December 2018 Edition

Hello and welcome to the December 2018 edition of the Research Student Cascade with features on: 

  • Pro Vice Chancellor For Research – Professor Rusi Jaspal
  • Doctoral College Film
  • LEGO Competition
  • Student Profiles
  • Coffee and Chat
  • PGR Careers Support
  • #DMU Global
  • Poster Competition
  • Doctoral College Front Runner
  • #DMUResearch Matters
  • In Other news – Black History Season with Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B/Leicester City Football Club

First of all, we would like to introduce our new Pro Vice Chancellor for Research, Professor Rusi Jaspal

Professor Rusi Jaspal

“I was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research in October this year, having occupied several senior research leadership positions at DMU. I was appointed Professor of Psychology and Sexual Health at DMU in 2015 and conduct research into the social psychological aspects of sexual health and HIV – especially in marginalised communities. I am currently writing a book ‘The Social Psychology of Gay Men’ which will be published by Palgrave in mid-2019. In addition to my leadership role, I remain an active researcher and continue to supervise and examine PhD students in my areas of expertise. As Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, I am leading on the University’s preparations for the Research Excellence Framework, and I am responsible for the Research Services Directorate and the Doctoral College.

One of the most stimulating aspects of my role is leading the Doctoral College. I passionately believe that our PhD students constitute a vital part of our research community at DMU. The impactful research undertaken by our PhD students makes an important contribution, not only to the research culture in their respective Research Institutes, but also to the University’s research environment. Indeed, a recent review of research across the University showed the pivotal contribution that PhD students in all four of our faculties are making to addressing the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As one of the 17 UN Global Hubs in the world and the only Global Hub in the UK, we are absolutely committed to addressing the UN Global Goals and, especially, SDG16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Our PhD students are helping us to achieve this.

In my view, PhD research is the lifeblood of university research. With this in mind, we are committed to recognising, developing and increasing our PhD research student community at DMU. Consistent with the University Research Strategy 2018-2023, the Doctoral College aims to transform our students by supporting them from PhD registration to graduation, by providing access to an inclusive, vibrant and stimulating research environment, and by ensuring that students are able to develop a broad range of skills to prepare them effectively for their future careers. Our dynamic and diverse community of PhD students is integrated into the University’s Research Institutes, our Doctoral Training Programmes, and has access to our research infrastructure. From 2018, our PhD students are able to access #DMUGlobal, DMU’s flagship international experience programme, in order to develop their research careers. Over the next year, there will be many, many more exciting opportunities for our students to develop, promote, and showcase their research at DMU.

I would urge our students to take advantage of the excellent opportunities at DMU. Engage with your Research Institutes. Get to know your Institute Head of Research Students who is keen to support you during your PhD studies. Meet our excellent Doctoral College staff at Gateway House who will be delighted to welcome you to the Doctoral College. Find out what other researchers and PhD students are working on. Seize every opportunity to disseminate your research to others.

I would like to learn more about our PhD students’ research. Over the academic year, I will be hosting a series of coffee mornings to meet you. In the New Year, I plan to launch the Doctoral College Lecture Series, which will provide you with the opportunity to share your research findings. And I would be delighted to hear from you – you can contact me on or via Twitter

Doctoral College Film

We were very pleased to produce our first Doctoral College Film this year, with the aim of representing more clearly what completing a Research Degree at DMU involves. We plan to build on this more in the coming year and showcase the fantastic research taking place at DMU.

LEGO© Competition #Mindbuilder

On Wednesday 28th November, the Doctoral College hosted a unique Lego© competition for PhD students: #Mindbuilder. This was the first competition of its kind in the world, and an international panel of experts chose the winners of this exciting contest.

Organiser Julia Reeve gave us an overview of the event:

Lego© Serious Play© is a method that allows people to gain new perspectives, share knowledge and understand complex issues using exercises with Lego bricks.
The competition featured presentations from Lego© Serious Play© experts: Professor Alison James, University of Winchester, discussed “Play and your PhD”, Jackie Hatfield, Loughborough University, presented on  “Lego® Serious Play®: Neurodiversity in HE” and Micael Buckle, CEO of Danish training company, Inthrface, spoke about the origins and theory of the method in “Lego® Serious Play® in Perspective”.

Competition judges

Student Presentations

Student competitors from all faculties were each equipped with identical Lego kits containing only 48 bricks and asked to use these to build a model representing their research project.  On the day, PhD students were asked to “tell the story” of their Lego© model to judges and audience in just 2 minutes!  They then had 5 minutes to answer questions.  Students had to repeat their “stories” 4 times, as judges and audience moved from table to table speed-dating style”.

“Over lunch judges had the difficult task of deliberating over the marks for each model and accompanying story: skills in creative/metaphorical thinking, narrative and reflection were covered by the marking criteria.

All entrants received a participation certificate (not to mention a Lego keyring!) and were able to keep their Lego® kits for future creative play”.

Prizewinners were:
1st Prize: Sam Margrave (BAL) “Does Local Government Mean Business?
  A new theory of Entrepreneurial Civic Leaders, Civic Entrepreneurship, and devolved
Entrepreneurship, policy.”

2nd Prize: Sinan Baho (HLS): “War for existence: Humans and Microbes”
3rd Prize: Ana Weinberg (ADH): “Source Roulette”

You can view Sinan’s presentation here:

You can find out more in this blog post, by using the #Mindbuilder hashtag on Twitter, and by following the DMU Doctoral College http://@DMUDRCOL.

Watch out for #Mindbuilder 2019!

Student Profiles

Deoraj Seewoonarain

Deoraj Seewoonarain
“My name is Deoraj Seewoonarain –
I was a Lecturer in Mental Health at Southampton University. After taking early retirement, I worked as a Locum Deputy Ward Manager with the Essex Partnership University Trust in an Acute Admission Ward for a 17 male bedded Ward. After completing my BSc (Hons) in Psycho-Social Interventions in the Management of Psychosis, ( Bournemouth University) I was the Module Lead for the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy programme for Pre and Post Registration Mental Health Nurses. I worked with Professor David Kingdon in the Department of Psychiatry,  Royal South Hants Hospital. Whilst working in a Medium Secure Unit for Southern Health, I completed the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Psychology. (Portsmouth University) I started the Professional Doctorate in Criminal Justice and transferred to the Health and Life Sciences at the De Montfort University in October 2016 for the Research PhD in Criminal Justice.
My research is ” Exploring female offenders experience of a Psychologically Informed Planned Environment in an Approved Probation Service.” in Birmingham, England. I hope my research will secure ongoing funding from stakeholders to reduce re-offending in the community. I chose DMU because I came to the” Best Supervisor in the world.” Professor Rob Canton. I hope to complete in September 2020 and as a Royal Yachting Association Day Skipper I intend to sail with my sons in the Great Barrier Reefs”.

Leisa Nichols-Drew

Leisa Nichols-Drew

“Hello, I am Leisa and I work at DMU as a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science and have just commenced my part time PhD here too.

Since 2000 I have worked as a Forensic Scientist within a major crime laboratory examination unit (and I continue to do this when not fulfilling my teaching and other commitments at DMU). During this time, I have attended post-mortems, court, case conferences, crime scenes and been part of the investigation team for murders, sexual offences, terrorism, armed robberies and cold cases. This career background assists me in keeping my skills current which I then pass on to my students through reconstructions and simulations of my cases (once they have gone to court and are in the public domain).

I will be researching the development and visualisation of fingermarks on leather surfaces using a range of analytical techniques. Within forensic science, we frequently encounter leather surfaces (clothing, handbags, belts, vehicle interiors etc) in a range of offences including violent crime and wildlife investigations. This year I travelled to Canada and Australia (courtesy of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust) where I researched the forensic science responses to knife crime – this is also relevant to my PhD as weapons can be concealed in leather sheaths. However, leathers are complex surfaces and currently the fingermark yield is poor. Ultimately, I am hoping to provide assistance in such scenarios for practitioners within the UK Criminal Justice System and international agencies.

I am really proud to work at DMU as a lecturer on the Forensic Science course and am extremely honoured to be supported through my PhD here”.

Coffee and Chat

Our Regular Coffee mornings/afternoons continue to be a success with students and we have started to host these in different locations around the campus.  November saw us in the Trinity House Chapel with Professor Rusi Japsal (Pro Vice Chancellor for Research) and in January we will be in the Riverside Café.

These sessions run on a monthly basis and we are dedicated to following up on all points raised.   Action points will be disseminated via blackboard for information/reference.


These sessions are a chance for our PGR students and staff to:

• Network with peers

• Feedback concerns and comments directly to the Doctoral College – our Interim Head Hilary Buckley and/or our Director Laurence Brooks are always on hand during these events to advise and assist

• Showcase research and link in with others in allied or different fields

• Develop a sense of “research community”

During the November session, Rusi Japal spoke passionately about his commitment to research at DMU and to the PGR community and will be attending a number of our Coffee and Chats going forward.

Riverside Café (DMU)

We very much welcome and encourage attendance and the next coffee and chat will be taking place at the Riverside Café on January 15th – 4pm with support from Sally Cleere, Postgraduate Careers & Employability Adviser, who will be advising on how to maximise personal development and employability.

We look forward to seeing you there!

PGR Careers Support

Sally Cleere our PGR Careers & Employability Adviser gave us an overview of activities in 2018 and plans for 2019.

Sally Cleere – PGR Careers & Employability Adviser

“In September, along with other colleagues from DMU, I attended the Vitae Researcher Developer International Conference in Birmingham.  A range of topics were covered during the conference – you can see the presentations on the Vitae website by registering with your DMU email address.  It was great to hear speakers talking about the importance of career development and attend workshops to see initiatives from other universities.  Professor Julia Buckingham (Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University), talked about the broad range of options open to researchers that lead to successful and rewarding careers.  She advised researchers to think continuously about their career development and her words of wisdom were “Employers across the globe are competing for talent as competition grows and technology is changing the world and the way we work. Recognise your talents. The world is your oyster…but only if you grasp the opportunities”

I also met Dr Danielle White, a Research and Education Consultant who presented a poster on a workshop she has developed called ‘What can I do with a PhD?’.  Based on extensive research and using theoretical frameworks, this two-day workshop provides the opportunity to gain clarity regarding your career options and goals.  I am really pleased that I have secured funding from the Doctoral College Research Training Fund for           Dr White to offer this training to DMU students in February 2019.  Watch out for more details coming soon!”

“September also saw a new workshop being piloted called ‘LinkedIn for Researchers’.  This is open to both research students and staff and takes you step by step through how to set up an effective LinkedIn profile.  Participants bought their own laptops along with them and worked on their profiles in the session.   There were lots of questions and based on the feedback we have decided to lengthen the session to give more time to cover how to make connections, network and be an active user.  Two more sessions will run as part of the Researcher Development Programme in 2019”.

“In November, The Health and Life Sciences Faculty ran their annual Employability Conference.  As a new addition to this event, I organised a ‘Meet the Employers Networking Breakfast’ to give research students the chance to meet representatives from AstraZeneca, GSK and two recruitment agencies, Reed Scientific and SRG.  It was an early start, but 26 research students came along and there was a great buzz in the room with lots of conversations taking place, not only between research students and employers, but also between students.  Based on the positive feedback, I hope to organise similar events for other Faculties next year”.

“The following workshops will be running next year as part of the Researcher Development Programme.  You can book your place on myResearch or email .  They are all optional which means you can attend at any stage that feels relevant to you.  Maybe you want to start 2019 by refreshing your CV?  Perhaps you’ve decided your New Year’s resolution is to build your network? Is it time to think about your career options?  Whatever your career development needs for 2019 you can book a workshop or arrange a one to one appointment by emailing

• Thursday 10th January: CVs for Researchers 10am-12pm
• Thursday 24th January: Career Networking for Researchers 10am-1pm

• Thursday 14th February:  CVs for Researchers 10am-12pm
• Wednesday 27th February: Career Options for Researchers 9.45am – 3.30pm

• Thursday 7th March: CVs for Researchers 10am-12pm
• Thursday 28th March: LinkedIn For Researchers 9.45am -1pm

• Thursday 4th April: CVs for Researchers 10am-12pm
• Wednesday 10th April: Career Networking for Researchers 10am-1pm

• Wednesday 8th May: CVs for Researchers 10am-12pm
• Wednesday 22nd May: Career Options for Researchers 9.45am – 3.30pm

• Thursday 6th June: CVs for Researchers 10am-12pm
• Wednesday 19th June: LinkedIn For Researchers 9.45am -1pm

“If you have any questions, ideas or feedback, please drop me an email and I will be hosting the next ‘Coffee & Chat’ at the Riverside Café on 15th January so I hope to see many of you there to talk about careers and how I can help you”.

DMU Global

#DMUglobal launched a new initiative tailored for PhD students earlier in the year offering funding for travel/living/visa expenses.  We were pleased to see 8 of our students gain funding to conduct a project overseas.  We received an update from a couple of our students who gave an overview of their placements:

Kaie Small-Warner
Dpt: Architecture Research Institute/Leicester School of Architecture

“My research falls into the overall fields of sustainability and management with a focus on the built environment. Scholars are currently exploring how business models can help embed sustainability within organisations by developing sustainable business models. These business models expand beyond the financial focus to include environmental and social value. The environmental focus has been dominant within research but there is a lack of social enhancement. I will visit the Department of Strategic Sustainable Development at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) in Sweden for their Spring 2019 term. This is one of the leading research institutions on a framework that was designed to strategically guide any organisation or project to achieve social and environmental sustainability while still being economically viable. I hope to enhance my understanding of this framework and how it can be used as the theoretical perspective for my research. My experience with sustainable business models will also add value to BTH’s research and teaching. Ultimately, the goal is to collaborate on research publications. Sweden is known as a leader in sustainability and innovation along with having one of the best higher education systems in the world. It is also highly ranked for non-native speakers of English so even though I am learning basic Swedish, I am hopeful that there will not be a significant language barrier. I have never travelled to a Nordic country so this will also be a great opportunity to explore the region”.

Lydia Furse
Department: History/Sport History – Postgraduate Research Student

“I’ve been successful in securing a #DMUGlobal scholarship to help fund a research trip to New Zealand. I am really looking forward to working with two outstanding scholars in my field at the university of Auckland and Victoria University, Wellington. My research is on the history of women in rugby union, c.1880-2016, and the #DMUGlobal trip to New Zealand offers me the opportunity to engage with primary sources that will ensure my research is truly international”.

PhD Society

We are always very pleased to hear about PhD Society activities and here’s an update from President Tom Weir:

King Richard III Visitors Centre, Leicester

“The PhD society has continued to flourish this term, hosting a quiz, a visit to the Richard III Museums and Day of the Dead celebration amongst other activities.
Yoga also continues, with two sessions now running regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It has been great to see so many new faces come along to socialise, and we are always looking for new ideas for events- if you can think it up we can help make it happen! In the new year we have some more fun events planned to help everyone survive the cold British winter, and Tom has more strange British food he thinks people should try. We are also looking at a big research showcase in early June as part of the Riverside festival- details TBC but watch this space! Tom, Ana & Zee “

Contact the PhD Society either through  http://facebook or at the email

PhD Society, Social Evening in Gateway House 3.11

Poster Competition

Plans are coming together for the 2019 Poster Competition which takes place on Wednesday 20th March in The Venue.  This is always a big event in the Doctoral College Calendar and a rare chance to see a broad variety of Research taking place across campus.

We’ve already received a lot of interest and would like students who have expressed an interest in taking part to attend one of the poster workshop sessions which will be taking place on:

•  Thursday 17th January 2019, 9.15 am – 1 pm

•  Tuesday 29th January 2019,  9.15 am – 1 pm

The workshop will provide you with helpful information about producing an effective poster.  The presenter will talk you over good and bad examples of posters and give you the opportunity to ask any questions. 

Booking is essential if you wish to attend a face to face course delivery, you can do this by logging onto myResearch and going to “Skills Training Index” where you can search for specific courses or view the “Calendar of Events”.

Annual Doctoral College Research Student Competition


The Doctoral College are very pleased to have been joined by a Frontrunner over the last few months.  Pranjal Pradeep Indurkar from Nagpur in India, is a Masters Degree student in Cyber Technology and has contributed to several different projects within the department.  Pranjal told us:

“Following Cyber Security is my passion and I look forward to work in this industry after my graduation. My future ambition is to make innovative contributions to the field to help protect digital systems and make them more secure”

Pranjal Pradeep Indurkar

Pranjal has been a very positive addition to the team and has been involved in a number of projects including reviewing our training course feedback, designing a new Doctoral College Logo (watch this space), working on the marketing and promotion for the Doctoral College at the Careers Fairs as well as reviewing Doctoral College Forms to address Universal Design for Learning requirements.  We are pleased to hear that Pranjal’s time with us has been extended to April 2019.


#DMUResearch Matters

As part of #DMUResearchMatters, a series of research impact events will take place over 2018-19 celebrating DMU’s commitment to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The format of the events will be short 10-minute presentations by DMU research staff on the impact of their research followed by a Q&A from a panel of ‘impact experts’. There will also be poster displays on the University’s research themes by staff and students at each of these events. The first of these events (Lifelong Wellbeing) took place on 6th November in the Vijay Patel building.  Professor Rusi Jaspal introduced the event which saw the following six academics present their research:

Professor Nicky Hudson: ‘Improving Policy
and Practice in the management of

Professor Joan Taylor: Why do we have to
have diabetes?

Professor Rusi Jaspal: Enhancing HIV
prevention and care

Professor Katherine Huddersman: Water

Dr Helen Coulthard: Teaching a lifelong love
for healthy foods

Dr Lee Hadlington: Developing interventions in
cyber-safety and cyber-security


The Q&A Panel included: Simon Oldroyd (Chair and PVC Dean, Health and Life Sciences), Professor Anwar Baydoun, Dr Laurence Gardiner, Professor Deborah Cartmell

Future events have been announced and include the following:

26 February: CREATIVITY IN THE DIGITAL AGE (Trinity) 14:00-16:00

Introduction and Welcome: Professor Rusi Jaspal, PVC Research

Dr Matthew Jones, Film Exhibition and Cinema-Going

Professor Gabriel Egan, The New Oxford Shakespeare 
Professor Ramsay Burt, Histories of Corporealities and Radical, Twentieth-Century Dance Performance 
Professor Leigh Landy – Music Technology: EARS II 
ProfessorTracy Harwood, Creative Technologies and the City 
Professor Sophy Smith, Creative Technologies and Performance Futures

27 February:  SOCIAL VALUE  (Trinity) 14:00-16.00
Introduction and Welcome: Professor Rusi Jaspal, PVC Research

Professor Hazel Kemshall: European perspectives on mobile offender management 
Lucy Baldwin: Mothers in Prison 
Professor Lala Meredith-Vula –Blood Memory 
Professor Vanessa Bettinson – Criminalising Coercive Control 
Professor Kenneth Morrison – History Informing Policy and Public Diplomacy: The UK and the Western Balkans’

3 April: URBAN LIVING  (The Venue Hall 3) 14.00-16.00
Introduction and Welcome: Professor Rusi Jaspal, PVC Research

Professor Paul Fleming/Dr Graeme Stuart,  Energy visualisation for non-domestic buildings 
Dr Jamileh Manoochehri: Alienation and Self-agency in the context of the Home and the
City Street

Professor Helge Janicke, Cyber Aspect and Impact
Professor Jonathan Davies, Engagement and Impact in Exploratory Research
Dr Ben Whitham, Addressing urban tensions: using research to shape policy on race and racism

#DMUResearchMatters – film series

As part of #DMUResearchMatters, a series of films have been created to celebrate some of DMU’s research beneficiaries. The videos include:

Professor Jo Richardson (BAL) Finding Home: Accommodating Difference
Professor Rusi Jaspal (HLS) HIV among gay men

Professor Gabriel Egan (ADH) Shakespeare

Professor Kathleen Richardson (CEM) Sex Robots: The End of Love
Professor Helge Janicke (CEM) Cybersecurity

The videos which, we hope, will be the first of many, will be launched at a special event on the 29 January 14:00-16:00 in Trinity Chapel to which you are warmly invited. Please rsvp to #DMUResearchMatters by 22 January 2019:.

In other news

Black History Season – Jazzie B

Jazzie B (right) with Carol Leaming

As part of Black History Month, it was an honour to see Jazzie B from Soul II Soul fame come to the campus and give a talk about his life.  Interviewed by local legend in her own right, singer/songwriter Carol Leaming (FRSA, polymath, Multi-Artist In Literature Performing Arts & Digital Media), we heard about Jazzie’s life growing up in London, inspirations, influences and what prompted him to get into music.  Like Carol, Jazzie B’s parents came from the Windrush generation.  We caught up with Carol after the event and reflected on a very insightful interview, this is what Carol has to say.

“Jazzie B reflected on his Windrush  parents as entrepreneurs – they were landlords and also a neighbourhood technical bof’ who repaired everything electrical, when he was young.  These two key things influenced him later to develop his own entrepreneurial abilities, and technical interests,  which lead to his role in a music sound system and subsequently, world wide success of the Soul II Soul Music Collective”.

“Jazzie B symbolises to me as a good example of the Black Entrepreneur, i.e. his role in the development of the music collective and worldwide brand we know as Soul II Soul”

“I have had some similar experiences of course,  though my Windrush generation parents were not landlords. My Jamaican Mum however did participate in ‘pardner’. a type of African  Caribbean community credit union for finance. Antiguan men like my Dad have a penchant for storytelling.  Jazzie B emphatically demonstrated this at the event.  I, like Jazzie B was also part of a Leicester music Sound System, as a MC and Singer. Later on  I studied Music Technology & Sound Sound Engineering, I became a successful  singer /songwriter and producer in the music industry”.

Soul II Soul had a huge impact on the British and world music scene with hits “Keep On Movin”/”Back To Life” amongst others, they continue to perform to this day, have a great range of merchandise feature the iconic Funki Dred logo and their legacy will be everlasting.  As Jazzie B would say “a happy face, a thumpin’ bass, for a lovin’ race”.

Leicester City

Saturday 27th October 2018 will go down in history as one of the city’s darkest nights.  Five people lost their lives in a tragic helicopter disaster at the King Power Stadium, home of Leicester City, including Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.  The public response was unprecedented and the club dealt with the aftermath impeccably.

5000-1 walk passing The Hawthorn Building

Saturday 10th November was an Open Day and saw the first home game since the accident and DMU helped  host the 5000-1 walk held in honour of those who had lost their lives.

2 minutes silence Leicester City v Burnley

Later at the ground there were emotional scenes and a very poignant two-minutes silence which saw every fan hold aloft a special commemorative scarf.  The match ended with further emotional scenes as players and managers past and present were lead around the pitch by Vichai’s sons.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in the terrible accident.

Watershed Grand Opening

We were lucky to recently have a visit from Leicester City and Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.  Kasper came along to officially open the Watershed, home to the DMUsport department and DMU Rowing Club and was interviewed by Professor Martin Polley from the International Centre for Sports History and Culture before an audience of staff/students and children from the Beaumont Park and the Studs Team who are affiliated with DMU.

Kasper Schmeichel (right) with Professor Martin Polley

Kasper spoke about his career and time at Manchester City, Leeds and Notts County before joining Leicester City.  He identified the key people who have helped to shape his career as Tim Flowers his goalkeeper coach at Manchester City, former Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson and Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.  He spoke about his passion for cooking, something he enjoyed doing with his father and ever changing hopes for the future.  Kasper showed a real passion for Leicester City and referred to the King Power stadium as home.   He spoke about the great team spirit and reminisced on the magical night Leicester City became champions of England.

If you would like to contribute or be featured in future Research Student Cascades please email Jimi O’Callaghan