PhD researcher wins NCRM Impact Prize

NCRM news
Ed Grover

A researcher who used filmmaking to tell the stories of police brutality victims has won the first NCRM Impact Prize.

Lucía Guerrero Rivière harnessed the skills she learnt in an NCRM workshop to produce a documentary in Colombia, where she worked with survivors of ocular mutilation.

The project, which was part of Lucía’s PhD research at the University of Exeter, enabled her participants to articulate their demands for justice and share their collective experiences.

NCRM announced Lucía as the winner of the £2,000 prize at the 2023 Research Methods e-Festival. Five runners-up also received awards.

Writing in her application, Lucía explained that the NCRM workshop, The Research Film Maker: Using Film in Research, had multiple impacts that went far beyond the skills she developed.

“It is thus difficult to oversell the impact my engagement with the NCRM had on my work,” she said.

"The workshop made possible the documentary… through both its emotional reassurance about my project and by connecting me to a community of participatory film practice across peace and conflict studies, and disability studies.

"Crucially, this impact has not been limited to my own research… The enhancement of my research practice and skills has gone hand in hand with improving my capacity to support the organisation and communities with whom the film was made."


Researching disability within Colombia’s current political context

Based at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, Lucía conducts research on various topics related to disability within Colombia’s current political context.

She works with a campaign group, MOCAO, which brings together survivors of ocular mutilation during protests across the country. Lucía will donate her prize money to the group.

Responding to the prize announcement, she said: “The process of filming and putting the documentary together, and of learning from Juan Pablo Fonseca, a survivor of ocular mutilation and spokesperson of MOCAO, Carlos Garzón and Natalia Mondragón, filmmaking experts, and Daniela Buriticá, a human rights defender and psychologist, has already been so rewarding, and now I am even more heartened and encouraged by receiving this prize.

"I’m definitely looking forward to continuing to implement creative methods in upcoming projects, and I know I can turn to NCRM workshops for guidance in the future."

The film, Los ojos que renacen: historia de un movimiento en resistencia (Reborn Eyes: Story of a Movement in Resistance), will be screened for the first time on 27 November 2023 at the Centre for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation in Bogotá, Colombia.

Read Lucía’s full description of how her research made an impact



NCRM received nearly 50 applications for the prize, which aimed to celebrate the impacts of researchers who have participated in NCRM training and other initiatives.

Applicants were from all career stages and included 21 postgraduate researchers. There were also submissions from researchers working in sectors outside of academia. Some applicants were learners, while others were trainers or experts who had led projects on innovative methods.

The five runners-up all submitted outstanding examples of ways that NCRM activities had enabled them to make wider impacts. They each received £500.

The runners-up were:

  • Austerity and Altered Life-Courses (AALC) and Inspire Women Oldham
  • Tess Hartland, The University of Manchester
  • Professor Jane Hirst and her team at the University of Oxford
  • Dr Leon Moosavi, University of Liverpool
  • Dr Nicola Simpson, Norwich University of the Arts

AALC and Inspire Women Oldham received funding from NCRM through the Innovation Fora programme to run a workshop series called Creative and Authentic Co-Production Methods: Podcasts, Poems and Zines. Their project gave participants new creative skills and provided facilitating experience to volunteers. It also helped the team to refine their workshop and resources, resulting in new opportunities to run the sessions within academia and policy-making circles.

Tess Hartland, a PhD researcher, attended a session at the 2021 Research Methods e-Festival called Biographic Narrative Interpretative Method: A Taster Workshop. She learnt new skills that supported her research on the lived experiences of older refugees and asylum seekers in Greater Manchester, resulting in the publication of a comic book that was exhibited at the city library.

Professor Jane Hirst and her team used funding from NCRM’s Innovation Fora programme to run an in-person forum that brought together experts in different fields to discuss ways of improving clinical care using complex clinical data. Focusing on gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), the forum was instrumental in reshaping the direction of GDM research. It encouraged data sharing and collaboration, and introduced cutting-edge methodologies.

Dr Leon Moosavi ran a webinar series on decolonial research methods using Innovation Fora funding. The series attracted thousands of attendees and resulted in new digital resources, the establishment of a large international researcher network and a journal special issue. These outcomes are boosting the knowledge of researchers around the world and helping to develop the field of decolonial methods.

Dr Nicola Simpson attended the online course Using Creative Research Methods, with her fees covered by an NCRM bursary. During the course, she was inspired to consider new ways to disseminating data from her work with an arts and mental health charity, for example with her experimental poetry game the Kinetic Poetry Box, which was exhibited at a London art gallery. She is now transferring skills to participants on new projects; her upcoming work includes workshops and artwork displays at hospitals.

Read the entries from the five runners-up


How our review panel selected the winners

Our review panel looked for clear evidence of impact to help them decide on the winning entries. Panel member Professor David De Roure, who announced the winners at the e-festival, explained that all submissions demonstrated passion, commitment and meaningful impact.

"We mean it genuinely when we say that it was very humbling and a great privilege to read the stories people told about their impact journeys, and that they took the time to do so,” he said.

"We found the judging process quite emotional at times – and this is testament to the power of the stories and, of course, the quality of the applications."

In addition to the winners, there were special mentions for researchers and teams who stood out during the review process.

The first was for regular NCRM trainer Dr Helen Kara, whose creative methods courses were praised in several applications. Professor George Leckie, of the University of Bristol, and the UCAS modelling and research team were also highlighted for their two-way knowledge exchange work. Emily Clifford, of the University of Exeter, was acknowledged for her use of trauma-informed co-production in human trafficking research.

Professor De Roure, a member of NCRM’s independent advisory board, explained the impacts described by applicants ranged from learning new skills to aiding non-academic groups or individuals.

"We saw this expressed across different kinds of impacts – some had strong academic impact, others gained strong career and personal development, others demonstrated strong significance and strong reach to non-academic beneficiaries," he said.

"Our winner had evidence of a combination of these types of evidence, but additionally provided evidence of impact on non-academic beneficiaries."

Find out more about the NCRM Impact Prize