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The University of Southampton
Doctoral College

Researcher Photography Competition

The winners of the 2016 Researcher Photography Competition have been announced!

This year’s theme was 'resilience in research' and we asked PGRs to show with one image, and a corresponding blurb, 'What does resilience mean to you as a doctoral researcher or those around you?'

The Judging Panel were extremely impressed with the quality of this years' entries and found it very difficult to pick their final winners, who were presented with their awards as part of the Festival of Doctoral Research Closing Reception on Friday 27 May.

All Entries

Doctoral College Award

Image 6

Catharina Haywood,
Second year Trainee on the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Reading Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, written about his experiences in Nazi concentration camps, I was moved by his observation that it is possible to find meaning in life even when faced with the most desperate situation, about which nothing can be changed.  Indeed, he argues that it is essential to find meaning in one’s suffering in order to find meaning in life.

In therapy, we support our clients to build up resilience by viewing their difficult situations from different perspectives. As Frankl argues, a great deal of resilience can also be gained from finding meaning in one’s suffering, whether that be facing a terminal illness or grieving the death of a relative. For me, psychological resilience is captured in this image of Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe; the towering blocks are menacing but do not manage to cut out the light completely and there is still a way out from among the crush.

Judging Panel's comments

"This award goes to an image and text that show inspiration being drawn from the example of others who have faced terrible and overwhelming experiences.

The image is striking and stark, and the Panel recognise that it might be seen as controversial. But what we saw was an image and a text that complemented each other to present a message about human courage in the face of circumstances that were or are terrible, unbearable.

It made us think, not just about the courage of the people commemorated in the subject of the photograph, or of the individual referred to in the text. It made us think about the courage of all those people, past and present, all over the world, who face up to darkness and keep trying to reach the light – for themselves and other people too.

This submission challenges us all to look at the darkness and not lose sight of the light; it does it in the image and the text.

The text talks about changing perspectives. We felt that in making us think about the astounding potential of human courage, this entry should help us all to put our own struggles and troubles and fears in perspective and to carry on striving to make a difference, to keep on trying to make a better world."

Research Project Award

Image 5

Camelia Tusan
PhD Student, Bone and Joint Research Group
Institute of Developmental Sciences

Postgraduate research can be very stressful and emotionally demanding. This happens because you invest more than time or resources, you invest your passions and your aspirations.

You work hard in order to discover something, which will make a difference and will make this world a better place to leave. But how can you keep going when nothings seems to work?

Well there are different approaches for each of us. As for me one of the challenges is to see the beauty and the full part of the glass when the others cannot see it. My picture shows the beauty of a colony of cells (no editing). After a tidies work when you are tired to image and count cells and you almost want to go home and forget about them, all of a sudden they are communicating love. Even if some of you will not consider that as love, it is still a kind of art that makes me smile and helps me to keep going. This is resilience for me.

Judging Panel's comments

"We created a Research Project category because we felt that for some, the relationship with their project was the ‘heart’ of resilience as they saw it. This award is for an entry that represents how the research project itself keeps you going.

What we loved about this entry was that it registered something about the love, or passion, that is invested in doing research.

The entry we selected here may appear light-hearted. Some may think that this image is bold or even brash. It is out of focus. Yes it is. And in a way it sort of makes us look again or for some, perhaps, look away. As it is said in English, the image ‘does not seem to amount to much’, but the text tells us something different.

There are all those days when nothing seems to work, and you feel you have lost your way. And then, suddenly, one day, ‘out of the blue’ as they say – or out of the black, in this case - there is something there.

We can decide to see beauty in the smallest of things; we can decide to recognise the spectacular in the everyday; we can take heart when the unexpected happens – even on a wet Wednesday afternoon in the lab.

Or we can ignore or miss the seemingly little things that could point us on our way. So many times you thought you would find what you predicted, and you didn’t find it. And then, sometimes something appears which seems to say ‘here I am; you are not wrong, carry on’.

At the end of the day, seeing beauty and love in a colony of cells is a wonderful thing. So, yes, optimism, and wonder, and joy in the unexpected little steps and successes along the way can most definitely be a form of resilience."

Jury Prize

Pina Gruden
Pina Gruden
Engineering and the Environment

As a PhD student, resilience represents the ability to balance stress and pressure induced by our research with nature, hobbies and support from people who are close to us.

Judging Panel's comments

"This is for the entry that, in the jury’s view, represents in the most inspirational way how being part of a mutual support community enables and sustains any doctoral researcher.

The image is witty and fun, yet still, with its text, it recognises how difficult it can be, as a doctoral researcher, to keep a sense of balance. What we really liked about this piece was that it emphasises a whole-life balance as the key to sustaining yourself as a doctoral researcher, and as helping to sustain others too.

What came across was the mutuality involved in sustaining each other – as researchers, friends, family, as people, not just through the process of researching, but throughout life. And also how being involved in outside activities – hobbies, sport or whatever – and activities outside of your head, in nature and in the world, are a way of dealing with the stress and coming through to a life that is not just about academic success.

It’s a precarious and difficult balance, but we thought this entry pointed the way – in a really positive way – to the beyond of doctoral research, to the importance and the pleasure to be found in keeping a whole-life perspective.

It seemed to us to show that, when you sometimes falter and fall, keeping contact will mean there are people there to pick you up and help you onwards. And you will be there to help them too. In time of need and in time of joy and rest: this entry said something profound about sharing togetherness."

People's Choice Award

Sarwar Sohel
Md Sarwar Hossain Sohel
PhD student
Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences

The life on a boat is resilient to fight against poverty, climate change and other threats, which are making the family to struggle around the world largest mangrove forest Sundarban.

The threat of tiger, snake and the mighty rivers could not restrict the family fighting against poverty in coastal Bangladesh. Life is still moving on a boat as a place to live by showing resilience against salinity and sea level rise, and the temperature rise beyond 2 o C!

Judging Panel's comments

"The People's Choice award was open to postgraduate researchers, the wider University community and also the public.

An online exhibition ran for one month and more than 800 people cast their vote from different corners of the globe.

The winning image took an early lead and also received more than a third of the total number of votes."

Competition Brief

What does resilience mean to you as a doctoral researcher or those around you?

Some of us may have an interest in social resilience, ecological resilience or collective institutional resilience. We may also think of resilience as our own vulnerability, emotional regulation, stress management, persistence, self-confidence and reaching out. Or we may just see it as sustaining high level of effort after a setback.

Perhaps it’s not that easy to put into words what it really means. So how about you show us with a photographic image?

Judging Panel

  • Aline Giordano - Doctoral College Manager (Judging Panel Chair)
  • Julie Reeves - Researcher Development Co-ordinator, ECRs
  • Ronda Gowland-Pryde - Head of Education, John Hansard Gallery
  • Professor Chris Howls - Mathematical Sciences, previous Director of FSHMS Graduate School
  • Mike Allwright - SUSU PGR Student Officer

Rules & Regulations

  • To enter the competition, you must be enrolled on a MPhil or PhD programme at the University of Southampton or a visiting research student at the University
  • You must be the sole owner and author of your entry.
  • One entry per person
  • Images must have been taken during the student's candidature at the University
  • The Panel reserves the right to reject an entry if judged threatening, abusive, harassing, libellous, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, scandalous, inflammatory, pornographic or infringes upon intellectual property rights of any third person or entity.
  • You understand that any image submitted to the competition may be used by the University of Southampton for marketing and promotional purposes.

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