Emily's highlight of 2020 was presenting at the International Feminist Journal of Politics' Conference 'Subversions and Solidarities through Feminist Collaborations and Crossings' at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, on March 6th and 7th.

"Although it seems like a decade ago now - just weeks before we were locked down in the UK - I have tried to carry the enthusiasm and positivity I felt during those two days with me through the rollercoaster of this pandemic.

It was amazing to see how academic collaboration and solidarity were being fostered over emails, video conferences, and pre-recorded presentations even in those early and most uncertain stages of COVID-19. The value of that time together only grew as the lockdowns stretched across 2020, reminding me that friends and mentors are there even when we can't see them.As with most events in 2021, this year's IFJP Conference is going virtual. Scheduled to take place on the 17th-20th February, the conference is aptly themed 'feminist connections in global politics'. Although the deadline for submissions has passed, I would strongly encourage any feminist academics to sign up. Register before January 15th for early-bird pricing! Find out more and register here."

Sally has recommended the brilliant book 'TRIBE- On Homecoming and Belonging' by Sebastian Junger, published by 4thEstate.co.uk.

"In the words of the Sunday Times review- Tribe is ‘ fascinating, insightful and built on real and difficult experiences’. and, as the Guardian review asks- ‘rather than asking how we can save our returning servicemen and women. Junger challenges us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask whether we can save ourselves’.

Personally, I found this book compelling. It struck a chord with my research on veterans mental health conducted as part of a Churchill Fellowship. Sebastian’s thoughts concur with my findings and a central theme of a loss of identity for military personnel when transitioning from a military to civilian community.  While TRIBE focuses on the challenges of returning home from war, there are many parallels on the challenges for some, on leaving service life and transitioning successfully into civilian employment, society and community.

Highly recommended."

Hannah has been reflecting on what she has learnt over the course of her PhD studies as the end is approaching. She led a session with her PhD cohort at the University of Bath to share ‘what we wish we’d known’ and has put together a summary which she hopes this will be of interest to the wider DRN community.

"I think it is easy to underestimate what has been lost in the move to isolated home working in terms of chatting to our peers over a coffee in the office or in the margins of face to face conferences. I was fascinated in chatting to colleagues about our different working routines from periods of intensity followed by total breaks or very structured programmes and came to realise that we all have different approaches and different PhDs but will get to the same end.I learnt a lot about publishing this year, from the disappointment of my first article being rejected followed by its later acceptance in a different journal. I read somewhere that all writing, even single author, is collaborative and that it is the feedback from journal reviewers, peers and supervisors that develops an article and this realisation has been really reassuring to me this year and helped me to see the feedback differently."

Lee's highlight was attending the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference 2020: Bridging the Gap at King's College London on the 12th March.

"I was fortunate to have my research poster accepted to display at Kings College. There was a great turnout and I was able to network with other academics, charities and policymakers.The opening keynote was given by Johnny Mercer, Minister for Defence, People and Veterans. It was great to witness what is being done to improve the mental health of veterans and reduce the stigma associated with poor mental health. The conference continued with presentations from leading academics on an array of different topics. I feel very lucky to have been able to attend the conference and I learnt a great deal."

Veronika has shared with us both her professional and personal resolutions for 2021.

"My professional highlight of 2020 was getting a permanent position in academia; I am a Teaching Fellow at the University of Portsmouth, based at RAF Halton. Getting a permanent position wasn’t easy, it was very stressful (and halfway through the pandemic too!) but I’m incredibly happy that I got there in the end.It also involved a move from Lincolnshire to Buckinghamshire and saying goodbye to my wonderful colleagues at the RAF College Cranwell. On the bright side, I’ve got to meet new, wonderful people in my new job.

My professional resolution is to publish more, and also to become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My personal resolution is to read all the books by Stephen King I haven’t read yet (I’ve read over two dozen so far)."

Visit our Blog page to see all previous blog posts from the DRN committee and members.