Meet our student researchers - Katherine Duffy




Thinking of applying for an AWF student research grant? Find out what it’s like to undertake a student research project and get advice from previous researchers in our mini Q&A series.

Research topic: A novel intervention for cat hoarding: 3 year follow up

Name, degree, university

Katherine Duffy, BVM BVS, University of Nottingham

Research topic and why you chose it

In my future career, I would like to specialise in shelter medicine with small animals, particularly cats. I discussed my plans with the Professor of Shelter Medicine at my University who suggested there might be an opportunity to work with Manchester RSPCA on a follow-up project about cat hoarding. This sounded like a fantastic opportunity to build links with the RSPCA and conduct interesting research which will genuinely contribute to improved animal welfare.

What made you apply for an AWF Student Grant?

As this is my second degree I do not receive any tuition fee loan from Student Finance. Therefore, each year I have to earn at least £9,250 in order to pay my fees and be able to progress to the next year of my course. Although I really wanted to spend my summer holidays conducting this research, I had to generate an income to pay my fees. When I found out that I could apply to the AWF for funding this meant I could work on the project whilst earning some money towards my tuition fees. Without the support of the AWF there is no way I could have afforded to undertake this project.

What have you learned on your research project so far (focus on your personal development; not project results)?

I have learned that within the world of shelter medicine there is a very active, collaborative and supportive community of highly skilled professionals who are all deeply passionate about what they do. As an emerging specialism in the UK, shelter medicine poses a great deal of research opportunity and so this is a very exciting area to be working in. For me personally, it is important that whatever I am doing in my professional life has genuinely clear value and purpose. This project has certainly enabled me to see how I can make a much wider contribution to my future profession through undertaking valuable research. I have expanded my understanding of the profession, met some fantastic role models and built professional relationships that I hope will last for many years to come. This experience has also opened my eyes to other areas of research within which I could make an active contribution.  

One piece of advice you’d give to future applicants

Getting your grant application right can take some time but it is well worth it as the process itself makes you consider exactly what it is you hope to achieve and how you will get there. This ultimately means that if you do obtain funding you can really hit the ground running when your project starts. Personally, I had not undertaken any research since a previous university assignment over fifteen years ago and so having a support network centred around my project supervisor was invaluable for obtaining advice and guidance.