Category Archives: News

Researcher reflections on the Career Planning Beyond Academia Retreat 2024 by Nick Von Behr

I attended this excellent event for two days of stimulating activities designed to help finishing PhD students at the University of Kent work out their next steps in employment outside academia. We were hosted by the Graduate and Researcher College and the Careers Department, as well as an external facilitator, who all kept us literally on our toes from the first morning session of the conference.

We started with group interactive sessions that helped break down any initial nerves and introduce us to each other in a light-hearted way. Then we were asked to challenge our conventional thinking and reflect on how this had shaped our own approaches to our lives and careers. After that we set about recognising and converting the skills we had acquired during our PhDs so that we might become more desirable employees.

There was plenty of team work during the day, an important work-related skill, as well as an increasing focus on our ideals and values for the perfect job. We were invited to set ourselves big challenges for the future, stretching our imagination. All this hard work was topped off with pizzas and one-to-one sessions with advisors – mine helped me tailor my CV better to the needs of future non-academic employees, who don’t want pages of detail (like mini theses), but focused messages.

On the second day of the conference some of us first relaxed in a yoga session, while the rest joined them afterwards to reflection on our collective achievements on Day 1, which seemed considerable! We then examined our transferable skills in more detail to see how they could be highlighted in job applications, particularly covering letters, using the STAR(R) method (situation, task, action, result and reflection). This was followed by sessions on:

  • making the most of Linked In as a search tool for career opportunities;
  • assessing model CVs and cover letters to understand better the employer perspective, and;
  • networking approaches to connecting more and building closer relationships with key people who might have a decisive impact on your career.

Having been an engaged student member of my own specialist international associations for the length of my doctoral studies, I would certainly recommend this as a good way of networking widely, even globally if that fits your career needs.

But for me one of the simplest but stand out features of the whole conference was having to write a letter to myself which would be posted to my home address. What would I tell my other self in three months? What was I expecting to have changed as a result of all this new knowledge gradually seeping in over time?

Nick von Behr, Doctoral Researcher, University of Kent School of Architecture, Design and Planning

GradPost Article: Research Compassion, Inspires and Hope by Octavia Whiteley

When I did my Psychology undergrad here, I said I never wanted to do research because I’m an aspiring Clinical Psychologist. I never had a burning passion for any particular area of my degree. I just knew I loved clinical psychology and wanted to help people.

Then came my Masters, I met a transman friend the summer before, and I started getting interested in transgender individuals. I didn’t realise at the time, part of my interest stemmed from I was trans myself, but I didn’t know the language to describe what I had always felt.

My Masters gave me a chance to research a clinical population I was interested in, because I knew there were a lot of negative mental health outcomes for transgender individuals. Not because of them or something being “wrong” with them. That isn’t true at all. Instead, the negative outcomes come from societal and social factors typically more than the gender dysphoria itself.

This is why supporting trans people, affirming their gender identity and just being a good human being is so important.

That’s why I research transgender mental health through how Chosen Names (so how using a name that reflects your gender identity) and wearing gender-wearing clothing improves mental health. I have compassion for trans people considering how demonised, discriminated, and targeted they are in the media for no fault of their own. Trans people just want to live their lives in peace and have their gender on the outside reflect how they feel on the inside.

My research, my exploration of my own gender as non-binary and continuing to meet so many amazing trans people inspired me to keep researching and supporting trans people. I want to produce good, high-quality research that can make a positive impact on their lives. Since that’s the point of clinical psychology and my results have given me hope.

Hope for a better future where trans people can get more support, understanding and acceptance.

And that’s because of a passion for research, so if you have a passion you want to explore, don’t deny it.

Express it, enjoy it and carry it out. You never know where it’s going to lead you on your postgrad journey.

GradPost article written by Octavia Whiteley.

 

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.

Guidelines:

  • 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 kentgrc@kent.ac.uk 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.

Your postgrad stories for vouchers

Kent Postgrads – we need to hear about your positive experience as a Master’s or PhD student. Send in a short video or blog and earn yourself some Amazon vouchers or funds on your KentOne card.

We’re looking for new and fresh content for our upcoming marketing campaign, and we know potential students love to hear from our current students. Our postgraduate community are an amazing diverse bunch with some interesting stories, so we’d love to hear yours.

Here are a few key themes below, if your story fits one of these profiles, please do get in touch.

  • Budget and money managing – how are you managing your money? How has Kent supported you especially during the cost of living crisis
  • What does an average week of study look like for a Master’s student – how many hours a week do  you study? What days are you on campus? How do you manage your time?
  • Studying for a Master’s whilst working – how are you managing the work, study and life balance ?
  • Are you a postgraduate student who has young children? – How do you balance study and childcare? Do you use the creche facilities on campus? Have you been given any additional support?
  • Do you commute to campus for your degree? How easy is the campus to get to? How often do you need to come in?  Are there certain discounts you receive?
  • Do you live on campus? Why did you choose to stay on campus? How are the facilities? How is the postgraduate community on campus? How much does it cost? Are there any benefits or perks of staying on campus?
  • We’re you worried before doing a Master’s? How have you been supported in your studies at Kent? How did you overcome your concerns?
  • Did you receive a scholarship? What was the application process like? How did you prepare for your studies ?

Content we would need, either of the following:

Blog post – Ideally up to 500 words with an image of you as the author (head to shoulder shot) and up to two relevant images.

Video post – Ideally 60 second video clip in portrait format with a Kent backdrop i.e. on campus, society club, etc.

You will also need to sign a consent form for use of your images on the Kent website and marketing channels.

Deadline for student stories will be 30 December 2023.

If you’d like to share your story and earn Amazon vouchers or funds on your KentOne Card, please contact Yasmine from Marketing. Email: Y.Wahid@kent.ac.uk 

Reflection on Cumberland Lodge Doctoral Students Conference 2023 by Tharsagini Nanthaprakash

Each year the Graduate and Researcher College offer one or more funded places at the annual “Life Beyond the PhD – Cumberland Lodge Doctoral Students Conference”.

This annual conference offers PhD students and early career researchers from across the UK the opportunity to share their experiences with each other and to take part in invaluable training in communication, public engagement, and interdisciplinary working, while also being encouraged to think about the impact of their research within its wider social context.

Tharsagini Nanthaprakash from the School of Biosciences was selected by the Director of the Graduate and Researcher College, Professor Gordon Lynch, to attend the 2023 Life Beyond the PhD conference, please see their reflection on the event below:

“The uncertainty of what lay beyond the dissertation was both exciting and daunting. It was in this state of mind that I attended the “Life Beyond the PhD” conference. The Life Beyond the PhD conference at Cumberland Lodge covered many aspects, from writing a covering letter to facing interviews, presentation skills, and storytelling. Experts from academia, the civil sector, and industries were there to discuss the variable carrier opportunities. Other than that, the conference gave me the opportunity to meet fellow PhD students from different disciplines. The whole environment was filled with positive vibes, on top the location of Cumberland Lodge was a bonus for anyone who loves nature. It was one of the best four days, with lots of training and practicing of different skills with lots of fun and good food. A big thank you to the Graduate and Researcher College, University of Kent for fundingme!”   

Kent Stars – Nurturing Network

Maureen – “My name is Maureen Bungei, a PG student pursuing an MA in International Relations with International Law. I have been the Postgraduate Network Chair during the academic year 2022/2023 and handed over to Miquel Santos at the end of my term in April 2023. I was also supporting the College and Community Life team as a Resident Life Assistant in creating a community and sense of belonging for students on campus. As a member of the Kent Model UN Society, I have attended several conferences in London and the World Harvard MUN, a global event in Paris, France.”

Miguel – “I am Miguel Santos, a Master’s by Research student in English. I’m the de facto Chair of the Postgraduate Network, taking over from Maureen Bungei. My research focuses on 20th century Anglo-American experimental poetry. I am also a PGR Student Rep for English; the editor-in-chief of the university’s postgraduate, peer reviewed literary journal Litterae Mentis; and a committee member of the Research Salon. I have contributed to the Templeman Library’s ‘100 Years: T.S. Eliot and The Waste Land’ exhibition. I did my undergraduate at Kent as well, where I was involved as Environment Officer and in the Turing College Committee.”

Tell us about the Postgraduate Network and how you are making sure the postgraduate voice is represented at Kent.

Miguel – “The Postgraduate Network is led by postgraduate volunteers and aims to ensure that postgraduates get the most of their time here. We create campaigns and events, representing the voice of the postgraduate community to the university and Kent Union.

Our committee members include Megan Brown and Nteteawan Bassey-Duke. We’re proud to have a mix of taught and research students, as well as Ntete acting as our Medway representative.

Our aim is to ensure that the postgraduate experience is as thriving and vibrant as possible. Kent has an incredible postgraduate community who has shown so much support and kindness to me.

To support the postgraduate voice, we sit at boards and meetings to represent student feedback. In the autumn term, there was a proposed restructuring of Kent Union’s Officer Team. We organised a student feedback session at Jarman Plaza to gather the views of postgraduates. Because the PG community felt this was a step in the wrong direction, we were able to successfully push Kent Union to drop this proposal in January.

We have hosted events, both in Canterbury and Medway, including socials, study meetings, and a hustings session for the Kent Union elections. With the GRC, we co-organise monthly coffee mornings with guests, including Ben Bradley (Kent Union’s VP Postgraduate Experience), Mark Bass (Careers and Employability Service), and Professor Gordon Lynch (Graduate and Researcher College Director).

On a personal note, I’m indebted to the phenomenal work of postgraduates when I was an undergraduate here, particularly Rowena Bicknell and Tom Ritchie, who inspired me to care about the postgraduate community. I hope that our contributions will ensure that people feel part of the community in the same way Rowena and Tom made me feel.”

“On behalf of the Postgraduate Network, we are so grateful to the entire GRC Team for all the support and the kindness you have shown to us. We are so fortunate to work alongside you this year.”

What advice would you give to other students?

Miguel – “I would encourage anyone to get involved with co-curricular activities, volunteering or representation. Be optimistic that every action you take and every discussion you have will inform your personal development.

I should also highlight the mental health challenges postgraduates face; as such, it is important to remember you are part of a supportive community here.

Finally, while being nominated for a Kent Star means a lot to me, being part of the postgraduate community at Kent means even more. Although awards and recognition are lovely, we care about the postgraduate community simply because it is the right thing to do.”

Maureen – “You have the best time now to take part in co-curricular activities alongside your studies. The university has over 250 clubs and societies where you can take part and nurture your soft skills or sports fitness at your comfort. There are exciting opportunities like student representatives, student ambassadors, and Kent Union Network chairs that will give you an exciting experience that will give you an edge in your CV or interview not forgetting the employability points. Please take them up.

Your health and well-being is the most important aspect of your student experience here at Kent. The university provides academic and wellbeing support services that you are free to utilise and enhance your stay at the university.”

What are your plans for the next year?

Miguel – “The entire Postgraduate Network committee will finish our courses in September; we believe we’ve set a strong foundation for next year’s committee to work closely with the Graduate and Researcher College and Kent Union’s Ben Bradley. The GRC Team and Ben are our biggest supporters!

For myself, I hope to have a job prior to applying for a PhD. I would love to work in higher education in a professional/academic-adjacent role. I’m so grateful for my time at Kent and for all the people who have supported me; I can only hope that my involvement has helped make a difference.”

Maureen – “As I look forward to graduating this July, sadly I might not be here at Kent to oversee the network, but I strongly believe that we as the network committee (Miguel, Ntete, Megan  and I) have done our best and created a sense of belonging for PG community. We hope the next network chair/committee sustains the vibrant community as they will be lucky to work with Ben Bradley who actively supported us during our tenure. Personally, I would be considering doing my PhD sometime later, and the University of Kent definitely has a spot in the top 3.”

Please email us your stories on kentgrc@kent.ac.uk

 

New GradPost Edition is here!

We are thrilled to announce the publication of the newest edition of GradPost, the publication written by postgraduates for postgraduates.

With a mission to celebrate and showcase the remarkable research endeavors of our Kent postgraduate community, GradPost continues to serve as a platform for sharing inspiring stories, valuable insights, and engaging experiences. The latest issue is no exception, featuring an impressive collection of articles that are sure to captivate and enlighten our readers.

We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the contributors, writers, editors, and reviewers who made this publication possible. Your dedication and hard work have resulted in an extraordinary edition that truly captures the spirit of our vibrant research community. Please read here for more info about our amazing team.

You can read the new edition here. Be sure to share the news with your colleagues, friends, and fellow researchers to spread the word about the remarkable work being done by our postgraduate community.

Happy reading! 📚

Call for participants: Eastern Arc Conference 2023: “Orchestrating change: Food in a time of crisis”

Our food system is increasingly dysfunctional. Events such as the pandemic and the Ukrainian war have demonstrated how fragile it is, with production and supply disrupted and costs spiralling. When food is available, there is a fierce debate about the nutritional benefits of processed products, the long-term impacts on population health, and even the morality and sustainability of dietary choices.

The annual Eastern Arc Conference, taking place on 20 September, will be a chance to debate these issues and look at solutions. The Consortium is well placed to do so, as it stretches across a region that has been shaped and defined by food. From the breadbasket of England on one side of the Thames to the garden on the other, the East and South East accounts for a third of England’s total income from farming (TIFF), and around two thirds of the country’s food imports come through the region.

In readiness for this we are seeking applications to lead or be involved in the breakout sessions. For these, we very much want to hear a diversity of voices and viewpoints, whether they be asking questions or offering solutions, sharing research or encouraging engagement. We want to hear from researchers and stakeholders, academics and businesses, community groups and charities, among many others. 

If you have an idea for a session, please complete this simple form by Monday 17 July. We hope to select the eight sessions shortly after, and open up registration at the beginning of August. The conference itself will take place in the Sibson Building at the University of Kent in Canterbury. It will be free and open to all, and registration will open in August.

More details on the call and rationale for the conference are available here. To get an idea of what an Eastern Arc conference is like, visit our ‘resources’ page from last year’s event that focussed on ‘The Collaborative Coast’.

If you have any questions in the meantime please contact Phil Ward, and feel free to share this more widely with your colleagues and networks.

 

GRC Prizes 2023 Winners Announced!

Graduate and Researcher College is delighted to announce the winners of the GRC Prizes 2023. These awards honor outstanding contributions made by postgraduate researchers and members of staff across various fields and disciplines. This year, the GRC received an exceptional number of remarkable submissions, making the selection process both challenging and exciting.

The GRC Prizes were established to recognize and encourage the exceptional efforts and achievements of the university’s graduate researchers. This initiative not only highlights the outstanding contributions made by these talented individuals but also serves as a testament to the university’s commitment to fostering a vibrant and supportive research community.

Let us announce the winners of the GRC Prizes 2023:

Director of Graduate Studies/Programme Lead Maria Elisavet Balta

“Her excellence in teaching and thus her influence on others are above and beyond expectation” – Dr Zita Stone

 

 

Postgraduate Professional Service Champion Alexandra Marnerou

“Alexandra is a vital member of our team.” – Lucy Wilson
“Alexandra is an exemplary employee, who always goes above and beyond for students, staff and her colleagues.” – Katy Wade

 

 

Postgraduate Professional Service Champion (Highly Commended) Dave Donaldson

“Dave is a true asset to the School of Psychology and Division. Things would not operate smoothly without him.” – Theresa Gannon

 

Postgraduate Professional Service Champion (Highly Commended) Arts and Hums PGR Admin Team

“This nomination shows the appreciation and recognition for the work the team has done to make a positive contribution to the PGR student experience” – Miguel Santos

 

Postgraduate Teacher George Simpson

“George has made an exceptional contribution to enhancing student experience and enriching the learning environment across the modules on which he teaches” – Prof Caroline Chatwin

 

Research Degree Supervisor Donna Arnold

“I am grateful beyond measure. I hope that this nomination might go some way to recognising her for her kindness, empathy, support and guidance.” – Katy Brace

 

Research Degree Supervisor (Highly commended) Ambrose Gillick

“He is passionate and enthusiastic which shows in the way he provides valuable constructive feedback” – Richi Mohanty

 

 

Postgraduate Researcher Daniel Marshall

“Daniel has shown remarkable creativity, maturity, perseverance, and insight for such a young researcher and is a credit to the high-quality internationally-leading research students at the University of Kent.”- Dominic Orchard

 

 

Postgraduate Researcher (Highly commended) Holly McPhillips

“Holly truly is a gifted and talented researcher who is committed not only to developing her own research career but also supporting her communities and those around her.” – Dr Donna Arnold and Dr Silvia Ramos

 

Once again, congratulations to all the winners!