Winter Class of 2020

Read yearbook messages from our Winter 2020 graduates.

Profile pic Huan Wan
Huan Wan PhD in Computer Science and Informatics

I started my PhD at Ulster University after I received the master degree in computer application and technology from the School of Mathematics and Computer Science, Fujian Normal University, China.

My research interests are feature extraction, face verification and pattern recognition.

The proudest moments of my PhD when my papers were accepted by journals and I received my PhD certificate.

It is a long journey to pursue a PhD, I couldn't have got through this without the constant support, help and encouragement from my supervisors and friends. Many thanks all of them.

Profile pic Niloofer Shanavas
Niloofer Shanavas PhD in Computer Sciences and Informatics

After master’s degree, I joined the Artificial Intelligence Research Group in the School of Computing at Ulster University to pursue my PhD. I would like to thank my supervisors for their guidance, invaluable advice, encouragement and support throughout my PhD.

My proudest moments were when my research papers were accepted in prestigious conferences and journals. I feel accomplished about the six first-author publications from my doctoral research. Also, I have had the honour of receiving the Best Student Paper Award at the 2018 International FLINS Conference.

I love travelling; my favourite memories were travelling to present my research in addition to getting the opportunity to meet leading researchers from different parts of the world. And I couldn't have achieved this without the support of my friends and family.

Profile pic Katrin Lehmann
Katrin Lehmann PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

I completed my BSc in Health Studies many years ago and studied part-time through most of my career in child & adolescent mental health completing two MScs in the process. I was privileged to have received a Public Health Agency funded R&D fellowship which allowed me to complete my PhD full-time. I conducted a clinical study focused on autism trait prevalence in people attending specialist gender services in Northern Ireland under the supervision of Professor Gerard Leavey, Dr Michael Rosato and Professor Hugh McKenna.

I am proud to have finished my PhD during one of the most challenging years ever. I couldn`t have got through this without the support of my supervisors and experts by experience who supported my research. I`ll never forget the generosity of participants who allowed me some insight into their lives.

Profile pic Elise Ketelaars
Elise Ketelaars PhD in Law

I started my PhD at Ulster University after finalising my master's degree in international and human rights law in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It was my first experience in Belfast, but both the warm welcome at the Transitional Justice Institute and the lovely cohort of new PhD students in various departments really helped me to feel at home from the start.

Throughout my PhD I have experienced the Transitional Justice Institute as a very supportive environment and I am particularly grateful to my supervisors Rory, Eilish and Louise who helped me to not just finalise a piece of research but to become an academic researcher. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be to embrace the PhD as an opportunity to live new experiences, challenge your (professional/academic) boundaries, meet new people and develop new skills.

Profile pic Beverley Turtle
Beverley Turtle PhD in Nursing and Health

As an undergraduate I studied Psychology at Queen's University Belfast which inspired me to work with individuals with brain injuries as a support worker. I later became an occupational therapist and began my PhD at Jordanstown. My research project looked at the psychometric properties of outcome measures implemented in a stroke clinical trial and the acceptability of mirror therapy as an upper limb treatment with stroke survivors.

My favourite memory was attending the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Celebration of Excellence Awards 2018, held at The Shard in London. There I was awarded early career researcher for my presentation at the Annual Conference and I got to share and enjoy this experience, and the drinks reception, with my mum!! Truly an enjoyable day out. The support and encouragement I have received throughout from my supervisors, my peers, friends and husband have been immeasurable. I am proud of the person I've become.

Profile pic Jailos Lubinda
Jailos Lubinda PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies

Pursuing a PhD at Ulster (Coleraine) in the beauty of the North Coast was a full package, loaded with fun activities like surfing, beaches, touristic attractions all within a 5-30 minutes drive. I’m proud of having taken the opportunity to give a Lecture to present part of my findings to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2019.

My proudest moment was when I submitted my PhD despite having a new Baby just four months earlier and having to adjust with the uncertainties brought about by the early COVID-19 lockdowns, thanks to the guidance and dedication of my supervisory team. My favourite memory was when I got to learn how to surf with the help of my colleagues (Ben Strachan). This gave me another thing to look out for in good weather. I'll never forget the moments we shared with office colleagues (PhD Researchers) in the office playing tennis, surfing disc golf together, etc I couldn't have got through this without the support of my supervisors, my family, and friends in the office who would always encourage one another.

If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be: “Don't be too hard on yourself, often take some time off to depressurise (make use of of your allocated annual leave days to travel around). Time off can help boost your productivity.”

Profile pic Prawej Ansari
Prawej Ansari PhD in Biomedical Sciences

I am originally from Nepal, having received my undergraduate and master's degree from Bangladesh. During my Master's degree, I chose area of diabetes research and then I was offered a PhD in the School of Biomedical Sciences on Diabetes Research. Currently, I'm working as a Scientist at Randox Laboratories Ltd. Thus, I would like to thank my supervisors, without them I wouldn't be in this position today.

My proudest moment was when I presented my research outcomes to an international symposium. My favorite memory was the love of university staff and colleagues during my PhD tenure. I’ll never forget my supervisors, and especially Professor Peter Flatt, who has guided me in each step of my PhD life. I couldn’t have got through this without Professor Peter Flatt and Dr Yasser Abdel-Wahab and the University’s staff support.

If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be after all the hard work, you will receive a very precious achievement which everybody expects but somehow they fail.

Profile pic Ashrafuzzaman Khan
Ashrafuzzaman Khan PhD in Social Work and Social Policy

My PhD thesis has focused on forced displacement and land grabbing in Bangladesh. I did Master of Science (MSc) in Cultural and Social Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands; I also obtained Master and Bachelor of Social Science in Anthropology from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Getting admission into a PhD programme at Ulster University was the proudest moment in my life. I am proud to have accomplished my PhD at Ulster University. I could not have got through it without the extensive supports of my supervisors – Professor Kristian Lasslett and Dr Shane Mac Giollabhui. With their extensive support and discernible guideline, I passed my viva with no corrections.

Profile pic Jodie Shevlin
Jodie Shevlin PhD in History

Having completed both my undergraduate degree in History with Psychology and a Masters in Research at Ulster University, I was delighted when I was accepted to undertake my PhD at Ulster. My supervisors, Dr Andrew Sneddon and Dr Kyle Hughes, faculty and library staff, and the Doctoral College have been fantastic throughout my PhD journey. My time at Ulster has been thoroughly enjoyable.

Now that I’m PhinisheD, if I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the advice I would give myself would be, ‘just keep going!’ Finally, a shout out to the fambam, I couldn’t have got through this without their encouragement.

Profile pic Shannon Wilson
Shannon Wilson PhD in Engineering

I graduated with a BSc in Biomedical Engineering before going on to study a PhD, also in Biomedical Engineering. My thesis work involved investigation of titanium topography in combination with calcium phosphate thin films and the subsequent effect these surfaces had on U2-OS cells.

I'll never forget the amazing lab colleagues and friends that helped me through this PhD. Tea, crosswords and cake were a personal favourite!

Profile pic Julie-Ann Walkden
Julie-Ann Walkden PhD in Nursing and Health

I started my career as a podiatrist and progressed into management within health and social care and am currently Deputy Director of Assurance at the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority. It has been a privilege to be academically supervised by two inspirational deep thinkers, Professor W George Kernohan and Dr Paul Joseph McCullagh. I also have a role as a single mother and have five brilliant kids who give to me joy and purpose and I am blessed to have loving and supportive parents.

This has been a very long time in the making, first considered at the end of my MBA in 2000; twenty years later, in the middle of a pandemic, my book was finally printed. The past seven years of part-time study have probably been the most challenging period of my life, with life events beyond belief to confound the faint hearted; only with the patience, encouragement and support of my supervisors, Professor W George Kernohan and Dr Paul Joseph McCullagh, have I made it to the winner’s enclosure. I have delivered a ‘Critical appraisal of remote vital-sign telemonitoring’ and will forever challenge health and social care to be empowering. So many others in the UUJ family have given so much to me; I am indebted. After half a century of education I was conferred with a PhD - it wasn’t just about the discovery and contribution to science, it was also about the fashion… the red gown ... the Tudor bonnet… these things can’t be flaunted... seven years gone with a cough!

Profile pic Charlotte Zoe Angel
Charlotte Zoe Angel PhD in Biomedical Sciences

I studied Medical Neuroscience at the University of Sussex followed by a year working in Industry and then a Master's in Genetics at the University of Lyon in France, before coming to Ulster University for my PhD in Biomedical Sciences.

I want to thank my fantastic supervisors Declan McKenna and Colum Walsh for teaching me so much and for being so supportive. I had a brilliant PhD experience, made all the better by my lovely supervisors, office-buddies, tearoom-buddies, and other friends. I also want to thank the amazing staff at the Coleraine campus gym for being so much fun and for giving me my love of fitness. I am so glad that I decided to join in the first year - it was really the thing that kept me sane during the stressful periods and I so enjoyed being part of that community. My best wishes to the rest of my cohort and good luck for the future.

Profile pic Margaret McDermott
Margaret McDermott PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

Having enjoyed a teaching career for many years the opportunity to further my education presented itself in 2014 and I enrolled in Ulster University. I attended the Magee Campus in Derry and began a Master of Research programme. I graduated with distinction in 2016, but the journey did not end here. In September 2017, having secured a VCRS research scholarship, I enrolled as a full-time PhD researcher in Magee University. I embraced this new role with diligence and enthusiasm. My project was entitled Paidreacha Traidisiúnta, Dánta Diaga agus Stair na Comhaimsire: Lánléargas ar Mheon Spioradálta Chaitlicigh Uladh, ón Ochtú hAois Déag go dtí an Fichiú hAois (Traditional Prayers, Religious Poetry and Contemporary History: A Panorama of the Mindset of the Catholics of Ulster, from the Eighteenth Century to the Twentieth Century). This research was conducted through the lens of a thoroughgoing examination of a representative corpus of religious text in verse form that had its roots in the Counter Reformation of the 17th century but evolved during the Penal Era of the 18th century. A corpus of traditional prayers and religious poetry was compiled and analysed, and a contextualising study of contemporary social and political history was undertaken.

I thoroughly enjoyed the three years that I spent on this project and I feel indebted to my supervisors Dr Peter Smith and Dr Éamonn Ó Ciardha for their ongoing support and encouragement and for sharing their in-depth knowledge and wisdom with me. From the onset it was my aspiration to complete the programme within the allocated time frame of three years thus allowing me to graduate in the winter of 2020. I remained motivated throughout and I feel a great sense of pride and self-satisfaction that I managed to achieve my goal.

Profile pic Temilola Olanrewaju
Temilola Olanrewaju PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies

I am Nigerian by origin and was raised in the beautiful city of Lagos. I earned my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, after which I completed a Masters program in Environmental Monitoring and Analysis from Aberystwyth University Wales. My PhD research investigated how feeding interactions across trophic levels in the aquatic food web can facilitate the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes in clinically relevant bacteria such as enterococci.

My proudest moment was when I was announced as the winner of the first edition of the UU 3MT competition among excellent researchers across all UU campuses. Another proud moment came when the first publication from my PhD research was recognised by the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences with a runner-up award for Best Peer-Reviewed Publication by a PhD Researcher. My favourite memory was sharing a stage with Sir David Attenborough in November 2018. As a member of the Society for Applied Microbiology early-career scientists committee, I was one of four researchers who had the rare privilege of interviewing him for his fellowship award. I will never forget the joy I felt at being named the winner of the award for best oral presentation (Coleraine Campus) at the Festival of PhD Research in May 2018. In July 2018, my oral presentation at the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) Annual Conference was also voted the best oral presentation by an early career researcher. I could not have got through this without the tremendous support of my supervisors, who were unrelenting in motivating me toward success in my research. They inspired me to explore opportunities, including joining society committees, applying for research grants, presenting my work at national and international conferences, and actively engaging in science outreach activities. These experiences have equipped me with several transferrable skills. I also appreciate my family for their unwavering support throughout my PhD journey. Lastly, my gratitude goes to my fellow researchers whose friendship, encouragement, and good advice were integral to the completion of my PhD. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be to invest more in self-care and maximise the benefits of being part of a well-supported community of researchers.

Profile pic Wulme Dery
Wulme Dery PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My academic background includes a MSc in Process Safety Technology, in which my topic of thesis involved the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. This prompted me to further my knowledge in this field by embarking on a PhD at the HySAFER institute at Ulster University. Here, I conducted research on the consequences of stored hydrogen tank rupture in confined space, with the use of computational fluid dynamics.

My proudest moment in all of this was informing my parents, not only for being accepted as a PhD researcher at Ulster University, but also after three years that it was indeed completed. It goes without saying that without the guidance and support from my supervisors, the companionship created by my fellow colleagues with whom I shared an office with, and the people otherwise encountered and befriended during this period, the light at the end of the tunnel of it all would have rather been a train. And for that, I will be forever grateful and all the attained memories preserved in perpetuity.

Profile pic Omar El Masri
Omar El Masri PhD in Law

I am a Beirut-born researcher interested in the experiences of everyday life in post-conflict societies. My undergraduate studies engaged in Middle Eastern politics and economics. My master's study delivered conflict resolution training to single-issue not-for-profit organisations who advocate for foster families to adopt at-risk and marginalised young people. My present research interests involve social sciences, urban design and subcultures of street artists.

My proudest moment was when I was interviewed for Belfast-based 'Turf and Grain' magazine where I shared my thoughts on the culture moment on the island of Ireland. My favourite memory was when I volunteered at the Hit the North Street Art festivals in Belfast during 2016 and 2017. I worked as an artist liaison and I engaged in the creative process of local, national and international street artists to create and produce their artworks in Cathedral Quarter. I'll never forget the warmth and support I received from dedicated research, academic colleagues at the University. I couldn't have got through this without my fellow PhD researchers. If I could speak to myself at the start of the PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be "you got this"!