Bright Minds

Bright Minds

As part of Kent Giving Week 2022, we hosted an event called Bright Minds where we heard from four of our brilliant PhD students about their cutting edge research. Click on the video below to catch up if you missed it...

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Bright Minds

Catch up on Bright Minds from Kent Giving Week 2022


Grass snakes are a widespread throughout Great Britain, despite this relatively few studies have been conducted on them, compared to other British reptiles. For the past three summers, PhD student Steven Allain has been surveying a population of grass snakes in East Anglia to understand more about their ecology, and investigate the occurrence and effects of snake fungal disease.

The concept of exile remains significant in contemporary literature. Expressions of protest, distress and emotional dissonance can be found in the works of Caribbean writers who remain preoccupied with the loss of ancestral homes and attendant privileges. 

When considering the exilic status of poets from the Caribbean, it can be argued that their first loss occurred as a result of the trafficking of African ancestors to the Caribbean. The second loss, making more certain their exilic condition, occurs whenever the writer leaves his/her birth home, for an extended period. Contemporary Caribbean poets often choose to use language as a subversive tool, offering a challenge to the standard English language by the adoption of the vernacular. Poets also set out to offer correction to misinformation, and more lately innovative poets through an attack on ‘form’ have sought to challenge historical archives, recognizing that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

This talk will discuss the benefits and implications of different exercise interventions (short vs long-term) for people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). It will particularly focus on the benefits that multi-modal exercise can have as an intervention that can be implemented in different settings (at home or in the community). Thus, this talk will provide an overview of associated functional and cognitive outcomes to long-term exercise, and it will also outline qualitative aspects such as the participants’ perceptions, experiences and thoughts about these interventions. 

Associative trace evidence provides a physical link between a suspect and other elements of the crime, such as the scene, the victim, or the weapon/object. There are many forms of accepted trace evidence, but cosmetics are often overlooked, undervalued, or misinterpreted. The aim of this research is to determine whether cosmetic traces left at a scene or transferred to a victim or an object, could be analysed using Raman spectroscopy. The spectra produced will then be analysed using chemometric techniques, in order to avoid interpretation mistakes or subjectivity, and to extract the maximum amount of information from the data. 


Steve Allain

Steven is a PhD student based at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, where his research focusses on the population dynamics of grass snakes, and the effects of disease. Steven has a strong passion for amphibians and reptiles, as well as British wildlife. He is fortunate enough that his current research topic combines these two elements together.  

Winsome Monica Minott

Winsome Monica Minott is doing a PhD at the University of Kent in Creative Writing and is the author of two collections of poetry, Kumina Queen and Zion Roses.

She was awarded first prize in the inaugural Small Axe Poetry competition and her poems have been published in the Caribbean Writer, Small Axe Journal, Cultural Voice Magazine, SX Salon, Jubilation, Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets From The Caribbean, Squaw valley Review, and Bim.

Winsome Monica is committed to unearthing the complexities of heritage at a crossroads and is an advocate for reclamation of voice and language of ancestors.

Anna Pastrana

PhD student at the University of Kent, Anna has been working in the field of Parkinson's research since 2017. During that time, she has helped with developing a multi-modal exercise class for people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), which she currently runs online on a weekly basis. In addition to the assessment of exercise interventions for people with PD, her research investigates biomarkers linked to neuroplasticity. Concurrently, she has worked as a specialist exercise after stroke instructor for the Stroke Association and has also fulfilled different teaching roles in higher education for the Kent’s Digital and Lifelong Learning (DaLL), as a GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) at the University of Kent, and as a Lecturer in Applied Anatomy for Physical Activity and Sport at the University of Girona (UdG, EUSES). Anna loves sports in general, but especially rugby, trials riding, basketball and swimming.

Katy Bruce

Katy is a PhD student within the Division of Natural Sciences, applying analytical chemistry to forensic science problems. Her research aims to determine whether cosmetic foundation (makeup) deposits at crime scenes, could be a valuable source of associative trace evidence. Katy is also a forensic outreach ambassador for the School of Physical Sciences and teaches on both the undergraduate and masters level forensic science programmes at the University of Kent. She works in the emergency department at the local Kent & Canterbury hospital, is a Kent STEM ambassador, and a full-time mum to her two boys. In her spare time, she enjoys practising freestyle karate, kickboxing, and kung fu!    

Dr Clare Dunning

Clare is a Reader in Applied Mathematics and the CEMS Director of Graduate Studies and PG student experience. Her research is in Mathematical Physics, particularly classical and quantum integrable systems. Clare regularly does mathematics outreach as a STEM ambassador and Inspiring the Future – Inspiring Women volunteer.