Sussex Sustainability Research webinar: How might the pandemic impact climate change? (14 July)

A Tale of Two Crises: The Pandemic and Climate Change, Tuesday 14th July, 11.00

Logo for the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme.

Over the past few months the world has rightly focused on the tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic. But what about the other global crisis, climate change? Is there a connection between the two?

Join the discussion in this Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) webinar, featuring short talks followed by a Q&A with two climate experts: Dr Melissa Lazenby (Global Studies), whose research focuses on climate projections over Southern Africa; and Prof Benjamin Sovacool (SPRU), whose research focuses on energy policy, energy security, climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The webinar will be moderated by Prof Joseph Alcamo, director of SSRP and a professor of environmental systems science. He previously served as the first Chief Scientist of UNEP, and play a strategic role in the international climate negotiations leading up to the Paris Agreement.

For more information and to register, see the webinar sign-up page on Zoom.

DOC Grant reopens: apply now for funding to cover online conference fees

A laptop on a desk next to a coffee mug shows multiple people on a Zoom style conference call.

As a temporary measure that will be kept under review, we are reopening the Doctoral Overseas Conference Grant to applications for online conference registration fees only. We are temporarily expanding the scheme for conferences in the UK as well as overseas.

The DOC Grant supports doctoral researchers who are presenting their research at a conference. Applicants must be registered for a doctoral degree at Sussex University, and the application must be made prior to submission of your thesis.

While under normal circumstances researchers are able to apply for a maximum of £1,000 during the period of their registration, we will consider applications for online conferences that take you over the £1,000 threshold at the moment. 

For further information, including the updated guidance notes, eligibility criteria and the application form, see our DOC Grant webpage.

Business Boost 2020: Calling all social sciences researchers – survey on business engagement

SeNSS have launched an online survey of doctoral and early career researchers in the Social Sciences, with the hope of identifying opportunities to support researchers working with business, and increase business engagement.

The data they collect will not only inform decisions regarding the provision of the Business Boost programme – including here at Sussex – but also any future SeNSS training provision for PGRs. The survey closes on 11 July.

Sussex’s own ESRC IAA / SeNSS funded Business Boost 2020 programme is designed to help doctoral and early career researchers to develop and enhance their skills in engagement with businesses. Funding is available to people who are seeking to develop new relationships with industry, or continue established links.

The scheme supports two funding streams – six-month residencies at The Fusebox in Brighton, and a Business Engagement Fund offering up to £1,000 to support engagement activities.

For more information contact Mary Harris, ESRC IAA Administrative Assistant (m.f.harris@sussex.ac.uk), or Nora Davies, ESRC IAA External Partnerships Manager (n.davies@sussex.ac.uk).

Take some time out with the Research Hive fortnightly Quaran-Time Tea & Talk

Lockdown has been a real challenge for many researchers, and socialising and self-care may be proving difficult. Join the Hive Scholars for an online Tea & Talk, bringing the doctoral community together to chat and connect over a cuppa / coffee / lemonade (delete as appropriate).

Sign up using this Doodle and the Scholars will be in touch with more details. These sessions will continue fortnightly until campus reopens, so there’s plenty of opportunity to connect with your fellow researchers. The next two dates are Wednesday 8th and Wednesday 22nd July.

The Tea & Talks and accompanying PGR self-care packages are part and parcel of the Hive’s Researcher-Led Initiative, supported by the Researcher Development Programme. The first batch of packages were scooped up in record time, but join the waiting list to be first in line when the scheme reopens in the Autumn term.

For more information see the Hive’s Quaran-Time Tea & Talk blogpost, and keep an eye on their @SussexResHive Twitter feed for regular updates.

This great initiative is another example of how the Hive Scholars continue to support researchers and foster an (online) doctoral community. They know the risk that social isolation brings for researchers, and have worked hard to focus on wellbeing and support. Visit the Hive Scholars website for more PGR-related fun, or join their Slack channels to chat with or work alongside your fellow PhDers.

So, you’re finishing your PhD in a pandemic… what’s next? – lecture with the Thesis Whisperer (15th July)

Wednesday 15th July, 09.30 – 10.30 (Online)

Graduates in gowns throwing their caps into the air.

Sussex Research Hive are thrilled to announce that renowned Thesis Whisperer Dr Inger Mewburn is ‘coming’ to Sussex to give a virtual lecture, with a Q&A session, to doctoral and early career researchers about careers in light of Covid-19.

In this lecture, Inger will use her team’s research on the post-PhD job market to:

  • Enhance your understanding of the changed academic job market, analysing the effects of hiring freezes and travel restrictions.
  • Increase awareness of career opportunities in industry; which sectors are looking for research talent?
  • Help you approach the non-academic job market with more confidence.

You can read more about the event on the Hive Scholars’ blogpost, and book a place through Sussex Direct.

A poster for the event titled So, you're finishing your PhD in a Pandemic... What next?

RLIs: This weekend, zoom in on some pure nostalgia at the Way-Back Weekender

Poster for the Way-Back Weekender: Zooming in on Nostalgia, supported by the Researcher Development Programme. The main image shows a cassette tape, the tape spooled out into the shape of a heart.

Given the uncertainty that haunts our everyday right now (hello Covid-19), why not give in to the pull of nostalgia just for a weekend?

Sign up (it’s free!) for a movie night, music evening, and more. The schedule is as follows.

Friday, 3rd July: (Throw)back to the Future

This Friday evening, pick a film of your preferred culture/language that makes you feel nostalgic and watch it with your family or lockdown company. The idea is for all participants to watch a film that reminds them of a bittersweet, feel-good time, before we all come together at 20.30 BST on Zoom. We then have a relaxed evening chat over popcorn (and your choice of beverage) about what film we saw, how it made us feel, why it made us feel that way, and more.

Movie suggestions (but not restricted to): Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, When Harry Met Sally, Lord of the Rings, E.T, Lion King, Forrest Gump, and of course, Back to the Future.

Saturday, 4th July: The Recollection Collection

For 19.30, dress up (or don’t!) in your choice of themed costume (80s bandanas, fun disco sunglasses, Britney-inspired outfit, etc.) and get on a Zoom call with the others to listen to the music that takes you way, way back. Here is a collaborative Spotify playlist to which you can add the songs that make you feel most nostalgic and you can view other participants’ songs as well. Wine, pets and succulents are encouraged to be a part of this little party. Feel free to accompany the listening with activities that typically make you feel nostalgic too — knitting, painting, doing a puzzle?

Those who are still in the mood can join us for a short chat at 20.30 to talk about their choice of music, era, that particular beat that really tugs at your nostalgic chord, and more.

Sunday, 5th July

11.00 – 12.00: Lattes and Literature

Why is it that we are drawn to certain kind of books from our past? Or why is it that we avoid certain books from our childhood? Over a nice cup of tea or coffee, we’ll have a laid-back and relaxed Sunday morning chat about the books that make us feel nostalgic.

18.00: Short talk by Dr. Pamela Thurschwell (University of Sussex)

Dr. Thurschwell writes about music, TV shows and lots more, and is currently working on her book on adolescence. She is a reader in the School of English at Sussex and her full bio can be found on the university website.

Will she speak about Watchmen? BoJack Horseman? Music? Come find out!

Library starts Click and Collect service for print collections

A barrier reading "2 metres. Please maintain social distancing at all times" stands in front of the security gates at the University of Sussex Library. Image: Sussex Library

Since the Library building closed in March the team have been working hard to provide Sussex students and staff with the online resources and support they need.

Now – after consultation with Health & Safety, SEF and campus unions – they’ve launched a Click and Collect Service to enable access to some printed materials in the collection.

It isn’t possible to request items that are on loan at the moment, but if the item you want is available on Library Search, request it as normal and you will receive an email once it’s ready, with further instructions on when and how to collect.

See the Library Click and Collect webpage for more information.

Festival round-up: Three Minute Thesis 2020 Final

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) returned to Sussex a few weeks ago for the Festival of Doctoral Research 2020. It was, however, different to previous years as the proceedings took place entirely online! The 3MT event usually takes centre stage at the Festival, and we were determined not to let a global pandemic and national lockdown get in the way.

A banner for 3MT Three Minute Thesis, Founded by the University of Queensland

After getting the all clear to host the event virtually from the 3MT founders, University of Queensland, and UK organisers, Vitae, we set about organising the logistics and moving everything online. It seemed that the Sussex doctoral community was equally determined not to let lockdown prevent them from taking part, as we received plenty of applications to participate. After holding 3MT training sessions with facilitator Dr Sarah Robins-Hobden, and a peer practice session to hone their skills, this year’s presenters took to the remote stage in front of judges and a Zoom audience!

Pro Vice Chancellor Stephen Shute opened the show and after the judging panel of Dr Katy Petherick (Public Engagement Coordinator at the School of Life Sciences), Dr Mahmoud Maina (Research Fellow and People’s Choice Winner 2016), and Dr Andrew Fleming (Regional Manager of The Brilliant Club) introduced themselves, the participants got going.

Anyone in the audience is sure to agree that the calibre of presentations this year was extremely high. After everyone had delivered their presentations, the judges deliberated in their break-out room and the participants had a well-deserved break, while the audience voted for their People’s Choice winner. Due to such high quality presentations, the judges had an extremely difficult decision to make and needed all of their allotted time to come to a conclusion.

Upon returning for the prize-giving ceremony, the results were announced, and we are delighted to confirm the winners below. Congratulations to you all, and also to everyone who participated, as all the presentations were inspirational and delivered in a unique and entertaining way. You can read all of the presenters’ abstracts on the 3MT 2020 webpage.

Stay tuned to Doctoral Connections as we will be adding more Festival posts and catching up with event winners in the coming weeks.


First place – £500 towards research and a place in the UK quarter finals: Melina Galdos Frisancho (University of Sussex Business School)

A woman delivering a presentation.
Making sense of Inclusive Innovation: Institutional Drivers for Knowledge Production and Organisational Learning in Peru

3MT Winner Melina’s research explores how universities approach developing ingenious alternatives to conventional ways of delivering basic services. She questions what drives research teams to respond basic services challenges and how their actions are shaped by the context in which they operate, and investigates how researchers’ sense-making shape their understandings, actions, and the different ways in which they come together to create enabling environments for developing socially inclusive innovations.


Second place – £250 towards research: Sushri Sangita Puhan (Education and Social Work)

A woman delivering a presentation.
Why and how people think, talk and practice adoption in India

Sushri’s research looks into the experience of adoptive family life in India, where adoption is an emerging practice in recent years. Since adopted children and adoptive parents have no access to the birth family information, it has been traditionally a confidential practice in the country. However, recently there is a transition in the legal process to promote adoption. Sushri’s research on adoptive family lives in India aims to understand how and why people think, talk, and practice adoption in their everyday lives in an environment where adoption is largely unspoken.


People’s Choice award – £250 towards research: Judy Aslett (Media, Film and Music)

A woman delivering a presentation.
Making a TV documentary to support the #ENDFGM campaign in The Gambia

Despite having internet connection issues, we arranged for Judy’s presentation to be shown with a pre-recorded video. Judy’s research investigates Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia, where most girls endure the practice as children, without anaesthetic. Her thesis involves making the factual documentary “My FGM Story”, in collaboration with presenter Halimatou Ceesay, and assessing the impact of the film on men and women in The Gambia. It is the first time a documentary about FGM has been shown on TV in The Gambia, with Halimatou interviewing her family, Imams, health professionals and President Adama Barrow as she campaigns to end FGM in a generation.

Why you need the support of other Doctoral Researchers

Four differently coloured wooden pawn playing pieces lined up next to each other.

As we come out of lockdown and a period of uncertainty and anxiety, and with the University still shut, never has it been more important to connect with other doctoral researchers than now. If you are looking for ways of linking up with other people in your School or in the wider University to form a mutually supportive group that ‘meets’ online, then read on…

Very early on in my PhD I realised that it was going to be a lonely few years. Without lectures and seminars to attend and with supervision just once a month the opportunity to connect with other people and talk about my research was limited.  I didn’t spend much time on campus, preferring to work at home, but this meant that it was difficult to link up with other doctoral researchers in my School.

I decided that I needed to reach out and talk to other people about the difficulties and stresses of doing a PhD and to discuss how they manage the ups and downs of PhD life. I found three people in the School of Education and Social Work and we formed an online support group. We are now in our third year and we all really value it.

We meet on Skype once a month and update each other on our research, discuss ideas and research methods and anything else that comes up. It has been really useful to pick each other up when things are not going so well and to celebrate our successes together.  We have supported each other through research proposals, ethics, fieldwork, analysis and now writing up. We carried on ‘meeting’ even when one of us intermitted due to illness and we intend to continue until we finish our PhDs.

I’m pleased to say that the Doctoral School has taken on board our idea and is now promoting it throughout the University.  If you would like to be better connected with your fellow researchers and want to feel the support of a group of people who are having similar experiences to you (good and bad), then I recommend that you get involved with a group.

Contact your PhD Convener to see if they can match you with people in your School, but if they can’t, fill in this simple form and the Doctoral School will connect you with suitable people. You may also want to read these guidelines on how to set up a group before you start.

Our group has operated without a hitch and everyone is respectful and supportive. If, however, you have any problems then Katy Stoddard in the Doctoral School is there to help. Whatever stage in your PhD you are, I thoroughly recommend an online support group to you and urge you to set one up as soon as possible.

Claire Durrant, doctoral reasearcher in social work

Festival round-up: staying connected at a distance

A mobile phone below three pink speech-bubble-shaped post-it notes.

This year’s Festival of Doctoral Research posed a unique challenge – how to celebrate the doctoral community when we’re all working and living at a distance? How can we bring people together when we have to be apart?

Converting some of our regular events was straightforward – the 3MT live final, the new Finishing your Doctorate panels and the RDP workshops lend themselves to the Zoom meeting set-up we’ve all come to know, if not love! But we wanted to go beyond that and seize this opportunity to take the Festival properly virtual, using online platforms to provide activities and community spaces where researchers could share their experiences, connect and chat.

Thanks to some enthusiastic PhDers and our lovely colleagues over at the Library we did just that, bringing you daily wellbeing check-ins, celebrating PGR publications and online vivas, and gaming, quizzing and crafting together, while the Hive Scholars collected your quarantine images to build a collage of PhD life during lockdown.

Catch up on some of the virtual events below.

Daily Check-Ins and Lockdown Tips
As a way of starting each Festival day and encouraging conversations around lockdown and mental health, we interviewed a PhD researcher on the blog and hosted a Twitter chat around a theme: working at home, exercise and physical activities, games and hobbies, entertainment and creativity. We’ve pulled the interviews and resources together on the Check-Ins webpage so if you’re looking for ways to switch off and boost your wellbeing it’s a good place to start.

I Am the Doctor: Viva Survivor Soundtrack
Alice Corble from the Library created a Viva Survivor playlist on Spotify in honour of all Sussex PhD graduates and candidates who have recently defended or are about to defend their thesis online, crowd-sourcing tracks from recently graduated researchers. Taking your viva is a huge achievement and deserves to be celebrated! If you’re approaching a distant viva the university has issued guidelines to help you prepare, and Dr Fiona Scott wrote about her own online viva experience for the Research Hive blog.

Promoting PGR Publications
The Library used the Festival to highlight some of the work published by Sussex doctoral researchers over the past 12 months, sharing articles on a Twitter thread @SussexLibrary. If you want to get published but you’re not sure where to start, this Library publishing resource can help. It includes recordings of seminars on book proposals, open access and publication strategies, tips on choosing where to publish, as well as advice on getting your work noticed and information on PhD by Publication.

#QuaranTimeCapsule collage
To highlight the impact of Covid-19 on doctoral researchers, the Hive Scholars put a call out for your #QuaranTimeCapsule images on Twitter and Instagram, and created a virtual photo collage illustrating the experiences and challenges researchers at Sussex have faced in lockdown. As they say in their blog round-up, “Everyone’s experience during this pandemic has been unique, but one thing connects us: we have shown grit and resilience to manage the challenges of the pandemic. Whether that is pushing on and adapting our research and workspaces, juggling a multitude of responsibilities, or taking the time to look after ourselves and others.”

A collage of photographs of doctoral researchers' work spaces at home, including laptops, sofas, gardens and small children. One image reads, "lockdown life".
Doctoral researchers’ #QuaranTimeCapsule collage. Image: Hive Scholars