Chairperson Candidates 2016/2017

Phil Emmerson

ead shotHello! My name is Phil Emmerson. I am a social and cultural geographer at the University of Birmingham. My research interests revolve around laughter and to some respects comedy/humour, connecting up issues around embodiment, emotion, affectivity and materiality. My PhD research looks at the various roles that laughter can play in residential care settings. The research uses ethnographic techniques that have thus far taken me into a variety of different situations, such as working alongside carers but also touring with a Pantomime Company who perform in care settings. Within my time as a PhD student, I have experienced most aspects of postgraduate life, from teaching, to publishing, to working as part of research groups and networks.

I have put myself forward to become the Chair of the Postgraduate Forum because I really feel that postgraduates are at the cutting edge of the discipline. I am keen to play my part both representing them but also creating opportunities to help people further their work and future careers. This year I have been the “Conference Session Organiser” for the PGF, helping to co-ordinate and organise many of the Postgraduate Sessions that are happening at this year’s annual conference in September. In this role I have gained an amazing insight and set of experiences that will be invaluable in the role of Chair. This has obviously included the work that I have done with the RGS, other postgraduates and more established academics in organising the sessions themselves, but also being involved in early conversations about the Annual Conference Training and seeing the processes of organising the Mid-term conference.

My vision for PGF is to maintain the quality of the activities that we already organise but also to continue its ethos as an innovative research group. There are three areas that I would like to add to in particular:

  1. The first is the collaborations that we have with the other research groups. I currently sit as the Postgraduate Representative on the Social and Cultural Geographies Research Group Committee which has given me a great understanding of the ways in which the other research groups operate. There is a huge potential here for the PGF to work more closely with the research groups creating a two way dialogue through which we can improve the opportunities for postgraduate within their more specific areas of interest.
  2. The second is to look at improving the width of our representation. There is one area of postgraduate life that we are notably lacking within the PGF which is Postgraduate students at the Masters level. I would like to run an election for a new position to the PGF “Masters Students Representative.” This would allow us to help provide Masters Students with a platform within the RGS to get their voices heard more clearly.
  3. Finally I would like to start running more PGF events throughout the year. My vision for this includes one day workshops organised by postgraduates in a university department with the financial and logistical help of the PGF. These workshops would allow for more cross university collaborations and the sharing of knowledge amongst postgraduates – an area that I feel the discipline severely lacks at the moment.

So those are my ideas. I would finally just like to say that I am truly passionate about both Geography and the roles that postgraduates play within this and I feel I would be a fantastic leader for the Postgraduate Forum.

Maddy Thompson

Maddy Thompson PGF ForumI am a second year ESRC funded PhD student in Human Geography at Newcastle University, researching Filipino nurse migration. I am an RGS Fellow and currently serve on the PGF Committee as the Mid-Term Conference representative, a position I have held since June 2015. In my role as the Mid-Term representative, I have worked closely with the RGS and both the 2014/15 and 2015/16 committees to ensure the smooth and successful organisation of conference, which is reflected in this year’s Mid-Term being the biggest to date, with a record number of delegates attending including several international postgraduates. This role has required high levels of administrative and co-ordination skills; especially as for the majority of 2015 I was in the Philippines conducting fieldwork. This testifies to my ability to communicate effectively with my fellow postgraduates and conference organisers over Skype, which is important as the majority of PGF meetings take place via the internet. I have also served as the postgraduate representative for my school’s Student Staff Committee in 2013/14.

Outside of my conference organising responsibilities, I recently attended a Research Group Committee Day at the RGS, where I liaised with other research groups as to how opportunities for postgraduates may be improved within the RGS. I also liaised with the current chair of the PGF, and therefore have a clear understanding of the relationship between the RGS and the PGF and the role of the Chair in nurturing and developing this relationship. If elected chair, I would work to maintain the excellent work made by previous chairs, continuing the recent focus on improving postgraduate communication networks. I would also aim to start a postgraduate mentoring system. Additionally, I would like to dedicate an area to our website to showcase and disseminate the research our postgraduate community produces.

As my duties organising the Mid-Term Conference will come to an end within the next two months, I will be ideally placed to immediately begin the handover period and will have ample time to dedicate to the role of Chair before my tenure would begin at the Annual Conference.