GRC Prizes 2022 Winners Announced!

The Graduate and Researcher College is delighted to announce the winners of the 2022 GRC Prizes. The Graduate and Researcher College would like to give a special mention to all the nominees, we recognise the tremendous work being carried out and thank you for your contributions to our research community. A huge congratulations to all our winners.

Postgraduate Professional Service Champion

Nicola Huxtable, Division of Human and Social Sciences 

“I would like to thank Dr Ed Morgan-Jones for nominating me for this award.  I’ve worked at the University for 32 years and so it means a great deal to me to be appreciated and to know that what I do makes a positive contribution to the experience of students and academic colleagues. I’d also like to thank my two fantastic colleagues (and friends), Lucy Wilson and Alexandra Marnerou who are conscientious, hard-working and supportive and who basically make me look good. I am thankful every day that they are part of our team. Also thank you GRC for creating these awards that praise the people, not just the institution, and make them feel valued.”

Postgraduate Researcher Champion

Sophus Zu Ermgassen, School of Anthropology and Conservation 

“I’m seriously honoured to have received this award and would never have won this without the amazing colleagues I have around me at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology who I learn so much from every day. I’m especially grateful to Dr Joe Bull, who’s been a fantastic supervisor and extremely generous in sharing his policy platform with me over the last few years, enabling the two of us to work together on the urgent challenge of improving biodiversity policy implementation in the UK and abroad.”

Postgraduate Researcher Champion

Dave S.P Thomas, Centre for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) 

“This doctorate has been the longest and most rewarding process of learning and development that I have embarked on to date. It has enhanced my appreciation for and understanding of the complexities of and nuances involved in the research process. From inception, the PhD journey has been about the struggles that pervade and invade all that I do, all that I am, and possibly all that I will become.

My journey has also been influenced by the struggles of people who have been underserved, disadvantaged and those racialized as minorities in higher education – people who have the potential and aptitude to benefit from higher education, but may not have had the opportunity. My PhD has been grounded in the Afrocentric principles of Ms’at, Utulivu, Ukweli and Uhaki (loosely translated from Swahili to mean, the quest for justice, truth and harmony’).

I express eternal gratitude to my exceptional supervisors Professor Kathleen M. Quinlan and Professor Toni Williams as well as Dr Lavinia Mitton for their expert guidance and support. I would also like to thank the students who contributed to the research, as without them the research would not have come to fruition. I also stand on the shoulders of friends and colleagues for their support. Ubunti – I am because we are!”

Postgraduate Researcher Champion

Katie Sambrooks, School of Psychology 

“I am delighted and honoured to receive this award. I would like to thank Prof Theresa Gannon for nominating me and for supporting my academic endeavours over the last 4 years. I look forward to continuing our firesetting work together.”

Postgraduate Researcher Champion

Duncan Mifsud, Centre for astrophysics and planetary science 

“I am truly honoured to have been awarded the GRC Postgraduate Researcher Prize. This recognition will surely motivate me to continue pursuing my academic goals, including furthering my research in astrochemistry. I would like to dedicate this prize to my supervisor, Prof. Nigel J. Mason, who has offered me much support, advice, and friendship throughout my time as a PhD student.”

Postgraduate Teacher

Matthew Boakes , Cyber Security Research Group

“I am incredibly humbled to have been awarded this year’s GRC Postgraduate Teacher Prize 2022. First, I want to express my sincere gratitude to Anna Jordanous, who did not hesitate and was overly willing and accommodating to provide a letter of recommendation to support my application (at a somewhat late notice of the deadline).

Second, I have always enjoyed my teaching commitments at Kent in supporting foundation level students through to master’s level across a range of modules in the School of Engineering and School of Computing, sometimes to the detriment of my research goals and timelines. However, the feedback from students in helping them overcome difficulties and understand topics has always made it worthwhile to me.

Truthfully, I’m not sure what I will spend the money on yet as hopefully (fingers crossed) I am coming towards the end of my PhD journey. Still, I hope to find a good use for it in potentially future research or development opportunities.

Finally, I would like to thank all the students who have provided me with both positive and constructive feedback to adapt my teaching and the GRC for recognising my achievement. Winning this prize further encourages me to pursue a career in education and academia.”

Research Degree Supervisor Champion

Alexandra Covaci, School of Engineering 

“I would like to thank all graduate students I am working with. I am very grateful for all the ways in which I am always learning from you – Khawla, Rafaella, Sophia, Mayank, Boyd, Anna, Boris, Mike, Raya, Ali, Chantal, and Neil. Your ideas are amazing, you take initiative, you pursue your goals with vigour and grace, you surprise and inspire me every day. Let’s continue building meaningful research together!”

Summer Vacation Research Competitions Update

The Graduate and Researcher College (GRC) is pleased to announce the undergraduate winners of the Summer Vacation Research Competition (SVRC) 2022 and the postdoctoral and undergraduate winners of the Summer Vacation Early Career Research Competition (SVERC) 2022.


The successful undergraduates are:

  • Farradeh Martin, working with Nathan Keates, Tizard Centre, on Questioning Language
  • Sarah Morrison, working with Dr Jessica Fisher, School of Anthropology and Conservation, on Nature-Wellbeing Relationships
  • Saskia Jenkins, working with Dr Mohammad Yasir Malik, School of Biosciences, on RNA Polymerase III (Pol III)
  • James Read, working with Dr Amira Abood, School of Biosciences, on Vitamin B12
  • Wisdom Igiogbe, working with Dr Giuseppe Silvestri, School of Biosciences, on Reproductive Sciences
  • Lucy Abbott & Taylor Sanderson, working with Dr Manuel Marques, School of Physical Sciences, on Biomedical Optics
  • Tyler Harvey, working with Dr Brianne Wenning, Kent and Medway Medical School, on Medical Curriculum
  • James Valente, working with Dr Jennifer Leigh & Hannah Greer, CSHE and CES, on the SVRC.


The successful participants are:

  • Ashleen Sappal & Rushil Boorgula, working with Dr Katrina Taylor & Dr Sam Smith, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, on E-scooters
  • Klaudia Cielinska & Jai Nayee, working with Dr Felipe Fantuzzi, School of Physical Sciences, on Computational Supramolecular Chemistry
  • Mahad Ahmed, Safiye Hussein and Munashe Munyebvu, working with Dr Kyra De Coninck, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, on What about my skin?

Dr Jennifer Leigh, the competition’s co-founder, said:

“Both the SVRC and the new SVERC offer a unique chance for those involved to gain relevant experience and develop new research. Work on these exciting projects has now begun, and we are all looking forward to seeing how our undergraduates, postdocs and early career researchers will broaden their horizons and skills sets in the structured and supportive environment provided by these competitions.”

The competitions are supported by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, Divisional Directors of Research and Innovation, the Graduate and Researcher College, and the Centre for the Study of Higher Education. Undergraduate applications for these innovative opportunities are managed by the Careers and Employability Service (CES) through its Work Study Scheme which helps students gain confidence and overcome barriers to graduate-level work.

For further information or to advertise an opportunity to students, please contact Some match-funding is available annually so do get in touch soon if you are thinking of recruiting Kent student-staff.

Kent Researchers’ Showcase 2022

The Researchers’ Showcase celebrated Kent’s postgraduate research community with a full programme of exciting events including; research talks, a wellbeing panel session, competitions, and an exclusive Postgraduate BBQ.

Gareth Hughes was invited as the event’s keynote speaker and shared his fascinating reflections on wellbeing with his talk entitled ‘Good Wellbeing and Good Research: Myths, Challenges, and Evidence.’

The day ended with an awards ceremony and drinks reception, which celebrated the winners of the Three Minute Thesis, Research Poster Competition, Research Photograph Competition, and the GRC Prizes.

Three Minute Thesis
Runner Up – Stephanie Schlichtner
Winner – Aruna Duraisingham

Research Poster
Runner Up – Bristol Rigby
Judges’ Winner – Priya Sarma
People’s Choice Winner – Rania Kologhassi

Research Photograph
Judges’ Winner – Marzia Bilwani
People’s Choice – Silvia Rasca

Graduate and Researcher College Prizes
Postgraduate Researcher – Dave S.P. Thomas
Postgraduate Researcher – Katie Sambrooks
Postgraduate Researcher – Sophus Zu-Ermgassen
Postgraduate Researcher – Duncan Mifsud
Research Degree Supervisor – Alexandra Covaci
Postgraduate Teacher – Matthew Boakes
Postgraduate Professional Service Champion – Nicola Huxtable


HR Excellence in Research Award (HRER) retained after Eight Year Review

The Graduate and Researcher College (GRC) and the Researcher Development Advisory Group (RDAG) are proud to announce that the University of Kent has retained the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research (HRER) Award after our Eight Year External Review. (Please see the Vitae press release for further information.)

Retention of this prestigious award, which the University has held since May 2013, is indicative of Kent’s continued commitment to further embed researcher development across the institution, including through collective work to implement the Principles of the Researcher Development Concordat which encourages best practice in researcher development and support.

Kent’s submission for the Eight Year external Review was published in November 2021 and consists of new documentation which details the wide-ranging work taking place across Kent to support staff who research.

Professor Shane Weller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, said:

“Kent’s retention of its HRER accreditation is a wonderful achievement and demonstrates to our varied stakeholders – but, most importantly, to our researchers – how we are striving to support staff who research across the whole academic lifecycle and, in so doing, to build an institutionally unified and inclusive research culture that provides the appropriate support for colleagues to achieve their potential.

My sincere thanks go to Dr Alison Charles and the GRC which coordinated the submission in conjunction with the Researcher Development Advisory Group (RDAG), as well as to numerous central and Divisional colleagues who contributed to the process at multiple stages. We are also grateful to Vitae for providing feedback, support and encouragement throughout the submission process.”

To learn more, please view our HRER resources including the individual submission documents.

For further information about the HRERConcordat or any aspect of researcher development at Kent, please contact the GRC.