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Barbara Panuzzo, Arts and Creative Industries PhD student

After completing her Masters degree, Barbara was keen to progress to a PhD at London South Bank University to explore her research interest further

Barbara Panuzzo’s interest in research, like that of many students, began with her Masters degree. “I studied for an MA in Cultural and Media Studies at LSBU,” she says. “While I was studying, my research interest developed from media to gender and cultural studies, and I felt it would be a great time to explore them further with a PhD.”

Inspiring academic staff

Barbara’s research on her MA lent itself well to further research, and she was even awarded the Course Director’s Prize after she graduated. When she was then invited to continue her studies at LSBU with a PhD, she was eager to make the most of the opportunity. “I’d really enjoyed my LSBU experience during my MA, and I was inspired by the academic staff I worked with during it,” she explains. “As such, I was very keen to progress to my PhD at LSBU.”

Incredible support

Barbara, whose research examined traits of femininity in hip-hop journalism, was already working by the time she began her PhD, and needed to carry on working as she was self-funding her studies. “Combining a full-time career with part-time education and striving to succeed at both was the biggest challenge I faced,” she recalls. “My supervisor was incredibly supportive throughout, however, and gave me plenty of motivation along the way. They seemed to know when to push me harder and when to give me space to regroup, providing me with tireless inspiration.”

Positive contribution

During her PhD, Barbara published and presented widely. “I had three papers published, and presented at five conferences,” she says. “My work found audiences through organisations such as the International Institute for Popular Culture, MeCCSA (Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association), the University of London, the University of Liverpool and the University of California. Throughout my studies, I really enjoyed the encouragement I was given, and the belief that my research could make a positive contribution to the academic landscape. I hope that my research can help demystify the incompatibility between hip-hop and feminism.”

Best chance of success

It’s the support and help that Barbara received throughout her PhD that she believes gave her – and others like her – the best chance of success. “A PhD requires long-term commitment,” she says. “So studying in a stimulating and friendly environment like LSBU will make a difference to both the process and the outcome. Don’t be afraid if your supervisor pushes you outside of your comfort zone, either!”

Professional and academic interests

Barbara is now working as a Media Manager for a large UK media agency, but harbours ambitions of returning to academia while continuing to focus on her career. “LSBU provides a flexible platform that is ideal for successfully blending professional and academic interests,” she says. “It would be nice to head back there to continue my relationship with the academic staff, who were genuinely interested in my work, supported me over the years, and ultimately encouraged me to become one of their peers.”