An active community
Our postgraduate research student community is also very active and is very much an integral part of the University’s research community. A suite of training programmes and events are designed specifically for our doctoral students, both to support their progression within their doctoral studies and their careers beyond.
All our Postgraduate and Researcher Development Programmes are developed in line with the Vitae Researcher Development Framework. The University provides supportive funding over a minimum of three years that together with college funding and a personal contribution allows employees to undertake Doctoral qualifications.
Suzanne Le Blond, Senior Lecturer in Post-Registration Nursing and Programme Leader for the PG Cert in Interprofessional Practice Education, is undertaking a Doctorate in Health and Social Care Practice and is one of our academics making the most of this funding.
Suzanne explains: “I’ve received some funding and a lot of other support. My supervisor is extremely good at keeping me on track but also understands the pressures of working full-time and running a house while studying.”
In particular, Suzanne has benefited from our recent Researcher Development Programme (RDP), which includes Research Cafés, specialist training and workshops.
“I have been to some of the Research Cafés, and really enjoyed them,” she says. “These are lunchtime events in which three or four academics from different colleges give short presentations about their research. I presented at one of these and also delivered a session at the annual Postgraduate Student Research Conference. These events are good for networking, and helped me to understand how my research fits into the bigger picture.”
And Suzanne's research? “I’m interviewing male Health Visitors about their lived experiences of Health Visiting,” she explains. “Under 1% of Health Visitors are men, so this gender is under-represented in the profession and I’m keen to find out why.”
Dr Ovidiu Bagdasar, Senior Lecturer in Mathematics, is originally from Romania and still has strong links with some of Romania’s leading mathematicians. He has also been able to build contacts with academics from the US, Israel, Spain, Canada and India.
“I was encouraged to pursue my own quality research interests using the Erasmus funding available at the University," says Dr Bagdasar. "This meant I was able to build new Erasmus links and contributed to the external visibility and prestige of the University."
After giving a presentation at the prestigious International Congress of Mathematicians in South Korea with the financial support of the University, Dr Bagdasar was subsequently invited by academics he met there to give a keynote at an international conference held in India in 2017. This has helped him to further expand his research network.
He explains: “The visit to India has allowed me to establish new contacts with key specialists in the areas of optimal control, dynamical systems and neural networks. At the moment I am exploring possibilities for joint papers and collaborative projects with partners in India, Australia, Romania and the US.”
Supporting female researchers
The University is a member of Athena SWAN. We are committed to addressing gender equality in higher education and strive to enable all academics and researchers to succeed regardless of their gender, race and background. As part of our commitment to Athena SWAN, we also organise a variety of activities to promote and raise awareness of gender equality in the higher education sector, especially in STEM subject areas. This includes, for example, information evenings aimed at inspiring girls aged 14+ to pursue STEM careers.
We have many successful female researchers within our Institution. Dr Frances Maratos, a Reader in Emotion Science, explains how the University supports her research into emotion processing, including wellbeing, compassion and attentional biases (how and why certain things command an individual’s attention more than others).
She says: "The University helps in a number of tangible ways. For example, the University Research and Knowledge Exchance Office offers small internal grants to help research work, which you can bid for. These are invaluable because they are quick and easy to apply for. This money has paid for several of my research assistants.
"In my field, there is a supportive research community. We have monthly meetings where we share ideas and we also have a writing week in the summer so people can spend that time solely on scholarly activity.”
She lists “gaining the title of Reader in 2015 while also being a busy mum” as one of her greatest achievements so far, as well as being invited to give a keynote speech at the International Emotion and Cognition Conference in India, alongside some of the most world-renowned researchers in emotion.
We firmly believe in celebrating and raising awareness of our research achievements, both to sustain a positive and thriving research community within the University and to ensure that our excellent research makes far-reaching and significant impacts beyond the University.
We do this through a number of centrally organised activities, such as our Research Review publication, the annual Research and Innovation Conference and the Postgraduate Student Research Conference, together with other regular events such as the Research Café series. Parallel activities are also organised by the colleges in their areas of expertise. We also host public lectures, and other events and festivals such as the Format International Photography Festival and the Nature Connections Festival.
In-house teams also offer researchers support with media and public relations. They are always ready to help academics and graduates to connect with external stakeholders for knowledge and exchange projects and best maximise the impact of their excellent research. You can contact our University Research and Knowledge Exchange Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.