8 November 2023

The Geoffrey Petts Research Fund was started in the 2020/21 academic year and was put in place to fund fieldwork for doctoral researchers at Westminster, with no limitation on subject matter and up to £1,000 available to be claimed by each applicant. It was set up by Professor Judith Petts in her late husband’s name, who was the former Vice-Chancellor of the University. As a former researcher herself and current Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, Judith aims to support students’ research outputs at Westminster, helping them fund travel costs, accommodation and materials in the field. 

Since it started, the fund has supported 32 researchers with over £23,500 of funding support, with the fund supporting 10 PhD students just last year. Four of those were in attendance at the event: Lina El Badaoui, Victoria Burgher, Mohammad Rahaman and Shengkang Fu. After an hour of discussion, the attendees networked alongside members of the Development team and Professor Leigh Wilson and Dr Margherita Sprio, both directors of the Graduate School, who manage the fund and support the researchers whilst they conduct their studies. 

Professor Leigh Wilson added: “The presentations from the research students that we heard on the day were testament to the immense difference that funding for fieldwork makes. The accounts of their trips really made it clear to me that fieldwork is about meeting people, following up leads, experiencing the material reality of sites in ways that just wouldn't otherwise be possible. The experience of fieldwork had so clearly enriched both the research and the researchers.” 

About the event, Professor Judith Petts said: “I am delighted to hear first-hand how the Professor Geoffrey Petts Memorial funds have been used to enhance PhD work. Small grants are clearly having great impact - enabling new information, data, experiences in the field.  Each of the PhDs I heard about will be richer and more important for these. Congratulations to all and good luck as you progress.” 

Jordan Scammell, Head of Fundraising and Development, said: “Thanks to Judith for her support of this important fund and ensuring it can continue to run to support our PhD students’ work in the field. I’m pleased Judith had the chance to meet some of the students the fund has supported and hear first-hand where it has taken them and just how impactful their visits have been to their research endeavours. Thank you.”

There are four windows for applications each year, with three now remaining. Fill in the application form to apply for the Professor Geoffrey Petts Memorial Fund.  

To find out how you can support PhD students through the fund at Westminster, email [email protected]