National shortlist for outstanding research supervisor

  • Date

    Wed 8 Jun 22

Professor Ewen Speed, smiling and looking relaxed

An Essex medical sociology expert is one of just eight researchers from UK universities shortlisted for a top national student supervision award.

Professor Ewen Speed, from the School of Health and Social Care (HSC), is a finalist in the PhD Supervisor of the Year category at The Postgrad Awards 2022.

Professor Speed, who won the internal Essex Research Supervisor of the Year Award in 2021, has supervised fourteen doctoral students to completion since 2010 and is supervising a further seven. The majority are women and six are care professionals.

He is well known in his School for encouraging interdisciplinarity, spotting potential at an early stage, creating an environment where first-generation students feel encouraged to consider academic careers, and supporting other supervisors.

Colleagues praise his unique transformative co-production model which has led to him co-publishing with his students: “Supervising in this way is not easy as the supervisor cannot rely entirely on their own knowledge and experiences to get the student through. This requires a good deal of patience and commitment to the belief that the student will learn what is appropriate,” said Dr Leanne Andrews.  

Former students have praised his “clear and insightful” feedback, “mutual respect” and his ability to redress the natural imbalance of power between supervisor and supervisee which one student described as creating “a mutual learning environment” where students are his equal.

Students supporting his nomination also commented on his commitment to ensuring students progress when caring responsibilities get in the way citing his support in finding meaningful and well-paid part-time work that enriches their study, and his willingness to challenge accepted norms allowing students to complete their final year part-time.

One former student has simply said: “He’s got your back.”

As HSC’s Graduate Director he nurtured research students across the School and continued to play a key role in supervision when he became Director of Research choosing to line manage the new Graduate Director.

Dean of HSC Professor Vicky Joffe said: "The shortlisting of Professor Speed is an exciting and significant achievement for the School and reflects the importance we place on our postgraduate students ensuring their journey is a fulfilling, productive and challenging one, and that we provide a differentiated and individualised level of support, care and attention to each student, our partners in the education process.”

Professor Speed will find out if he’s won when winners are announced on 28 June.