kinnaird, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoology & Neuroscience

Thesis: Beyond the stereotypes: characterising the unique features of underresearched eating disorder populations, and implications for treatment.

I feel incredibly lucky to have spent three years researching a topic that I feel passionate about, supported by two wonderful supervisors who really took time to adjust the project to my strengths and interests. I’m now taking the skills I’ve learned in my PhD and putting them into practice as I train as a clinical psychologist at Oxford University.

 

Dr Pablo Lopez-Custodio, Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences

Thesis: Design of Reconfigurable and Mobility-Variable Linkages with Singularity Analysis and Kinematic Analysis Using Generated Surfaces

I dedicate this prize, and the thesis itself, to the loving memory of my dad Sigfrido Lopez-Zamudio, who passed away during my first year of PhD in King’s College London. Thank you having been an ever-present inspiration.

 

 

Dr Jessica Dafflon, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

Thesis: Machine Learning Methods in Neuroimaging.

I feel honoured and grateful to have been awarded the King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize. I would like to thank the Center for Doctoral Training in Smart Medical Imaging for this opportunity, my PhD advisors Prof. Federico Turkheimer and Dr. Peter Hellyer. But above all, I would like to thank Prof. Robert Leech, Dr. Walter Hugo Lopez Pinaya, and Pedro Carvalho De Paula Ferreira da Costa for the support during the hard times and the brilliant discussions we had. Lastly, I would like to congratulate Thomas Helfer on also winning the King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize and on making my time at King’s College an unforgettable experience.

 

Dr Thomas Helfer, Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences

Thesis: Exotic Compact Objects in Numerical Relativity.

I am delighted to win this thesis prize, which was only possible with the help of the fantastic people that surrounded me during my Ph.D. journey. They not only helped me foster my passion and love for numerical relativity, but they were also there to share a coffe or beer during the challenging times. Thanks especially to Eugene Lim, my excellent supervisor, who always had time for questions and discussions, and shaped me into the scientist I am today. I would also like to thank Jessica Dafflon for being present during the difficult times and congratulations on also winning the KCL thesis prize.

 

 Dr Clemency Jolly, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine

Thesis: The timing of key events and mutational processes in tumour evolution.

I was really delighted to be nominated for this prize – it feels pretty surreal to write up four years’ work into one thesis, and definitely takes a bit of stamina! I have so many great memories from my time in the lab, where I was working on a project trying to reconstruct the evolutionary history of cancer from genome sequencing data. While I was based at the Francis Crick Institute, I was also affiliated with King’s, and definitely appreciate the great support I received from both during my studies.

 

Dr Jaffar Khan, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine

Thesis: Novel transcatheter electrosurgical laceration of heart valve leaflets to prevent blood flow obstruction from transcatheter heart valve implantation.

I am thrilled to be awarded the Kings’ Outstanding Thesis Prize for my work on novel cardiovascular interventions. It is so unbelievably gratifying knowing that the techniques described in my thesis have already helped treat thousands of patients worldwide.

 

Dr Cristina Fernandez Turienzo, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine

Thesis: Evaluation of the introduction of a midwifery continuity of care model for women at increased risk of preterm birth.

I am delighted to receive this prestigious award in recognition for my PhD work. I will always be in debt to my amazing supervisors Prof Jane Sandall, Prof Andy Shennan and Dr Kirstie Coxon, thesis committee members and many other people within Kings (and outside!) who supported me in one way or another. Thank you also to my examiners for such a positive online PhD viva experience. I have recently received a NIHR DSE award and I am looking forward to enhance my learning of clinical trials in global health.

Dr Tiago Rua, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

Thesis: The economics of implementing new clinical pathways across community and hospital-based care.

As part of my PhD I have tried to bridge the gap between the economics and medical imaging fields by applying health economics methodologies across multiple clinical conditions and imaging modalities. Currently, I am working as a Programme Manager of the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

 

 

Dr Elisa Bruno, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

Thesis: Wearable non-EEG sensors for seizure detection

My experience at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, has been fantastic during my PhD, and has helped me to develop professionally in a very inspiring way.

It is a great workplace where I’ve found contagious positivity, enthusiasm and knowledge.

 

Dr Rosina Matilde, Social Science & Public Policy

Thesis: Deterrence and international migration: The criminalisation of irregular entry and stay in Italy and France.

It’s an honour to be awarded the King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize. I would like to thank all my interviewees, for agreeing to share their knowledge and experiences with me. A special thanks also goes to Professor Simona Talani, and to my examiners Professor Henk Overbeek and Dr Anna Sergi. Since finishing my PhD, I have joined the European Institute at LSE as a fellow, and look forward to continuing my work on migration.

 

Full list of 2021 winners:

Dr Bryony White,  English Language & Literature, A&H

Dr Luis Medina, Latin American Studies, A&H

Dr Jonah Miller, History, A&H

Dr James Rakoczi, English Literature and Medical Humanities, A&H

Dr Vinod Patel, Clinical Dentistry, FoDOC

Dr Tiago Rua, Health Economics, IoPPN

Dr Jessica De Faria Dafflon, Neuroimaging, IoPPN

Dr Emma Kinnaird, Psychological Medicine, IoPPN

Dr Elisa Bruno, Clinical Neuroscience, IoPPN

Dr Clemency Jolly, Cancer Genetics, FoLSM

Dr Jaffar Khan, Cardiovascular Sciences, FoLSM

Dr Cristina Fernandez Turienzo, Women and Children’s Health, FoLSM

Dr Michelle White, Surgery (Global Health and Implementation Science), FoLSM

Dr Thomas Helfer, Physics, NMS

Dr Pablo Lopez-Custodio, Kinematics, NMS

Dr Kristina Kubiliute, Mathematics, NMS

Dr Matilde Rosina, International Political Economy, SSPP

Dr Adam Day, War Studies, SSPP

Dr Rajan Basra, War Studies, SSPP

Dr Cheng Lin, Law, DPSoL

 

About the awards

Each King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize winner is awarded £250 and receives a certificate endorsed by the Principal.

PhDeets Podcast – Talking about all things PhD

Blog post by Carolin Oetzmann, Katie White & Nicol Bergou.

The PhD Journey can be a turbulent one – from finding the right program to navigating supervisor struggles, and all the madness in between! PhDeets is a podcast aimed at current and prospective PhD students to share experiences and help those trying to figure it out.

About the hosts

Carolin

We are three researchers working and studying at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.  Each of us are in a different stage of our PhD journey. Katie is in her second year of a part-time PhD, alongside a research assistant role. Nicol is in her first year of a 1+3 programme funded by the Medical Research Council. Carolin is due to start her MRC funded PhD in September 2021, after contemplating whether doing a PhD was the right next step for her.

 

 

Nicol

All three of us are the first in our families to do a PhD and we struggled to make sense of the different PhD programmes, funding options, application processes, career pathways and other things that are difficult to figure out without having a friend or relative who can answer your questions along the way. There is information online, but we wanted to create a platform where diverse student voices could be heard. Being avid podcast listeners, we decided to start a podcast ourselves.

 

 

 

Katie

About PhDeets

PhDeets is the podcast we wish we had when we were applying for our PhDs. Its target audience is current PhD students at all stages, as well as people who are deciding whether or not to apply, or those currently going through the ups and downs of the application process. We interview current PhD students, postdocs, lecturers, professors, people who left academia during or after their PhDs, those who are recruiting people with PhDs into industry positions, career advisers and really anyone who has any useful insights into the academic journey.

 

Previous episodes

We use our experiences to inform the topics we cover, but we also reach out to people to ask what topics they’d like to hear about. Some of our previous episodes are:

  • Neurodiversity at university – Panel discussion of neurodivergent researchers Claire, Katrina and Sheila about what being neurodivergent means to them, how it impacts their university life, what support they find helpful, diagnosis and labels, and more.
  • Luke’s journey to becoming a lecturer – We interviewed Luke Devereux, a lecturer at Middlesex University about his journey from PhD to becoming a lecturer, changing topics between undergrad ad postgrad, getting teaching experience, and balancing teaching and research responsibilities.
  • More than one way to do a PhD – Another panel discussion with PhD students Jaya, Shaheim, Victoria and Fiyory about the differences and similarities between their PhD programmes, including a partnership with the industry, self-funded PhD, 1+3 programmes, student versus supervisor driven applications, our reasons for doing a PhD, and applying for funding as an international student in the UK.

 

If you’d like to propose a topic for a future episode, or get in touch about anything to do with the podcast, you can message us on Twitter @PhDeets_podcast or you can email us at podcast@phdeets.com

 

 

 

You can find the podcast on our website phdeets.com or wherever you get your podcast.

Science Communication Fellowship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Blog post by Emily Prpa, PGR student in Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences

 

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology offer a range of different Fellowships to UK PhD students (in 2nd year or above) in biology and health sciences, energy and environment, physical and digital sciences, and social sciences. The Fellowships give students the chance to work with POST or other teams within Parliament, such as the House of Commons and House of Lords Libraries and the Select Committees. I carried out my 3-month POST Fellowship between September and December 2020, extending the final year of my PhD at King’s College London. Despite being part of the first intake of PhD students to participate in this scheme remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have still taken away invaluable knowledge, skills and lasting friendships.

I worked on a project researching the reformulation of food and drink products. This required me to scope the research area and conduct interviews with stakeholders in order to write a 4-page summary on the topic, known as a POSTnote. A POSTnote is an impartial, balanced and peer-reviewed analysis of new and emerging research evidence which is provided to the UK Parliament. As a POST Fellow you are immediately given a great deal of responsibility – within my first few weeks I was interviewing key stakeholders (from across academia, government, industry and the not-for-profit sector) and planning the first draft of the POSTnote. However, during my time at POST, I worked collaboratively with my supervisor, editing and redrafting the report to produce a balanced, impartial and succinct overview of the topic. The final draft was reviewed by POST scientific advisers, board members and interviewed stakeholders.

The finished POSTnote on food and drink reformulation to reduce sugar, salt and fat levels can be found here. In brief, food and drink reformulation is one tool used to promote healthier diets and reduce the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease. The POSTnote highlights that it is difficult to measure whether current UK policies encouraging product reformulation (voluntary and fiscal measures) have had a direct positive impact on public health. It also describes challenges and opportunities for reformulation such as product quality, industry engagement and consumer attitudes. Finally, it highlights that improving public health through better diet requires a number of complementary policy approaches alongside reformulation, including incentivising healthy food and creating a healthy food environment.

I am proud to be an author of this POSTnote. However, I came away from the Fellowship with so much more than this publication. Firstly, I learnt a unique style of written science communication – given that MPs and Peers are extremely busy, I crafted the skill of translating complex scientific information into concise lay terms. I was also exposed to the inner workings of Parliament and built important relationships with key stakeholders (such as Public Health England, the Food & Drink Federation and leading academic researchers). I delved into a novel and exciting topic of food science by using a range of resources including government reports, publications from the House of Commons and Lords libraries and grey literature – stepping out of my comfort zone by not solely relying on academic research.

I was worried that carrying out my Fellowship during the COVID-19 pandemic would affect the overall experience. However, I needn’t have worried. During my time at POST, I attended conferences on nutrition and policy, had a tour of Parliament and joined coffee breaks to meet other advisers and Fellows at POST – all virtual of course. The team at POST helped create a community between all the current Fellows and organised additional workshops for us, including a QnA session on policy careers.

I strongly encourage any PhD student to apply for this scheme. You can sign-up to the POST newsletter or follow @POST_UK on Twitter to stay updated on the Fellowship opportunities available at POST. These are also a great way to see newly approved POSTnote topics; if any are within your field of research, it is worth getting in touch with the lead adviser because your expertise could be valued.

 

Resources

Institute of Food Science and Technology Fellowship 2020/2021

Bridging research and policy – POST Parliament

POST Parliament resources

How to write a policy briefing

POST Parliament Fellowship