All posts by Odell Norton

Annual Postgraduate Conference 2024 – Save the date!

This summer, the Annual Postgraduate Conference returns and will exhibit exceptional work carried out by our research community at the University of Kent.

Join us on Wednesday 3 July at the Annual Postgraduate Conference to celebrate postgraduate research and our community at Kent.

This year, the Graduate and Researcher College (GRC) will be collaborating with the Division of Arts and Humanities, Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Kent Business School, Division for the study of Law, Society and Social Justice, and Division of Natural Sciences to celebrate our postgraduate researcher community.

The Annual Postgraduate Conference is an excellent opportunity for all postgraduate students to attend talks, take part in interactive workshops, learn from colleagues, a chance to view research posters – there are even GRC prizes to be won too!

There will be an awards ceremony and buffet lunch provided – an excellent opportunity to network.

Further details and booking information will be shared on our Annual Postgraduate Conference webpage.

The GradPost Online

We are thrilled to announce that the GRC are now accepting articles for The GradPost Online. The GradPost Online is a publication written by postgraduates for postgraduates, to celebrate the postgraduate community at Kent. The GradPost Online serves as a valuable resource for sharing knowledge, fostering collaboration, promoting the exceptional work being done by postgraduate students at the University of Kent and celebrating their success and achievements.

We invite you to contribute to this online publication, whether you consider yourself a journalist, an artist, an expert in your field or just feel you want to share something more individual. These publications will be visible to the entire postgraduate community at Kent, and it is therefore an excellent opportunity to showcase your ideas/research/writing to a large audience.

We are eager to receive submissions from all corners of the University in a variety of formats. Whether you prefer to write an article on your research, review events/news that has interested you, celebrate yours or others postgrad successes, examine a book/film/play or art piece, we want to hear from you.

In addition to articles, we are also looking for artwork for The GradPost Online. If you are writing an article, and have some ideas for artwork too, we would love to hear from you about this. And if you would like to show off your creative style and design the cover artwork for this edition, please get in touch!

Why Contribute? We want to showcase your expertise to a broad audience. This is also a way to connect you with like-minded individuals as well as a way for your words and images to inspire and educate others.

We look forward to receiving your articles and artwork. If you have any questions, please contact the GRC and we will be happy to assist you in your queries.


  • Longer articles (300-350 words)
  • Shorter submissions (150-200 words)
  • Send artwork in PDF format.

Guideline Sidenote:

  • There is a small leeway on word counts. We can support with editing if required.
  • Submissions must be in line with University values and represent the postgraduate voice and experience as a whole. All submissions will be considered against this criteria.

How to Submit:

Email submissions for The GradPost Online to with the headline “GradPost Article” or “GradPost Artwork” by 01 June 2024, 5pm to be considered.

Looking for inspiration?

Check out previous GradPost articles on our GradPost Online webpage for some topic ideas.

Graduate and Researcher College Prizes 2022

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!”

“Doing a PhD can be a maddening, overwhelming, lonely experience at times…”

The University of Kent academic staff reflect on their experiences as PhD students.

A guest blog by the team at Togetherall.

Togetherall is an anonymous online peer-support community, managed by clinical professionals 24/7 and is free to all students and staff at the University of Kent, including PGR students who can register here.

At Togetherall we know how powerful sharing experiences and peer support can be, so we asked academic staff at Kent to reflect on their own Ph.D. journey and what they wish they knew back then. Read the advice from others who have been in your shoes.

“Am I doing something worthwhile here?”

One staff member felt this a lot throughout their PhD journey. When your research feels like it’s going sideways, it’s easy to second-guess yourself.

If you’ve ever felt lost or lacking direction, try some of these tips from fellow academics below.

  1. When motivation wanes, remind yourself of why you are doing this work. Each day is getting you closer to your goal.
  2. Do active, useful, vaguely PhD-related things, like volunteering and activism linked to your research topic. A grounding in the ‘real world’ will help you to stay sane and keep you joyful about your work.
  3. Every day, write down 5 things (no matter how small) you have achieved. Focus on those, rather than on the list of things to do.

Your PhD “does not define who you are.”

While it may not feel like it at times, your work does not define you. It’s one facet of your identity, but there are so many aspects and layers to who you are as a person and the uniqueness you bring to the world.

One professor stated they had to remind themselves constantly that, “your PhD is not your life.” It is a part of who you are, but it’s not who you are.

Getting perspective can be really difficult, but if we can find interesting activities that allow us to be at the edge of our comfort zones, we can feel better and more grounded.

If you feel like you’re in need of a fresh cup of perspective, try some of these tips from your professors.

  1. Remember that you can have a good life outside of academia. Your self-worth does not depend on being valued by this group of people for doing these things.
  2. Have a life outside the PhD, and outside academia. Academia is too precarious for all your energy to be put into it. You need other things to turn to when you get a paper rejected, or progress is slower than you would like.
  3. Success in academia is not a measure of merit. Being good helps, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Stop measuring yourself against career success.

Academia is ‘famously bad’ at ‘setting boundaries between work time and rest time.’

It can be really hard to prioritise yourself over your work in academia. Your journey may be filled with unique opportunities, pressure, and excitement, which can make it hard to tear yourself away from your work.

Feel like you need help prioritising rest? Check out what these academics said below on the importance of resting and what it can look like.

  1. Prioritise rest as rest will enable your brain to work better, make you more productive, give you perspective.
  2. Expect to have bad days where you don’t achieve much but don’t push on a bad day – take a break instead.
  3. Go home, hang out with some friends, call your loved ones, and book a holiday!
  4. Invest in yourself with nutritious food, exercise and rest.

“Don’t try to solve your problems on your own.”

Getting your PhD can be a lonely experience at times, which can contribute to self-doubt and burnout. Professors said they wish they would have laughed more and shared their frustrations with friends to help them through it.

If you feel like you’ve been isolating yourself, check out these tips and reminders from academics who have been there before:

  1. Find friends and people you can share your frustrations with. Doing your PhD in isolation is the absolute worst.
  2. Find your tribe of fellow postgrads, and if all else fails have a get together and give yourselves a limited amount of time for a good old moan!
  3. Reach out to others. They may need you. You may need them.

“It’s ok to feel lost and lonely.”

It can sometimes feel like everyone else is in control of their life and finding things easy, but this is rarely the case.

If you take the time to share with others, you’ll see that everyone struggles with something. Their struggles may be different than yours, but everyone has challenges.

If you remember one piece of advice from a professor reflecting on their Ph.D. journey let it be this:

“When you conduct your research, it is OK to feel lost and lonely. All of us did, we just tell you after we graduate. Because while we were doing the Ph.D., we were ashamed to admit it. I realize now that I should have spoken up and there was not shame in what I was feeling. It was normal and there was help out there. I just needed to ask.”

You’re not alone. There are a range of support services available at The University of Kent which you can access here

You also have FREE access to the Togetherall community where you can anonymously share your story and get and give support to others who understand what you’re going through.

The Togetherall community is managed by clinical professionals 24/7 and access is immediate – there are no waiting lists. You can find out more about the Togetherall community and the range here.

Compassion Meditation – Stephen Morris’s Postgraduate Community Experience Award Project

Funding Awarded to Stephen Morris, Research Postgraduate in the School of History

The Graduate and Researcher College were delighted to fund a recent series of meditation workshops led by Stephen Morris through the Postgraduate Community Experience Awards. Running every Thursday since February, Stephen’s popular meditation workshops will continue to be held weekly at our Canterbury campus. Why not join Stephen and the group from 5 pm for a guided meditation followed by refreshments? An online meditation also takes place at 7 pm and is open to all. You can just turn up; no experience is necessary. Follow @KentCompassion on Twitter for more information.

According to Stephen, who has been running community-based meditation projects for two decades,  “compassion and loving-kindness practices have been demonstrated to offer a range of health and wellbeing benefits.” Stephen’s meditation workshops are currently focusing on the plight of war refugees.

If you would like to run your own workshop, or have a project idea that could positively impact the postgraduate community, apply for the Postgraduate Community Experience Awards! Keep your eye on our blog site for the next application deadline.

Mixed Roots – Grace Ingram’s Postgraduate Community Experience Award Project

The Graduate and Researcher College have the privilege of funding exciting student-led projects through the Postgraduate Community Experience Awards.  One such project was ‘Mixed Roots’ – an informal conversation with individuals coming from multiple and undefined cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

On the 22nd of March 2022, Master’s student Grace Ingram hosted this ‘fishbowl’ event in partnership with the Postgraduate Network, the BAME Network, and Student Success. Dr Barbara Adewumi acted as moderator, asking a panel of students a series of thought-provoking questions. The audience were invited to watch as the conversation unfolded, and the panel were encouraged to speak freely about their personal experiences.

Mixed Roots Panel

Grace Ingram shared that through the planning process for Mixed Roots, she learned about leadership and community.

“Leadership is challenging but rewarding— This experience allowed me to challenge myself as a leader. I was tasked with recruiting a moderator and 5 other panelists, giving them instructions both verbal and written on what the event would be like. None of them familiar with a fishbowl style event, I was also responsible for not only the technical side of things, but nurturing and easing them into things, making sure they were comforted. At times, this was really fun as we got to have dinner together and I got to create a safe space for them to share their stories. At other times, as panelists failed to answer my emails and text messages regarding payment forms and bios, it was less fun, and I found myself having to get strict. The ways in which I saw myself grow as a leader extended beyond just recruiting and taking care of the moderator and panelist team. Recruiting a graphic designer and explaining my vision to them, reaching out to catering, booking a room, reaching out to departments to advertise our event, and working alongside the wonderful Abigail and Odell throughout this very long process are all other ways in which I saw my skills being strengthened. Through this experience, I have not only been given the opportunity to defend a budget, but I have worked alongside a team (a very diverse one as well!), networked, and had to meet personal and external deadlines, while coordinating with other individuals and department. For that, I am very thankful, and these are skills much more valuable than a couple hundred pounds.”

“Community— This experience allowed me to both form and immerse myself in a community. The recruiting of panelists was mostly done through word of mouth and close inner circles, but through those meets and greets even while I may have already had a connection to each person, the other panelists and moderators did not and seeing those bonds and friendships form over dinner and cups of tea was very rewarding. Tuesday night it really was just a conversation among friends! Even more, throughout the process of advertising the event and explaining the vision for the event, I found that the mixed roots community was growing beyond the 5 panelists  and moderator that had been recruited. And we continue to see this community grow as people share their feedback in the survey, we created to receive honest, but respectful audience feedback. In these prep months, planning for this event, I got to hear the numerous stories of other individuals who have grappled with how to define their identity to the world. It has been so great seeing this unique community extend beyond this 2-hour event.”

Poster, programme, and all graphics created by Alba Jato @Klashnikv

Thank you to Grace for her hard work and dedication to such a fantastic event. You can also see this event programme here.

The whole Mixed Roots event is available to view on YouTube, and we encourage you to take the time to listen and learn from this extraordinary panel.

If you would like to apply for the Postgraduate Community Experience Awards, keep your eye on our blogsite for the next application deadline.

You can also hear more from Grace about ‘Mixed Roots’ in the latest GRC Insights publication.

Introducing GRC Insights

The Graduate and Researcher College is delighted to announce the launch of ‘GRC Insights’. The focus of this first edition is the international postgraduate student experience here at Kent. Learn about Huda Elsherif’s fieldwork in Sudan and read the articles ‘Mixed Roots’ written by Grace Ingram and ‘Virtual Reality to Support People with Mild to Moderate Dementia in Care Homes,’ by Hiba Jawharieh. Students please check your inboxes to view the new GRC Insights publication!

In this edition, you can also learn more about upcoming events and PhD scholarships that are open to applications. Next term’s edition will focus on ‘wellbeing’. If you are a Postgraduate student that would like to share your experience of wellbeing at Kent, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us regarding anything in this edition by emailing us at We hope you enjoy reading about the fascinating work of our postgraduate students, and about the international student experience.

GRC Prize Winners Afternoon Tea at the Falstaff Hotel, Canterbury

Congratulations, once again to our winners of this year’s Graduate and Researcher College Prizes! The GRC prizes were created for our postgraduates and postgraduate staff members to spotlight the fantastic work that both groups undertake each year.

To celebrate our GRC Prize winners, we treated them to a ‘Winners Afternoon Tea’ hosted by Professor Paul Allain and Dr Tim Hopthrow. Meeting at the historic Falstaff Hotel in Canterbury, we certainly celebrated the success of our winners in style!

Falstaff Hotel, Canterbury

It was fantastic to see our GRC Prize Winners – thank you for joining us and for all your excellent work. We look forward to reopening the GRC Prizes next year, and to receiving your nominations.


Postgraduate Coffee Morning – Canterbury campus (1 December 2021) 

On Wednesday 1 December the Graduate and Researcher College (GRC) and the Postgraduate Network invited students to a postgraduate coffee morning. Meeting in the Woolf College Common Room, postgraduates networked with their peers, mingled with the GRC team and our PG Network representatives whilst enjoying a warm drink and some cake! 

GRC Postgraduate Coffee Morning 2021

Thank you to all who attended and helped organise this fantastic event! It was excellent to catch up with (and meet!) so many of our postgraduate students. It was also great to hear all about what they are up to, and their experiences here at the University of Kent and on the Canterbury campus.

GRC Postgraduate Coffee Morning 2021

To stay in the loop about GRC events, follow us on social media:

Twitter @GRCKent

Instagram @GRC_Kent

Facebook GRCKent    

All future events will also be sent to your university mailboxes – so please keep an eye out.

We look forward to seeing you all again soon!