23 January 2017 12:25

Three recently qualified Lancaster PhD graduates have been awarded 12-month Postdoctoral Fellowships to research issues facing the developing world.

The ESRC funding has been secured under the new and highly competitive RCUK Global Challenges Research Fund.

Dr Sarah Becklake (Sociology) has been awarded £92,171 for her project “Touristic Competition, Securitisation, and the Creation of (In) Securities in Guatemala”.

Dr Diana Mazgutova (Linguistics) receives £90,135 to pursue “Empowering Language Teachers and Learners in Uzbekistan: Opening Doors through Formal English Reading and Writing Development”.

And Dr Bimali Indrarathne (Linguistics) gets £96,891 to look at “Inclusion of learners with specific learning differences in teaching English as a foreign language: a teacher training project for Sri Lanka”.

The awards were only available to recent graduates from the ESRC doctoral training partnership between Lancaster, Manchester and Liverpool.

Dr Becklake’s project will examine how focusing on ways to improve tourist safety in burgeoning visitor destinations can contribute to and challenge the goals of sustainable and ethical tourism in Guatemala, better known for poverty, violence, and insecurity than for tourism. The Guatemalan government has recently set its sights on becoming one of the world's most visited destinations.

Dr Mazgutova’s project recognises that a working knowledge of English is an important facet of a professional education. However, only 1% of students, teachers and professors in Uzbekistan use English in their professional lives or read articles in English. She will create an interactive essay website and a self-perpetuating reading and writing skills workshop to initiate and perpetuate high-quality teaching and learning of formal English in Uzbekistan via a bottom-up approach.

Dr Indrarathne’s project seeks to provide training to English language teacher trainers at school level in Sri Lanka on teaching second language grammar and how to identify learners with specific learning differences, such as dyslexia, and to familiarize them with inclusive language teaching practices. The aim is to convey these findings to English language teachers through teacher trainers and make sustainable changes in English language teaching methodology at school level in Sri Lanka.

Professor Simon Bainbridge, Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, said: “These three Lancaster PhD graduates are all in their first job. We are bringing on a new generation of talent focusing on the needs of the developing world. This is a new funding pot supported by the research councils. It was really tough competition so we are delighted to have had these three successes.”