I AM BCU - Research

We have a confident, proud and diverse community of postgraduate researchers at BCU, who are striving to achieve their career goals and transform their lives. Read their stories here.

Jess Wythe

Professional Doctorate in Education EdD

When Jess started her undergraduate studies as an Education student at BCU, she didn’t have the confidence to believe she was good enough to study at postgraduate level. Now, her doctoral research is making positive changes to Special Educational Needs policy and practice and her confidence in her work and ability grows every day.

Vincent Obia

Media PhD

After completing his Bachelors and Masters in Lagos - Nigeria, Vincent took the plunge and made the move to Birmingham to study a PhD in Media. Vincent transitioned to his next level of study with ease as he was always pro-active and had fantastic support from his tutors. 

Abigail standing outside with trees in the background, she has a small smile and seems proud and confident

Abigail Shaw

Criminology PhD

After being released from prison in her late teens, Abigail became a mother and realised she needed to provide a better life for her new family. After several attempts at college, she discovered an Access to HE (Higher Education) course, which led her to study Criminology at BCU at undergraduate and master’s levels. She has overcome every challenge life has thrown at her and is now a PhD researcher at BCU focussing on the experiences of black women in the criminal justice system.  

Neil Sambrook

Professional Doctorate in Education EdD

Neil never believed he would be studying a Doctorate, but has exceeded his expectations after completing his Masters in Educational Leadership at BCU and delving into research. He says vocational education saved his life from a young age when times were tough, which movtivated him to focus on it for his research. 


Liam Brolan 1 - 900x600 I Am BCU

Liam Brolan

Social Sciences PhD

Liam had planned on becoming a police officer, but when he learnt that the local forces weren’t recruiting, he considered going to university. Having first joined BCU as an undergraduate, Liam went on to be a PhD student and is now a course leader in the Criminology department.

Zhou Yang

Fine Art PhD

In her photographic practice, Yang has always had a fascination with Chinese Literati Gardens. She decided to take the plunge and delve into them further in her practice-led PhD as an international student at Birmingham School of Art, in the Research Centre for Chinese Visual Arts. Realising that her role as an artist and researcher go hand in hand, Yang integrates her photographic expertise within her PhD research. 


Jaspreet Singh

International Human Resource Management PhD

Jaspreet never thought he would ever get the chance to study in the UK, coming from a small village in the Punjab. Since joining BCU, Jaspreet has taken any and every opportunity he can, and worked to tackle discrimination in the city, now focusing on the issue through his PhD.

Rhianna looks confidently into the camera

Rhianna Levi

Professional Doctorate in Education EdD

Having a tough upbringing inspired Rhianna to work in education, so she could provide a safe space for people like her. Now, she’s working towards becoming a Doctor of Education and doing ground-breaking research that will improve mental health education in schools.

Avital Prais

Sport and Exercise PhD

Avital knew from her first year at BCU that researching the menstrual cycle and sport performance was a passion she wanted to pursue. As a PhD student, she’s been able to overcome self-doubt to complete impactful research that will make a difference to others.

Melisa Oleschuk Portrait


International Human Rights PhD

Passionate about the empowerment of people and the protection of human rights, Melissa felt studying a PhD would provide her with the knowledge for a career contributing to a better society. After completing her undergraduate degree in Law and postgraduate degree in International Human Rights, she is now studying for her PhD, exploring the translation of international human rights provisions into domestic legal change. 

Laura Gee

Psychology PhD

Laura thought that the rest of her life was set out in front of her; with a wife, a child and her own hairdressing business. However, a health scare made her reassess what she wanted in life, and decided to take a leap of faith and go to university. Now studying for her PhD, she has already started teaching other students at BCU alongside her research.

Loretta Bortey

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning PhD

Loretta lost her mum at a young age and grew up not having much, but with the support of her friends and family she’s been able to pursue her goals and study Big Data science in the UK. She is leading by example and won the Sir Lenny Henry Award for Diversity and Inclusion for her work inspiring young girls in Ghana to go into STEM careers.