Written by Jaydeep Bhadra & Alex Christiansen
We celebrated the Loughborough University PhD Awards 2022 on 29th of July 2022 to recognize the achievements and contributions of Doctoral Researchers (DRs) and staff to the University’s DR community. Following a bit of restitution, it is long due for us to reflect on the event.
First off, congratulations are in order to all the winners and nominees, whether you were able to join us on the night or not. Also, a big thank you is owed to all the wonderful individuals and teams who nominated them! We received a total of 142 nominations, a number which reflects both the amazing work done by doctoral researchers and the appreciation felt by those who benefit.
If we had one goal with this year’s event, it was to make it a proper celebration of you, our colleagues and friends. With help from the doctoral college and the LU events team, what started as a small-scale event quickly became drinks, food, banners, fancy trophies and live jazz music in the company of 120 colleagues from both London and the Midlands. We leave it up to our attendees to measure the success here, but we trust that no less will be required in the future! If you have been enjoying the pictures we have included here and would like to see more from the evening, the full album is available here.
During the event, we presented eight PhD awards to Doctoral Researchers and three to staff who contributed to the doctoral community. We also had the honour of hosting three awards celebrating Open Research Excellence on behalf of the Open Research Committee, a partnership we hope will continue going forward.
Professor Steve Christie, APVC (Doctoral College) said “These awards show the fantastic range of activities and depth of the abilities of our Doctoral Researchers. After a few years of curtailed events, this was a great celebration for our Doctoral Community. With the new University strategy having research and innovation and student experience as two of its aims, the Doctoral College is at the core of helping to deliver the strategy.”
Finally, thank you dearly to all our presenters, both for being part of the event and for recognising the importance of doctoral research to Loughborough University. Special thanks to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings, and the APVC of the Doctoral College, Professor Steve Christie, for opening the show and for helping with our secret extra-awards at the end.
And speaking of awards, it is high time we give people what they most likely came here to see: nominees and winners.
If you were nominated for a PhD Award and were not able to join us on the 29th, you are still owed a certificate of nomination. As volunteers, we don’t have the capacity to send all of these out, but you can get your certificate at the Graduate House. We also know that a lot of people would like to thank the people who nominated them, but as a rule of thumb we consider that information confidential and likely to skew people’s motivations for nominating. If you nominated someone, you are of course more than welcome to let them know.
What follows is now finally the list of winners and short-listed nominees for the PhD Awards 2022. Thank you for your patience and for your continued support, and congratulations once again to everyone we are about to mention.
The event consisted of a drink’s reception, followed by a three-course dining experience and the prize giving. Professor Steve Christie gave the opening remarks followed by a welcome address by Professor Nick Jennings, Vice-Chancellor. The event was attended by 120 guests comprising of DRs and staffs. Special guests include Professor Nick Jennings, Professor Steve Rothberg, Professor Steve Christie, Professor Rachel Thompson, Dr Duncan Stanley, Dr Katryna Kalawsky, Dr Manuel Alonso, and Dr Rebecca Ginger. Alex Christiansen and Jaydeep Bhadra hosted the evening and the award ceremony.
The criteria of each award with the shortlisted nominees and winners are below. Well done and a huge congratulations to all! We look forward for your continued contribution the DR community. All the best for your futures,
Awards for Doctoral Researchers
- Contribution to Knowledge – Presented by Professor Steve Rothberg (Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research)
This award is given to someone who has made significant contributions to their field of study, whether through articles, conference papers, artistic presentations, or any other field-appropriate format.
The winner is Zhi Hu! Zhi has contributed important knowledge in his field of work, the tunnel construction industry and the carbon reduction agenda. Due to the results of his research into low carbon sprayed concrete, HS2 stands to lower their carbon footprint by tens of thousands of tons of CO2 which is a significant achievement of which he should be immensely proud.
The shortlisted nominees were Anna Tholen/ Aravind Kanna Kundumani Janarthanan/ James Tinkler/ Lei Ye/ Maria Goodwin/ Priyanka Ghosh/ Renee Karunungan
- DR Teaching Excellence – Presented by Professor Rachel Thomson
This award is given to a doctoral researcher who has demonstrated innovative and impactful teaching capability in any capacity. From labs to lectures, seminars to supervision, this person has gone above and beyond in their role as an educator.
The winner is Theodoros Marinopoulos! The nominations highlighted his “energetic approach”, his “deep theoretical knowledge of his field” and his “dedication and efficiency” in both online and hybrid teaching.
The shortlisted nominees were Carla Cannone/ Daniel Miramontes-Subillaga/ Ghazaleh Mazaheri-Tehrani/ Kuldeep Singh Sodha/ Samantha Rowland/ Theresa Wege/ Ximing Fan
- Contribution to Doctoral Researcher Community – Presented by Professor Steve Christie
This award is given to a doctoral researcher who is particularly active outside of their research-centered activities. Their contribution will have substantially impacted the doctoral researcher community at Loughborough University across either of the campuses.
The winner is Artemi Tonikidou! Artemi runs the SSN book club, and it is through her dedication to this project that she wins this award. Her nominations speak of her outstanding work creating this monthly community and how it offers a “healthy distraction to the, sometimes stressful, research work”.
The shortlisted nominees were Alizee Cambier/ Evelina Palkanoglou/ Felicity Slocombe/ Izabela Lackowska/ Josh Thompson/ Richlove Frimpong/ Will Chartier
- Contribution to the Wider Community – Presented by Dr Duncan Stanley
This award is given to a doctoral researcher who is particularly active outside of their research-centric activities. Their contribution will have been outside of Loughborough or to the wider Loughborough family, including Loughborough Students Union activities, volunteering, or any other contribution to the wider community.
The winner is Ruby Appiah-Campbell! Ruby founded the charity Life Beacon with the goal of “educating and mentoring young people”. Her nominations describe her work as “remarkable” and highlight the positive feedback already received from schools.
The shortlisted nominees were Angharad Evans/ David Whitfield/ Felicity Slocombe/ Festus Adeyemi/ Iman Khan/ Ishan Nadkarni/ Viktoriia Startseva
- Sub-Warden of the Year – Presented by Dr Manuel Alonso
The Sub-warden of the year award is given to a doctoral researcher who has gone above and beyond in the role of Sub-Warden, and who has used this role to enhance the quality of life for students in their respective hall.
The winner is Wole Adaramoye! His nominations highlighted the degree to which his work has made a difference to the students in his hall and described him as “hard-working” and “incredibly supportive” with a “friendly and charismatic personality” and note that “he serves as an example” to all his contemporaries.
The shortlisted nominees were Huyen Le/ Nicolette Formosa/ Omeiza Haruna/ Priyanka Ghosh/ Sam Faulkner/ Tunmike Olowe
- Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year – Presented by Dr Katryna Kalawsky
This award is given to a doctoral researcher who has dedicated time to champion equity, diversity, and inclusion in the community through their work and activities. This wide-ranging award recognizes work done to increase awareness of or access for groups such as LGBTQ+, BAME, International doctoral researchers, parents & caretaker, or any other group of doctoral researchers.
The winner is Rhianna Garrett! Rhianna recently joined the University, but has already made invaluable contributions as an EDI advocate and leader. Her nominations highlight her awareness and attention to structural issues as well as her tireless efforts to affect change both inside and outside of Loughborough University.
The shortlisted nominee was Roman Lukianchuk.
- Team of the Year – Presented by Dr Rebecca Ginger
This award is given to doctoral researchers (and staff) who have collaborated to plan a successful event, series of events, research group or other endeavor. This will have had a positive impact on the doctoral researcher experience and/or wellbeing. Their work is to the benefit of the entire community at Loughborough University.
The winner is Midlands Graduate School (MGS) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) Conference Team! They received nominations from both our doctoral researchers and staff members who wanted to celebrate this teams’ hard work and dedication to produce an excellent conference.
The shortlisted nominee were Digital Concrete 2022 Organising Committee and delivery team/ Open Research Collective/ PhD SSN/ Research team from the Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering/ AACME DR Rep Team/ The Covid testing centre team/ Water-WISER CDT
- Open Research Excellence – Presented by Theresa Wege
This award looks to celebrate Doctoral Researchers who excelled in learning about, conducting and promoting open research. Open research means to strive for transparency and reproducibility, but also to advocate for new and innovative ways to conduct and communicate research, to engage with non-traditional sources of knowledge and to seek collaboration with relevant communities or societal actors in your research.
The winners are
- Petra Salaric for “creating interactive content on social media and in a temporary exhibition that bridges the gap between academia and the public”
- Beth Woollacott for “authoring a practitioner-facing guidebook on textbook and multimedia design which was in part informed by her own research”
- Lars Claussen for “promoting open access publishing and transparent and reproducible methodology with industry partners
The shortlisted nominees were Jiayin Guan/ Serena Rossi/ Aakash Bansal/ Carla Cannone/ Alessio Norrito
- Doctoral Researchers Presidents’ Award of the Year – Presented by Professor Nick Jennings (Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University)
The Doctoral Researchers President’s award is awarded to a doctoral researcher who has been a central figure in the community and has made a significant impact through their research and community engagement. To be nominated for this award a doctoral researcher will have made a sizable contribution to the research culture in their academic school, not only proving themselves to be a great researcher, but also leaving their mark at the institution.
The winner is Aakash Bansal! His nomination said “his PhD was outstanding. Beyond this his all-round exceptional performance includes supporting undergraduate, masters, and other PhD students; investigating faulty laboratory equipment; being a sub-warden; supporting postgraduate taught admissions; Volunteering with STEM outreach and so much more (I would prefer to write 1500 words rather than 50!)”.
The shortlisted nominees were Carla Cannone/ Mark Hutson/ Megan Constable/ Petra Salaric/ Tasha Kitcher/ Xin Yee Tai
Awards for Staff members
- Contribution to DR Development – Presented by Alex Christiansen
This award is given to a member of staff who has enhanced doctoral researchers’ personal and professional growth, whether through organising events, lending a hand, or just being an overall ally to the doctoral community throughout the year.
The winner is Dr Matt Vidal! His nomination credits him with transforming the DR experience at Loughborough University London, bringing about a marked increase in PRES results and general DR satisfaction. His contributions are described as “extensive”, spanning from creating a stronger sense of community to providing more opportunities for DR development.
The shortlisted nominees were Dr Hemaka Bandulasena/ Holly Collison-Randall/ Lennie Foster/ Professor Liz Peel/ Peter Godfrey/ Professor B. Vaidhyanathan/ Professor Jeremy Coupland/ Professor Sabina Mihelj/ Berkeley Young/ Dr Cristian Tileaga/ Dr Diwei Zhou/ Dr Jie Meng/ Dr Kirti Ruikar/ Dr Duncan Stanley/ Professor Hilary Robinson
- Supervisory Team of the Year – Presented by Alex Christiansen
This award celebrates the people who support doctoral researchers on their often-challenging journeys and is given to a team that has gone above and beyond in that capacity. Without teams like these, a PhD would be impossible.
The winner is Dr Dong Li, Professor Jiyin Liu & Dr Wendy Jiao. Their nominations highlight the remarkable level of support, both in terms of research and pastoral care that they give to their students. They are commended for creating a safe and encouraging space to conduct research even in difficult times.
The shortlisted nominees were Silvia Costa, Emily Petherick, Will Johnson/ Professor Will Whittow, Dr Chinthana Panagamuwa/ Jin Xuan/ Dr Mhairi Morris, Dr Liz Akam/ Professor Lee Bosher, Dr. Ksenia Chmutina/ Professor Hilary Robinson, Professor Marsha Meskimmon/ Kemefasu Ifie, Nina Michaelidou, John Cadogan/ Julie Stirrup, Rachel Sandford
- Pete Beaman Unsung Hero Award – Presented by Jaydeep Bhadra
This award is given to a staff member who has positively contributed to the social and/or research experiences of doctoral researchers. This person deserves more credit than they currently get, and we wish to thank them for all their efforts behind the scenes. The award is dedicated to Pete Beaman who won the award in 2018 and is the paragon of an unsung hero
The winner is Berkeley Young! His nominations described him as quite simply “the glue that holds the department together”, highlighting his “positive, kind, and caring” personality and showing appreciation for his many contributions. As one nomination puts it, and I quote, “we are incredibly fortunate to have him in our corner”.
The shortlisted nominees were Dawn Spencer/ Jessica Noske-Turner/ Phil Sadler/ Tim Coles/ Tom Carslake/ Tracey Preston
During the event, Special Recognition for services rendered to the Doctoral Community was given to Dr Duncan Stanley and Professor Steve Rothberg.
Duncan spent close to seven years in the Doctoral College and was a well-known figure among the DRs. Throughout some incredibly tumultuous years, he has been a rare constant at the Doctoral College and has contributed immensely to the development opportunities and training that are available to DRs at the university. Duncan helped to build the ladder and to anchor it solidly to the ground for many DRs. Dr Duncan Stanley was felicitated with the special recognition award to recognize his commitment and services to our Doctoral Research community.
Professor Steve Rothberg will be stepping down from his role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University in September 2022. Steve is many things to many people; a peerless professional, an irreplaceable asset, a survivor, but above all he is endlessly kind and supportive of those around him. In his role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, he has been instrumental in leading the University’s research strategy to new heights, culminating in an outstanding REF result we should all be exceptionally proud of. In addition, he has always been a staunch ally of Doctoral Researchers, listening to and amplifying their voices. It is for these, and many other reasons, that Steve deserves our recognition and appreciation this evening. On behalf of the President’s Team and the Doctoral College community, the VC presented Professor Steve Rothberg with a special award for his service and thanked him. The Doctoral College also made a donation in Steve’s name to the Anthony Nolan Trust.
The event was organised by the DR Presidential team, Alex Christiansen (DR President 2021/22) and Jaydeep Bhadra (DR vice-President 2021/22) with support from Professor Steve Christie and Professor Rebecca Ginger in the Doctoral College, the events team led by Claire Fletcher, the catering team led by Debbie Price. The event was hosted at the West Park Teaching Hub, Loughborough University on 29th of July 2022 and was made possible by the Research Culture Fund provided by the Doctoral College. We are immensely grateful for all the dignitaries and guests who attended the evening!