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News Female researcher wins exclusive grant to fund PhD

A PhD researcher investigating medieval archaeology is being championed by a charity which supports female graduates.

Esme Hookway presenting her work at the Postgraduate Research Conference
Image: Esme Hookway presenting her work at the Postgraduate Research Conference

I do think that a lot of women could benefit from this grant if they knew about it, especially those who are self-funded or are on partial scholarships

Esme Hookway, PhD Archaeology

Esme Hookway is completing a PhD in Archaeology at Staffordshire University and has been awarded a grant of nearly £3,000 by charity Funds for Women Graduates (FfWG) which promotes higher education and the wider learning of women graduates.

A limited number of grants are awarded each year to cover living expenses of women during the final year of their postgraduate studies, with the aim of positively impacting their future career and our society as a whole.

Esme’s PhD is funded by a partial scholarship and she works part-time alongside her studies.

She said: “Now that I’m going into my final year, I really wanted to reduce the paid work that I’m doing and focus on my PhD. To actually get one of these grants is brilliant - it was quite overwhelming when I got the email to say that I’d been successful!

“This grant will comfortably support me through the next six months. Just having that financial worry taken off my shoulders is going to make a huge difference.”

Esme’s PhD, supervised by Dr Kirsty Squires, focuses on juveniles and adolescents from the medieval period whose remains have been excavated from hospital sites across England. She is using osteology reports of remains from 41 medieval hospital sites around the country to provide an insight into life at the time.

“Hospitals in the medieval time aren’t like hospitals as we think of them now. Most were established by the church and they were often for the very poorest.” Esme explained.

“I am looking at the remains of children and young adults up to the age of 18 to understand more about their lives and how they ended up in hospital. Their skeletal remains can help us understand more about their health and provide an insight into the conditions they lived in as they grew up.”

Most of the data has been collated digitally but Esme has also received a grant from Staffordshire University’s Student Experience Fund to visit universities and libraries to access some of these records.

Dr Sarah Fieldhouse, course leader for PhD Forensic Science, hopes that Esme’s success will inspire other female researchers to apply for a FfWG grant in the future.

Sarah said: “We are delighted with Esme’s success in securing funding for her PhD from the Funds for Women Graduates educational charity. The charity recognises and supports the need for the advancement of female graduates in HE, and will support Esme to complete her impactful PhD research.”

Esme added: “I do think that a lot of women could benefit from this grant if they knew about it, especially those who are self-funded or are on partial scholarships. I’ve been telling everybody in my office to apply for it!”

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