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The Graduate School's annual Doctoral Research Conference, which is for both doctoral researchers and their supervisors, is to showcase and celebrate excellence in doctoral research from across the University.

Along with a chance to hear about the doctoral research highlights from the last year, the conference included presentations from the PhD Researcher of the Year finalists, the ever-popular Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT©) and an exhibition of entries to the Research Poster competition and Research Image competition.

It is also provided an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues from across the University.

The Doctoral Research Conference took place on Wednesday 19 June. This annual event is open to all doctoral researchers and staff from across the University, and showcases the diversity of doctoral research undertaken at Reading.

Matthew Greenwell: winner of the Three Minute Thesis competition 2019

School of Biological Sciences

PhD Researcher of the Year 2019

The Conference's most prestigious competition is the PhD Researcher of the Year award. There are five award finalists and each finalist gave a presentation on their doctoral research at the conference.

The 2019 winner was Jamie Draper from the Department of Politics and International Relations.

Jamie Draper: winner

Prosperity and Resilience Research theme, Department of Politics and International Relations

Title of PhD: Justice, migration and displacement in the Anthropocene

"My thesis looks at the phenomenon of climate-related migration and displacement. Various climate change impacts – such as sea-level rise, drought and desertification, and extreme weather events like typhoons and hurricanes – have been shown to result in the movement of people both within and across borders.

"My work looks at how we can re-shape our political institutions in order to respond to this development in ways that realise the ideals of justice and fairness."

Jamie Draper

PhD student, Department of Politics and International Relations

Marcello de Maria: finalist

Food Research theme, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development

Title of PhD: Essays on the economics of large-scale land acquisitions

"With an estimated 100 million hectares of land globally demanded by international investors since the year 2000, the surge in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions (LSLAs) shows that a new global market for land is in place.

Yet, there is very little we know about the socio-economic and environmental implications of trading such a large amount of land internationally. My research explores the most recent rush for land in human history, with a series of different but intertwined papers focusing on the economics of this phenomenon." 

Marcello de Maria

PhD student, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development

Emma Pilkington: finalist

Health Research theme, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences

Title of PhD: Jargon busting: the cognitive mechanisms underpinning Jargon aphasia and perseveration

"After a stroke, some people have difficulty organising the sounds within words, causing a word production problem e.g., witness is produced as ‘witwim’. This is called jargon speech and it has a severe impact on communication, often leading to social isolation.

"Existing treatment options for jargon speech are limited, so my research explores techniques to improve jargon speech with a view to identifying more effective treatments."

Emma Pilkington

PhD student, School of Psychology and Clincal Language Sciences

Kane McQuaid: finalist

Environment Research theme, Department of Chemistry

Title of PhD:  Structural insights into the binding of Ruthenium Polypyridyls to DNA

"Ruthenium polypyridyls are a class of heavily-researched DNA binding agents with prospective diagnostic and remedial utilities in anticancer therapeutics and in targeted clinical chemotherapeutics.

"My work is focused on understanding the manner in which these drugs bind to DNA, on a global level, and on an atomic scale, so as to be able to develop improved drugs that bind and/or assert their desired effect with more specificity or impact."

Kane McQuaid

PhD student, Department of Chemistry

Gareth Mills: finalist

Heritage and Creativity Research Theme, Department of English Literature

Title of PhD: The literary industry 1926-32: Wyndham Lewis and publishing

"The history of the printed word is the history of publishing. Since the invention of the press, the ability to produce and circulate books has had a profound impact on not just how, but on what we read, and why.

"I conduct original archival research in the field of book history to analyse how changes in technology, publishing practices and war have impacted historical and contemporary literature in book marketplaces, universities and popular culture."

Gareth Mills

PhD student, Department of English Literature

Research image competition


'Not to be sneezed at'

Winning image from Oliver Wilson (Geography and Environmental Sciences)

Images of pollen produced from 480 individual cross-sectional scans taken with a confocal laser scanning microscope

Our doctoral researchers tell the stories behind their pictures – view gallery