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Doctoral Scholar case studies
Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship
2023

Doctoral Scholars over the years

Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships can be transformative for the students.

Left: Dr Imani Strong; Right: Dr Marina Bazhydai.

Dr Imani Strong, Postdoctoral Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science:

‘When I was granted a doctoral scholarship from the Leverhulme Trust to study racial inequalities and affirmative action policy in the United States, I was working as a government research consultant in that area. Though I felt passionately that extensive fieldwork was necessary to understand the impact of affirmative action policies, I would have been unable to leave my role and begin study without the fellowship. Beyond funding my tuition and research, a crucial benefit of the scholarship was access. Housed in the London School of Economics’ International Inequalities Institute, I benefitted from interdisciplinary discussions with peers and guidance from top scholars in related fields who pushed my research and encouraged my explorations and ideas.

‘I welcomed my daughter during the course of my dissertation-writing and was universally supported by the scholarship and my academic mentors. Upon completion of my doctoral program in Anthropology, I returned briefly to consulting and then re-joined the Anthropology Department at the LSE as a postdoctoral fellow with a research focus in the anthropology of law and anthropological approaches to race. My burgeoning career as an anthropologist and academic was made possible financially by the Trust and supported by its administrators at the LSE, and both have my deepest gratitude.’

Dr Marina Bazhydai, Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, University of Lancaster:

‘I am extremely grateful for having been funded during my PhD through the Leverhulme Trust doctoral training scholarship. It has substantially benefitted me in several ways, providing the following opportunities I otherwise would not have had. 

‘Securing a fully funded scholarship with maintenance was the only possibility for me to do doctoral training. The unparalleled financial support for research expenses, conference travel, skills training and networking opportunities was instrumental to my early career successes: by the end of my PhD, I had published two experimental studies in high quality peer reviewed journals and two book chapters. The ability to present at international conferences led to research collaborations which are at the core of my current research activity and even led to me securing my first research grant as a PI. Following this excellent doctoral training, I was successful in securing a lecturer position at Lancaster University. I undoubtedly owe it to the Leverhulme Trust for jump-starting my academic career.’

Portraits of Nuni Jorgensen and Benedetta Zocchi
Left: Nuni Jorgensen; Right: Benedetta Zocchi.

Nuni Jorgensen, Doctoral Scholar, Queen Mary University of London:

‘Before starting my PhD, I worked for four years in a humanitarian organisation, where I was responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of projects focused on human mobility. Even though this experience enabled me to visit different settings and gain practical experience, I felt that I did not have the theoretical tools to reflect upon my own work and upon many of the social dynamics I had been witnessing. By allowing me to study in one of the best universities in the UK and by connecting me with scholars and PhD candidates from different backgrounds, the QMUL-Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship has given me the chance to take my previous experiences to another level, expanding my view on my topic of research - migration and mobility- and on research methodology and knowledge production, more broadly. It has also offered me the possibility of conducting my PhD fieldwork in one of the topics I had been previously working on, the Venezuelan displacement within South America.’

Benedetta Zocchi, Doctoral Scholar, Queen Mary University London: 

‘As a Leverhulme Doctoral Scholar, I had the peerless opportunity to conduct fieldwork, organise workshops and encounter outstanding scholars and academics from all over the world. Leverhulme does not simply provide financial support - it gave me the opportunity to connect the academic and social impact of my research and become an expert in my field. Thanks to Leverhulme, I have been invited to participate in podcasts, movie festivals, events, and conferences and I have been writing extensively about my topic on both academic and non-academic platforms. By putting together scholars working on similar topics, Leverhulme stimulates them to think across disciplines, and share their passion and commitment toward knowledge production. I am extremely grateful to Leverhulme for making me a better researcher, an expert in my field of study and, even more importantly, a better learner.’

Portraits of Dr Eleanor Smith and Dr Shirley Cheung
Left: Dr Eleanor Smith; Right: Dr Shirley Cheung.
 

Dr Eleanor Smith, Research Associate, University of Cambridge:

‘I see my Leverhulme Trust Studentship as being the kickstart to my career. Without the opportunities I was given - to engage with academics all over the world, to deliver talks and presentations at numerous conferences, to work with the incredible team at the Lancaster University’s Babylab, to name a few; without these experiences I never would have been able to move on to work at the University of Cambridge and now into Research Consulting. My Studentship also provided me with the opportunity to work with some incredible mentors, with whom I am still collaborating. These relationships are lifelong and have made my career what it is today.’

Dr Shirley Cheung, Clinical Research Supervisor, Washington University School of Medicine:

‘The Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship Program gave me the opportunity of a lifetime I otherwise would not have had without their support. 

‘I was part of the very first cohort at Lancaster University’s Infancy and Early Development Doctoral Centre and used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to study neural activation patterns of bilingual language perception for my PhD thesis. Moreover, the Leverhulme funding helped establish the annual infancy conference, LCICD. 

‘My Leverhulme PhD experience allowed me to discover that my greatest strengths are in research development and management. I now supervise a team of research assistants and manage a longitudinal study that examines how the interaction of different childhood experiences (e.g., substance use, videogames, social media, sleep patterns) affect brain development as well as social, academic, and health outcomes in adolescents. I continue to follow my passion for developmental neuroimaging research and plan to have a career in applied research and project management.’

Portrait of Jennifer Knight
Left: Jennifer Knight

Jennifer Knight, Doctoral Scholar, University of Birmingham:

‘I'm a mature PhD, returning to study after previous careers including 10 years’ teaching Physics. After completing an MSc in Science and Technology studies where my dissertation explored the values held in ‘Forest’, the Forest Edge Scholarship offered me a unique opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary study. I was supported in developing skills and conducting research at both interdisciplinary and knowledge boundaries that are at risk of ‘falling between the gaps’ of the traditional funding bodies. This has ranged from linking methodological approaches of engaging co-production of knowledge though emplaced participant interviews and mapping with hydrological modelling; to additional doctoral opportunities, such as undertaking a placement with the Welsh forest policy team.

‘My PhD study has completely changed my future prospects, it has also enabled me to create a voice, not just my own but across the boundaries I have mentioned. My focus on the importance of practitioner and land manager experience and expertise has meant doing work such as facilitating the Treescapes2021 workshop on developing practitioner/researcher communication, and advising on the Welsh Government Trees Deep Dive.’
 

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