SHIP PhD Students at the Inaugural GCU SHLS Postgraduate Researcher Conference

By Deepti KC and Ayodeji Matuluko


On September 15, 2022, the School of Health and Life Sciences (SHLS) of Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) held its inaugural Postgraduate Researcher (PGR) Conference. This event was targeted at PhD students within the School. As a first-of-its kind event within SHLS, it was organised to provide an opportunity for PhD students to present their research via oral and poster presentations, network with each other, and learn about the broad range of research being conducted by PhD students across SHLS.

The nine-member conference organising committee, led by Dr Karen Lorimer (Reader in Social Science and Health), was made up of PhD students and academics within SHLS. The event was opened by GCU’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Research), Professor Andrea Nelson. This was followed by a panel presentation and discussion featuring PhD students’ reflections on research processes and wellbeing. The main conference programme was spread across three sessions. Session 1 was entitled ‘Theory development and co-creation’, and was followed by a second session of ‘lightning talks’ (‘I’m all about the method’). Session 3, entitled ‘I’m all about the bio’ featured talks from PhD students in the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. There were also special sessions that featured guidance from a Journal Editor, and advice from early career researchers on thesis writing, preparing for viva, and careers within and outside academia. The event ended with closing remarks by Professor Anita Simmers, Dean of SHLS, followed by a period of networking.

The SHIP team was well represented by SHIP PhD students who attended the conference.

From left to right: Ayodeji Matuluko, Deepti KC, Alicia Ware (Fiona Roche, not in picture, was also in attendance). Professor Kay Currie was also present at the conference, to support PhD students.

In particular, Deepti KC was part of the lightning talks, during which she gave an excellent presentation on her PhD. She has described her experience at the conference below.

My conference experience as a PhD student- Deepti KC

I started my PhD in October 2021; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most meetings, workshops, courses, and conferences have been online since my PhD started. The GCU School of Health and Life Sciences Postgraduate Conference finally allowed me to attend an actual life event and network with other PhD students and researchers at the forefront of their disciplines. Also, the representation of PhD students from many nations at the conference made it very evident how Glasgow Caledonian University values diversity and inclusiveness.

The major highlight of the SHLS PGR conference was the keynote presentations, which the organising committee diligently selected. The conference included several talks, including poster presentations covering various subject areas. The attractive posters that PhD students presented helped me understand that, when done effectively, posters can be a great way to disseminate research findings. The first part of the conference was a panel presentation and discussion where presenters shared their thoughts on the research process and their overall well-being. The presenters also discussed how they managed to survive their PhDs, noting the critical part that their supervisors played during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, while listening through the discussions, I once again realised that a PhD supervisor is undoubtedly the most significant individual in a PhD student’s journey. The two special sessions were another highlight of the conference. The “Meet the Editor” special session gave us a chance to inquire about the primary reasons why manuscripts are accepted or rejected. The other notable session, the “Early Career Research Network crossover event”, gave us an idea of what a career in research could entail.

Deepti delivering her ‘lightning talk’

My presentation was part of the second session of the conference “Lightning talks” on “Nurses’ perceptions of implementing Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic”. Although I was thrilled to be presenting at a conference in real life for the first time, I was also incredibly anxious. I could feel my heart racing so loudly that I assumed everyone around me could hear it until I saw my title slide set up on the large screen. However, as soon as I began speaking, my anxiety vanished. As I began presenting my slides, the excitement started to build, and I felt confident. Seeing the audience nod in understanding was undoubtedly motivating, especially after a significant period of online seminars and workshops. This fantastic opportunity to talk about my PhD project was far superior to merely staring at my laptop screen.

Question and Answer Session after the lightning talks

I am at a loss for words to express the atmosphere that dominated the conference. I must admit that my experience as an audience as well as a presenter in the conference was “wonderful,” “rewarding,” and “exciting.” The conference taught me that it is completely normal to feel anxious when giving a presentation at an academic conference because doing so differs from typing your work on a laptop for your supervisor to read. Also, it does not matter if you have given presentations before or if you speak exceptionally well; the rewards of presenting your work at a conference are immense happiness and self-confidence.

To find out more about the SHIP team, head on to the GCU website, read the rest of our blogs and follow us on Twitter @SHIPGCU

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