The Graduate & Researcher College Prizes – looking back on our winners

The GRC prizes were created for our postgraduates and postgraduate staff members to spotlight the fantastic work that both groups undertake each year. In what has been an extraordinarily difficult year, we at the GRC would like to extend our thanks and praise to all postgraduates and staff for their perseverance and strength, and we hope this year’s prize winners may inspire us all to continue on the path of our own learning, growth and success. Read on to find out what each prize represents and meet this year’s winners.

The Researcher Prize

This prize recognises outstanding performances from members of our Kent PGR community. Winners often demonstrate leadership within their cohort and a standout presence in the wider research community, whether publishing research papers or presenting at conferences.

Ellis Spicer was acknowledged for her “key role” she has played in the life of her school, holding numerous important posts in support of her fellow students and colleagues, achieving great impact through her research and curation of an exhibition as part of her project, and receiving high praise for her “enthusiasm, knowledge and pastoral care” of her students over this past difficult year.

Ellis Spicer, School of History

“I’d like to thank Prof Juliette Pattinson for her nomination. It has been a pleasure to be part of the University throughout my studies and participate fully in every opportunity.”

The Teacher Prize

This prize entry acknowledges the achievements of PGRs that teach alongside their studies. Those winning this prize are those who know their subject areas deeply and are innovators in teaching and management methods, but most of all are inspirations and role models to their students, showing them what it means to be an academic researcher.

This year’s Winner Marwa received high praise for her work as an “outstanding teacher and colleague,” showing dedication to her students and an innovative and attentive ethos leading to the success of her module.

Marwa Wasfy, School of Politics and International Relations 

“I am very grateful to my module convenor- Dr. Tim Aistrope- for the nomination and for all the advice and guidance he gave to me. I extend my gratitude to Dr. Ed Morgan-Jones. Over the last three years of teaching at the University of Kent, I have had the opportunity of learning alongside my students. I had the freedom to develop my teaching style and redefine my role as a seminar leader not as someone who imparts information and knowledge, but who creates “equal opportunities” for every student to develop his/her cognitive structures. It has been a tough year for everyone, and I am so delighted to be winning the Graduate school Prize for postgraduate teacher. It means a lot to me.”

The Supervisor Prize

A prize-winning supervisor is one who goes the extra mile for their supervisees; challenging them to succeed and providing guidance via a wealth of experience and connections within their chosen field. They also help their students secure employment post graduation and are a mentor and role model to other staff members.

Our two winners this year demonstrated all of the above traits. Lex Maugher has been described as a “model example of a supervisor,” working “assiduously to ensure that students under his supervision attain their full potentials.”

Sean Molloy received similar praise for being a “true mentor” and for delivering “the skills and critical capacity” needed for his supervisees to excel in their fields.

Dr Lex Mauger, School of Sports and Exercise Sciences 

“Winning this award was a complete surprise and I want to say a big thank you to my PGR students who nominated me and wrote such kind things in their supporting statements. I put a lot into trying to make sure that my students get as much out of their PhD as possible and it means a huge amount to know that what I’m doing is valued by those that matter the most.”

Dr Seán Molloy, School of Politics and International Relations “I am delighted to win this award. I very much appreciate the nomination and the award is welcome recognition from the university not just for me but for the importance of research and PhD supervision as a core part of academic life.”

Professional Service Champion

Our professional service staff demonstrate deep commitment to supporting our postgraduates and navigating them through issues that arise in the course of their study. This prize category spotlights those who have garnered excellent feedback from their peers and students alike in their guidance to postgraduates, as well as designing new systems and procedures and offering excellent support to Directors of Graduate Studies and supervisors.

This year’s winner Lucy Wilson has excelled at her role in this past year, demonstrating “exceptional tact and organisational skills” in assisting academics, students and external stakeholders with “a professionalism, empathy and efficiency beyond her years.”

Lucy Wilson, Division of Human and Social Sciences

“I am honoured and grateful to have won this award, it means a lot to me. I would like to thank Jess Barkham and Nicola Huxtable for this nomination, I wouldn’t be able to succeed in this role if it wasn’t for their advice, support and friendship. Thank you to all the students and staff, past and present, that I have had contact with, you have made me feel so welcome and appreciated. I look forward to continuing to help with all things PGR!”

Director of Graduate Studies

Representing a bridge between academics, students and the University as a whole, our Directors of Graduate Studies are the voice of postgraduates and academic colleagues alike in pushing continually for the success of their school or division. With this prize, we recognise individuals that go above and beyond in their roles, achieving great results in their mentoring of colleagues, development of new study programs, funding strategies and simply setting an example of best practice for their peers.

Zita Stone garnered respect and praise for her measured and professional oversight of the role, championing the interests of her students wherever possible and being an “extremely engaged, hard-working, proactive and student-friendly DoGs.”

Dr Zita Stone, Kent Business School 

“I am delighted to receive this award and would like to thank Dr Catherine Robinson for her nomination, Professor Paul Allain and the whole GRC for the support.  This recognition is going to motivate me and drive my commitment and make me improve further in every aspect of my role.”

Early Career Research Staff

One of our proudest prize categories, Kent’s Early Career Research Staff represent the shining lights of Kent’s developing research community, and this prize recognises their achievements in research output, leadership and academic citizenship and the impact they have on the Kent community and beyond.

This year’s winner Irina Petrova has been described as an “exemplary young professional…[with] incredible skills, knowledge, commitment kindness and compassion.” She earned particular praise for her “outstanding research skills, originality and innovative thinking” in her work on the GCRF’s COMPASS Project. 

Dr Irina Petrova, GCRF Compass Project 

“Being part of the exiting GCRF COMPASS project alongside its Principal Investigator and the best mentor I could wish for, Prof. Elena Korosteleva, has been a tremendous learning experience for me. Elena has been an endless source of inspiration, support, and kindness, helping me to develop my research and societal impact skills. I, therefore, would like to dedicate this Prize to her.”