CSAR PhD Student Awards

2018 CSAR PhD Student Awards For Applied Research

Applications for the 2018 CSAR PhD Student Awards For Applied Research are now open and will close on 10 December 2017.

Further information and how to apply online


The CSAR PhD Student Award scheme is funded via donations. If you are considering making a donation and would like to discuss it further in confidence, please email Jane Baker (Outreach and Students Awards Secretary) at csarscr@hermes.cam.ac.uk, speak with a committee member, or contact the president, Sir Mike Gregory, at President@csar.org.uk

Fiona Strobridge's story

Fiona was one of the first two CSAR PhD Student Award winners (then "Bursary") in 2013. She is currently a materials scientist with Apple in California.

"When I was awarded the CSAR bursary this year, I used the money to go towards my trip to Argonne National Laboratory, just outside Chicago. I was carrying out two, weeklong experiments at the national facility, The Advanced Photon Source, in order to gain unprecedented insight into a promising cathode material, LiFePO4, which has received a lot of attention for use in lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles. Luck must have on my side, as President Barack Obama announced he was to give some “remarks” about his support for clean technology directly outside my office and then use my office as his “preparation room” for his visit.

"It was incredible. As the week past, more and more items were brought into the office, all of which had “POTUS” written on them (The President of the United States) and had the presidential seal. It was exciting to see the behind-the-scenes work and the necessary preparations for just a 50 minute appearance.

"Seeing him talk was really inspiring. He brought with him the most calming atmosphere. He started with a joke about us staying standing after he entered and asked if we couldn't afford chairs after the sequester, which went down with a laugh. He must have thought we were a quiet crowd as at one point he said, "yes, I think that deserves an applause", so then the room erupted with applause. It was quite a small audience, so when he finished I rushed to the front to get a handshake and even though I was in the second row, I stretched my arm out in hope he could see me. I didn't expect him to shake my hand, but when he did, he looked at me expectantly as if I should've said something, so I panicked and all I could muster together was "thank-you" in a very meek mumble tone.

"The whole experience was amazing. Hearing him talk about electric vehicles and the drive away from combustion fuel vehicles was really enthusing. I feel so lucky to have been given this unique opportunity."

Fiona Strobridge

Sarah Madden's story

"I was lucky enough to win the CSAR award in February 2017. Even though it has only been a few months since I have won the award, I have found it has already provided me with a range of new and exciting opportunities.

"It has been a real privilege to talk with the CSAR committee members and other award winners. They are a very talented bunch of people and our chats have taught me a great deal. Winning the award has also allowed me to meet the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, as well as Lord Martin Rees. I recently won a Messel scholarship from the Society of Chemical Industry (http://www.soci.org/news/awards/scholars/sci-scholars-2017-sarah-madden) and have no doubt that my CSAR award really made my application stand out. I’m excited for what the next academic year will bring!"

Sarah Madden

Advait Sarkar's story

Advait is a 2017 award winner

"I discussed with the award selection panel during my interview that I had been quite fortunate to be a very well-funded PhD student, and transitioned into a well-funded position at Microsoft, and so I didn't actually need the award money to conduct any research.

"Consequently, I've donated the entire award in equal parts to five different charities, acknowledging wherever possible that the donation was made possible by the CSAR. I've attached any thank-you notes sent by the charities, for your reference. An added bonus is that through the application of giftaid, the £1000 award from CSAR was amplified to £1,250 :)

"The charities are as follows:

1. The Kite Trust (http://thekitetrust.org.uk/) promotes the health, well-being, and inclusion of LGBT+ young people across Cambridgeshire; raising awareness, supporting, and educating our local communities.

2. Stonewall (http://www.stonewall.org.uk/) is an LGBT rights charity. Now the largest LGBT rights organisation not only in the UK but in Europe, it was formed in 1989 by political activists and others lobbying against section 28 of the Local Government Act. Its founders include Sir Ian McKellen, Lisa Power MBE and Lord Cashman (CBE).

3. Pratham UK (http://pratham.org.uk/) is an educational charity that aims to help improve reading, writing and basic arithmetic skills of children in the 6-14 years age group across India, gives dropout students, especially girls, a chance to complete secondary school education and acquire skills for employment, surveys learning levels of children in every district of India as the largest citizen led movement for assessment in education.

4. Akshaya Patra (http://www.foodforeducation.org.uk/) The Akshaya Patra Foundation works to eradicate classroom hunger and facilitate childhood education by serving freshly cooked, nourishing lunches to 1.6 million school children across India every day.

The head of the European branch of this charity is a personal friend of mine, and he mentioned to me that the donation will feed 25 children hot school lunches for an entire year.

5. Edingale Village Hall is the community centre in the village of Edingale (http://www.edingalevillage.co.uk/), not far from Birmingham. The village hall was built in the 1970s, spearheaded by Norah Mason MBE, a lifelong member and matriarch of Edingale, and my partner's grandmother. She passed away earlier this year at the age of 91 after a short illness, and so this donation was made in her memory, towards the upkeep of the village hall."

Advait Sarkar

Previous award winners

Find out about the winners awarded in previous years: