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Department of Sociology


The Department of Sociology is excited to announce the winners of the first series of Postdoctoral Awards, presented together with the Postdoc Academy.

The first Postdoctoral Awards recognise excellence in the fields of research endeavour, support and development, and inclusive research culture. The nominations for these awards were judged by Dr Manali Desai, Head of Department; Professor Jennifer Gabrys, Director of Research and Liz Simmonds, Assistant Head of Office at the Postdoc Academy.  

Dr Manali Desai said she was “delighted by the quality of the nominations and the heartfelt comments about our postdoctoral staff.”  Each winner received a congratulatory letter from the Pro Vice Chancellor for Research Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith, as well as a £250 prize.  



Postdoc Award for Research Endeavour – Dr R Sanchez Rivera

This award was designed to recognise postdocs’ achievements in research which are not easily recognised formally through other reward systems and may go unseen. Nominators said:

Dr R Sanchez Rivera “organised an excellent, international, transdisciplinary conference on Reproductive Justice in Latin America in January and are continuing to publish a biweekly podcast on this event”

Dr Rivera “has shared her substantive knowledge on her research topic, of which she is extremely knowledgeable” and has been described as “extremely collegiate”.  

Postdoc Award for supporting and developing others – Dr Olga Loblova
This award is for outstanding commitment to supporting others through mentoring, supervising and other ways of supporting colleagues either formally or informally. Nominators said:

Olga gave “generous informal supporting in her own time to her early career colleagues”, and further “systematically coached Cambridge PhD students and early career researchers in sociology and beyond to prepare them for funding and job applications, job talks and other academic activities”

Postdoc Award for creating an inclusive and positive research culture – Dr Shannon Phillip
This award was for contributing significantly to supporting a positive and inclusive research culture, such as organising activities or support for the postdoc and department community in ways that impact on race, gender, sexuality and other protected characteristics and ways that support the wellbeing and mental health of the postdoc community. Nominators said:

Shannon “organises regular meetings with postdocs” and “coordinates a WhatsApp group for the Postdocs to communicate informally and build a community within the department” as well as serving on the departmental Communications Committee and the Research Committee as Postdoc Representative.  

Shannon regularly updates the Postdoc handbook “with guidance on online teaching and mental health services for new incoming Postdocs”.  

Postdoc Award for outstanding contribution – Dr Marcin Smietana

The Judges decided to provide a fourth award for outstanding contribution in all three areas described above to Dr Marcin Smietana, due to the quality of the nominations for him. Nominators said:

“Dr Marcin Smietana is a truly exceptional scholar who combines rigorous and innovative scholarship with deep compassion and support for those around him”

“Up until today I have never met a kinder or more generous academic than him… He makes me a better and happier PhD student and inspires me to pass on that kindness to others”

“Marcin consistently models inclusive and positive communication and interaction. He is an incredibly kind, thoughtful and generous person who is always willing to help, learn from others and provide advice, but never in a way that is domineering or self-aggrandising.”

Cambridge Sociology would like to wholeheartedly thank the winners for their contributions to the academic community at the Department, especially in the face of the particular challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Postdoctoral awards will run again next year, with nominations opening in June 2022.

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