The GCDC funds a cohort of doctoral scholars per year, and GCDC scholarships are awarded via an open competition. The Centre currently has two cohorts of PhD students, and information about the second cohort (2019 entry) is below.


Elizabeth Edrich (School of Biosciences) is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Campbell Gourlay and Dr. Alessia Buscaino in the School of Biosciences. Her PhD focuses on ‘combatting Cryptococcus neoformans infection and drug resistance in the Tanzanian HIV population’. Current estimates place life threatening infections from the yeast Cryptococcus neoformans at 1,000,000 per year worldwide with an average mortality of 50%, placing it on a par with the death toll attributable to Malaria. She will address this present and increasing medical and economic issue found within a number of low and middle income countries with large HIV positive populations. As an initial step she will focus her anti-fungal research activity on HIV populations within Tanzania, a low income country with a high HIV burden. Elizabeth has a BSc in Biology with a Year Abroad and an MSc by Research in Cell Biology, both from the University of Kent.


Huda Elsherif (Kent School of Architecture and Planning) is a PhD student supervised by Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt. After working for 3 years at an international engineering consultancy in Sudan, she became a LEED AP and decided to specialize in Sustainability. She completed her MSc in 2019 and passed with a distinction. Her MSc thesis identified that the thermal comfort issues in Khartoum (capital of Sudan) along with the increased supply have led to increased Air conditioner (AC) consumption and subsequently electricity shortages. Her PhD is an in-depth analysis into the socioeconomic and climatic drivers of the increased AC consumption in Khartoum and aims to set a framework onto which sustainable solutions could be based on.


Emily Friar (School of Physical Sciences) is a PhD student under the joint supervision of Dr Christopher Serpell and Professor Michelle Garrett. She is working on an interdisciplinary project that joins Chemistry and Biology, and her research aims to identify the cellular targets of a potential chemopreventive molecule, a Malaysian phytochemical known as pentamethoxyflavone (PMF). The compound has shown promise in preventing the development of colorectal cancer (CRC), the incidence of which has risen at an alarming rate in Malaysia and other southeast Asian countries. The project will involve chemical modification of the drug-candidate and analysis of its activity in cancer cells. The project involves working with a collaborator at UNIMAS in Malaysia, Dr Isabel Fong Lim. Emily will conduct training in her laboratory as she is an expert in the field of biological testing of PMF. Emily achieved her MChem degree in 2019 from the University of Warwick, and her Master’s research focused on improving the selectivity of platinum anticancer drugs to reduce their harmful side effects.


Will Hayes (School of Anthropology & Conservation) is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr Jake Bicknell and Prof Zoe Davies. Back home in Ireland, Will completed a BSc in Zoology before going on to complete his MSc in Conservation Biology here at the University of Kent, from which he was awarded the Maurice Swingland Prize for best postgraduate student. His research addresses the social and environmental impacts associated with gold mining in the rainforests of Guyana. As Guyana’s Government seeks to transition the country into a ‘green economy’ based on sustainable development over the next 15 years, increasing deforestation and mercury pollution from gold mining are becoming a national concern. This PhD project is a partnership between the DICE research centre (School of Anthropology and Conservation) and Conservation International Guyana (CIG). The co-developed research will feed directly into CIG’s work on mining. As such, the project has high impact potential as Guyana needs to benefit from its mineral wealth but faces huge obstacles to do so. A key element of his work includes identifying areas of potential future mining related activities and conflicts.


Violetta Ritz (School of Politics and International Relations) is pursuing a PhD in International Relations and International Law under the supervision of Dr Frank Grundig. Her research explores ways in which small low-lying island countries can influence the international legal regime on climate change. Violetta focuses on climate change litigation and aims to address the challenge of determining causation by operationalising findings from climate sciences in legal terms. She also analyses how the International Court of Justice would be likely to assess the regime’s current legal status. Moreover, Violetta’s project is about finding practical ways to assist small low-lying island countries at the relevant international conferences by enhancing the efficiency of their negotiation strategies.

Violetta has completed a MA in International Relations with International Law at the University of Kent in 2015. Since then she has worked as Junior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (MPIL) focusing on a project on legal remedies for human rights violations committed by foreign states. Next to her work at the MPIL Violetta has also been working as a simultaneous and consecutive interpreter. She is an officially appointed and sworn interpreter and translator and has completed a MA and BA in this field at Heidelberg University.


Vivianne Santos (Kent Business School) obtained an MSc in Business Analytics from the University of Kent in 2018. Her MSc thesis focused on the application of optimization techniques to predict the future location of Home Cares around Kent, considering the increase in the ageing population. Before that, she had worked in the Brazilian healthcare sector for six years. She is under the supervision of Professor Maria Paola Scaparra and Dr Kathy Kotiadis, both of the Management Science group at Kent Business School (KBS). Her PhD focus on the ‘Developing a multi-methodology framework to optimise the Brazilian primary health care system for older people’. The ageing population is a concern in our society, however, the ageing process pace in developing countries (e.g. Brazil) will be higher than it was in developed countries. This fact brings concerns to the future of the Brazilian social and health services since both will experience an increase in their demand with the ageing population. The research will explore the application of management sciences tool for improving the decision making in healthcare, in order to support Brazil in reaching the targets of the third Sustainable Development Goal – Good Health and Well-Being.


George Tushingham (School of Physical Sciences)

I joined the University of Kent in 2015 on a integrated MSc Forensics degree, graduating with a first class in July 2019. During this time, I worked closely with a multidisciplinary Chemistry based research group, Interfacial Technologies Research group in Microfluidic separation. I have now continued to work with then during my PhD. Therefore; currently I am a PhD student working in the School of Physical Sciences under the supervision of Dr Robert Barker. The PhD focuses on the development of a Portable Diagnostic Platform for Rapid Detection and Integrated Surveillance of Viruses. This is aimed towards a major issue in Brazil with monitoring disease spread in poultry farms, the current process taking such a long time its nearly irrelevant. The objective behind this initiative is to create and optimise the tools for monitoring the wellbeing of chickens, rapidly detecting a wide array of common viruses that can spread across the flock, therefore allowing the immediate quarantine of infected birds. To do this, research into the enhancement and application of microfluidic devices for use in separation, capture, amplification and detection of targeted viral cells to give simple outputs for positive or negative detection tests. The emphasis on this project is on cost reduction, time reduction and ease of use in situ.


Michaela Lo (School of Anthropology & Conservation)

Michaela is a doctorate student supervised by Zoe Davies and Matthew Struebig. Her research addresses the diverse ways land use change influences biodiversity and human well-being in central Indonesia. Rapid deforestation and habitat degradation have led to widespread decline in biodiversity and natural assets across the tropics. The forest frontiers of Sulawesi and the Moluccan archipelago are also facing anthropogenic pressures; in this context, understanding the contribution of natural assets to human well-being is crucial to support effective land use policy decisions. A key part of her research is to assess how various landscape scenarios will influence the stream of natural capital to people who depend on them to sustain their livelihoods. Through her research, she hopes to identify synergies that achieve both human prosperity and conservation goals, and to further support the sustainable development agenda in this biodiverse and unique region.

Michaela completed her double Master’s degree in Sustainable Tropical Forestry at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and AgroParisTech, France. Before starting her PhD, she worked on several research projects at the Center of International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Indonesia, including forests and nutrition security, and forest-freshwater fish systems in the tropics.