#SuperVisionaries – stories of brilliant doctoral supervision

The Think Ahead team recently ran a project giving postgraduate research students the opportunity to recognise the work of their excellent supervisors.

The #SuperVisionaries project was created to support and celebrate good supervision and share examples of supervision that have had a positive impact on doctoral researchers, as well as publicly thanking those who make a positive difference to their students.

Dr Kay Guccione, National Teaching Fellow, said: “We recognise that supervision is a complex and difficult practice and yet is a key influencer of doctoral success that can make or break a student. Recent research has highlighted that the quality of supervision is a key influencer of PGR happiness, PGR mental health, and how students perceive whether their PhD was worth it or not. I thought that creating a wall of great and very practical examples of good supervision would be useful to new supervisors and those wanting to do a great job.”

Dr Lucy Lee, Interim Head of the Think Ahead team, added: “We’re thrilled with the number of PhD students this year who have taken the time to nominate their supervisors and those around them who support their postgraduate research where they feel they have received excellent supervision. It’s clear just how vital a positive student supervisor relationship is in the success of a research project and what a difference it can make to the student experience.”

This year, 250 researchers submitted an entry recognising their supervisors as excellent.

The Think Ahead team have organised the nominations across three categories:

Supervision All-rounder

Recognising good all-round supervision that has really made a difference to doctoral students.

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Nominated supervisor: Tim Shephard

“The feeling of excitement and motivation that I receive every time I walk out of a supervision meeting with Tim is a marker of an excellent supervision all-rounder. Tim is generous with sharing his breadth and depth of expertise and reserving time to interact with students. He encourages questions and prompts students to think critically. Tim’s enthusiasm and curiosity are infectious and he continuously provides students with opportunities relating to research training, presentation, and development.”

Supervision Promoting Wellbeing

Recognising good supervision that has enhanced the wellbeing of research students.

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Nominated supervisor: Heather Mortiboys

“Heather is an excellent supervisor who is very supportive. She goes out of her way to help you succeed and find solutions to any difficulties you are facing. She provides excellent pastoral support and is very approachable and understanding. She will always make time for you. She also supports any extra opportunities that you want to pursue, such as conferences, student supervision, and public outreach, which are some of the things that I have enjoyed best about my PhD.”

Unofficial Supervision

Recognising good supervision from those in supporting roles, for example postdocs, technicians, PGR administrators and from those supervisors who contribute free emotional labour.

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Nominated supervisor: Vijay Raghavendran

“Vijay is a great role model and unofficial supervisor to me and I have learned a lot from him. He has an open and calm demeanour and is very approachable. As a postdoc he is naturally very busy with lots of parallel projects and planning going on but will still give solid advice when it's needed.”