Festival Spotlight: Why we should all be making our research LGBTQ+ inclusive – workshop

A close-up of an LGBTQ+ Pride flag incorporating the rainbow stripes and including pale blue and pink representing trans pride.

Jamie Chan is a PhD researcher and doctoral tutor in the School of Psychology looking at social class and body image. With Dee Dragani, she ran a workshop at the Festival of Doctoral Research on LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

“Inclusivity” has become a somewhat popular word these days. In conjunction with the Festival of Doctoral Research 2021, we ran an LGBTQ+ inclusivity workshop for researchers in Sussex that aimed to highlight good inclusivity practices in research, to reflect on inclusivity in our own research, and to answer questions surrounding inclusivity and related actions.

Why is inclusivity important?

“I don’t know if inclusivity is my research priority”
If we’re doing research, then inclusivity should be our priority, because we’re naturally part of the system that generates knowledge and every single person should be taken into account.

“I don’t know if I can make such big changes in my research”
Achieving inclusivity is a big step forward and we know that big steps can be discouraging. In our workshop, we proposed small achievable steps that can make our research a lot more inclusive.

“I’m inclusive enough in my research”
That’s great! However, inclusivity is not an exhaustive checklist, but rather a continual and active process of observation, reflection and participation. So, there is no harm in continual learning and reflecting!

What was the workshop about?

We covered a range of areas in our workshop relating to research and researchers. For example, we emphasised the importance of using inclusive language with suggestions of inclusive terminology (e.g. transgender, gender affirmation) in place of outdated terms (e.g. transsexual, sex change); we highlighted practical steps on how we can be more inclusive when designing, writing and thinking about research; we also focused on how we can create inclusive conference experiences and environments for LGBTQ+ participants in general and trans participants specifically.

As part of being inclusive, we were conscious about creating space for our participants to take part and ask any questions (regarding specific inclusivity challenges that they face in their research). This segment was a great opportunity for us to learn about one another’s experiences and come up with suggestions for solutions collectively.

Take away message

Inclusivity can look different in different projects. It is often not a clear-cut checklist, but a complex mix of navigating conventions and change. But what’s really important is that we start actively considering inclusion in every research decision that we make because small steps lead to larger change.

Dee (deedragani@gmail.com) and Jamie (jamie.chan@sussex.ac.uk) are available to answer any questions relating to LGBTQ+ inclusivity in research and/or in general.

The Science Viva Series: External workshops for Science researchers

The Science Viva Workshop is a series of 3 external online evening events for UK PhD students across the sciences.

a person sketching on a notebook

The virtual workshop is broken into 3 sessions, delivered by Dr Stacey Bedwell and Dr Isabelle Butcher (external facilitators), tickets cost £10 and multiple dates are available for each session.

The range of sessions will give you an insight into the viva experience, preparing for the viva, debunk some viva myths and give you the opportunity to practice some key viva skills.

Part 1 – what the viva is and viva experiences. Book a place here

Part 2 – viva preparation & viva anxiety. Book a place here

Part 3 – viva questions & mock viva activity. Book a place here

For questions about the event email staceybedwell@googlemail.com

Festival Spotlight: Showcasing PhD research – poster competition winners

Like the Image competition, the Research Poster Competition is an integral part of the Festival of Doctoral Research, showcasing the variety and reach of PhD work at Sussex. This year’s prize winners were announced at the prize-giving ceremony on Thursday 8 July.

This year’s judges included Joanna Pickets from the Brilliant Club, Dr Chris Brown, who runs the skills programme for Sussex’s Junior Research Associate scheme, and Joanna Young, an expert on scientific posters who teaches our Posters RDP session.

It’s been such a tough year and it’s a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of doctoral researchers at Sussex that they’ve been able to continue with their research and in some cases even respond to Covid and the pandemic in their work. Take a look at all the excellent entries on the Research Poster webpage.

First place – £300 towards research

An academic poster titled School Attendance Problems During Covid-19. Image: Brontë McDonald
School Attendance Problems During Covid-19. Image: Brontë McDonald

Our 2021 winner is Brontë McDonald, from the School of Psychology, for her timely poster entitled School Attendance Problems During Covid-19. The judges found it ‘detailed and well-designed, with a good logical flow and clear communication using different visual aids.’

Second place – £150 towards research

An academic poster titled The effect of health messages on intentions to consume alcohol during the Covid-19 pandemic. Image: Fiona Walker
The effect of health messages on intentions to consume alcohol during the Covid-19 pandemic. Image: Fiona Walker

Second place goes to Psychology researcher Fiona Walker for a poster on The effect of health messages on intentions to consume alcohol during the Covid-19 pandemic. The judges said it was ‘a clear poster and presented attractive statistics and quotations from the study.’

People’s Choice – £150 towards research

An academic poster titled "They said you would fail but I succeeded!” Discourse Analysis of a specially-abled Woman Entrepreneur in India. Image: Swati Bhargava
“They said you would fail but I succeeded!” Discourse Analysis of a specially-abled Woman Entrepreneur in India. Image: Swati Bhargava

Our People’s Choice winner this year is Swati Bhargava (Business School) for her poster titled “They said you would fail but I succeeded!” Discourse Analysis of a specially-abled Woman Entrepreneur in India. This award was voted for by students and staff at the University of Sussex during the first three days of the Festival.

Congratulations to all of our winners! Check out the results of the Research Image Competition and the Adam Weiler Doctoral Impact Award, which were also announced at the prize-giving ceremony. If you missed it, a recording of the event will be available on our RDP Canvas site shortly.

Apply now – sponsored place at Cumberland Lodge Life Beyond the PhD Conference this August

A globe hovers over an oustretched hand, lake and hills in the background.

Now in its thirteenth year, the ‘Life Beyond the PhD’ conference at Cumberland Lodge offers PhD students and Early Career Researchers (ECRs) 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.

This year’s conference, held in Windsor Great Park, will take place between 16th and 20th August. For more information please visit the Cumberland Lodge website.

Four nights of single accommodation at Cumberland Lodge will be provided to successful applicants, along with all meals during their attendance. Travel expenses to and from the Lodge will also be covered.

What’s in it for you?
A varied programme designed to help you develop the transferable skills you will need to maximise the impact of your academic work in the wider world, both within and outside of academia.

This year’s sessions include:

  • Presentation skills and writing for non-academic audiences
  • Sharing research with non-specialists
  • Dedicated 1:1 CV writing skills
  • Collaboration skills to optimise social impact.

To be eligible, you will:

  1. Be within the last year of doctoral or first year of postdoctoral research.
  2. Have had early experience or aspire to engage in either research leadership, interdisciplinary research, or public engagement.

If you are interested please apply using the following application form by Wednesday 21st July at 17.00.

Festival Spotlight: Putting PhD research in the frame – Image Competition winners announced

The Research Image Competition is an integral part of the Festival of Doctoral Research, showcasing the sheer variety and global reach of PhD research at Sussex. This year’s winners were announced at the prize-giving ceremony following the Festival keynote on Thursday 8 July.

The judges, including University photographer Stuart Robinson and Dr Sarah King (Director of Doctoral Studies for Psychology), found their task incredibly difficult. You can view all of this year’s excellent images, and the captions that tell the story behind them, on our Research Image webpage.

First place – £200 towards research

A small statue of the Madonna stands on a plinth in beautiful woodland. Photograph: Gabriel Popham
La Maddalena – Chiomonte, Italy. Photograph: Gabriel Popham

This year’s winner is Gabriel Popham, an Anthropology researcher from Global Studies, whose image La Maddalena – Chiomonte, Italy shows a small statue of the Madonna in woodland. Years ago, this small parcel of land in the Italian Alps was collectively purchased by more than a thousand people, as an act of civil disobedience against plans to build the new Turin-Lyon railway line through the Susa Valley. The land survives, for now, but will be claimed by developers. The judges said this entry “told a fascinating story” which speaks directly to Gabriel’s research into transport infrastructure and the politics of place in Italy.

Second place – £100 towards research

Three women in saris perform on a stage against a brightly coloured backdrop. Photograph: Ishrat Khan
Flames of Fire. Photograph: Ishrat Khan

Ishrat Khan (Global Studies) wins second place for her “colourful and expressive” photograph Flames of Fire. Her image documents Third Space, a place created by Bangladeshi feminist organisation Bonhishikha (‘flames of fire’ in English), where women can assert their rights to sing, live and spread their love for one another. Ishrat’s research looks at women’s economic empowerment and sexual agency within Muslim marriage in Dhaka. Judge Stuart Robinson said it ‘showed the extent to which clear and thoughtfully composed photography can effectively communicate research themes.’

People’s Choice – £100 towards research

A composite of four images showing the same woodland path in different seasons. Image: Maggie Xiao
Light intensity changes within a year. Image: Maggie Xiao

Maggie Xiao (Life Sciences) is your 2021 People’s Choice winner, for her ‘visually interesting’ composition Light intensity changes within a year. Maggie combined four photographs of the same spot on Wimbledon Common – taken in spring, summer, autumn and winter – during her neuroscience research into natural visual images and the changes of light intensity. This award was voted for by students and staff at the University of Sussex during the first three days of the Festival.

The prize-giving also saw the announcement of the Research Poster competition winners and the 2021 recipients of the Adam Weiler Award, which recognises researchers with the potential to achieve outstanding impact in their research. A recording will be available on the RDP Canvas site shortly.

PhD researchers needed for a Sussex study into imposter syndrome among students

The School of Psychology is looking for doctoral researchers for a study which looks to analyse Imposter Phenomenon (AKA Impostor Syndrome), a common issue among the doctoral community. Your participation could help us understand more about PhD mental health – and you’ll also be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win £25.

Impostor Phenomenon affects large numbers of students and staff members alike, with one report stating up to 60% of medical students suffering from impostor feelings. Whilst this subject is not new, there is no official guidance for psychological professionals on how to treat these feelings, nor any personal guidance to help manage them.

This study aims to look at what common factors associated with the Impostor Phenomenon are most likely to predict development of impostor feelings. A secondary goal is to explore if impostor feelings increase, the further along the academic career ladder one gets (from new student to senior staff member). The findings from this research could help towards identifying persons at risk, provide information for tailored interventions and provide greater general insight into this area.

Literature on this subject tends to focus on specific populations such as nurses, doctoral students or undergraduates, with a handful mixing other fields or populations. This study does just that and I believe will be a meaningful addition to the current literature.

The study is open to all university staff as well as undergraduate, postgraduate (Masters) and doctoral (PhD) students.

The survey should only take 15-20 minutes to complete, and is conducted by Danny Kovacs (dk399@sussex.ac.uk), supervised by Dave Smalley (davidsm@sussex.ac.uk). Contact Danny to participate.

Check out (Re)connect, the latest issue of Sussex’s Excursions postgraduate journal

Excursions Journal issue 11.1 (Re)Connect on a table alongside a laptopl, mug of coffee and pair of glasses.

It’s time to (re)connect with Excursions

To connect is an integral part of the human experience. If nothing else, these past 18 months showed us how dependent we are on our connections. In our new issue, Excursions invites you to explore the ways in which individual lives, social processes, and other phenomena are shaped by different forms of connection. 

As a true child of the pandemic, four articles within this issue focus on the manifold ways in which issues of (re)connection have become salient during this period. However, issues of creating, disrupting, and establishing (re)connections extend well beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, so another three articles reflect some of the most important social issues of the present – racial inequality, the climate crisis, and conflicts arising from social disembeddedness – through the rupture and establishment of connections. 

Moreover, the movements towards (re)connecting research and the world beyond academia also gained space in our pages. We published nine essays where doctoral researchers reflect on the many ways in which they engage with different communities, creating a bridge between their research and broader sectors of society.  

In a moment where the world needs to (re)establish its bonds, the Excursions board hopes to inspire you to make (re)connections with and between research, history, nature, people and, above all, yourself. Now, more than ever, it is time to (re)connect.

Excursions Editorial Team

Announcing the winners of the Adam Weiler Award for doctoral impact

The Adam Weiler Award is given annually to an exceptional doctoral researcher at Sussex who demonstrates the potential to achieve great impact in their field. 

Announced during the online Festival of Doctoral Research on 8 July, this year the award goes to two outstanding researchers. Chantelle Rizan (BSMS) and Maria Bjarnadottir (LPS) are both undertaking pioneering work in emerging areas of research and show the potential to enact real-world change. They will receive £1,000 towards their research. 

Chantelle Rizan, joint winner of the Adam Weiler award.

Chantelle Rizan has developed innovative new processes to measure the carbon footprint of hospital surgery, particularly the use of disposable equipment, and is working on strategies to mitigate environmental harm.

Though the NHS is responsible for 4-5% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, its climate impact is largely unresearched. Chantelle is a pioneer in her field, developing a sustainability strategy for the Royal College of Surgeons, working with the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change and helping to launch an international competition to improve environmental metrics in surgical care.

During the pandemic she responded to concerns over the use of disposable PPE, writing a paper on the topic that is informing UK healthcare policy. As Chantelle’s supervisor Prof Mahmood Bhutta says, her research is “timely, important and groundbreaking”.

Maria Bjarnadottir, joint winner of the Adam Weiler award

Maria Bjarnadottir is an international lawyer investigating the unauthorised sharing of intimate material (revenge porn) online, and the limits of current human rights law in protecting the right to privacy. Her thesis posits that violations should be classed as a sexual offence, and includes measures to ensure more effective policing, education and victim support.

Working in a fast-emerging discipline at the intersection of law and technology, Maria is already making an impact on the international stage. In 2018 she wrote a report for the Prime Minister’s Office in Iceland on image-based sexual abuse and legal reform, subsequently drafting legislation that became the Sexual Privacy Act, enacted into law in February this year. As her supervisor Prof Chris Marsden says, this is an “exceptional achievement” for a PhD student.

Maria has presented her work to the United Nations, chairs the Council of Europe hate speech committee and is working with the UK Law Commission and the police service in Iceland. She is a world leader in her field.

Three runner-up prizes of £500 were also awarded to impactful researchers in each of the disciplines. They are:

  • Arts & Humanities: Shalini Sengupta (MAH), whose research tackles the central tenet of difficulty in late modern and contemporary British poetry, taking an intersectional approach and looking at little-discussed female poets.
  • Sciences: Jenny Terry (Psychology), whose work investigates a possible connection between statistics anxiety and maths anxiety, including coordinating the Many Anxieties Project across 150 labs in 45 countries.
  • Social Sciences: Cassandra Wiener (LPS), who is researching the law on coercive control from the survivors’ perspective, and whose reform proposal was adopted by the government and included in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
Shalini Sengupta, Jenny Terry and Cassandra Wiener, Adam Weiler award runners up

The judges – Prof George Kemenes (Director of the Doctoral School), Prof Kate Lacey (Director of the AHRC CHASE DTP) and Prof Aleks Szczerbiak (LPS Director of Doctoral Studies) – were impressed with all of the incredible nominees this year, and found it an equally difficult and inspiring process.

This award is made possible thanks to a generous donation to the University in memory of Adam Weiler, a former student. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and thank you to Adam’s family for their continued support of outstanding doctoral research at Sussex.

Call for papers on the theme of research in challenging times: PGR Students Society @Bolton

The Postgraduate Research Students Society (PGRSS) at the University of Bolton invites proposals for its student-led Annual Conference 2021. We are seeking proposals particularly from PGR students.

Theme: Research in challenging times – Methods, Mitigation and Motivation
Date: 4th-5th August 2021

We are keen to receive innovative contributions and suggestions for formats of all sessions. As well as the following indicative themes, we welcome all proposals that will stimulate discussion and action.

The following themes are indicative:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on research
  • Mitigation of COVID-19 Impacts on research
  • Engaging in research during a worldwide pandemic
  • Research challenges during ‘Normal’ times
  • Mitigating the impact of challenges and limitations on research Collecting Data during COVID
  • Interventional social research challenges

Workshop proposals should be active learning sessions for participants that either advise, guide or disseminate good practice or concepts that can support the research community. Workshops should last no longer than 45 minutes and must include 15 minutes for questions and answers.

Paper presentations
Paper presentations should last 30 minutes, of which at least 10 minutes should be included for discussion, exploration, and questions. You should emphasise the lessons that can be drawn from your experience. Sessions that integrate presentation and discussion, rather than presentation followed by Q&A.

Lightning Talks
Pitch, Discuss, Connect, Share and Shout. You have control. Lightning Talks should last no more than 7 minutes in length and allow 5 minutes for Q&A.

Poster Presentations
We welcome all poster presentationsthat follow the format set out in the University of Bolton guidance.

How to submit a proposal
Please use this application form to submit your proposal. The deadline for submissions is 15 July 2021.

If you have any questions, get in touch through pgrssuob@gmail.com.

Enter the University’s £20,000 Sustainability Innovation Challenge today!

Logo for the Sustainability Challenge showing icons including vehicles, plants, bees, a watering can, a microscope, a mortar board, luggage and people.

Enter the Pitch for the Planet: The Sustainable COVID Recovery Challenge and you could win a share of £20,000 to make your idea a reality. 

The global pandemic has changed the world we live in, creating significant global and personal challenges for us all. Yet among this disruption we look forward to a world where the impact of Covid-19 declines – and we have the chance to build a sustainable recovery for our planet.

Every student and doctoral researcher at Sussex has the opportunity to be involved in this recovery at a local level and support Sussex to become one of the most sustainable universities in the world.  To help you do this the University is offering all Sussex students a chance to win a share of £20,000, and get expert support to make a real difference in tackling the environmental challenges we face.

Find out more by reading this article: Pitch for the Planet: The Sustainable COVID Recovery Challenge – it contains everything you need to enter the challenge, and information on the type of issues we’d like students to help solve.

We’re encouraging as many students as possible to submit their ideas and help make a real difference at Sussex and in the wider community.  Enter by 10am on Monday 19 July to have a chance to make your sustainability solution a reality.