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Black Future Dr

Showcasing the experiences of black doctoral students in the UK

Black Future Dr is a brand new podcast dedicated to showcasing the experiences of black and black mixed doctoral students in the UK (including those pursuing PhDs, as well as professional and medical doctorates). Episode
Latest Episode7/19/2021

Doing a PhD in Immunology, with Dr Madina Wane

Season 1, Ep. 12
In the final episode of Black Future Dr, I got the chance to speak with (now Dr!) Madina Wane, who defended her PhD in Immunology at Imperial College London in January. We start the episode by discussing how she came to do a PhD, and her experiences of working and studying at a research-heavy institution. Madina then shares her experiences of finishing a PhD during a global pandemic, including an explanation of the viva process, the logistics of the meeting, and her top tips for how to best prepare. We discuss the positives and negatives of working in a relatively new research field, and embracing the fact that it’s okay not to know everything. We end the episode by talking about Madina’s new role in industry, how she has found the transition from academia, and how to best prepare for starting the PhD process.Guest bioMadina recently defended her PhD thesis in Immunology from Imperial College London. Her research, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, focused on investigating zebrafish gills to better understand respiratory immune responses to viruses. Prior to her PhD, Madina completed an MRes in Infection and Immunity and a BSc in Biochemistry also at Imperial College London. She is now working as a scientist in the biotechnology industry, applying her immunology expertise to developing new vaccines.Outside of her research, Madina is involved in science and higher education policy and science outreach. She previously completed a policy internship at The Academy of Medical Sciences and recently co-founded a non-profit organisation, Black In Immuno, to address the inequities facing Black scientists within the field of immunology. She has also discussed her research and advocacy work at public events or platforms such as Pint of Science, Imperial Festival, Diversity Challenge and Immune podcast. You can keep up to date with Madina’s work on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/madina-wane-854138a4/).Host bioNina Higson-Sweeney is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her PhD is funded by the ESRC through the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, and she is using mixed methods to explore the symptom of fatigue within adolescent depression. Prior to her PhD, Nina completed a BSc in Psychology and a MSc Health Psychology at the University of the West of England. Nina has contributed to several peer-reviewed journal articles throughout her degrees, exploring topics such as depression, CFS/ME, HIV, and loneliness and mental health in children and young people. You can follow her on Twitter (@n_higsonsweeney) and ResearchGate.Links to organisationsIf you want to check out the African-Caribbean Research Collective, you can join us here.If you'd like to learn more about the West African Research Collective, you can find out more here.CreditsFunding for this podcast is provided by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (@_SWDTP on Twitter).Cover art is by the talented Hannah Balogun (@hannah_balogun on Instagram).Intro music is ‘I Was Messed Up (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.Outro music is ‘Stereo (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.
7/19/2021

Doing a PhD in Immunology, with Dr Madina Wane

Season 1, Ep. 12
In the final episode of Black Future Dr, I got the chance to speak with (now Dr!) Madina Wane, who defended her PhD in Immunology at Imperial College London in January. We start the episode by discussing how she came to do a PhD, and her experiences of working and studying at a research-heavy institution. Madina then shares her experiences of finishing a PhD during a global pandemic, including an explanation of the viva process, the logistics of the meeting, and her top tips for how to best prepare. We discuss the positives and negatives of working in a relatively new research field, and embracing the fact that it’s okay not to know everything. We end the episode by talking about Madina’s new role in industry, how she has found the transition from academia, and how to best prepare for starting the PhD process.Guest bioMadina recently defended her PhD thesis in Immunology from Imperial College London. Her research, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, focused on investigating zebrafish gills to better understand respiratory immune responses to viruses. Prior to her PhD, Madina completed an MRes in Infection and Immunity and a BSc in Biochemistry also at Imperial College London. She is now working as a scientist in the biotechnology industry, applying her immunology expertise to developing new vaccines.Outside of her research, Madina is involved in science and higher education policy and science outreach. She previously completed a policy internship at The Academy of Medical Sciences and recently co-founded a non-profit organisation, Black In Immuno, to address the inequities facing Black scientists within the field of immunology. She has also discussed her research and advocacy work at public events or platforms such as Pint of Science, Imperial Festival, Diversity Challenge and Immune podcast. You can keep up to date with Madina’s work on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/madina-wane-854138a4/).Host bioNina Higson-Sweeney is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her PhD is funded by the ESRC through the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, and she is using mixed methods to explore the symptom of fatigue within adolescent depression. Prior to her PhD, Nina completed a BSc in Psychology and a MSc Health Psychology at the University of the West of England. Nina has contributed to several peer-reviewed journal articles throughout her degrees, exploring topics such as depression, CFS/ME, HIV, and loneliness and mental health in children and young people. You can follow her on Twitter (@n_higsonsweeney) and ResearchGate.Links to organisationsIf you want to check out the African-Caribbean Research Collective, you can join us here.If you'd like to learn more about the West African Research Collective, you can find out more here.CreditsFunding for this podcast is provided by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (@_SWDTP on Twitter).Cover art is by the talented Hannah Balogun (@hannah_balogun on Instagram).Intro music is ‘I Was Messed Up (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.Outro music is ‘Stereo (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.
7/12/2021

Doing a Clinical Psychology Doctorate, with Leah Francis

Season 1, Ep. 11
Episode trigger warnings: Discussion of slavery re-enactments.In this episode I have the chance to speak with fellow Black Women’s Forum UK committee member Leah Francis, who is studying for a professional doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Essex. We begin with an explanation of what the doctorate in Clinical Psychology is, and how it differs from a PhD in Psychology. We then discuss how Leah became interested in the subject, her motivations for pursuing this career, and her non-traditional journey from undergraduate to the DClinPsy (including jobs as a sabbatical officer, a teacher and an assistant psychologist). Leah shares her tips for applying and preparing for interviews, and her experiences during them, both positive and negative. We then consider issues of diversity within the doctorate and the discipline, and the consequences of implicit bias and lack of representation for students, psychologists, and service users. We wrap up the episode with some top tips about mentorship and ways to start getting your foot in the door.Guest bioLeah Francis is a second year Trainee Clinical Psychology (DClinPsych), at Essex University. She is currently researching the impact of austerity measures on children’s wellbeing. The research will use quantitative methods to examine this. She will also conduct a systematic review investigating the impact across groups.Prior to her DClinPsych, Leah completed a BSc in Psychology at University College London and a MSc Mental Health: Transcultural Mental Healthcare (Culture and Global Perspectives on Mental Health Care) at Bart’s & The London, QMUL.Alongside her degree, Leah works to support aspiring clinical psychologists by mentoring them and helping with the application process. Leah also does work in the community, such as helping to make spaces more accessible and campaigning on issues of social justice. You can keep up to date with Leah’s work by following her on Twitter (@leahfrancis01) and LinkedIn.Host bioNina Higson-Sweeney is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her PhD is funded by the ESRC through the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, and she is using mixed methods to explore the symptom of fatigue within adolescent depression. Prior to her PhD, Nina completed a BSc in Psychology and a MSc Health Psychology at the University of the West of England. Nina has contributed to several peer-reviewed journal articles throughout her degrees, exploring topics such as depression, CFS/ME, HIV, and loneliness and mental health in children and young people. You can follow her on Twitter (@n_higsonsweeney) and ResearchGate.CreditsFunding for this podcast is provided by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (@_SWDTP on Twitter).Cover art is by the talented Hannah Balogun (@hannah_balogun on Instagram).Intro music is ‘I Was Messed Up (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.Outro music is ‘Stereo (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.
7/5/2021

Doing a PhD in Nursing, with Lorna Hollowood

Season 1, Ep. 10
This week, I got the chance to chat with Lorna Hollowood, who is a part-time PhD student and lecturer in Nursing at the University of Birmingham. We start the episode by discussing Lorna’s non-linear journey towards academia; as a teenager she had minimal access to further or higher education, and decided to pursue a career in nursing before returning to academia – in this way, she considers herself as an “accidental academic”. We discuss her PhD, which combines her personal and professional interests, and is exploring the needs of the Windrush generation living in care homes. Lorna then considers the ups and downs of being a part-time PhD student, and shares tips for how she manages to maintain a work-life balance in the time of Covid. We end the episode by reflecting on the PhD as a learning process, the benefits of networking, and the importance of black visibility in academia.Guest bioLorna is a part time PhD student, coming to the end of her first year of study, in the School of Nursing at the University of Birmingham. Lorna is completing a PhD, which is exploring the needs of the Windrush Generation, who are living and dying in UK care homes. The first year of study has consisted of completing a systematic scoping review exploring care home residents experiences internationally, when people live in care homes that primarily care for a culture, ethnicity and background different to their own. The main study will be a qualitative study capturing the narratives of care home resident’s and their families and using the Silences’ Framework (Serrant-Green 2010) to identify the marginal discourses that exist in their care provision and experiences.Alongside being a part time student Lorna is a full time lecturer in the School of Nursing, teaching undergraduate pre-registration nurses. A focus of her teaching is reducing health inequalities and promoting health, and uses teaching as an opportunity to raise the profile of nurses from diverse backgrounds. She is also a clinical associate for the Gold Standards Framework, which involves assessing UK care homes against standards for excellence in end of life care. She is currently an Academic Board member for the Birmingham and Lewisham Health Inequalities Review Board. Lorna has previously worked clinically as a District Nurse and in Specialist Palliative Care in a hospice setting. She has a BSc in Nursing, MSc in Advancing Practice and a PGCE in teaching. Lorna has published a textbook for student nurses, a literature review in a peer-reviewed journal has presented at conferences.She is committed to promoting inclusion for black students and those from other minority ethnic backgrounds in Higher Education. You can follow Lorna on Twitter (@LornaHollowood).Host bioNina Higson-Sweeney is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her PhD is funded by the ESRC through the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, and she is using mixed methods to explore the symptom of fatigue within adolescent depression. Prior to her PhD, Nina completed a BSc in Psychology and a MSc Health Psychology at the University of the West of England. Nina has contributed to several peer-reviewed journal articles throughout her degrees, exploring topics such as depression, CFS/ME, HIV, and loneliness and mental health in children and young people. You can follow her on Twitter (@n_higsonsweeney) and ResearchGate.CreditsFunding for this podcast is provided by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (@_SWDTP on Twitter).Cover art is by the talented Hannah Balogun (@hannah_balogun on Instagram).Intro music is ‘I Was Messed Up (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.Outro music is ‘Stereo (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.
6/28/2021

Doing a PhD in Oncology, with Sigourney Bell

Season 1, Ep. 9
In this episode, I chat with fellow ACRC member and Forbes 30 under 30 honouree Sigourney Bell, who is currently studying for a PhD in Oncology at the University of Cambridge. Sigourney explains the research she’s currently doing in her lab, which involves improving our understanding of a rare form of paediatric brain tumour, called supratentorial ependymoma. She then shares her experience of being a first generation academic, and her five-year journey from graduating at undergraduate to starting her PhD. Sigourney candidly reflects on the positives and negatives of having that break in study, and shares how she manages to maintain her motivation and deal with feelings of Imposter Syndrome. We then chat about the Black In Cancer network, an amazing initiative co-founded by Sigourney that is focused on promoting the visibility of black cancer researchers, encouraging black students to pursue STEM subjects, and working to strengthen and educate the black community about cancer.Guest bioSigourney is a second-year PhD student at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge. Her PhD is funded by Cancer Research UK and focusses on developing novel models and therapeutics for a rare paediatric brain tumour, with the long-term goal of using this knowledge to create new therapies for children who currently have little to no treatment options beyond surgery. Prior to her PhD, Sigourney completed her BSc in Human Physiology at the University of Leeds and went on to work for both Pfizer and AstraZeneca in neuroscience and oncology and contributed to a number of peer-reviewed journal articles. Alongside her PhD, Sigourney is also co-founder of Black in Cancer, an organisation that aims to empower and encourage future Black Cancer leaders whilst reducing cancer disparities through education and advocacy. She was also recently named as a Forbes 30 under 30 honouree for her work. you can keep up to date with sigourney's work by following her on Twitter (@siggs28) and Instagram (@siggs28).Host bioNina Higson-Sweeney is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her PhD is funded by the ESRC through the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, and she is using mixed methods to explore the symptom of fatigue within adolescent depression. Prior to her PhD, Nina completed a BSc in Psychology and a MSc Health Psychology at the University of the West of England. Nina has contributed to several peer-reviewed journal articles throughout her degrees, exploring topics such as depression, CFS/ME, HIV, and loneliness and mental health in children and young people. You can follow her on Twitter (@n_higsonsweeney) and ResearchGate.Links to organisationsIf you want to check out the African-Caribbean Research Collective, you can join us here.Interested in learning more about the Black In Cancer network? Check out there website here, and their Nature blog here.CreditsFunding for this podcast is provided by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (@_SWDTP on Twitter).Cover art is by the talented Hannah Balogun (@hannah_balogun on Instagram).Intro music is ‘I Was Messed Up (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.Outro music is ‘Stereo (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.
6/21/2021

Doing a PhD in Sociology, with Dave Mankhokwe Namusanya

Season 1, Ep. 8
In this episode I chat with Dave Mankhokwe Namusanya, who is currently conducting fieldwork in Mawali for his PhD in Sociology at Abertay University. Dave shares with me his unique perspective as a PhD student conducting research in his home country, and discusses some of the benefits and challenges of doing research with an insider perspective. In particular, we consider how he negotiates access to communities, and how he manages (sometimes competing) expectations between the university, the community, and policy makers. Dave also shares his personal journey towards starting a PhD, and provides a clear overview of the application process. We end the episode by considering challenges international students may face when applying for a PhD in the UK, such as competition for funded studentships and additional requirements needed to pursue this career path.Guest bioDave is a Malawian; a second-year PhD student at the University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland. He holds a PhD studentship from the University.His research explores eco grief, climate change and the changing water practices in Malawi. The research is using ethnographic and ubuntu approaches to understand how communities in Southern Malawi are navigating the impacts of climate change in terms of water practices. He will also be exploring existing policies and strategies employed in Malawi to deal with changing access to water with a focus on communities’ role in the process within the frameworks of climate justice and social justice.Prior to his PhD, Dave completed a BA in Media for Development from the University of Malawi and an MA in Community and Youth Work from Durham University. He has worked as a researcher, university lecturer, and editor in Malawi; as well as a youth worker in the UK.His research interests are in indigenous knowledge systems, indigenous research methodologies, qualitative research, social justice, critical development, medical humanities, and communication. He is also a creative writer of both fiction and non-fiction. You can keep up to date with him on Twitter (@dave_namusanya), LinkedIn,ResearchGate, and Medium.Host bioNina Higson-Sweeney is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her PhD is funded by the ESRC through the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, and she is using mixed methods to explore the symptom of fatigue within adolescent depression. Prior to her PhD, Nina completed a BSc in Psychology and a MSc Health Psychology at the University of the West of England. Nina has contributed to several peer-reviewed journal articles throughout her degrees, exploring topics such as depression, CFS/ME, HIV, and loneliness and mental health in children and young people. You can follow her on Twitter (@n_higsonsweeney) and ResearchGate.CreditsFunding for this podcast is provided by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (@_SWDTP on Twitter).Cover art is by the talented Hannah Balogun (@hannah_balogun on Instagram).Intro music is ‘I Was Messed Up (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.Outro music is ‘Stereo (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.
6/14/2021

Doing a PhD in Population Health Sciences, with Lois King

Season 1, Ep. 7
Note: Apologies for the audio quality of this episode for both sides of the interview; it’s just the beauty of recording a podcast virtually during a pandemic!This week, I got the chance to speak with Lois King who is currently studying for a PhD in Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, specifically looking at global health governance and childhood pneumonia in Bangladesh. We start the episode with Lois explaining to me what global health governance is, and what drew her to this topic and field of research. This was particularly interesting as Lois originally wanted to pursue a degree in medicine, and so provides a great alternative to discussions I had in episode 3. We then discuss her experiences of being black and living in Scotland, and what it’s like to be a black student at such a prestigious university. As a result of her learning and experiences, she co-founded the university’s decolonising global health initiative, which now involves people all across the world. We finish the episode with some advice about supervision, time management, and how to stay focused on your PhD.Guest bioLois is a 2nd year PhD student with the Global Health Governance Programme at the University of Edinburgh. Her PhD project is looking at the governance of childhood pneumonia in Bangladesh in the context of global-level agenda setting and political prioritisation in global health. Funded by NIHR as part of their global health research unit on respiratory health (RESPIRE), the research is mixed methods with a qualitative focus to observe how certain global health priorities are set and the impact of this at local level.Lois is also co-founder of the University of Edinburgh's Decolonising Global Health Conference and Working Group, blog editor for Women in Global Health UK and has worked as a consultant for the World Health Organization.She holds a Masters in Public Health, with a background inBiomedical Sciences and conducts research analysing COVID-19-related policies of various governments worldwide. You can follow Lois on Twitter (@LoisEmilyKing), ResearchGate, and connect on LinkedIn.Host bioNina Higson-Sweeney is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her PhD is funded by the ESRC through the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, and she is using mixed methods to explore the symptom of fatigue within adolescent depression. Prior to her PhD, Nina completed a BSc in Psychology and a MSc Health Psychology at the University of the West of England. Nina has contributed to several peer-reviewed journal articles throughout her degrees, exploring topics such as depression, CFS/ME, HIV, and loneliness and mental health in children and young people. You can follow her on Twitter (@n_higsonsweeney) and ResearchGate.CreditsFunding for this podcast is provided by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (@_SWDTP on Twitter).Cover art is by the talented Hannah Balogun (@hannah_balogun on Instagram).Intro music is ‘I Was Messed Up (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.Outro music is ‘Stereo (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.
6/7/2021

Doing a PhD in Earth Sciences, with Louisa Brotherson

Season 1, Ep. 6
In this episode, I chat with fellow ACRC member Louisa Brotherson, who is studying for a PhD in Earth Sciences at the University of Liverpool. During our conversation, Louisa explains her research area, which is focused on better understanding earthquakes, and shares her experiences of working in a (dry) lab. We discuss the co-curricular activities Louisa has been involved with during her time at university, which has involved visits to Italy, Germany and Sweden. We also talk about her recent internship with The Royal Society, and how the skills you develop during your PhD can be transferred outside of academia. We finish the episode by considering some of the challenges doctoral students may face when deciding between academia and industry, and Louisa provides great advice on how to find your tribe during this journey.Guest bioLouisa Brotherson is a PhD researcher at the University of Liverpool. Funded by NERC through the Manchester-Liverpool Doctoral Training Partnership, her project is entitled: “Journey to the Centre of the Earthquake: how does damage affect earthquake source properties and radiated wavefields?” In her work, she focusses on bringing together laboratory frictional experiments with earthquake seismology to understand how earthquakes are generated. Using numerical modelling, she aims to understand how earthquakes work on the small-scale using high pressure frictional experiments by measuring seismic waves radiating from tiny, lab-generated earthquakes (stick-slip) which are generated during frictional sliding.Louisa completed her MGeophys, BSc Geophysical Sciences degree at the University of Leeds. During her year abroad at Western University, Canada, she developed an interest in seismic hazard research, leading her to obtain a PhD position. A DAAD RISE scholar, she completed a three-month research project on seismic wave propagation during underground tunnelling advancement at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany. Outside her research, Louisa is currently completing a three-month UKRI Science Policy internship at the Royal Society, London. Contributing to the Data and Research and Innovation teams, she uses her research experience to support projects related to COVID-19 response, misinformation and innovation. Outside of work, she enjoys strength training and baking. You can follow Louisa on Twitter (@louisa_geo) for updates.Host bioNina Higson-Sweeney is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her PhD is funded by the ESRC through the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, and she is using mixed methods to explore the symptom of fatigue within adolescent depression. Prior to her PhD, Nina completed a BSc in Psychology and a MSc Health Psychology at the University of the West of England. Nina has contributed to several peer-reviewed journal articles throughout her degrees, exploring topics such as depression, CFS/ME, HIV, and loneliness and mental health in children and young people. You can follow her on Twitter (@n_higsonsweeney) and ResearchGate.Links to organisationsIf you want to check out the African-Caribbean Research Collective, you can join us here.If you are interested in learning about The Royal Society where Louisa just finished her internship, you can find out more here.CreditsFunding for this podcast is provided by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (@_SWDTP on Twitter).Cover art is by the talented Hannah Balogun (@hannah_balogun on Instagram).Intro music is ‘I Was Messed Up (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.Outro music is ‘Stereo (Instrumental Version)’ by Ella Faye, from Epidemic Sound.