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Researcher-led Initiative awards

Researcher-led initiative awards

Researcher-led initiative awards

The Researcher Development and Research Culture (RD&RC) team has an annual fund to support the development and cascading of personal, professional and career management skills by and for postgraduate research students and early career research staff across the University of Exeter. 

The RLIs are intended to enable postgraduate research students and early career research staff to be creative, proactive, and empowered through the process of initiating, designing, managing, and delivering new professional development activities for their peers that will develop the skills and experience needed to progress their careers. They also offer the opportunity to experience applying for and managing a funding bid. 

The winners for 2023 are:

Award holder: Rebekkah Bernheim 

Following on from the difficulties in building connections due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Early Career Research Network Creative Workshop seeks to bring together PhD students and ECRs from across the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences for a half-day workshop. As a creative workshop, this event looks to raise awareness about Art and Culture within Faculty of Health and Life Sciences researcher network to help researchers communicate their work more creatively. This event will also be built upon by further ECRN events to build connections and contribute to creative research events, such as the British Science Festival. 

Award holder: Luis Alberto Bezores Colderon

As an online workshop, the ‘Changing the Culture of Peer Review in the Preprint Era’ initiative explored the issues around peer reviewing in the current publishing environment, as well as providing a concrete guide for ECRs to peer review an article, using a set of guidelines to write a constructive review. This workshop was facilitated by PREreview, an NGO that advocates for a more equitable review system of peer review, who discussed peer reviewing and the internal/external biases encountered in this activity and helped participants to create actionable and constructive points that the authors of papers could address to improve their publication.


Award holder: Dercio de Assis

In order to support the transition from PGT and PGR students to early career researchers, the Empirical Methods in Economics Reading Group’s goal is to equip graduate students with the latest tools and insights to ensure a smooth transition from being research consumers to also being research producers. These organized group meetings look to both create an active and engaged research culture, as well as improving the wellbeing of students and faculty who have suffered from limited interactions with other students and researchers during the pandemic. The sessions will also include student-led presentations that will build communication skills and provide students with the experience of presenting their research.

Award holder: Zhivko Zhelev 

Following on from the establishment of the St Luke’s Volunteer Garden in 2018 by UoE staff and students, this staff and student engagement initiative looks to cultivate the quiet green space in on the St Luke’s Campus into a bee and wildlife friendly space. As well as gardening, there will be opportunities for other activities such as stone painting, crafting and reading – all with a cup of tea and cake to help staff and students develop connections and interactive communities. It’s hoped that these activities will raise awareness of the role of bees and wildlife in our urban spaces, encourage those at the university to interact more with green spaces and provide an opportunity for people to shape the campus to feel like it is their own, all of which will foster interaction and connections across disciplines.

Award holder: Isobel Cole

The Presentations with PoGLSS (Postgraduate Life Science Society) initiative launched a 1-day conference organized by PhD students for a PhD audience to showcase the research undergone by students at the University of Exeter within the discipline of biological science. Included in the conference was a poster session for students to explain and communicate their date to others, as well as a series of workshops focused on PhD placement opportunities, careers in academia, social media, and advice on how to use statistical analysis to get the most of your data. These workshops and the overall conference helped to increase networking potential and allow students to connect with and learn from one another.


Award holder: Shibani Das 

Applying fun and creativity to academia, this weekly workshop encourages PGRs to use crafting to better understand and present their research whilst developing a skill set and building a supportive community to assist their wellbeing. Led by facilitators from across faculties, these workshops provide a place for all PGRs to explore craft skills and work with your hands away from technology, all while supporting one another’s wellbeing. The finale of this series of workshops will be an exhibition to showcase and celebrate participants’ work, as well as to challenge their presentation and public speaking skills. 

Award holder: Xinran Du

As part of the ReproducibiliTea journal club network, ReproducibiliTea Exeter was set up in 2021 to promote Open Science (a movement to make research more accessible and transparent to the whole society). ReproducibiliTea Exeter looks to provide ECRs with an understanding of the benefits Open Science practices can have, such as sharing data, open access coding and ensuring results in research are reproducible. Regular bi-weekly sessions will run throughout the year where members can discuss their work, as well as hear from external speakers about the importance of Open Science in research, helping ECRs to produce more effective research.

Award holder: Luana De Giorgio 

Women’s health and research on women’s issues, such as rights and metal health, is a growing area of concern within academia, with clusters of ECRs and PGRs across campuses and disciplines focusing on these issues. To bring these researchers together, the Developing Careers in Women Focused Research network hosted a range of cross-disciplinary workshops focusing on issues such as how to study the menstrual cycle, science communication for women’s health, and ECR funding for women focused research. This initiative has also sought to create an online resource for DCWFR members around these issues, with plans to carry out further workshops and conferences for the network. 


Award holder: Anya Ovcharenko

To allow early career medical humanities researchers to share their experiences, research and skills, as well as gain valuable insight from others, this initiative seeks to bring together researchers across the field from across the UK to the University of Exeter for a PGR Medical Humanities Conference. This conference will help researchers gain experience and skills in project management and networking, explore new areas of academic inquiry and create a stronger network for medical humanities researchers in the long term.


Award holder: Elizabeth Ablett

The Developing Accessible Institutional Ethnography Research Skills Online initiative was launched to develop accessible and creative feminist Institutional Ethnography (IE) teaching and learning materials by Dr Liz Ablett and Courtney Sommer from SPSPA. Through this initiative, they have been able to develop long-lasting and interdisciplinary methodological resources for the UK and Ireland Institutional Ethnography Network, including translating training materials into Spanish for greater accessibility. 


Award holder: Jamie Harrison

To launch the new Bioinform@exe cross disciplinary bioinformatic network at the University of Exeter, this initiative brought together bioinformaticians at all career stages across all faculties to create connections and foster collaboration for a day of events. The launch event included networking, presentations by key stakeholders, flash talks about issues facing bioinformaticians and a hackathon workshop session. From this, the Bioinform@exe network seeks to further connect bioinformaticians both within Exeter and in other universities.


Award holder: Megan Wallace

For Inclusivity Matters! 2023, two days of talks and discussions were ran focusing on equality, diversity and inclusivity in academia and the workplace. These provided a platform for speakers and panellists to discuss their lived experiences and how we can facilitate inclusivity across all areas of the university, as well as topics such as how to decolonize academia, how we can increase access for disabled colleagues to attend conferences, and what actions we can take now to have a tangible impact for BAME students and colleagues.


Award holder: Helen Eachus

The Yoga@LSI initiative seeks to provide accessible and inclusive wellbeing focused activity for postgraduate students and staff working in the Living Systems Institute (LSI), as well as the wider University staff who wish to join. This project also aims to bring together our University community in a safe and inclusive space, where members can connect over a shared activity with others from different disciplines.  


Award holder: David Parry

The Premodern Neurodiversity workshop brought together 23 participants from three universities (including nine Exeter departments) to explore how neurodivergence can be perceived in the history and writing of the medieval and early modern period through the insights of psychologists, historians, and literary scholars. This workshop included keynote presentations and a group discussion of pre-circulated texts which enabled participants to consider the distinction between attempting clinical diagnosis of people in the past and finding shared experiences with neurodivergent people in the present.


Award holder: Chenguang Wei

To address the common problems of stress, uncertainty over future career plans, and having a work-life balance shared by post-graduate research students and early career researchers, the ‘Lunch & Learn’ project aimed to bring together PGRs in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences to create a series of informal talks on some of the key issues facing PGRs over lunch. This also included bringing in guest speakers to take part in the discussions and provide their insight for research students on topics such as careers in academia, leadership, and publishing research. 


Successful award holders

Since running the RLI awards we have had a variety of successful initiatives. You can read more about our successful awards on the following pages: