Festival of Postgraduate Research 2018 Round up

The Doctoral College’s second Festival of Postgraduate Research saw a broad range of doctoral students and alumni showcasing their research through displays, presentations and competitions. Held at Huxley on 7 June, the penultimate day of term, the event brought staff and students together to enjoy a vibrant and stimulating afternoon.

After a welcome address from Prof Andrew Church, the festival opened with presentations from two pairs of PhD students who had taken on the Opposites Attract challenge of working with a researcher from a different discipline on a project of their own design for seven weeks. Heather Baid (Health Sciences) and Akinyo Ola (Business School) focused on exploring staff wellbeing and social auditing within the healthcare sector, a project that brought some of their overlapping research interests together. They presented their blog, discussed the project, future plans and what they’d gained from the experience. Robin Talbot (Environment and Technology) and Sandra Young (Computing, Engineering and Mathematics) focused on a shared interest in the environment for their project which used corpus-driven analysis, an approach from Sandra’s field, to investigate biofuels and deforestation in Brazil and representation of the issue in the news. Robin and Sandra presented their findings as a poster and spoke about the development of the project and what they’d learned from the collaboration. All four participants observed that working on an interdisciplinary project had proven to be surprisingly beneficial to their own research. Dr Ross English presented the winning duo, Heather and Akinyo, with the Prof David Arnold Memorial Prize of £500.

Prof Tara Dean introduced the second festival event, the highly popular Three Minute Thesis (3MT). Seven students stepped up to present their research to a general audience in under three minutes, using only one slide, with topics ranging from cyber security to cruise holidays to drinking during pregnancy. You can watch the presentations on our 20 minute video.

During the break, audience members cast their vote for their favourite 3MT presenter and browsed submissions to the annual research poster and photo competitions, both of which were also open to online voting by the wider university community. Festival newcomer, Bake your Thesis, drew a great deal of comment and attention, and looks set to become a regular festival feature.

Prof Neil Ravenscroft then introduced a doctoral inaugurals session which saw three recent graduates, Dr Uschi Klein, Dr Richard Wallis and Dr Chantal Nobs, return to present their doctoral research. A panel discussion followed with three current students, Majed Al-Jefri, Abby Barras and Jason Porter joining the three graduates to discuss research study and research life at Brighton. Topics covered included wellbeing, expectations vs reality and advice to starters. Richard Wallis discussed the challenge of knowing when to stop and described the PhD is a starting point, not an ending, while Chantal Nobs advised not to spend too much time worrying about the viva and Abby Barras recommended treating research study like a job in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The festival closed with a drinks reception and the announcement of the competition winners, with a final winner, the champion of a Tweet your Thesis competition, announced the following day. (See below for full list of winners.) Throughout the afternoon, the festival hashtag twitter feed was live-streamed on the plasma screens in Huxley. Check out the stream for a reminder of the day’s event.

Thanks to everyone who participated in and attended the festival. We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did and look forward to seeing you again next year!

Click on a pic to view full size photo galleries.

Poster competition winners

Photo competition winners

Prize-giving, drinks reception and bake-your-thesis eating


1st prize: Heather Baid (SHS) and Akinyo Ola (BBS)

1st prize: Jennifer Holland (SaSM)
Runner up: Jo Wilding (BBS)
People’s choice prize: Tochukwu Ozulumba (PaBS)

Joint 1st prize: Marta Falcinelli (PaBS) and Kristin O’Donnell (Humanities)
People’s choice: Myrthe Mampay (PaBS)

People’s choice prizes:
1st prize: Myrthe Mampay (PaBS)
Runner-up: Samuel Penny (PaBS)

1st prize: Marta Falcinelli, Renee Flaherty, Haya Intabli, Myrthe Mampay (PaBS) for ‘Baked Brain and Boobs’

1st prize: Harriet Pelling (PaBS)

Doctoral Inaugural Lectures 2018

Doctoral Inaugural Lectures
Thursday 7 June 2018, 3pm, Huxley 300
Part of the Doctoral College Festival of Postgraduate Research

PGR festival banner 7 June Huxley

We are delighted to welcome back three recent graduates, Dr Uschi Klein, Dr Richard Wallis and Dr Chantal Nobs, to speak about their research in ten-minute doctoral inaugural lectures, introduced by Prof Neil Ravenscroft, Director of the Doctoral College. After their presentations, Uschi, Richard, and Chantal will be joined by three current PhD students, Abby Barras (SASS), Jason Porter (Humanities) and Majed Al-Jefri (CEM) to discuss their experiences of research study and research life at the University of Brighton. All staff and students welcome. Please join us!

See the full festival schedule and book your free place by Monday 4 June

Dr Uschi Klein

Doctoral student 2013-2017
School of Media
Supervisors: Prof Darren Newbury, Dr Cathy Palmer

The agent in the image-making process: the photographic practices of young male adults with ASD

A cropped part of the façade of a high-rise building; a woman in a red coat running down the street; a profile of an owl sitting on a branch; a cloud formation on a sunny day. These are examples of photographic images taken by four young male adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the sphere of their everyday lives. Their photographs indicate there is a wide range of activities designated as photo-worthy, but what is not evident by merely looking at the photographs is the photographers’ experience and perception of objects in the process of their image production.

Drawing on my qualitative research into the everyday photographic practices of four young male adults with ASD, this paper discusses participants’ ways of seeing and being-in-the-world as expressed through their photographic image-making. By grounding their perception in their experiencing body, the four participants make their presence felt through the entry into the domain of photography.  After all, for James it is not just a photograph of a sky formation; for him, “it looks like snow but it’s sky from a different angle”.

Klein profile photoBiography
Uschi Klein is a London-based photographer, researcher and writer. She studied media studies and linguistics at undergraduate level at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, followed by a practice-based MA in photography at Goldsmiths, University of London. She was awarded her PhD titled Seeing self and world: everyday photography and young male adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder from the School of Media, University of Brighton in 2017. In recent years, Uschi has presented her research at a number of international conferences, including Photomedia in Helsinki, Finland, in March 2018. Uschi is interested in the everyday photographic practices of marginalised people, and her research interests encompass the relationship between photography, visual communication, visual culture, identity and visual research methods.


Dr Richard Wallis

Doctoral student 2010-2017
School of Education
Supervisors: Dr Carol Robinson, Dr Nadia Edmond

Undergraduate Students’ Experiences and Perceptions of Dialogic Feedback Within Assessment Feedback Tutorials

There is a small but growing field of research that promotes dialogic feedback and the inclusion of opportunities for assessment feedback discussions between tutors and undergraduate students. Framed by socio-constructivist theorisations of learning, proponents claim that such assessment feedback tutorials (AFT) benefit students through developing their personal confidence and capacity to self-direct learning. Through a research design of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), my thesis aimed to gain a deeper understanding of eight, full-time undergraduate students’ experiences and perceptions of discussing their performance with their marking tutor.

The findings posited that some students face a significant predicament when discussing weak and/or failed assignments. Their desire to self-promote and/or self-protect a confident and capable learner identity, not only conflicts with their own self-awareness of their poor academic performance, but also with the tutor’s expectations that students need to undertake greater responsibility for their own learning and academic performance. As a means of managing this tension, and the emotional pressures that an AFT creates, students draw upon a range of self-presentational behaviours to manage how they project themselves to their tutor.

The thesis concludes that such strategic management of their self-presentation restricts opportunities for the critical dialogic exchanges needed to create co-constructive student/tutor relationships and deep learning. As such, it is recommended that, within undergraduate study, there is increased focus on supporting students to understand the role that dialogue plays in engaging with feedback and the personal learning opportunities it affords.

Wallis profile photoBiography
Dr. Richard Wallis is currently a Principal Lecturer and Deputy Head of School of Education, University of Brighton. Richard’s key strategic role is to lead on developments regarding learning and teaching. He was awarded a Doctor of Education (EdD) in December 2017, with a thesis title of: Undergraduate Students’ Experiences and Perceptions of Dialogic Feedback Within Assessment Feedback Tutorials. Richards’s research interests lie within the field of assessment and feedback practices within Higher Education. However, more recently, he also been involved in a number of practice-based research projects that have focused upon models of embedding enquiry-based learning in undergraduate courses.


Dr Chantal Nobs

Doctoral student 2013-2017
School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics
Supervisors: Prof Alison Bruce, Dr Zsolt Podolyak, Dr William Wilkinson

Using proton-induced fission to investigate the shape and structure of exotic nuclei

Dr Chantal Nobs’ PhD research project focused on furthering our understanding of the nuclear properties of an exotic nucleus, yttrium-102, which does not exist naturally on Earth. In order to study this nucleus, she was required to travel to labs across the world to collect data in facilities capable of creating yttrium-102 in a process known as proton-induced fission. Chantal worked with a wide variety of people and had the opportunity to present her work at national and international conferences. Throughout her PhD, Chantal took advantage of a variety of opportunities in teaching, networking and public engagement and before graduation started working as a researcher in a field she is passionate about. This presentation will detail the aims and outcomes of Chantal’s PhD research, focusing on experimental work and analysis of a key experiment conducted in Finland, and how this research has directly influenced her current career choices.

Nobs profile photoBiography
Dr Chantal Nobs graduated from her PhD degree in Experimental Nuclear Physics in December 2017 with a thesis titled Spin and parity assignment for the ground and isomeric states in 102Y, and having completed the final year of her PhD while working at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE). During her degree, Chantal realised that she was driven by the applications of her research, with a particular passion for nuclear energy. As a Radiometric Researcher at CCFE she has been able to continue this enthusiasm by working as a researcher contributing to the development of fusion energy. Her research currently focuses on the development and testing of a novel neutron detector system for use in future fusion power plants to monitor the energy of the neutrons produced in fusion, with the aim of using this information to measure the power output of future fusion power plants.

Public engagement is hugely important to Chantal’s ambition to update the public perception of nuclear physics and nuclear energy and encourage younger generations to take more of an interest in STEM subjects. She regularly provides tours of the facilities at CCFE, visits schools and colleges to talk about her research, and through her own research helps train University students to become future researchers.

Festival of Postgraduate Research Schedule

PGR festival banner 7 June Huxley

The Festival of Postgraduate Research takes place on Thursday 7 June in Huxley 300 and foyer. On display in the foyer will be submissions to three competitions: research poster, research photo and Bake your Thesis.

Book your free place on Eventbrite by Monday 4 June

Festival Schedule

12.30-13.00: Registration

13.00-13.30: Welcome address from Prof Andrew Church and Opposites Attract presentations
The Opposites Attract Collaborative Challenge pairs up students from different disciplines and challenges them to work on a project of their own design for seven weeks. This year’s participants present their outputs and reflections on the project.

13.30-14.30: The Three Minute Thesis
Introduced by Prof Tara Dean
Doctoral students take on the challenge of presenting their research to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes, using only slide. Audience members are invited to vote for their favourite presenter during the mid-afternoon break.

14.30-15.00: BREAK

15.00-15.45: Doctoral inaugural lectures
Introduced by Prof Neil Ravenscroft
Three doctoral graduates return to present their research in ten-minute talks:
Dr Uschi Klein: The agent in the image-making process: the photographic practices of young male adults with ASD
Dr Richard WallisUndergraduate Students’ Experiences and Perceptions of Dialogic Feedback Within Assessment Feedback Tutorials
Dr Chantal Nobs: Using proton-induced fission to investigate the shape and structure of exotic nuclei

15.45-16.30: Panel discussion
Chaired by Dr Susan Sandeman
Uschi, Richard and Chantal are joined by three current doctoral students, all at different stages of their PhD journey, to discuss research study and research life at Brighton.

16.30-18.00: Drinks reception and prize-giving

18.00+: Drinks at the Lord Nelson on Trafalgar Street, Brighton, (kindly organised by PhD Student Hub founders, Abby Barras and Kristin O’Donnell).