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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Principals Career Development Scholarship

Each year we award two Principal’s Career Development Scholarships (PCDS) to new and continuing PhD students. The PCDS allows us to support research students through an innovative academic scholarship, integrating research, training and career development. PCDS students propose and develop their own programme of work in the areas of teaching innovation, knowledge exchange, public engagement and community development.  

The scholarships have allowed us to recognise the range of experience and enthusiasm that applicants bring to the PhD research community, and to develop and support their work beyond the PhD project.

Further information about the PCDS scheme.

Current PCDS Students

Justyna Bandola-Gill

Picture of JustynaJustyna Bandola-Gill is a PhD candidate in Science and Technology Studies. Her research explores different forms of engagement between experts and expert knowledge and policy. By focusing on the interactions between science policy and science in policy, she examines the emergence of ‘research impact’ as a policy concept, as well as an increasingly encouraged academic practice. Previously Justyna completed a Masters by Research degree in STS at the University of Edinburgh where she received a distinction.

As part of her PCDS project, Justyna is exploring the issues of monitoring and documenting research impact within the School of Social and Political Science. She aims to combine her research expertise with the experiences of academics in order to develop a knowledge base that will support the academics in their impact endeavours. Over the last few years she has organised training sessions, written briefing papers and training materials, and supported the staff in creating their impact strategies and preparation for the REF impact case studies. 

Katherine Baxter

Katherine Baxter

Katherine Baxter is a PhD Candidate in Sociology. Her research interests revolve around the intersection of education practices, livelihoods and sustainability with a concentration on processes and mechanisms of social change. Her fieldwork is being conducted in west-central Nepal. Katherine holds an MRes degree in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh with an undergraduate background in human and international development, education and economics having studied at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of Denver, Colorado State University and the University of Economics, Prague. In addition to her PhD research, Katherine is co-director of LIVED, a University of Edinburgh student-led initiative and SCIO aimed at making visible the lived experiences of school-aged refugee children through documentary film, whilst also facilitating sustainable education practices in different contexts of displacement. Katherine has tutoring experience in Sustainable Development and Sociology and has been nominated for several teaching awards.

Karthikeyan Damodaran

Karthikeyan Damodaran

Karthikeyan Damodaran’s research focuses on caste, processions and commemorations in Tamil Nadu, India.  He is the Founding Editor of Routes (September 2014), a collaborative student blog project focusing on social and political justice.

Prior to starting his PHD Karthikeyan worked for 8 years as a journalist with ‘The Hindu’ newspaper. He recently published an article in a commemorative edition of the Indian film journal ‘Deep Focus’ celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema.  He has co-authored short commentary pieces on caste atrocities and the hidden politics of caste in culinary practices in India in the journal ‘Economic and Political Weekly’.

Rhys Howell

Rhys HowellRhys Howell is researching social responses to wave and tidal energy in Scotland. He is interested in how the communities that will host these energy projects interpret their environment and how they will respond to any changes resulting from energy projects.

He is currently working with Marine Scotland on planning and public engagement surrounding marine energy, as well as organising ‘Future Connections 2015’, a conference for Scottish PhD students researching sustainability and social responsibility. 

Lindsay Randall

Picture of Lindsay Randall

Lindsay Randall is PhD Candidate in Anthropology. She focuses on intersections between gender, religion, and kinship in the Horn of Africa. She is particularly interested in women in Islam and relationships between Western development and rights paradigms, feminist anthropology, and identity in this context. Her fieldwork is being conducted in Eastern Ethiopia. She holds a MSc in Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, graduating at the top of her cohort. Her undergraduate degree with honors is from Boston University and the University Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger and has also completed coursework at Harvard University in anthropology and human rights. Lindsay previously ran education programs alongside the Government of Liberia and has worked on US national education initiatives as well as indigenous American language revitalization programs. In addition to her PhD, Lindsay chairs the projects evaluation committee for a small nonprofit making grants to Nigerien-led NGOs.

Sarah Ruggins


Mirja Sjoblom

Mirja Sjoblom

Mirja Sjoblom's research focuses on health care system governance. She is particularly interested in the characteristics of governance systems that effectively incentivize public and private providers to deliver on public  interest objectives

She has 12 years of experience in international development and global health. Since 2006, she has worked as a health economist with the World Bank and advised countries on issues related to health financing and service delivery. Selected assignments included advising the Government of China on socially responsible ways to expand private sector participation in the health sector and assessing how cancer care can be improved in Brazil. She holds an M Sc. in economics and international business from the Stockholm School of Economics and has published multiple articles and co-authored books on topics related to health system performance, international migration and gender.

She is passionate about advancing global health goals by building a stronger connection between teaching, policy, and research. As part of her PCDS activities, she is teaching the Managing Markets for Health Course to policy makers, turning it into a MOOC, and developing a dialogue series to create a platform for policy makers to translate the lessons from the course into action.  

Sarah Weakley


Sarah Weakley’s research focuses on analysing the factors that influence youth unemployment in the United States and the United Kingdom using longitudinal data. In addition to her individual research, she is particularly interested in ways to improve coordination and collaboration among academics, policy makers, and practitioners to drive policy solutions in the areas of housing, employment and poverty alleviation.

Prior to her time in Scotland, she spent nearly three years in the Washington, D.C. area working in communications at the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, a small government agency coordinating homelessness initiatives nationwide. She holds an MRes in Urban Research from the University of Glasgow and a Masters in Public Administration from George Washington University.

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