Frances Hawkes, a PhD researcher at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), is the first winner of the University of Greenwich 'Student of the Year' award. The energy she has put in to the University and the community of Medway has contributed to improving the University's environment, the well-being of local children and the community as a whole.
Frances is an outstanding but modest academic. Having grown up in the area and after 3 years of working in finance, she decided to undertake a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science at the University of Greenwich's School of Science. She surpassed expectations and attained the highest undergraduate achievements: The University of Greenwich Merit Award for Outstanding Achievement, and the prize for best dissertation in the School of Science.
She is currently doing a PhD in medical entomology with Gabriella Gibson and Steve Torr at NRI, that aims to help alleviate the suffering caused by malaria, by targeting the most important malaria vector, the mosquito Anopheles gambiae.
In-between her studies, Frances has not been idle. As an undergraduate in 2008 Frances co-founded the Universities at Medway Students' Association (UMSA) Environmental Society, where she lobbied for a full-time sustainability officer and for allotment facilities to be provided for students. Four years down the road, The University of Greenwich was named the 'greenest university' by People and Planet.
Later, Frances initiated a PhD students' club at NRI where students have the opportunity to develop professional skills outside their research area.
In May 2012, Frances was part of a group who designed and built a mobile phone app for students working in the field that was subsequently chosen for use by the Field Studies Council.
Furthermore, she recently acquired funding from the Royal Entomological Society to take a group from a Medway children's centre on a 'bug safari' where young children will have the opportunity to develop their social skills and confidence in the natural world.
Frances strives to bring together social and natural science in a way that will encourage people to act and adopt practices ranging from saving an endangered species to preventing disease.
"I'm absolutely delighted the University has chosen to recognise my achievements with this award. It's great to use the skills I have learnt in my time at Greenwich to develop new ideas within the University and in the wider community."
Her PhD supervisor, Dr Gabriella Gibson, said: "Frances' contributions to community projects and University-based activities have been inspirational. I don't think she realises what an extraordinary and competent person she is."
Looking into the future, Frances wants to carry on with her current research and see it through to a practical application in reducing malaria transmission.
Link to Frances' first publication:
Link to the Field Studies Council 'hack day' project: