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

Category: Wellbeing

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.

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.

Unfolding Research – PhD Problem Solving Skills

Post by King’s PGR students Onna Malou van den Broek and Fabian Bohnenberger.

 

Fed up with your research? Losing focus? Hitting roadblocks?

Doing a PhD is a learning experience. But it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel when you face everyday research challenges. Why not follow the examples of experienced researchers?

The Project: Unfolding Research

Over the past two years, we tried to “unfold” the research process. More precisely, the many challenges that researchers at all career stages and across disciplines face in their daily work. As such, we have collected strategies that established researchers rely on in their daily work and tested them with PhD students. This set of easily accessible problem-solving strategies is tailored to the needs of PhD students and early-career researchers. Our aim is to share these proven and reliable working habits with new generations of scholars across universities and disciplines.

 

The Categories

In total, we collected over 80 problem-solving strategies, divided into four main categories: wellbeing, progress, flow and connection:

  • Wellbeing
    This category helps you stay positive and healthy. It provides advice on how to better balance work and life, deal constructively with criticism, build resilience for future challenges, bolster your inner drive, and put support structures in place.
  • Progress
    This category helps you to get started with your work and overcome roadblocks. It encourages you to be creative and think more innovatively. It also offers strategies to identify key arguments, discover new perspectives through alternative framing, and better structure your writing.
  • Flow
    This category helps you maintain an effective working process. It enables you to boost focus, effectively prioritize tasks, set meaningful targets, manage your work schedule, and get the most out of your supervisor relationship.
  • Connection
    This category helps you create new bonds with both people and ideas. It pushes you to make your work relevant to others, to engage with new professional groups, to expand and cultivate your network, and to leverage interdisciplinary methods and theories.

The App

Unfolding Research is designed to be as relevant to the everyday research practice as possible. Faced with the current pandemic, we have decided to make all strategies publicly available (for free). Everyone deserves some additional PhD support to get through these challenging times! To do so, we developed a web-app, which you can access from all devices here.

How to use the app

Step 1: Generate a Deck

Click on the categories to select what you are struggling with. Then press “Generate Deck” to create a personalized set of strategies. Not sure what to pick or feeling adventurous? Click on “Random Card”

Step 2: Put the Strategy into Action

The app shows you one strategy at a time. Trust the card even if you struggle to understand its immediate relevance or feel you already know this. The key is to put your knowledge into action!

Step 3: Continue Experimenting

Once you’re done, swipe to get the next strategy. You can access all used cards by selecting “Discarded” at the bottom of your screen. You can empty the discarded pile and draw a new deck at any time.

 

 

PGR Student Wellbeing Communities Fund

Do you have an idea for an initiative that promotes PGR student wellbeing and mental health, diversity and inclusion, or community and cohort building? Would you like up to £700 to get your project off the ground?

The PGR Student Wellbeing Communities Fund supports initiatives which allow you and your peers to address the mental, physical and social wellbeing challenges which these demands can present.

Applications are now open so apply today, and read on to find out how three recipients of the PGR Student Wellbeing Events Fund (as it was previously known) created fun, interactive and inspiring activities last year.

The Wohlbeing Festival

The Wohlbeing Festival

With support from the PGR Student Wellbeing Events Fund, Women of the Wohl hosted a collaborative event, The Wohlbeing Festival, to celebrate the end of KCLSU Wellbeing Week in October 2019.

This relaxed evening event provided nearly 40 researchers with an opportunity to unwind, socialise and take part in craft and stress-busting activities, including a performance by improv comedy group ‘Just Friends’.

It was also a great opportunity for both attendees and for Women of the Wohl to create, build and strengthen connections with other groups and departments at King’s, including KCL Women in Medicine, KCL Womxn in STEM, and the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine.

The Wohlbeing FestivalThe organisers took the time to join in and chat to attendees, several of whom commented that they had come to the event alone but that the friendly, welcoming atmosphere meant that they were able to just pull up a chair and start chatting comfortably with people they’d never met while doing the activities.

Overall the evening was a great success, and we received encouraging and positive feedback and comments from collaborators and attendees, who thanked the organising team personally for creating such a relaxing space.

Research in Action Group ‘Crafternoon’

PhD students in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care organised a ‘Crafternoon’ in October 2019 which was sponsored by the PGR Student Wellbeing Events Fund.

The event created a space for students to do something creative and have a break from their desks, and provided an opportunity to discuss research issues in a neutral space; the faculty has a lot of part‐time students, so this was a chance for everyone to get together.

Research in Action Group Crafternoon 2We supplied craft materials and participants were encouraged to bring their own creative projects: we had knitters, headpieces, and some creative paper crafts. Some people came just to enjoy the atmosphere. It was a fun chance to get together and for people to ask about issues with coding, writing, or simply navigating the faculty. We had a great time and hope to host more events like this in the future!

Wolfson CARD Yoga

Yoga is well known for its ability to ease stress and promote relaxation: it provides the benefits of physical exercise and improves mental health through moving meditation. In November 2019 our group was awarded funding from the PGR Student Wellbeing Events Fund to support yoga classes in the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, with the aim of improving PGR student wellbeing.

We held seven classes for up to 10 participants every two weeks; the department then agreed to continue to support the classes through match funding, which allowed us to continue running them for a number of months. We received lots of positive feedback, including the following:

“Having access to yoga classes has been tremendously helpful while I have been completing my PhD. I am able to take the stress and anxieties I am feeling and release them in a constructive way, leaving me feeling refreshed and clear headed for the rest of the day. Having the classes in the building makes it more accessible and easier for me to attend if I have experiments running during the day.”

“Practicing yoga helped me with my shoulder and back issues linked to the many hours I spent at the microscope and sat at the desk. Moreover, after every class I feel much more relaxed and this indeed helps with the general stress level I usually have.”

“Being able to practise yoga in the same institute where I work is a great advantage and my physical and mental well-beings benefit from it.”

“Attending these yoga classes has really helped me deal with the stress of my PhD. By the end of the class I feel much more relaxed, and ready to come back to work refreshed the next day.”

“These yoga sessions strengthen the sense of community in the department by giving an opportunity to socialise with other colleagues and build a happier healthier work life balance.”

How to apply for the PGR Student Wellbeing Communities Fund

To apply for up to £700 to support your own wellbeing activities for PGR students, complete this application form by 12:00 (midday) on Thursday 29 October 2020. All current doctoral research students, from all faculties at King’s, are welcome to apply.