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Our PGR Mentors

When you start something new such as a research degree you are bound to have questions, the PGR student mentors are here to help!

Whether your questions are about life at Coventry University, the city or what it is like to do a research degree, the PGR mentors are ready and waiting for your questions.

The mentors are research students who have volunteered to support you for the first 6 months of your research degree. You can contact them at:

Nora Lanari

I am a full-time second year PhD candidate at the Centre for Business in Society (CBiS) at Coventry University. My research investigates the role of commercial agriculture within the context of water governance in South Africa’s Western Cape. Most paradigms within the water governance literature do not take factors outside of the water sector sufficiently into account. Ultimately, this results in inefficient decision-making and policy-formulation. My research aims to partly fill this gap by looking at the specific example of commercial agriculture – a large water user – and how regimes governing agricultural production and trade impact water governance. My academic background is in geography and I hold a BSc and MSc in Geography from the University of Bern, Switzerland. Although CBiS is the specialist research centre for Coventry’s Business School, I fit right in, as CBiS emphasises interdisciplinary research.

When I started my PhD in May 2016, I was overwhelmed and a bit frightened by the idea of writing a PhD thesis over three (!) years. Originally from Switzerland, I also had to adapt to the quite different UK higher education culture. Now that I am more than halfway through, it does not seem as scary anymore. Best of all, I have enjoyed every bit of it so far. What really helped me through the first difficult stages was getting myself organised: getting to know the Curriculum Framework, the different requirements, setting out a plan for the first 6 months with concrete targets, etc. and also meeting my supervisors, and clarifying expectations. I effectively took control over my research project and that took some of that scariness away. To do so, you need information, and as everything can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning, it is sometimes difficult to find that information. It is really nice and useful to have someone you can ask all these questions. Please do not hesitate to get in touch and ask, there really are no stupid questions in a PhD.

Top tip: Be proactive. I recommend proactively getting to grips with the different cycles of your PhD, actively seeking information, participating in workshops, and asking questions. This also applies to your relationship with your supervisor. Organise meetings with your supervisors proactively, set the agenda for your meetings, ask concrete questions or ask for specific feedback, and agree on fixed deadlines.

Dzariff Zainal Abidin

Hi everyone! It’s great to know that all of you are keen to embark on this journey, I believe the transition you are making is the right choice! It may look scary in the beginning, but that’s what we are here for, to help you transition smoothly and make you feel more comfortable and confident facing situations which can look difficult and overwhelming at first.

A little bit about myself. My name is Dzariff Zainal Abidin (you can call me Dzariff for short), and I am a first year full time PhD student from Malaysia at the Centre for Flow Measurement and Fluid Mechanics. I am working on a smart pipe or sensor augmented project in developing novel interrogation techniques and configurable sensor suites for flow measurement and structural health monitoring as applied to smart applications. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Cardiff University and my Masters in Oil and Gas Engineering here at Coventry University, winning the award for best MSc student in my year.

What made me want to do what I do? Well, long story short, I have always been keen to know the answer to my everyday problems, which lead me to an interest in engineering and science. I realized that this field provides a massive opportunity to contribute knowledge to society. I believe with the right sense of responsibility, you will be prepared to face any consequences that arise through this journey with confidence, and achieve excellence!

I have lived and studied in the UK since 2012. It’s normal to be worried about being away from family and friends, especially for an international student miles away from home, getting mentally prepared to step out from your own comfort zone and adapt to a new environment. For someone who has experienced similar circumstances, it’s a chance for me share my knowledge and prepare you for what to expect on the journey you are about to embark on. The journey you make is definitely worthwhile, keeping in mind you will meet new friends for life, acquire superior knowledge and build networks, resulting in becoming a better person and acquiring those goals you have yet to realize that will change your way of life, tackling the challenges that await!

The staff and faculty will always be available to help, and to equip you with the necessary skills to go beyond your limits as postgraduate students, provide diverse experience, and support you. It can be tense at first, finding your way through your course and sorting out the important steps of the program, therefore it is essential to stay organized, prioritize your tasks and take care of yourself by staying healthy, both physically and mentally. Planning is the key to having a balanced structure, ensuring a stress free experience, and avoiding complicated situations. Planning your actions will help to manage between your studies and personal life.

Dzariff’s Top Tip: Your aim is not just about getting that scroll at the end of your graduation but to also enjoy the time being given to you!

Benin Ibn Wahab

I am a Ghanaian, second year, full time PhD Student my research topic is “Critical Economic and Operating Cost Evaluation of Oil and Gas Plays: A Retrospective View of Ghana Keta Basin and the UK North Sea”. The main aim of my research is to contribute my thoughts on cost reduction in the upstream oil and gas operation to the existing ones in the industry and academic environment. I hold an MSc in Oil and Gas Management from Coventry University 2011/2012 UK, BSc in Accounting and Finance from University of Professional Studies Accra (UPSA) 2009/2011 Ghana and HND in Accounting from Tamale Polytechnic 2006/2008 in Ghana.

Currently, I am in my second year of my PhD programme at Coventry University in the faculty of Engineering, Environment and computing, researching  petroleum economic and fiscal systems. The research findings will provide knowledge on cost reduction strategies, economic analysis, negotiation and contract analysis of upstream sector of petroleum industry; I started my PhD in September 2015. After completing my MSc, I worked as a Teaching Assistance in Coventry University, as a volunteer Lecturer at UPSA, a part-time lecturer at Ghana Telecom University and Springs College University all in Ghana before returning to pursue a PhD in petroleum Economics.

I will aid beginners and those yet to start their PhD on where to locate their needed service points around the University and the city of Coventry, and share with them my experiences as a PhD student in Coventry University for past year.   

Coventry University and Coventry city is the hub of excitement with diverse cultural backgrounds of people, students and staffs, which makes studies, learning and life exciting at Coventry University. The University has academic professors, industry professionals and a well-equipped library, and funding opportunities for students’ who want to attend abroad conferences and workshops. I am a beneficiary of a grant from the Centre for Global Engagement which I used for two workshops in Canada and US. Coventry University is the only place to study if you want to pursue a PhD. I am ready to answer your questions about life and studies in Coventry University.

Ibn’s Top Tip: I suggest to students to get involved and attend both internal and external seminars, workshops and conferences as these will help them to network and shaping their research ideas.

Ezinne Merianchris Emeana

I am a full time second year PhD researcher at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University. I am from Imo State, Nigeria, West Africa. My passion for agriculture, extension, sociology, rural development, climate change, disaster management, sustainable food security and farmers’ livelihood motivated my interest in the alternative ways of farming and feeding the world’s increasing population with healthy food without causing further harm to the environment and stress for the farmers.

My experience in agriculture is dated back in 2007 when I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Extension (B. Agric. Tech.) at the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Nigeria. After which I took up a Research Assistant role at the Imo River Basin Authority, Nigeria (2008-2009). I contributed in different water resource management projects such as species and habitat conservation, and water drilling for agricultural irrigation. I later proceeded to work as an Agricultural Produce Officer alongside as an Agricultural Extension Liaison Officer, Edo State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nigeria (2010-2012). I participated in various rural development projects that benefited the rural farmers. I acted as the official mediator between farmers and the agricultural research centres, monitoring and evaluation of new crop varieties.

Due to my striving attitude towards achieving excellence and quest for acquiring new skills, I took a further step in 2012 to assume the post of an Agricultural Research Officer at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abuja, Nigeria before I decided to take a career break in that same year for further studies. Whilst discharging my duties as an Agricultural Research Officer, I discovered that the recent farming practice in Nigeria is affecting the environment. I moved to Coventry University and obtained a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management, specialising in Ecological Management in 2013.

In the quest to implement my experience into practice, I realised that farmers need to be informed about alternative way of farming known as Agroecology Farming System which does not only provide sustainable healthy food, but also preserve the environment. The wake of the above motivated my recent PhD research which is focussed on the use of mobile phone for agroecology information dissemination in Nigeria. Exploring how mobile phone application use and the interaction amongst farmer to farmer/farmer to extension agents can be used to scale-up the adoption and practice of agroecology.

As a full time international research student who has been living in Coventry (a walking distance to the university) since the start of my postgraduate studies in 2012, I have tremendously adapted in the community with diverse ethnicity and cultural background, and have familiarised myself with the various activities within and outside the University which a new research student should be aware of. Therefore, as a new research student seeking first-hand information I am available to support you to enjoy your research experience at Coventry University, I can offer help and advice on the following:

  • How to settle with ease into the community
  • How to manage your professional development alongside your research
  • The strategies for completing the supervisee journey successfully
  • How to explore the available opportunities in the University

Ezinne’s Top Tip: Always remember! A positive approach, determination and maximising available opportunities are significant.

Kayode Richard Abeleje

My name is Kayode Richard Abeleje and I am from Nigeria. I was attracted to undertake a research degree through the advice of a mentor and supervisor while I was completing my Master’s degree. I obtained my first degree from University of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria in Accounting in 2002. I have been in the UK since then and got my masters from Sheffield Hallam University in 2013.

I am a full-time year two doctoral researcher (PhD) in Accounting with the Faculty of Business and Law. My research focuses on the influence of adoption of IFRS on Earnings management: A cross Country Analysis. It is a comparative study on developed economies and the developing economies.

I was previously a lecturer in accounting and finance, since 2008, I have taught both at classroom and professional levels, and to a large number of students in Nigeria. I came to the UK for my masters in 2012, but Coventry’s reputation attracted me to move here for my PhD. While in transit to Sheffield on a coach, a couple of students wore T-Shirts with the Coventry University. That was the first time I saw the name and was just a tip of the iceberg and that encounter led me to research the University and led me to my future. While considering taking up a research degree in accounting, I had the best of support right from my application stage to my induction from Coventry University.

I am proud to be a research student of this great institution and am happy to serve in the capacity of a mentor. I am a chartered accountant equipped with over seven years post qualification experience in the area of accounting and finance. I possess good research and information technology skills that could be applied in solving business problems I am a team builder, having excellent interpersonal communication and good analytical skills. I love research and enjoy writing for publication. I am always willing to share my knowledge and enthusiastic to assist on accounting and finance related courses.

I am welcoming you to Coventry University, a nice place to be, where you will always get the support of your colleagues, erudite mentors and faculty members that can keep you informed on getting the best from the great facilities that Coventry University offers.

Please make full use of the mentors – we are here to help!

Kayode’s Top Tip: Be free to ask questions to get the most of your stay in Coventry and the UK. I would recommend making the most of what your faculty/department have to offer.

Mandeep Singh Sehmi

I am a full time and a final year PhD Researcher and Research Assistant at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR). I am exploring British Asian Sikh Attitudes to Marriage within the context of the 21st century. I am covering areas such as divorce, same-sex marriage, inter-faith marriage and the spiritual marriage. Using grounded theory as my chosen methodology to qualitatively analyse interviews conducting throughout the UK, my thesis will provide original insights into this aspect of British Sikhs’ attitudes, social relations and spiritual identities. There is little academic research available with reference to Sikh attitudes to marriage, especially within the 21st century and this is one of the first studies in the UK to explore British Asian Sikh attitudes to marriage. My academic background is in Sociology having studies a BA (Hons) Sociology with Policy Studies, Birmingham City University followed by a MA Sociology, University of Birmingham.

This was the first time I had studied at Coventry University and it is the best decision I have made. My DoS is very supportive. She points me in the right direction and encourages me to attend conferences, give papers, but most importantly, to think carefully about the structure of my thesis and the content. The research centre I am in provided a generous grant for two years, which covered my travel expenses, fieldwork costs and other expenses related to my PhD study. I have organised conferences and given papers at Harvard University and The University of Cambridge. Lastly, the Centre for Global Engagement (CGE) funded three trips in relation to my PhD, including a conference in the USA, and two trips to India. None of the above would have been possible without the support of Coventry University and I am grateful for these academic opportunities.

Students (including mature students) can contact me regarding part time or full time research degrees, the available facilities to help students with their research and advice on how to making timetables to reach their desired goals. Having successfully passed all of my yearly reviews (Progress Review Panels) I will also share the positive points that lead to a successful pass.

I believe one must be “approachable” in order to help others. If you are unsure of anything (e.g. finding buildings, attending conferences, paying fees, places to eat, or you just need someone to talk to), please contact us on the mentor e-mail.

Mandeep’s Top Tip: Time Management - Open Mindedness – Precision

You need to be passionate about your subject area as this will be your life for the next few years. Time management is key. How you choose to manage your personal and academic study time is ultimately a PhD student’s responsibility and you will have to be committed to ensure you are meeting your deadlines. You are going to discover many unexpected findings during your fieldwork (and after) and therefore, it is essential to remain non-judgemental (i.e. remain open-minded) and focus upon the outcome of your study. Stay on point and be precise in what your study is trying to deliver. With an open mind and using your time effectively, make sure you read your work several times, and question yourself on every point you make and make sure your paragraphs are flowing.