Vice-Chancellor’s Awards celebrate exceptional researchers at Surrey
At the tenth annual Vice-Chancellor’s Awards, staff and students from the Doctoral College were recognised for their outstanding contribution to research.
PGR Student of the Year
The Vice-Chancellor's Award for Postgraduate Research (PGR) Student of the Year was awarded to Jaime Spencer from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
Jamie has demonstrated an unprecedented level of progress in all measures of academic and professional excellence. Whilst studying for his PhD, he successfully published six peer-reviewed articles at primary international forums. This included three articles at the annual Computer Vision & Pattern Recognition (CVPR) Conference which, according to Google Scholar, is the highest impact venue for computer vision research. It’s an incredible accomplishment for a PGR student to publish even a single article at the prestigious venue, let alone three. Because of these scientific achievements, Jaime has been headhunted for a six-month fully funded internship by Tesla Inc. in California.
Jamie shared with us what inspires his research, and his advice for anyone considering undertaking a PhD:
“The main thing driving my research is my curiosity and passion for my research field. It’s like trying to solve a very complex puzzle, building it piece by piece and seeing how it all fits together. At the end of a project, you can look back and realise the scale of what you’ve accomplished. It’s also very rewarding to be part of a wider research community, with the joint goal of further advancing our understanding of the world, or, in my case, computer vision and deep learning. Finally, it’s exciting to imagine the real-world applications that research can have and how it can affect our day-to-day lives.
“Doing a PhD is probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. You should study for a PhD because it’s something you actively know you want to do, not just because it’s something you feel like you should be doing. One of the most important aspects of doing a PhD is finding the right supervisor and research group. You are going to be working very closely with them for at least three years, so it’s worth taking the time to find the right supervisor that also fits well with your personality!”
Research Supervisor of the Year
The Vice-Chancellor's Award for Research Supervisor of the Year was awarded to Dr Chrissie Jones from the School of Psychology.
As a supervisor for the clinical psychology doctorate, Chrissie was nominated by her colleagues for her infectious enthusiasm for research. Providing real-world learning opportunities and a supervision environment where no question is unaskable, Chrissie helps her students discover new approaches to research, as they work towards becoming clinical practitioners.
We spoke to Chrissie to discover what she believes makes for a positive PhD candidate and supervisor relationship:
“I believe supervisors need to be flexible in their role to adapt to the needs of their candidates, whilst ensuring that their students’ passions, unique experiences and abilities are acknowledged and built upon.
“I also believe transparency is essential from both sides, and early conversations on expectations, roles and responsibilities helps to create boundaries. PhD candidates need to be honest and open about areas of strengths and development opportunities to allow supervisors to understand how best to support them.
“Finally, be curious. Both student and supervisor should be open to listening, questioning and guiding to encourage reflection and monitoring of progress. This will facilitate critical thinking which will lead to a stronger independent academic identity.
“When you approach a potential supervisor, always do your homework. Look at their Google Scholar and university webpage to see what areas of research they’re publishing in. When emailing, be specific and intentional. Make sure to refer to their work and share how it fits with your proposed project. Take a gamble on reaching out, because nothing ventured, nothing gained!"