CEMPS Early Career Researcher Network Conference

Emma is a Research Fellow in the Vibration Engineering Section and an ECRN rep for Engineering.  Her research focus is on active and passive control of human-induced structural vibrations and having designed and commissioned the world’s first permanent active control system for concert-induced vibrations she’s currently developing a smaller, commercially attractive active control system for office floors.


The CEMPS Early Career Researcher Network (ECRN) ran their annual mini conference on Friday 3rd November in the Living System Institute.  The day started off with a lunchtime networking session, followed by introductory talks from Professor Ken Evans, Professor Nick Stone, and Professor Richard Everson.  Attendees were then invited to present to everyone and give a lay summary of their research in a challenging 60 seconds or less!  Following on from this, the poster session commenced and gave researchers a chance to quiz their peers and find out more about some of the great research that’s going on in different research groups and in other disciplines.  The day was concluded with a presentation from Karen Leslie, Head of Researcher Development and Research Culture at the Doctoral College, who also kindly presented awards for best 60 second talk and best poster as voted for by attendees.


Congratulations to Dominique Meyer for best 60-second pitch and runner-up in the poster competition, and to Congping Lin for best poster, both winning Amazon vouchers for their efforts.  Feedback from the day showed that this was a really well received event and very successful in encouraging Early Career Researchers to talk about their research with others in the college.  This was the first of several events to be organised by the CEMPS ECRN group.  Future planned events include an introductory workshop session for how to use LaTeX, as well as a Promotions Workshop, an Interview Panel Workshop with top CEMPS professors and many more! Plus don’t forget, if there’s a specific event that you would like to see run or just want more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch at .

Written by: Emma Hudson- Research Fellow in the Vibration Engineering Section and an ECRN rep for Engineering. To find out more about Emma and her work you can visit her web profile. 


Elevator Pitch

Natalie is a PhD student in the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Metamaterials. Her research topic is “Graded Index Magnonics” – studying and designing gradually changing refractive indices for spin waves in magnetic materials.

Twitter: @NataliePhysics


Sam is a PhD student in the astrophysics group. His research topic is “Observational Studies of Planet Forming Stars” – where he’s currently studying the disagreement between observations and theoretical models of low-mass, red dwarf stars.

Twitter: @smorrell


We’ve now launched the “Elevator Pitch” video series on the “Physics at Exeter” YouTube Channel – and we’re looking for budding volunteers to do a quick, super-simple explanation of their research to a lay-audience. Two of our former postgrads, Hannah Wakeford and Moncho Raposo, originally came up with this idea a few years ago – and we’ve been keen to reinstate the idea, since we have such a perfect location for it in the Physics tower. We’re keen for the general public, especially young budding physicists, to get an insight into the work we do here, and to see that we’re just a bunch of interesting, mostly normal (!) people who love science!

Another series of videos we’re starting to work on is called “Ask a Physicist / Ask an Astrophysicist” – we’re hoping to get local schools to send us physics questions from their students, and we’ll find an academic (at any level) to respond to them, in a 3 minute (or so) video. This is a fantastic way to inspire the younger generation about physics – we know we’d have been thrilled to have a physics expert answer our questions on a YouTube video!

To top off your helping of videos, we are also offering visiting academics and seminar speakers a chance to discuss their research in our “Guest Lecture” series. For this we want to give a broader view of other work that goes on around the world within physics and astronomy.

We’d really like to thank everyone who has been a part of this up until now, especially those who’ve helped get the channel off the ground. We also hope to advertise for volunteers to take part in either videos, or even help with editing videos / running the channel, on the notice boards in the physics lifts – physicists, please keep an eye out for this if you’d like to be involved!

Written by: Natalie Whitehead and Sam Morrell

5 Reasons You Should Apply to be a PhD Tutor with The Scholars Programme!

Gemma is a 4th year (PT) Film PhD student, who shares her top 5 reasons to apply to become a PhD tutor with The Brilliant Club. Originally posted on The Brilliant Club website. 




Scholars Programme PhD Tutor Gemma Edney from the University of Exeter shares the top 5 reasons to apply to become a PhD Tutor with The Brilliant Club!

There are so many reasons to apply to be a PhD Tutor with The Brilliant Club, but I have managed to whittle it down to five based on my own experience with The Scholars Programme.

  1. It’s an extremely worthwhile cause

The stats speak for themselves, here. Only  1 in 50 of the most disadvantaged quintile of 18-year olds progress to a highly-selective university, compared to 1 in 4 of the most advantaged quintile. The education gap between pupils from underrepresented backgrounds and their more affluent peers is huge, and it is important that we, as higher education practitioners, try to help redress the balance. This is what The Brilliant Club aims to do, with great success. As a PhD Tutor, you can help narrow the gap and contribute to a great cause.

  1. You can make a real difference

When I first became a PhD Tutor, I was skeptical about the amount of difference I could make in the space of seven weeks. However, I soon realised that it isn’t just about the pupils’ subject knowledge, but the other ways they can develop through the programme. Working as a PhD Tutor, you get the chance to see the progression your pupils make week by week. You have the opportunity to make a genuine difference to their lives, and the chance to have a lasting impact on their self-confidence, work ethic and realisation of future opportunities.

  1. It’s a chance to get your research off campus

It is so easy as a PhD Researcher to just spend all of your time in the library, at your computer, or in the lab. Working as a PhD Tutor offers you the opportunity to take your research off campus, share it with other people, and get them interested in your subject. You can learn how your research can be relevant to the current education system, and disseminate it to your pupils, their teachers, and other PhD tutors. This isn’t just good for professional reasons, it’s great for your own confidence in your research area too: there’s nothing like capturing the imagination or interest of someone else with your own project.

  1. It’s great for your professional development

Widening Participation is fast becoming a focus of many universities; experience with a WP organisation like The Brilliant Club can count for a lot for Higher Education institutions. Since becoming a PhD Tutor, I have been asked by my university to run training sessions for other PhD researchers and to help co-ordinate Widening Participation programmes at a university level, which is all great experience for the CV, as well as a good opportunity to develop understanding of the workings of Higher Education institutions more generally.

  1. You can meet great, like-minded people

One of the best things about becoming a PhD Tutor is entering into the fantastic community of existing tutors and Brilliant Club staff. Everyone you meet at training, launch events or graduations is passionate about what they do, and the enthusiasm is infectious. You become part of an amazing network of individuals all working towards the same goal. I have personally made some great friends through The Brilliant Club, and it’s great to share experiences and tips with other researchers.

Overall, I would recommend working as a PhD Tutor to anyone who is interested in increasing access to Higher Education, or wants to disseminate their research in a creative and fulfilling way.

Written by: Gemma Edney, a 4th year (PT) Film PhD Student- Want to learn more about Gemma and her research? You can look at her research profile, or follw her on twitter @GemmaEdney

This post was originally posted on The Brillant Club webpage, if you wish to find out more about The Brillant Club and what they do check there website.

PGR Profile- Edward Mills

Name: Edward Mills

Discipline: Modern Languages / Medieval Studies (I kind of vacillate between the two, but it is of course perfectly possible to belong to both!)

Location: Mostly in the shared PGR office in Queen’s (not the same one as Imogene, sadly!), although I do spend quite a bit of time on the Exeter Ship Canal working with the University’s rowers.

What is the working title for your research project?

Funnily enough, the current title is ‘Imagining and enacting education in the French texts of medieval England, c. 1120 – c. 1420’.

Can you describe your research project in more detail?

My research falls broadly into the domain of ‘Anglo-Norman’ studies: that is, the distinctive dialect of French that was used in England during the centuries after the Norman Conquest. I’m looking at literature, specifically didactic literature, and investigating how Anglo-Norman texts conceptualise and then carry out the process of education. As the incredible Ken Robinson points out, we all have an interest in education, one built on our own experiences in school; my research gives me the opportunity to marry that interest with my love for all things French and medieval.

… and can explain it in a single sentence?

How was education imagined and enacted through the French texts of medieval England?

What is a typical day like?

I tend to get into the office at some point between 9am and 10am. Those morning hours are usually the most productive part of my day, so I try to get the bulk of my writing done before lunchtime, which I’ll often eat in the Senior Common Room (SCR) with other PGRs. The afternoons tend to be when I do my non-writing work, whether it’s replying to emails, doing ‘gradmin’ (I’m the PGR Representative for Modern Languages, so I have a lot of meetings to attend!), or teaching. I’m often involved in some sort of event in the evenings, too, from chess to playing trumpet in a couple of student and local bands.

What would you say is your proudest moment during your research journey so far?

That’s a tricky one … it’s a toss-up between finding out that I’d received funding from the University, meeting the people behind my scholarship fund, and presenting at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds last summer.

What do you like to do when you are not researching?

I’m a big fan of Organised Fun™, so I tend to get involved in a lot of student groups and societies (they’re not just for undergraduates, after all!). I’m currently Secretary of the Chess Society, where I occupy the exalted position of being the worst player on the Committee, as well as a cox and trainee coach for the University rowing club. Societies played a big part in helping me to settle in at Exeter, and have given me opportunities that I would never have got elsewhere. One particular highlight was coxing at Henley Royal Regatta last year: even though we were drawn against very strong opposition, I really enjoyed the chance to race on perhaps the most famous stretch of water in the world.

If you could start again, what would be your advice to yourself as a new postgraduate researcher?

Stay geeky! Seriously, though, your enthusiasm as a researcher is one of your most valuable assets, and it’s worth taking a moment from time to time just to remind yourself of why you’re doing a PhD. In my case, it’s because I believe that Anglo-Norman is really, really cool, but whatever your particular interest, don’t forget that it will sustain you for three years of research. During that time, you’re allowed – nay, encouraged! – to be as unforgivingly, unremittingly nerdy as you want to be. Take that opportunity.

And finally- can you explain your research project in 5 emojis?

💭- The ‘thought bubble’ emoji reflects the ‘thinking’ element of my research: how was ‘education’ as a concept actually understood during this period? What did it mean to ‘educate’ in a period where the French term éducation did not yet exist?
✍️- The ‘writing hand’ is perhaps more obvious: how did these Anglo-Norman texts construct themselves in order to achieve these aims of …
🏫- … education?
📜- The ‘parchment’ emoji here isn’t just shorthand for ‘medieval’: it’s actually a reminder of the fact that the texts that I’m studying existed in a manuscript and oral culture, meaning that ideas of authorship and originality were radically different to our own.
❓- Why the question-mark? Well, I was going to put a French flag here, but that of course creates more problems: should I define my corpus of texts by language or by location? Will eagle-eyed readers spot the anachronism of a medievalist using a flag first adopted in the 1790s? Instead, I wanted my final emoji to be a reminder of the centrality of questions to the process of teaching, as well as of the exploratory nature of my research. Many of these texts are almost criminally under-studied, so I’m sure that my project will raise many more questions than it answers!

Edward Mills is a postgraduate research student working towards a PhD in French. He writes a semi-regular blog, Anglo-Normantics, and Tweets (somewhat more frequently) at @edward_mills. For more information on postgraduate Modern Languages study and research at Exeter, medieval or otherwise, check out @ExeModLangsPGs.

PhD: The Musical!

Imogene Dudley is a 3rd year History PhD student who, with the help of and credit to the past and present members of Humanities Office C, created a fantastic procrastination tool ‘PhD: The Musical.’



Most of us doctoral students would agree that music is a vital tool for getting us through our thesis – whether that’s being unable to work without it, using it as inspiration for crucial moments, or even making playlists to listen to whilst doing certain tasks. It can improve our mood whilst slogging through a particularly difficult section of the thesis, it can help us focus and its presence can aid us in blocking out other, more distracting noise. I’m even listening to my Spotify right now as I write this blog!

It is in this vein that my office, during a mid-afternoon slump, hit on the idea of “PhD: The Musical.” It quickly became a game, thinking of songs that particularly describe the PhD experience, for better or for worse! Soon, the office whiteboard had been dedicated to the purpose of formulating the musical set-list. It was nothing more than procrastination, a piece of fun which helped us bond and provided a few light moments throughout the day, until I tweeted a picture of the whiteboard.


Well, it blew up in a way in which we could never have expected (and, for the record, I am no way a Twitter celebrity)! So far, it has been liked eighty-nine times, retweeted thirty-three times and had twenty comments – certainly no Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift, but not bad for academic Twitter and astronomical for my own personal account!

Other suggestions started flooding in: Survivor by Destiny’s Child, Under Pressure by Queen, The NeverEnding Story, Many of Horror by Biffy Clyro and, on a more positive note, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python!  Before we knew it the board was full and, whilst it may have been more of a distraction than we had anticipated, there was definitely a lighter mood in the office. Through making “PhD: The Musical”, we had shared commons themes and feelings of PhD life. Negative feelings involving isolation, lack of funds, a seemingly never-ending workload and imposter syndrome had been shared in a friendly environment through the means of song. In doing so we realised that these feelings were common in the doctoral community, both in Humanities Office C and in the wider universe of the Twittersphere, and that we were not alone. The addition of songs such as With A Little Help from My Friends by The Beatles and Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself by Jess Glynne reminded us to focus on the positives, to not be so harsh with ourselves and that with the support of our loved ones we would get through the process! In effect, our little support network, already established, had been strengthened and solidified and we had a lot of fun along the way.

This blog post has got rather deep rather quickly, but I really do believe that “PhD: The Musical” is evidence of the positives of having a sympathetic and friendly community around you. Studying for a doctorate can be an incredibly isolating process, and we can all agree that support networks and community are important factors in staying sane. Of course, not everybody has the luxury of a sociable and friendly office, or even office space at all, and some people prefer to work at home. This post is not intended to diminish that experience, only to extol the virtues of building support networks, something that can definitely be achieved outside the office environment, whether it’s other PhD students, or friends outside of academia, or family.

And don’t be afraid to procrastinate and have fun! After all, “PhD: The Musical” may need a sequel…

With thanks and credit to the past and present members of Humanities Office C

Written by: Imogene Dudley History PhD Student (3rd year) –Want to learn more about Imogene and her research? You can look at her research profile, or follow her on twitter @imogene_dudley!