DHS Events

13 July 2015 -

In April 2015, the Design History Society hosted its inaugural research funding workshop in design history. This session is part of the Society's on-going programme of workshops supporting research in design history and related fields, and was also conceived to compliment a series of new grant opportunities available to members and non-members.

The evening began with a welcome from Maya Oppenheimer, Teaching and Learning Officer, and introduction from Catharine Rossi, who spoke to the range of grants and awards stewarded under her term as Research Grants Officer that diversify DHS funding schemes to include exhibitions, publications and travel support. This set out the joint nature of the event: to foster discussion around the complex landscape facing researchers today and to give a sense of the varied funding opportunities available, including advice on how to approach an application and build a proposal.

A diverse range of invited speakers brought valuable expertise and experience to the conversation around funding and research in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Because the event was not only geared towards researchers but also students and early career scholars, department heads and research support staff, the panel reflected these perspectives and included representatives from two funding organizations, a grants manager, a research fellow and a post-doctoral researcher. Each spoke to their projects and portfolios and communicated their unique perspectives, which fueled a candid and open panel conversation on current changes and challenges to the field.

Presentations began with Emma Wakelin, Associate Director of Programmes at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), elaborated on the supportive design-related programming run by the AHRC ranging from institutional partnerships, imbedding design researchers into industry and policy, and fostering collaborative investment initiatives. Ken Emond, Head of Research Awards at the British Academy (BA), added to the spectrum of opportunities with his articulation of the BA’s various research awards including, international schemes, early career support programmes and small grants initiatives. Both speakers generously gave permission to include versions of their slides on the DHS webpage (details below).

Extending the conversation to the perspective of researchers themselves, Nicola Froggatt shared her expertise working with curators, conservators and specialists as Research Grants Manager for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Research Department. Her insight on the application process began with commentary on successful applications, including the importance and originality of the research question, its likelihood of success, realistic budgetary considerations and remit, and competence of the investigator or team. After walking through the assessment process, providing tips on what organizations look for, Nicola Froggatt shared a list of common downfalls of applications, which are certainly worth repeating here: she emphasized clarity in composition, reflections of applicant ability, appropriate detail of the project, awareness of existing contributions to the field, and reasonable applications for resources.

Oliver Moss, Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences at Northumbria University, and Marcia Holmes, postdoctoral researcher at Birkbeck College’s Department of History, Classics and Archaeology and the Wellcome Trust, rounded up the evening’s presentations. Oliver Moss discussed three key tendencies he perceives in today’s research landscape: a shift in research focus from individual to collaborative, from disciplinary to interdisciplinary and from internal, or hegemonic, to outward facing engagement with non-academic partners. Several of these themes were picked up by Marcia Holmes’s discussion of her experiences working on the Hidden Persuaders project as a post-doctoral researcher, which requires her to balance her own work with the demands of an ambitious and productive investigation into brainwashing and Cold War culture and politics.

In order to extend the remit of this event, presentations and reflections from the Research Funding Workshop are collected here; they represent useful advice and considerations for early career to experienced researchers and help de-mystify an important component of academic practice. You will find downloadable PDFs of Emma Wakelin and Ken Emond’s presentations on AHRC funding and BA early career grants, respectively. Also included is a reflection from Oliver Moss drawn from his presentation and knowledge of research structures and an edited recording of speakers’ talks and discussion. Below, you will also find bios for all those who participated in the Research Funding Workshop, including links to their institutional affiliations and research projects.


Speaker Bios

Dr Ken Emond is the Head of Research Awards at the British Academy. Ken is a graduate of the University of St Andrews with a doctorate in Scottish History, for a thesis on the Minority of King James V, 1513-1528. After working in the Department of Transport, Ken joined the Academy in 1992. As Head of Research Awards since 2008, Ken is responsible for the administration of all of the Academy’s UK grants and fellowship schemes, and he has extensive experience in advising on research funding matters.


As Research Grants Manager for the Victoria and Albert Museum, Nicola Froggatt works with curators, conservators and other researchers to identify funding opportunities for their projects, and develop research grant and fellowship applications. Before joining the V&A in 2012, she worked in research support and grants administration at the University of Oxford and, before that, for the UK Research Councils.


Marcia Holmes is a post-doctoral researcher on the Hidden Persuaders project. Dr. Holmes’s research brings together histories of behavioural science, the military, and technology to assess how concepts of human mind and behaviour were shaped by the twentieth century’s expanding military-industrial-academic complex. She is currently researching the American and British militaries’ Cold War-era community of psychological researchers, tracing how political, bureaucratic and intellectual fault lines influenced service psychologists’ assessments of brainwashing. In 2014 she completed her PhD at the University of Chicago in Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science with the thesis, ‘Performing Proficiency: Applied Experimental Psychology and the Human Engineering of Air Defense, 1940-1965.’


Oliver Moss is a Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences at Northumbria University. Previously, Oliver was a Research Associate in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University, where he worked on a series of ESRC and British Academy funded projects; and before that, he spent time at both the EPSRC and ESRC. At ESRC, Oliver led the commissioning of projects under the Rural Economy and Land Use programme, the Science in Society programme and the Sustainable Technologies Programme. As well as being a bid writer, Oliver has also secured and led several small ESRC knowledge exchange projects.


Emma Wakelin has worked at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) since 2000, and has been Associate Director of Programmes there since 2005. Emma spent several years overseeing the strategic development of the AHRC’s postgraduate funding provision and its support for modern languages. She now leads on the organisation’s work connecting academic research in the arts and humanities with creative and cultural organisations, overseeing the development of new partnerships and the AHRC’s four Knowledge Exchange Hubs in the Creative Economy, as well as working closely with partners including the Design Council, NESTA and the Technology Strategy Board, and overseeing the AHRC’s Digital Transformations theme and Cultural Value project.

Before joining the AHRC, Emma spent five years working as an editor on the revised edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which was published by Macmillan in 2000. During this time, she also completed her doctorate in Music at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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