Here at the VAWG research network, we recognise the importance of supporting ECRs in their research journeys and are keen to foster a nurturing environment within which researcher welfare and development is paramount. 

What is the ECR Network?

Our goal for this ECR specific network within our wider VAWG research network is to create a space centred upon the VAWG ECR experience; for ECRs to meet, collaborate and build relationships with others working in the field. Researching violence against women and girls can be lonely, so it’s particularly important for ECRs and PhD students to find solidarity with peers, to develop a support network, and find mentors who can provide guidance, advice and expertise. 

Who is an ‘Early Career Researcher (ECR)’?

Within our network, we define ECRs are those who:

  • are conducting research at undergraduate or postgraduate level
  • are within eight years of the award of their PhD or equivalent professional training
  • is within six years of their first academic appointment (full-time or part-time)
  • has conducted research outside academia for less than 10 years

Please note, these durations exclude any period of career break (e.g. for family care or health reasons).

We welcome those who are not sure whether they meet the above criteria to get in touch with us to confirm via

What’s our plan?

We are working hard to establish the ECR network and have a number of exciting projects lined up including the launch of an ECR network directory, a VAWGRN mentor/mentee scheme, workshops, events, and more! 

We recently held our first VAWG ECR Virtual Networking Event on 10/06/2021. It was wonderful to meet some of you informally and to share our research interests!

We will be hosting other events in the future so please keep an eye out for ECR event news in the VAWGRN newsletter and on the VAWGRN Twitter feed.

Extraordinary Experiences

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Our Core Values

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The ECR Team  

  • Grace Carter is a post-doctoral researcher with a background in forensic psychology. She is originally from the North of England and is now based in the West-Midlands.  Grace’s research broadly focuses on developing and evaluating health interventions and exploring criminal justice journeys for victims/survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse. The meaningful involvement of individuals who have lived experience of violence and abuse is central to Grace’s research. In her spare time, she enjoys all things outdoors from trail running to paddle boarding and growing veg in her garden. 

  • Becca Brunk is a researcher, writer, activist and artist. She is a midwestern American immigrant living in the north of England, and has a background in neuroscience, psychology and institutional behaviour. She is in pursuit of a PhD for her research on trauma-informed sexual violence prevention in universities, and in her spare time, hikes, bikes and dreams about being a dog-mom.
  • Katie Smith is a researcher and activist. Katie has worked in charity research and evaluation for over five years, with a focus on domestic abuse services and the survivors that they support. Katie is the proud owner of two ridiculously fluffy dogs.
  • Kelly Mackenzie is a research associate in the University of Birmingham’s Trauma, Social Harm and Health Research team. Kelly previously completed her PhD exploring representations of conflict-related sexual violence in the field of transitional justice and subsequently worked as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor within a domestic abuse charity. In her spare time, you’ll find her either walking in the countryside or at the skatepark trying her best not to fall off her skateboard.