PGR Profile – Raul De La Fuente

Name: Raul De La Fuente Pinto

Discipline: Renewable energy/electrical Engineering

Location: Falmouth

What is the working title for your research project?

Development of a reliable active network management system

Can you describe your research project in more detail?

I am researching the main technical issues of integrating renewable energies in rural areas, especially in South Africa, where the main power grid is unreliable; thus, the communities are frequently experiencing power cuts and blackouts. The project is in partnership with South African companies and the council of a small village called Doornkop, 100 miles northeast of Johannesburg, and the aim is to develop an actual microgrid. The village will be fed by the main grid when available and by a PV solar plant and batteries otherwise.

The main task of the research is to find a novel solution to tackle the challenges that power electronics devices face, such as voltage sags, inrush currents, the transition between grid-connected and standalone working modes. The solution will protect the electronic components of the device and provide electricity without interruptions.

I research the current solutions available in the literature to inspire myself and develop a holistic solution applied to an industrial inverter to achieve the goal.  I carry out the research using analytic and numerical methods through simulations models in MATLAB/SIMULINK. In subsequent years, I will test the solutions in an experimental prototype to finally go to the village in South Africa to make the actual micro-grid.

… and can you explain it in a single sentence?

Develop a universal inverter controller to seamlessly supply a South African village with electricity, preferably from renewable energy sources under any possible perturbance.

What is a typical day like?

I start my day generally at 7 in the morning, I meditate and go for a  run. After that, every other day, I practice yoga. After the exercise, I take a shower and I have breakfast.

Then I start my computer and start planning the day. I used to attend the SUAW group two times a day because I found it very helpful to make progress in my daily tasks. I have a break for lunch, and sometimes I like having a “siesta”. Then I continue working until I get tired. I usually spend the evening doing gardening or DIY projects, for example, converting an old bike into an e-bike, doing projects with the Raspberry Pi, building a greenhouse,etc.

We make dinner about 1900h and watch Netflix. When I am in bed, I like reading any book to feel sleepy.

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

When I did the mid-year presentation because I had the opportunity to explain the research and plans. I was pleased with the presentation and the feedback was excellent.

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

I like to try new things to do and discover new places to go. Maybe that’s why I do many different things when I am not researching. For example, I do taekwondo twice a week because, like all martial arts, you do physical exercise, but at the same time, you have to keep your mind alert to remember the attack defence patterns.

Depending on whether the activity is different, I like going to the beach or going for a stroll to the woods on sunny days, but I prefer to stay at home playing some board games or watching a film or reading a book with a cup of tea on the rainy days.

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

Well, it is only 11 months since I started, and at the moment, I wouldn’t do anything differently. My advice for a new postgraduate researcher would be to trust 100% in your supervisor and always be honest with them. They are not there to judge you but to give the best guidance for your success. I would recommend at the beginning to try to have as many meetings with them as you can to keep committed to your research.

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

 South Africa – it is the country where the project is going to be implemented

Handshake – It is an international cooperation project between different parties

Battery – is a part of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) important component within a microgrid

☀️Sun – The photovoltaic panels extract the solar irradiance to generate electricity

Electric plug – At the end of the project, the dwellings of Doornkop will have electric power 24/7 to improve their quality of life.

Why do research?

Catherine Cartwright is a visual artist and in last autumn became a Geography PhD student. In this blog she shares her initial experiences and gently encourages you to consider whether formal Research (with a big ‘R’) could take a bigger part in your life and practice. Catherine will be covering the similarities between artist practice and research practice, the ‘elephant in the room’ that is funding, how she developed her research question and its potential benefits.

Research practice and artist practice are practically family

Research practice and artist practice are practically family. There are certain crossovers and shared characteristics such as, similar thinking processes, research determining the methodologies and, of course, practice-led PhDs where the artwork embodies the thesis.

There is a creativity in the thinking processes of research which may not be at first apparent. The thinking processes involved in making art have been likened to those involved in research, ‘higher level thinking demands connections, associations, linkages of conscious and unconscious elements, memory and emotion, past, present and future merging in the processes of making meaning’. (Sullivan 2009 cited in Kara 2015).

When making, I want to ensure that the materials and processes I use enhance the message of the work. Kara says that when choosing or creating your research method(s), that they must ‘flow from your research question, not the other way around’ (Kara 2015). Interestingly this implies there could be as many variations of methodologies as there are research questions!

And lastly, the artwork as thesis, and the reassurance that artists as researchers are not an anomaly, ‘there is increasing acceptance of the idea that artists can conduct research in the process of producing art, and that the resulting artwork can be a valid research output in itself by embodying and communicating the knowledge produced in its creation’ (Biggs 2009, cited in Kara 2015)

The ‘Elephant in the Room’ – funding

Let’s not leave the elephant in the room until the end. How can I afford to do this?

I have been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWWDTP). They give me a ‘stipend’ (in other words, a wage) and pay the fees. The SWWDTP is one of several in the country. These partnerships consist of a network of regional universities. Applicants to the programme apply for interdisciplinary research that will make the very best use of the resources at two universities in the consortium. The programme aims to fund a new generation of outward-looking and public-engaging researchers. The antithesis of the ivory tower. I can’t tell you what to apply for, but I would like to use this chance to introduce my research.

Research as ‘me’ search

Research as ‘me’search acknowledges that we are often centrally located in our research, that our motivations are personal, even if the research itself is situated within a wider socio-political landscape.

One of the hardest things can be knowing what question you want to ask. My area came from my current focus, or so I thought. Looking back over the past 20 years of working variously as project coordinator, printmaking tutor and practising artist, I can see that both my passions as well as the current challenging times have come together to motivate my current research.

Let me briefly outline my research.

As an artist I want to be relevant to my communities and this has resulted in a career of outreach art projects and socio-political artwork. I am interested in ethics and in process. I want to know more about how artists work with people, and specifically, how we respond to, and work best with, people affected by trauma.

In my research I will be co-producing portraiture with women impacted by abuse and examining their experiences of the process. Traditionally the ‘sitter’ in portraiture has been passive – passive to the artist and to the viewer. How can I alter this so that the ‘sitter’ is assertive, both in the making and viewing? I am partnering with Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services and together we will be ensuring that this is a safe process, where our duty of care is paramount. Through my research I plan to outline what ‘trauma-informed’ working practice looks like and I will be keen to see where my research can benefit the participatory visual arts sector.

There is a shift happening in public health and frontline services to become ‘trauma-informed’. This means understanding people’s behaviour as a result of trauma they have suffered. I have come across little dialogue about trauma-informed practice in the visual arts sector specifically (it doesn’t mean it’s not happening at a local or regional level, but if it is, it’s not reverberating outwards) so I want to initiate more discussion about our duty of care to people affected by trauma and what best practice looks like. The ArtWorks Alliance blog last year from the Bartol Foundation raises some interesting thoughts.

Anticipating the benefits 

Doubtless this intense period of reading, thinking, writing and making will have many benefits. I can’t pinpoint them yet but the experience of becoming an expert in my own field of research will, I hope, lead to alternative employment opportunities. Doing a PhD doesn’t necessarily mean launching into academia, lecturing and the like, it might be starting a new business, or continuing with a more meaningful artist practice.

Wider benefits to my sector will include building a conversation about what it means to work in a trauma-informed way, to talk about the ethics of process, and to find out what’s already happening in best practice. All this leads to a further professionalisation of the sector underpinning our validity in wider society. In turn this brings funding for the opportunity for further participatory arts practice, which ultimately benefits the people in our communities.

Written by: Catherine Cartwright

Website: Catherine Cartwright

Twitter: @cathcartwright 

Credit: Artworks Alliance

AHRC funding via Doctoral Training Partnerships

Kara, H. (2015) Creative Research methods in the Social Sciences. A Practical Guide, Bristol, Policy Press.


PGR Profile – Joshua Ng







Name: Joo Hou Ng (Joshua)

Discipline: Psychology (Social, Environmental and Organisational Research Group)

Location: Washington Singer Laboratories

What is the working title for your research project?

Acculturation orientations shape international students’ performance in socially distinct spaces on campus.

Can you describe your research project in one sentence?

How the physical and social properties of space, and the possible meanings attached to space via identity goals (i.e. towards host or home acculturation orientations), combine to impact individual performance within different spaces

What is a typical day like for you?

There’s four seasons in the UK (every year), hence, my typical day varies according to the four seasons of PhD life, as below:



Components Elements of the day Venue


Reading and research design Curiosity and creativity In my office


Data collection & data cleaning Professional beggar – begging students to take part in my research projects


Out in the field and various study spaces on campus


Data analyses & write-up report


Anticipation of interesting results; scratching my head on how to report the data results


In my supervisor’s office


Presenting and sharing Enthusiastic about the applications and implications of my research projects


Engaging in different conferences or sharing platform

As some days in spring are similar with some days in winter, and the same is for autumn and winter, and summer and autumn, hence there’s overlapping of days of those four seasons.

The best is – PhD life is actually quite flexible – I get to give myself a break (once in awhile), by resting and spending time with friends for one full day, giving my mind a break from all the research details.

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

The audience of my talk/poster understood my sharing and concluded that my research topic is important and interesting.

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

  1. Coffee chat with like-minded people – exchanging stories, sharing the passion.
  2. Watching movies – I find creativity through reflection on movies

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

  1. Don’t be anxious, go with the flow.
  2. Don’t try to be perfect. Just try to be better than you were.

Can you explain your research in 5 emojis?

  1. 🙏 – Folded hands emoji – Uphold all that I am doing to God in prayers; also seek prayers and support from all my friends, as conducting cutting-edge research is challenging.
  2. 😂 – Face with tears of joy emoji – Learning to laugh at my mistakes and learn from them.
  3. 🙌 – Raising hands emoji – Good cooperation with my supervisors and interns in different research projects
  4. 💜💚❤️ – Love heart emoji – Sharing the passion of my research with my friends, colleagues and participants who took part in my research projects, including the cleaners in different study spaces on campus.
  5. 🎉 – Party popper emoji – Celebrate the success of completing data collection and other small progress/improvements.

Joshua was a runner-up in our 3 Minute Thesis 2018 competition. Watch his 3MT here to find out more about his research.

PGR Profile- Gemma Edney

Name: Gemma Edney

Discipline: Film Studies

Location: Usually in my office in Queens Building, Streatham Campus, although I also spend a large amount of time on trains.

What is the working title for your research project?

Sounding Girl(y): Music and Girlhood in Contemporary French Cinema

Can you describe your research project in more detail?

My PhD focuses on the representation of girlhood in contemporary French film, specifically the way that music can help articulate the experiences of girlhood characters. I examine the different ways music can ‘mean,’ using a combination of cultural, musicological, and film analysis, and explore how our engagement with (and perceived meaning of) music is largely dependent on our prior experience of music; the stereotypes and associations attached to different music; and the context in which the music is heard. I then apply these findings to film, to show how music is able to communicate sensations, feelings, and experiences that are not expressed vocally or visibly in the film, and therefore offer a means of making a French girlhood subjectivity accessible, even to those who may not be French, young, or female.

…and explain it in a single sentence?

My thesis explores the way that film music can articulate the feelings, emotions, and experiences of French girlhood on screen.

What is a typical day like?

I live in Taunton, so I commute in on the train each day. I am usually on the train at 7.07, which means I’m on campus by around 07.50. I use the time on the train to read for fun (shocker, I know!) and have a few minutes to myself so that I am ready for the day ahead. When I first get to campus I usually head to the gym and then make my way to my office around 9/9.15. I then check my to-do list in my diary and get started. I am often more productive in the mornings, so I will start with whatever writing/editing goal I have that day, and then try and work the other tasks in to times when I need a break from the thesis! My office is like clockwork when it comes to lunchtime, and everyone tries to take a break out to eat lunch together (although recently I’ve had more al-desko lunches than I would like!). In the afternoon I usually continue with the writing, and then later on, if I have completed my main goal for the day, I will usually tackle other tasks like seminar planning, conference prep, admin, or work for other projects. Before I leave in the evening I will usually make my to-do list for the next day, and do any last-minute email admin. I generally leave the office between 6pm and 7pm to get the train home. Once I’m there, I try to have a strict no-work policy, so that I can properly wind down and actually see my partner for a few hours!

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

I think the most excited I have been is when I found out I had been cited by a leading academic in his recently-published book, and when I was accepted to write a chapter for a forthcoming collection on French adolescent film. My proudest moment, though, has to be when an undergraduate student emailed me following a lecture to say “it was great listening to you explaining how to deconstruct social stereotypes!”

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

You can find me every so often at SID, where I work part time, teaching on undergraduate modules, or delivering sessions at local schools through my work with The Brilliant Club. On weekday evenings, I can usually be found playing games with friends, in rehearsals with my Taunton choir, or dog-sitting through BorrowMyDoggy! I also like going to the cinema, walking/camping around the beautiful Somerset countryside, and travelling – last year my partner and I went on a two-week campervan tour of Europe which was an amazing experience (don’t worry, my thesis came with me!).

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

It’s OK to have bad days or days that are less productive; and it’s definitely OK to take a break every now and then! Some of my most productive days have been after a slump, so listen to your head when it says to slow down. Also, get yourself a decent diary, some more waterproof shoes, and tidy your desk.

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

This is actually quite easy for me! As my research is based in a visual medium, images lend themselves quite well to explaining it (being based in contemporary culture is helpful too!!).

‍‍-My first emoji is a girl emoji – my research explores girl experience. I like that she has got attitude as well, like lots of the girls in my films!

-Secondly, I have the zipper-mouth emoji to show how the experiences of the girl characters are often left un-vocalised, and how it is possible to communicate in non-verbal ways in film.

-Thirdly, I’ve chosen the music notes emoji because I look at how these experiences can be communicated by music!

– Finally, I have my last two emojis together – the French flag and the clapper board, to represent French Film!

Exeter e-profile:

PGR Profile- Cameron Hird

Name: Cameron Hird

Discipline: Biosciences: Marine Ecotoxicology

Location: Lab 201, Geoffrey Pope Building, Streatham Campus

What is the working title for your research project?

Common pharmaceutical contaminants have mode-of-action effects and reproductive toxicity which are sensitive to pCO2 conditions in marine invertebrates.

Can you describe your research project in more detail?

My research looks at the effects of pharmaceutical chemicals on marine invertebrates. These chemicals are excreted by humans and often not directly removed during sewage treatment processes; consequently they are released in to the environment where they come into contact with marine organisms. Furthermore, I look at the impacts of carbon dioxide in water (ocean acidification) on the uptake and toxicity of these chemicals to marine organisms.

…and can explain it in a single sentence?

I study the effects of human pharmaceuticals released from sewage treatment on marine organisms and how aspects of climate change impact these effects.

What is a typical day like?

My days are highly varied. Often I can spend weeks in the office writing and researching but I prefer lab work. My lab work can range from testing the effects of cocaine on marine worms to performing artificial fertilisations with sea urchins. On the odd occasion I even get to enjoy a bit of muddy fieldwork around Devon.

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

Getting my first citation. Although there is something special about having your PhD work published with you as a first author, there is something even more exciting about people citing your work in their research. It shows that the reach of your research truly is global.

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

I am obsessed with the sport of korfball. It is a Dutch sport that is a basketball / netball hybrid. I train 5 times a week with both Exeter University and Exeter City and play matches at the weekend.

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

Don’t get too caught up in the finer details! I am self-confessed obsessive-compulsive about things and like things to be just right. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to spend the vast majority of my time perfecting small things and not focussing on the bigger things. A certain amount of perfection is beneficial, but don’t get too carried away.

And finally- can you describe your research project in 5 emojis

– The pill because I work on pharmaceuticals.
– The wave because I look at the effects of pharmaceuticals in the ocean.
– The crab because it is a marine invertebrate which is what I study.
– The factory as they release carbon dioxide emissions which contribute to ocean acidification.
☠️- The skull and crossbones because ocean acidification changes the toxicity of the pharmaceuticals.

Cameron Hird is a fourth-year postgraduate research student looking at the impacts of pharmaceuticals on marine invertebrates at the University of Exeter. Passionate about the marine environment from a young age, Cameron achieved a 1st class BSc(Hons) degree in Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth in 2014 before progressing to postgraduate research at the University of Exeter. In his free time Cameron likes to spend time with his pets and playing korfball, as well as running a postgraduate indoor hockey group.

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.

PGR Profile- Elisabeth Matthews

Name: Elisabeth Matthews

Discipline: Astrophysics (forth year, full-time)

Location: The physics building – if you don’t know it, it’s the really ugly one right on the top of the hill!

What is the working title for your research project?

“Direct imaging of planetary mass companions and circumstellar debris disks”

Can you describe your research project in more detail?

I’m trying to detect planets around other stars, using the “Direct Imaging” technique: we basically point some of the biggest telescopes in the world at some of the brightest, closest stars and then try and filter as much of the starlight out as possible to reveal the planet. I’m particularly interested in stars with lots of dust – in these we can model the interactions we expect between the dust and the planets, and hopefully find some planets.

… and can you explain it in a single sentence?

I’m searching for planets around other stars, to understand how they might be forming, and how they are related to the dust that is sometimes also present around the stars.

What is a typical day like?

I try to get in by around 8:30, although this doesn’t always happen if we’ve had an astrophysics pub trip the night before! I start by checking my emails and diary for the day, before getting down to some research. My most productive hours are early in the morning so I try and get some serious work in here: writing a few more paragraphs of a paper, debugging some code I’ve been writing or reading a relevant publication.

We break at 11am for a coffee in the interaction area – everyone from PhD students to lecturers attends. Conversations vary between serious and scientific, and much sillier topics, and sometimes we even do a Guardian crossword! Then it’s back to my desk to get a bit more work in. Since we’ve just had a coffee break, lunch is usually a quick sandwich at my desk. By about 3pm I’m starting to flag, so I do some of the tasks on my to-do list that don’t require thinking as hard – running through some routine data analysis, tweaking a figure for a paper I’m writing or drafting some slides for a talk. We break for coffee again at four, and squeeze in a bit more work before heading home, or out for the evening. I try and fit in a gym trip or a run during most days, so I’ll normally end up staying in the office a bit later to make up for the hour I took out during the day! It’s great to be in a flexible environment where I can head out and exercise whenever I like.

My evenings are pretty varied: sometimes we’ll have astrophysics pub nights or cinema trips, sometimes I’ll have a rehearsal with the university folk band or for the upcoming EUG&S production of “The Mikado”, and sometimes I’ll just head back home and relax.

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

The first discovery I made: just under two years into my PhD I finally directly detected a debris disk, a ring of dust orbiting the nearby star HD129590. This discovery has now led to my first paper as lead author, which was accepted back in May.

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

A good mix of activities! I like to keep active, and have just completed a half marathon. I’m also a keen climber with the University club. Outside of sport I’m a flute player, and am in a couple of university ensembles: the folk society band ‘Pigasus’, and the pit band for a university production of ‘The Mikado’. Apart from that I like to relax at home by watching terrible TV, or head out to the pub!

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

PhDs can be really tough on your mental health, and I wish I had been more prepared for that. I’ve struggled a lot with Imposter Syndrome, which is where you feel like you’re not good enough, and that sooner or later someone will realise that you’re secretly really stupid and kick you out. This also lead to me having a pretty unhealthy work/life balance because I was convinced that if I stayed in the department late every evening working then I could start to make up for the fact that I wasn’t really smart enough to be here. I’ve experienced some feelings in the realm of depression and anxiety, and some mild panic attacks – although I’m lucky and have never got to the point where I’ve needed professional help. Mental health is a constant journey for me, but I’ve grown to understand my brain and the way it operates far better, and feel much more equipped to cope with some of these feelings.

If I could go back, I’d warn my 22-year old self that the Imposter Syndrome was coming, and give myself a few tips for looking after my mental health more generally.

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

🔭- We use some of the best telescopes in the world to collect data for my project. World-class telescopes don’t look much like this, but it’s the closest that the emoji world gets!
🌟 & 🌍- We’re looking at nearby stars to try and identify exoplanets orbiting around them.
❓ – Are there planets around the types of stars we’re looking at?
✖️- This is maybe a pessimistic choice, but so far it appears that there’s not much out there. The answer to the question that the previous emojis pose is negative. That agrees with the literature: although planets are incredibly common (latest results suggest more planets than stars in our galaxy!), the specific types of planets that we’re looking for are rare, and are hard to detect. It might sounds like a negative, but is still very important in understanding how different types of planetary systems form.

Want to learn more about Elisabeth and her research? You can view her 3 Minute thesis video or follow her on twitter @astro_lizzie

PGR Profile – Imogene Dudley

Welcome to our new PGR Profile series! Get ready to meet our first PGR – Imogene Dudley.

Imogen Dudley

Name: Imogene Dudley

Discipline: History (third year, full-time)

Location: Practically living in my Queens office, it seems!

What is the working title for your research project?

“Women’s waged work in the south-west of England, 1500 – 1700.” It is very vague and will probably change!

Can you describe your research project in more detail?

I am researching women’s waged work in the south-west of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I use household account books from the period to explore what tasks women were paid to do, how much they were paid and in what format, and how the life-cycle and family networks had an impact on women’s working lives. Specific research questions involve the gender division of labour, the gender wage gap and the effect of marriage and childbearing on female employment.

…and can explain it in a single sentence?

I explore the issues relating to women’s work in the early modern south-west counties, such as the gender division of labour, wages and the impact of the life-cycle on female employment.


What is a typical day like for you?

I leave my flat at 8:30am to walk to the Streatham campus, meaning that I am sitting at my desk, eating porridge and answering emails, by 9am. Our office is sociable, and it is a nice working environment. The work I do is mainly related to my PhD and involves data transcription, data analysis and actually trying to write! I will also be writing conference papers, planning teaching or engaging in my responsibilities as History PGR Liaison Rep and co-Editor of Ex Historia (the History PGR journal and seminar series) – the latter two positions involve a lot of emails! I maintain a fairly regular working day, with a half-hour break for lunch with other members of the PGR community in the Queens SCR, and usually head home at about 6pm, to make tea and spend time with my partner and the pet cat.

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

I would say it was definitely receiving the email that told me I had succeeded the interview and was being awarded the studentship and three years funding – either that or passing the upgrade, which was a big step for me.

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

Nothing that out of the ordinary, I’m afraid! I enjoy books and television (mainly historical fiction, fantasy and period dramas). I also like exploring the countryside, visiting new cities and heritage sites, travelling abroad when I can, socialising with my friends (with or without a glass in hand), shopping, meals out, dancing and the occasional cross-stitch project.

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

Have an organised system for note-taking, not only for your project, but also for meetings and training courses. I found having separate notebooks for things really helpful as you always know where notes are – one for any thoughts and notes to do with the PhD, one for supervision meetings, one for training and career development, one for conferences. This is something I wish I had done earlier!

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

  1. 👩‍-Woman emoji – the focus of my thesis is on women!
  2. 💷 -Pound signs emoji – the wage aspect of my thesis.
  3. 💪- Strong arm emoji – this reminds me of Rosie the Riveter and therefore women working, also labour more generally.
  4. 👪- Family emoji – this relates to how women (and men!) often gained employment through their family connections, and how marriage and childbearing can affect female employment.
  5. 📚 -Book emoji – to represent the household account books which are my sources!

Want to learn more about Imogene and her research? You can look at her research profile, or follow her on twitter @imogene_dudley!