Carnegie PhD Scholar awarded Robertson Medal 2023-24

On Wednesday 24th January 2024, Beata Ciesluk, PhD Scholar in Social Sciences at the University of the West of Scotland received the Robertson Medal in Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences for Academic Year 2023-24.

The silver medal is awarded each year to the Scholarship candidate judged to be the most outstanding for that year’ competition. The medal was introduced in 2003 to mark the contribution of the retiring Chairman of the Trust, Sir Lewis Robertson, who served the Trust for over 40 years.

About this year’s recipient

Beata arrived in Shetland at the age of 14 where she navigated her teenage years learning English as a second language. This socially and culturally challenging upbringing as well as her childhood in Poland where she grew up in a deprived community that continuous struggle with addiction and mental health challenges ignited her passion for Psychology and to support those in need.

Her determination to pursue psychology as a field grew throughout her teenage years in Shetland, where she dedicated most of her time to education, gaining excellent grades in English and Social Studies hoping to enter university and make a difference.

Beata enrolled at the University of the West of Scotland where she achieved a first-class degree in Psychology. During her undergraduate degree she met her supervisor Dr Lucy Troup and together they engaged in a research project exploring recreational cannabis use which sparked her interest in the study of addiction psychology.

After completing the undergraduate degree due to the unforeseen circumstances of the pandemic, Beata took a break from academia and dived into voluntary work as a victim support worker in a local court. This experience gave her the skills and knowledge on supporting vulnerable communities and subsequently she transitioned to a full time position as an addiction outreach support worker which further excelled her commitment to supporting vulnerable communities and understanding addiction.

After a year of working in the community Beata enrolled on the Addiction Psychology master’s degree at the University of The West of Scotland where she graduated with a distinction. During the master’s degree with Dr Lucy Troup, she completed several successful research projects exploring cannabis use in medical and recreational users, collaborating with established clinics in London. This led to several successful publications and international conferences.

Choosing to take another break after her master’s degree to further her skills in working for the community Beata took a full-time position as a community link worker in Paisley, where she actively contributed to providing mental and addiction support to the most vulnerable. It was through this work that she developed the idea for her current PhD project as she has seen first-hand the harms our community is facing due to the increase in drug related deaths. Beata continues to work as a link worker in her local GP surgery part-time throughout her PhD position as she believes this role within the community positively impacts her role as a researcher.

As the first in her family to achieve further education, Beata is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take upon a PhD project and help the most vulnerable members of the community through her research.