MDX Professor in Nursing Helen Allan and research project Active Energy, led by Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Dr Loraine Leeson, have been shortlisted for the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.
Known as the 'Oscars of higher education', this year the Awards attracted over 550 entries showcasing outstanding achievements by individuals and teams across all aspects of British and Irish university life in 2020/21.
Professor Helen Allan – shortlisted for Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year
Helen Allan has given expert supervision to many and varied candidates over her 20 years in academia, including supervising 18 PhDs to completion and supporting PhD graduates into their postdoc careers.
Helen has challenged nursing and midwifery doctoral students to examine their own educational/clinical practice and – in the case of many of her students – their experiences as black academics through engagement with critical race theory and intersectionality.
Two of Helen's students have attained professorships; one, an associate professorship; three, senior lecturerships; one, an Innovate UK Fellowship; and two of her midwifery students have won Iolanthe Trust awards.
Helen says: "My reaction is one of surprise to have made it to the national shortlist. And gratitude to my students whose enthusiasm and hard work make it worthwhile. At this late stage in my career I have something to be proud of".
Describing her approach to supervision of PhD students, Helen says: "Nursing and midwifery are disciplines where extraordinary supervisory input is required to support nurses/midwives studying doctorates who face exceptional challenges threatening successful completion: combining a full-time job with part-time doctoral degrees, while lacking allocated study time to release them from clinical and teaching workloads; facing a lack of awareness and valuing of doctoral study among practitioners.
"I work psychodynamically, starting where the student is, balancing challenge with encouragement. This approach helps me support and inspire the enrichment and diversity of the next generation of nursing and midwifery academics.
"All my students are from non-traditional backgrounds: they study part-time and at an older age than most PhD students; they may have experienced barriers to learning previously, and not developed academic writing until later in their careers".
Active Energy event at Queen Elizabeth Park. Photo credit: Loraine Leeson
Active Energy – shortlisted for Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year
Using a participatory art process, the Active Energy Project has explored how renewable energy can benefit communities, and the technologies needed to support this.
The project’s methods have gone on to be applied in schemes disseminating urgent water conservation information among villagers in the Rajasthan desert and supporting child victims of the conflict in Kashmir.
Active Energy was one of the impact case studies in MDX's 2021 Research Excellence Framework submission, for the ‘Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory’ Unit of Assessment.
Loraine Leeson, who leads on the initiative, said: "I am very honoured that the Active Energy project has been shortlisted for this award.
"The project has benefited from many-faceted input that has included social scientist Professor Ann Light, engineer Dr Toby Borland, SPACE Studios and most notably The Geezers, a senior men’s group who meet at an AgeUK centre in East London".
Ideas originating with The Geezers led to the development and testing of a tidal turbine design, plus a wind turbine that was created with young people; two exhibitions, numerous joint presentations; a collaboration with another seniors’ group in Pittsburgh; and the creation of floating water wheels to provide aeration for rivers at Three Mills heritage site and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The Times Higher Eduction Award winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Hilton London Metropole on Thursday 17 November 2022.