The Westmere Scholars

The Westmere Scholars will be engaging with postgraduate researcher communities, initiating and delivering researcher development activities and promoting the postgraduate researcher hub, Westmere.


Vicky Kaisidou (Westmere Scholar, College of Arts and Law)


I am a third-year doctoral student at the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman & Modern Greek Studies, in the College of Arts & Law. My thesis looks at the social and personal transmission of the memory of the Greek Civil War across different generations. Specifically, I am interested in the ways in which historically underrepresented groups, such as children and women, experience and recollect the war, and the ways in which silenced aspects of a bitter civil conflict are taken up by later generations. 

My hobbies are swimming and yoga but I thoroughly enjoy outdoors activities - mainly hiking, which I see as a chance to escape the cityscape! I also have a keen interest in the arts, especially cinema. Throughout my studies I have been immersed in the UoB student life, and have served on several different committee boards. As this year's CAL Westmere Scholar, I look forward to drawing on my previous experience of community building and to making Westmere an inclusive and vibrant hub, where all PGRs can develop their skills or just have fun!

Rory Whelan (Westmere Scholar, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences)


I am a second year PhD researcher in the School of Physics and Astronomy, working in the Theoretical Physics research group. My work involves modelling the behaviour of groups of atoms when they are cooled down to very low temperatures and are restricted to move in one dimension. I describe these particles quantum mechanically and attempt to see what interesting behaviour these systems exhibit, in particular how a current of particles changes as you change other parameters in the system. An area where this may be useful is in quantum computing.

I have been at Birmingham since 2013, having done my undergraduate and masters here and I have loved my time here. I have been on the committee for the Physics Society, organising social events for physics students and am looking forward to organising a variety of events for the PGR community. In my spare time I enjoy running around Birmingham, especially the beautiful canal network. I participate in Parkrun as well as some half marathons and marathons.

Tuba Saygin Avsar (Westmere Scholar, College of Medical and Dental Sciences)


I am a second-year doctoral researcher working on a project about economic evaluation of smoking cessation interventions for pregnant women in the UK. My research aims to identify key features of optimum smoking cessation interventions for pregnant women, considering long-term impacts on mothers and infants. Apart from research, I love being outside and going for long walks. I am from Turkey where we are used to being outside because of sunny days. We are lucky in the sense that in Birmingham we have many dry days, too! But thanks to Westmere we have been having lots of fun activities even on rainy and short days of Birmingham. I am really excited to be part of the organisation side of those events this year. 

Oliver Odell (Westmere Scholar, College of Life and Environmental Sciences)


I am a second-year doctoral researcher in the School of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences. My research area is finding new nutritional uses for side-stream products in the dairy industry; specifically, milk sugar (lactose). Essentially a waste product, I’m interested in finding out whether they may have an application in sport nutrition. I have always been interested in improving the student experience, having been on staff-student committees during my undergraduate and currently my doctoral training program (MIBTP). I’ve discovered a lot about the different challenges and problems PGRs face and am keen to listen to the PGR community further and learn what events or activities would be beneficial. On a personal note, I am a keen gym-goer, scuba diver and unintentionally avant-garde chef with an interest in politics.

April-Louise Pennant (Westmere Scholar, College of Social Sciences)

April Louise

I am an ESRC-funded PhD researcher, currently in my third year of study in the School of Education. My research is centred on exploring how recent Black British female graduates have successfully navigated, strategised and engaged within the English education system. I pay close attention to the role of the intersections of their race, ethnicity, gender and social class identities within their educational trajectories (from primary school until university). Alongside my studies, I love to participate in different activities which contribute to improving the experiences of others. During my time at the University of Birmingham, I have previously held positions as a co-chair of a student conference organising committee, a panelist providing my insights about ways to decolonise the university and as a member of the PGCARMS Staff-Student Liaison committee. I am looking forward to contributing my creativity, expertise and enthusiasm to supporting and strengthening Westmere's PGR community.

Subiksha Krishniah (Westmere Scholar, Distance and Part-time PGRs)


I am a second-year part-time doctoral researcher funded by the School of Education. My research focuses on the educational goals and future perspectives of refugees in the UK and their relevance to identity and acts of participatory citizenship. I have a broader understanding of the issues that face students who, like me, are also parents, professionals, mature students and/or commuters (national and international)! During my time at Birmingham, I have chaired the committee for an Education conference and look forward to hosting this event this year. I have always been passionate about bringing people into community which has led to a few community-building roles. I look forward to bringing that insight to Westmere this year. On a personal note, I enjoy photography, being outdoors, writing and chasing my two-year-old on the beach!