PhD researchers awarded for outstanding impact
By: Katy Stoddard
Last updated: Thursday, 22 June 2023
Four outstanding Sussex postgraduate researchers have been recognised for game-changing work in very different fields: blood cancer research, gender equality in industry, computer simulations used in astrophysics, and art interventions for care home residents with memory loss.
Announced during Sussex Doc Fest on 8 June, the £1,000 Adam Weiler Awards recognise researchers who demonstrate the potential to make a lasting, positive impact with their PhD work, and is supported by a generous donation to the University in memory of a former student.
Sam Harrold (Media, Arts & Humanities) uses a highly original synthesis of interdisciplinary methods, fusing scientific and practice-led approaches across disciplines from medicine to creative writing to explore how art and music can support care home residents with memory loss.
Her close work with residents, family members and care workers has led to new insights into how we view the changing status of memory at end of life, how we can respond more respectfully to residents’ complex needs, and how serenity can be found within the noisy chaos of the care home environment. This socially important research has the potential to influence public perception, improve the experience of care home residents across the UK, and lead to a sea change in therapy design.
William Roper (Mathematical & Physical Sciences) has been instrumental in developing new computer code to speed up numerical simulations that are used to gain an understanding of how galaxies, stars, gasses, dark matter and black holes form and evolve. This faster code makes it possible to process larger volumes with higher resolution, something which has limited discoveries to this point.
Will’s code also impacts the consumption of energy, moving the sector to a more sustainable model of research. Will has written and co-authored multiple publications, his research was used in Netflix documentary Our Universe, and his code is already being applied to studies beyond astrophysics.
Phillippa Groome (SPRU, Business School) is exploring how organisations can successfully promote equality, diversity and inclusion, specifically gender equality, within the demanding context of the UK construction sector. She is taking an innovative approach to develop research initiatives collaboratively with industry and policy stakeholders, and advocating for participant-led methodologies within the project delivery field.
Through extensive engagement with the industry and fostering network connections, Phillippa has secured a role as a policy advisor to the Department of Transport, conducts training for HM Treasury and industry bodies, and is informing government EDI strategy and policy change.
Arran Pack (Brighton & Sussex Medical School), our inaugural Clinical Sciences winner, takes an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to blood cancer research, pioneering a way of integrating mutations into computational simulations of healthy cells to predict how cancer cells will respond to their environment in the body and to drugs.
Combining computer coding, mathematical equations and experimental biology work, Arran is generating new projects in blood cancer research. His published methods are likely to impact the study of immunology and virology more broadly, and his work has real potential to enable cancer treatments individually tailored to each patient.
Runner-up prizes of £500 were awarded to impactful researchers in each discipline:
- Alison Ramsey (Media, Arts & Humanities), whose of-the-moment research into media representation of the menopause considers the relationship between feminist grassroots activism and neoliberal concepts that fuel the wellness industry.
- Hon Wing Boaz Chan (Life Sciences), for designing novel reaction systems in two exceptional projects that will impact the fields of chemistry and sustainable technology.
- Sebastian Oakley (Life Sciences), for exciting research into the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s and a small molecule drug that may prevent progression of the disease.
- Chloe Anthony (Global Studies), whose research focuses on UK environmental law and predicts the current move towards collaborative landscape-level ‘nature recovery'.
This year’s judging panel included Dr Miroslav Chlebik (MPS Director of Doctoral Studies), Prof Lucy Robinson (Associate Dean of Doctoral Studies for MAH) and Dr Natalia Slutskaya (Business School Director of Doctoral Studies).
Full list of awards:
Arts and Humanities
- Winner: Sam Harrold (MAH)
- Runner-up: Alison Ramsey (MAH)
- Winner: William Roper (MPS)
- Runner-up: Hon Wing Boaz Chan (Life Sciences)
- Runner-up: Sebastian Oakley (Life Sciences)
- Winner: Phillippa Groome (SPRU)
- Runner-up: Chloe Anthony (Global Studies)
- Winner: Arran Pack (BSMS)