Students We've supported

Over the last 100 year, our Trust has been able to help thousands of postgraduates complete their studies and research.  Our grants have enabled them to focus more on their subjects and less on financial pressures. 

 

Here are just a few recent examples:

Mahtab Farahbakhsh, PhD in Visual Neuroscience

Mahtab studied for her PhD at University College London Child Vision Lab in Visual Neuroscience. Here she summarises her research into statistical procedures to detect visual impairments in children.

Improving upon current methods for assessing how well children see
 

Early treatment of visual impairment is crucial for maximum recovery. However, clinically reliable diagnostic procedures for young children are limited. Such rapid, reliable tests are vital for detecting disease, evaluating the effectiveness of novel interventions, and studying how the visual system develops with age. Even with the use of wonderfully efficient methods, however, most measurements will still require several minutes of sustained testing. Researchers at the UCL Child Vision Lab have been working on methods that allow for the rapid assessment of visual function. I published the results of one of our studies in the Journal of Vision (June 2019), in which we explore how recent advances in statistical procedures can improve our ability to study sensory processes and detect impairments in children. 

 

Using recent computational advances in visual neuroscience, we have optimised a new vision test that can be used for evaluation of visual function in children aged 4 to 14 years old. Our findings show that this method can greatly improve our ability to study visual sensitivity and detect impairments in children. These measures are particularly well suited to situations where testing speed is imperative, such as clinical trials.

 

The grant from The Sir Stapley Trust was used to cover my studentship, which allowed me to focus 100% on advancing my research and completing my PhD.

Truc Pham, Imaging Sciences PhD student

I was entering my third year at King’s College London when I applied for one of the Trust’s grants. My research aims to develop specific reagents for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and fluorescence imaging. The two main applications are for cancer diagnosis with PET imaging and fluorescence-guided surgery, and for in vivo cell tracking.  Thanks partly to your support, I was able to continue with the final stage of my PhD. I was selected to present my work at the ‘STEM for Britain’ briefing at the House of Common in March 2019 and at several national and international conferences. STEM for Britain raises awareness of MPs and other policymakers about the role of science.  Without your help I would have not been able to achieve those milestones. 

Venkatesh Mallikarjun, PhD in Computational and Molecular Biology 

Venkatesh completed his PhD at the University of Manchester. Here he describes his published research in the field of computational and molecular biology.

“Big Data” approaches to studying mechanical changes that occur during ageing and age-related diseases
 

Regenerative medicine involves using cells or whole tissues, grown in a lab, to replace cells that have been lost or damaged due to injury or illness. Many age-related diseases such as sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass) and osteoporosis (loss of bone density) could be reversed by regenerative medicine. However, recent evidence has demonstrated that implanting healthy cells into an aged environment severely limits their therapeutic potential.

 

My thesis work showed that changes in protein composition are associated with changes in tissue mechanical properties. Furthermore, we also found that cellular senescence (a causative feature of many age-related diseases) was associated with impaired ability of stem cells to sense changes in the mechanical properties of their surroundings. 

 

Results from this thesis will be used to design subsequent experiments that will determine the reasons why cell therapies fail when implanted into an aged body. This research aims to aid development of therapeutics to reverse age-related disease, leading to improved quality of life.

 

My PhD at the University of Manchester was a fascinating fusion of computational and molecular biology and a unique opportunity to supplement my molecular biology skill set with strong programming and statistics skills. During my PhD project, I developed computational methods to analyse large biological datasets to better characterise features of ageing in mammalian tissues and cells. This experience equipped me for a career in the life sciences where computational skills are increasingly in demand (in addition to traditional "wet-lab" skills). I am about to undertake a post-doctoral position in the USA that will focus on developing state-of-the-art computational methods to interrogate how ageing alters the regulation of key molecules that determine tissue mechanical properties.

Heather Ryall, MMus graduate with distinction

I graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama with a Distinction in November 2019. It was a brilliant two years, and I was offered a Junior Fellowship at the School for the following year which recently finished. 

 

I am currently a member of NEXT Ensemble, a contemporary music ensemble of recent graduates affiliated with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. In our first project I played Birtwistle’s Verses and also Roddy’s Reel for solo bass clarinet with audience participation! I also played  two concerts in Berlin and a recording session of contemporary music with a Koto player, and participated in a project with Riot Ensemble in London.

 

I was accepted onto the PPCM Post-Masters with Klangforum Wien in Vienna starting autumn 2020. 

I started a collaboration with two artists on a project called ‘Until you Became Me’ and we will be performing / collaborating over the coming year on the Isle of Wight and in London.

 

Other than that, I am freelancing in London, doing bass clarinet auditions when jobs come up and am very happy with how everything is going. I am ever so grateful to the Trust for supporting me during my masters at Guildhall; without the support from the Trustees none of this would have been possible so once again, thank you!

Tim Middleton, MPhil in Theology, 2018/19 academic year

I very much enjoyed studying for the MPhil in Modern Theology at Harris Manchester College, Oxford during the 2018/19 academic year and I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded a distinction (72%) for this degree. 

The MPhil has proved to be a hugely rewarding and fruitful step towards my long-term ambition to pursue an academic career at the interface between science and religion. I am very excited that I will now be progressing to the DPhil (PhD) in Theology and Religion at Lincoln College, Oxford in 2019/20. My research will be focussing on ecotheology— exploring the relationship between religion and the environment. I will also be part of the new Laudato Si’ Research Institute in Oxford, which aims to follow up on the agenda set out in Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical letter about climate change. I am very grateful to have received funding for my doctoral research from the Clarendon Fund at the University of Oxford. 

Over the course of the last academic year, I set up and helped to run a new postgraduate reading group in the faculty on ‘Religious Ecologies and the New Materialisms’ where we looked at the work of some contemporary philosophers and theologians who work on ecological issues. 

I also completed two major pieces of written work during the MPhil degree. My 15,000-word coursework essay was entitled ‘Giving birth to the impossible: theology and deconstruction in Søren Kierkegaard’s indirect communication’. I was thrilled to be awarded a final mark of 80% for this essay and I am now in the process of turning this into an article for an academic journal. 

Meanwhile, my 30,000-word thesis was entitled ‘The Wounded Body of God: Ecological Trauma and the Theology of Sallie McFague’. This thesis was awarded a distinction (70%) and will form the basis for my ongoing doctoral research at the intersection of ecotheology, trauma studies, and contemporary philosophy.

I am extremely grateful to the Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust for enabling me to pursue my studies in theology. And I hope to be able to continue with these activities over the coming year.

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