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 first cohort (2018 entry) is below.

Laura Dyball (Biosciences) is a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Mark Smales and Professor Colin Robinson in the School of Biosciences. Her PhD focuses on the ‘Development of New Vaccine Manufacturing Platforms’. The project will investigate and produce new and modified cell expression technologies for the manufacturing of vaccines with the aim of developing platforms for the production of cheap, rapid and high quality vaccines. The vaccines will target Dengue fever and other diseases relevant to GCRF countries. Laura has a BSc in Applied Biology and an MSc in Biotechnology from Northumbria University, as well as professional experience within NHS Blood Sciences laboratories.

Conner Webb (Biosciences) obtained his BSc in Biomedical Science from the University of Kent in 2015 before spending three years working in the biotech/healthcare sector. During this time he held a post as a research technician within the Centre for Molecular Processing, working on the biotechnological exploitation of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Escherichia coli. Following this, he took up a research-based position at AlgaeCytes. This company extracts valuable natural products from algal biomass (their main product being Omega 3 oils), and this involves large scale production and processing of algal biomass. Conner is now undertaking a PhD in Biochemistry with Prof Colin Robinson entitled, ‘Development of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to combat pathogenicity in aquaculture’. The project aims to produce vaccines and antimicrobial proteins in algal cells for the aquaculture industry in South East Asian (SEA) countries. Proteins of interest include endolysins targeting Streptococcus agalactiae and dsRNA/vaccine subunits targeting viral diseases such as Talapia lake virus. The goal of the research project is to help improve and sustain the growing aquaculture industry within SEA countries.

Polina Bishenden (Politics and International Relations) is funded by a 1+3 GCRF scholarship and is currently working towards a Master’s in International Relations before beginning her PhD project (also in International Relations) next year. Her PhD will be supervised by Prof Elena Korosteleva and Dr Andrea Den Boer, and her research addresses women’s rights norm localisation in Central Asia, specifically examining the role that women’s movements hold throughout the process. Polina holds a Bachelor’s in Politics and International Relations from Kent, and her dissertation was titled, ‘Social Movement Theory: The Case of the Kyrgyz Women’s Movement’. Alongside her studies, Polina volunteers at the Amnesty International Eastern Europe and Central Asia office. ‘Doing so helps me keep up with developments in Central Asian civil society,’ she says, ‘and it allows me to observe the way in which researchers effectively work with local organisations and movements’.


Huawei Zheng (Politics and International Relations) is completing a PhD in International Relations under the supervision of Prof Elena Korosteleva. His project examines the Eurasian Economic Union as an evolving regional actor. Before coming to Kent, Huawei earned his bachelor’s degree in law (majoring in diplomacy) at the China Foreign Affairs University (2011-2015), before going on to do an MSc in Russian and East European Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford (2016-2017). His master’s thesis was entitled Russia-EU Relations (2008-2016): Realism, Complex or Fragile Interdependence? He was the winner of the Michael Kaser Thesis Prize in 2017 with a high distinction for the thesis. In 2017 he worked as a research assistant at the Phoenix Think Tank, which is part of IFENG.COM, before coming to Kent in 2018 to commence his PhD.