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Celebrating our PGRs: Postgraduate Summer Research Showcase and MDC award winners, and 3 Minute Thesis results

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With awards, the summer showcase and competition winners, it’s been a busy time for our PGR community.

This year’s Postgraduate Summer Research Showcase took place on Thursday, 15 June 2023. Taking place in Whitworth Hall, the event welcomed over 200 attendees and offered postgraduate researchers the chance to network, showcase and present their research to peers, academic and professional staff.

This annual event provides a forum to enhance the research community across the University and offers opportunities for postgraduate researchers to practise useful skills, such as presenting and communicating ideas.

A prize was given to the best poster in each Faculty. This year’s winners were:

Helingzi Gong, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health: A scoping review of digital community pharmacy services for older people.

Sandra Clare, Faculty of Humanities: Who is holding the hand that rocks the cradle in higher education?

Divyareshmi Thottungal Ravy, Faculty of Science and Engineering: Mineral records of volcanic activity on the Moon

In addition to poster presenters, the showcase featured the “Research in Action” Image Competition, which was open all postgraduate (taught and research) students. The winning image titled ‘To the Moon and Back’ was submitted by Divyareshmi Thottungal Ravy, Faculty of Science and Engineering, with the runner-up being Tadpong Tantipanjaporn’s ‘A Square of Solace’, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health.

The winning image ‘To the Moon and Back’ by Divyareshmi Thottungal Ravy, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Take a look at images from the day

Manchester Doctoral College (MDC) Excellence Awards 2023

The winners of the Manchester Doctoral College Excellence Awards 2023 were announced in June, these awards are given in recognition of the outstanding achievements of our postgraduate researchers and supervisors.

The awards invite supervisors, PGR students and colleagues from all faculties to nominate individuals based on their achievements for their research or their successes and contributions outside of their studies.

This is the tenth year the awards have run and the achievements of the winners have not only made valuable contributions to their own research, but also to the University and wider community.

This year’s winners are:

Best Contribution to PGR Environment – Yitian Ren, Faculty of Humanities

Yitian serves as PGR Rep at Faculty and School levels, and has been dedicated in collecting voices from the PGR Community, making all voices to be heard and trying to push forward School and Faculty to enhance PGR wellbeing. She also led the organisation of the 2022 Faculty of Humanities Summer Networking Event, and actively participates in international conferences with world-leading social scientists; and has been selected as Guest Research Fellow at Alibaba Research Centre for Rural Dynamics.

Best Contribution to Society – Jennifer Love, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Jennifer organised a division-wide pre-Christmas charity collection for the Emmeline’s Pantry women’s shelter. This resulted in delivering the largest donation the shelter had received from the University to date. Jenny also worked as a Widening Participation fellow, supporting the University’s aim to break down barriers to higher education, as well as, tutoring two students on the Manchester Access Programme, a skills-based programme to ensure talented students can access higher education regardless of their background.

Best Contribution to Internationalisation – Rohi Jehan, Faculty of Humanities

Rohi’s commitment and contribution to internationalisation are evident through her research focus, conference presentations, and ongoing engagement with scholars and activists around the world. Notably, earlier this year, she organized a hybrid workshop on “Gender, Nationalism, and Intersectional Theory: The Case of Kashmir”. The workshop provided a unique opportunity for members of the University to engage with Kashmiri activists and academics, and offered a safe space to discuss gender politics, queer activism and their everyday experiences.

Best Outstanding Output Award

Bright Ocansey, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Bright has conducted transformational research in people with HIV and others with TB in Ghana, with results that will inform clinical and diagnostic practice in Africa. He detected a usually lethal ‘lost disease’ in West Africa – histoplasmosis in AIDS which resembles TB – and showed it was more frequent than fungal meningitis. A major global effort is underway to bring down AIDS deaths, which his work contributes to. His PhD research and ‘extra-curricular’ work alongside will result in a total of 12 publications; 11 already published.

Alina McLellan, Faculty of Humanities

Alina completed an MA Linguistics with Distinction in 2019 and passed her PhD viva with no corrections in April 2023. Alina’s PhD thesis offers the first theoretical analysis of core aspects of the grammar of an under-researched and hitherto poorly understood language, the creole of Reunion Island. The research involved AHRC-funded fieldwork and a Turing research placement at the University of La Réunion. Through her PhD work and three key publications Alina has become a leading authority on Reunion creole, as testified by invitations to deliver talks to expert international audiences.

Thomas Aird, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Thomas has been given this award for his sole-author article “Identities of tropical matrix semigroups and the plactic monoid of rank 4”, published in the International Journal of Algebra and Computation. The paper makes major contributions to pure mathematics with potential applications in diverse areas. His research achievements have been recognised by the award of both a London Mathematical Society Early Career Fellowship and a Heilbronn Fellowship.

Supervisor of the Year Award

In addition to recognising the achievements of our PGR students, the MDC Excellence awards also recognise supervisors who have created the most supportive, stimulating and inspirational research environment for doctoral students.

Dr Sabine Van der Veer, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Sabine was nominated for this award by her PhD supervisees who, although coming from diverse backgrounds and cultures are made to feel at home in Manchester. Sabine’s PGR students highlight how she has supported them in writing papers for high-impact peer-reviewed journals and presenting their work internationally, at various conferences and symposiums. Through her own passion, she gives all her PGRs a sense of motivation and enthusiasm for their research.

Prof Liz Richardson, Faculty of Humanities

Liz receives this award following nomination by her supervisees who note the impact she has had and continues to have on their academic development. Liz instils passion and commitment in all her supervisees who say that she provides the optimum environment to experiment with innovative research methods, make mistakes and learn from them. She encourages her PGRs to face their fears and develop the confidence to engage with academic communities through presentations and research symposia.

Three Minute Thesis Competition

PGRs from across the University were invited to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes only using one static PowerPoint slide.

From 50 participants, 7 finalists were selected from a diverse range of disciplines. The performances were judged by Professor Sheena Cruikshank (Academic Lead for Public Engagement), Dee-Ann Johnson (Public Engagement Manager, Social Responsibility) and Dr Debbie Smith (Doctoral Academy Student Experience Lead, FBMH) who chose…

Sarah Kierle, ‘The animal voice within the compositional process’ as Runner-up

And Melanie Seaton, ‘What if we could engineer torpedo-like spermbots to fight cancer?’ as Winner, Melanie will now be entered into the online national semi-final with a chance of a place in the UK final in September, good luck Melanie!

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