Introducing our speakers and their topics

The Essex Student Journal Conference is only a few weeks away and we are pleased to announce our speakers and their presentation topics!

  • Louis Mitchell: Racism in America
  • Mawadah Nofal: Redefining the Digital Divide
  • Akshana Ravikumar: Risk and Competition and its indirect effect on the observed gender gap in the labour market
  • Pablo Soriano Mena: The declining labour share of income across the globe
  • Luke Wheeler: Why is cancer so hard to cure?

The Conference will be a great opportunity for everyone to come together to celebrate the ideas and successes of our students. Come along to find out more about the Journal, and hear the stories of those who’ve worked and published with it.

Book your free place today!

What is the Essex Student Journal?

The Essex Student Journal is the University of Essex’s very own peer-reviewed journal run by students, for students, and managed by the University’s Library. 

We publish the academic and creative writing of undergraduate and postgraduate taught students at Essex from all departments, with peer review being undertaken by Essex postgraduate researchers. Publications are open access, meaning there is no charge to read or publish with the Journal.

Few universities have a student journal, making this a rare opportunity for Essex students to experience the academic publishing process in a supportive environment. To date, the Journal and its predecessor, ESTRO, have enabled over 160 students to publish their writing, giving them official recognition for their hard work and helping to kickstart their academic careers.

We are organising the ESJ Conference to showcase the talents and efforts of our student authors, reviewers, and editors by giving them a platform to share their work and experiences and allow the whole community to come together in celebration.  

Who are our speakers?

Our speakers are all previous authors with the Essex Student Journal and will be discussing the topics they published with us. We’re pleased to have a range of current students and recent graduates presenting. Alongside all the previous Student Journal Editors, they help to highlight the recent history of the Journal and its successes.

Louis Mitchell

Louis Mitchell

Studied: BA Economics

ESJ Publication: Racial Injustice in America,

Speaker bio:

I studied Economics - I enjoyed economics at A level and I was also interested in a career in finance. In 2024, I published a blog called Racial Injustice in America. This is an important topic as it sheds light on the systematic racism that the black community in America has suffered through. Although the topic is widely spoken-about, this blog provides context for the current landscape and describes why it has been extremely hard for black people to build wealth. The publishing process was quite simple, and it is 100% worth doing. I have been able to add my publication to my CV, my MSc application, and speak about it in interviews.


Mawadah Nofal

Mawadah Nofal

Studied: BA Art History

ESJ Publication: The Digital Divide: what does it mean to be information-poor?,

Speaker Bio:

I am doing a BA in Art History, Visual Culture, and Media Studies. I chose the course because of my interest and background in art and media and wanting to engage with those topics in an academic capacity and understand the theoretical framework behind them. As a researcher and creative practitioner, I hope to produce work that critically examines the structural barriers in art and media sectors and challenge them. I hope to specialise in contemporary Arab art and media production.

In 2023, I published my essay "The Digital Divide: what does it mean to be information-poor?" in the Essex Student Journal. The essay investigates the term "digital divide" and the limitations of its popularly used definition. I unpacked digital inequality on many degrees, focusing on different marginalised communities and arguing for a more expansive definition to reflect the complexity of information acquisition and digital poverty. The peer review process with ESJ helped me revisit my research and make many improvements, both content-wise and structurally. I've taken the feedback I've received into my academic and personal writing and noticed how much better it has gotten.

Publishing this essay has helped me gain insight and confidence to pursue more research and publishing opportunities. I would suggest to not be intimidated to submit articles to the ESJ and just go for it! If you're not feeling confident in your writing, don't be shy to consult a friend or a lecturer. Good writing is rarely good from the get-go, and good research requires ongoing revision and reconsiderations.


Akshana Ravikumar

Akshana Ravikumar

Studied: BSc Economics

ESJ Publications:

  • Discuss the evidence on whether gender differences in taste for risk and competition can explain part of the observed gender gap in labour market outcomes,
  • How can policy makers effectively use behavioural nudges to overcome market inefficiencies?,

Speaker bio:

I studied BSc Economics with a placement year with Honours in 2021. I chose this course at Essex because of its flexibility in allowing students to pick a variety of different interests, not only within the department but also outside. This allowed me to pick interests from the Government department and EBS which massively supported my career stage and choice of dissertation topic.  This also helped me to go further and choose my master’s course in European Politics, so I want to massively thank Essex for allowing me to explore my options.

I published two papers in the ESJ in 2021: "How can policy makers effectively use behavioural nudges to overcome market inefficiencies?” and "Discuss the evidence on whether gender differences in taste for risk and competition can explain part of the observed gender gap in labour market outcomes”. I chose to publish these papers as I knew how relevant and important these topics were in the climate that we live in, and I wanted to publish something that didn’t already exist within the journal but also to set a starting point for such an important set of topics. Publishing in the ESJ massively improved my confidence in showcasing my writing skills which I have always enjoyed since my A levels, but also, the ESJ is a sign of Essex supporting its students. Publishing in the ESJ also enabled me to apply for the Global Undergraduate Award where I went onto receive the Highly Commended Award 2022 for the Economics Category, and I want to thank the ESJ for boosting my confidence in doing so.

My advice to students would be put your hard work out there. You never who you will inspire, and there’s always something interesting and enlightening to read in the Journal. Not only will it benefit you in the long-term but also encourage someone else to showcase their work as well. I am also a peer reviewer for the Journal, which I really enjoy doing in my free time and hope to continue doing for the foreseeable.


Pablo Soriano Mena

Pablo Soriano Mena

Studied: MA Economics

ESJ Publication: The extent and causes of the declining labour share of income across the globe,

Speaker bio:

I studied my Master of Arts in Economics in the Economics Department. I finished my degree in November 2022 with a Distinction. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in international relations in El Salvador in 2014. I later became a member of the foreign service of my country and served at the United Nations Headquarters in New York as a delegate, representing the interests of developing nations in areas related to economic development, including the SDGs and other financing for development matters. After several years as a delegate, I decided to continue my education and pursue a master's degree in an area that I had been already working on. I saw the offer at the University of Essex as the right opportunity to improve my knowledge in the economic field, at a university that shared my values and ethos, with a big international community.

In 2023, I published The extent and causes of the declining labour share of income across the globe. I was advised by successful economists and other colleagues at the United Nations about the importance of being a published author and how it opens many doors in the professional field. I remember hearing about the journal while I was working on my dissertation and made the decision to publish in a space that was made for students, provided the support to new authors, and was related to the university.

The ESJ gave me the satisfaction of having published a paper in an academic journal. It was a very positive sense of accomplishment. My publication has also boosted my academic profile during work interviews. The way the current labour market is worldwide, candidates must be competitive, and having a published paper can be the difference between one candidate versus another. I really liked the experience and support provided during the publication process. I know it may seem like a big task and extra work, but it is very gratifying to see the finished product being published. It is not necessary to submit a perfect draft to be published, as you get feedback from reviewers, and the peer review process means that the outcome is more solid. I definitely encourage others to give it a try.


Luke Wheeler

Luke Wheeler

Studied: BSc Biochemistry

ESJ Publications:

Speaker bio:

I'm currently in my third year of studying BSc Biochemistry in the School of Life Sciences. I chose this degree due to my fascination with the fundamental mechanisms of life, coupled with a specific interest in the molecular biology of cancer. In May and July 2023, I published my articles titled “Why is cancer so hard to cure?” and “Huntington's Disorder: Analysis and Current Research”. I chose to publish these articles due to my keen interest in their topics and my desire to share this knowledge with the world.

Publishing helped me to hone my critical thinking, writing, and research skills by incorporating peer review feedback into my work. Publishing also contributed points towards the Big Essex Award and was included on my HEAR record, which will help me to stand out when progressing through my career. My advice to students interested in publishing in the ESJ would be to incorporate your lecturers’ feedback on your work before submitting and to ask your tutor to review it as well. They are experts in their field and will have had plenty of experience with publishing!


How can you get involved?

Book your free place at the ESJ Conference and spread the word!

Undergraduate and PGT students - consider submitting your work to be published. We’re always thrilled to receive new submissions and are pleased to have expanded to accept creative writing this year.

If you're a PhD student, consider volunteering as a peer reviewer to share your expertise and hone your skills. It's flexible to your workload and a great way to gain experience and support the community.

We are always happy to hear from you, so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at We look forward to seeing you at the Conference!