Our team

The PhD Academy office is open Monday-Friday, 10.00-16.00. We are  closed for lunch between 12.30 and 13.30.

Meet the PhD Academy Director

Bingchun Meng

Director, PhD Academy and LSE ESRC Doctoral Training Centre


I am a Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where I also co-direct the LSE-Fudan Global Public Policy Research Centre. My research interests include political economy of media industries, communication governance, gender and the media, and comparative media studies. I am mainly concerned with how institutional forces shape media and communication, and how communicative activities and digital technologies are implicated in the formation of culture, identity and political engagement. 

Focusing on China as my main empirical site, I aim to advance related academic debates by historicising and retheorising state-market and state-society relations in non-liberal contexts through the lens of media and communication.  

At the LSE, I have supervised many Media and Communication PhD students; this is the aspect of my academic job that I enjoy the best, because that is how I learn the most. As Director of the PhD Academy, I have responsibility for enhancing the PhD research environment, for overseeing the activities of the Academy’s team, and for liaising with funders. In addition, I have the privilege of meeting and exchanging ideas with PhD students from across the School. 

You can contact Bingchun to discuss any aspect of your experience as a PhD student. Email her at b.meng@lse.ac.uk to arrange a virtual or in person meeting.


Meet the PhD Academy Manager

Peter Mills

PhD Academy Manager

Pete profile pic_Peter Mills

I lead the PhD Academy professional staff team, oversee all PhD Academy operations, and work with the Director of the PhD Academy, the Chair of the Research Degrees Sub-Committee and the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research in developing and implementing strategy and policy relating to postgraduate research (PGR) students, and in representing PGR interests in committees and working groups across the University.

I previously managed research degree programmes in the Department of Geography and Environment at the LSE. I was also a member of the LSE UNISON branch committee during the pandemic.

I joined the LSE after managing the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Safe and Trusted Artificial Intelligence, a collaboration between King's College London and Imperial College London. I also worked previously for the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes, where I did my BA, MA and PhD in History. I also have a Graduate Diploma in Law, though I forget quite how that happened...

To contact me, please email me at phdacademy.manager@lse.ac.uk.

Meet the LSE SPRING Manager

Maria-Christina Vogkli

Research Officer in Business Outreach - LSE SPRING Manager

maria-Christina Picture_Maria-Christina Vogk

Currently, I serve as a Research Officer in Business Outreach managing an initiative of the PhD Academy called LSE SPRING. LSE SPRING aims to bridge the gap between academia and other sectors. As part of this role, I create collaborations between PhD researchers and non-academic organisations and organise activities and programmes that support students develop as researchers and explore various professional pathways. This includes offering work-based learning opportunities, micro-internships, training, and events that equip students with the skills and knowledge to operate in various research contexts.

I I have a PhD in Sociology from LSE and I currently work as a Guest Teacher at the LSE Sociology Department. My thesis was an urban ethnography exploring the interconnection of homelessness, urban space and care. During my PhD, I worked in various teaching and research positions in different Departments and Divisions of the School, such as the Sociology and the Management Departments, Executive Education, LSE Life and the Eden Centre.

I am also a member of LSE's Homelessness Initiative. Outside academia, I have worked as a freelance Research and Policy Consultant. I am also an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My hobbies include art, politics and taking long walks by the Thames.

To contact me, please email me at phdacademy.spring@lse.ac.uk.

Meet the Research Degrees Management Team

Matthew Brack

Research Degrees Manager

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I graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Chemistry in 1993. I joined LSE in 1997 and have been Assistant Director of the PhD Academy  since its inception in 2016. Prior to this I was Deputy Manager of the Research Degrees Unit. I advise staff and students on all aspects of research degree procedures and regulations including the MPhil/PhD examination process, registration, appeals, tuition fees, and complex cases.

I also compile statistics and data for internal and external purposes, for instance the School's submission and completion rates, REF student data and ESRC/AHRC submission rate surveys.  I am also the Secretary of the Doctoral Programme Directors Forum.

To contact me, please email me at phdacademy@lse.ac.uk, or book appointments via the PhD Academy book-an-appointment form.


Liudmila Pliner

Research Degrees Officer

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As a Research Degrees Officer, my primary responsibilities include supporting research students with queries related to their PhD programmes, administering examinations and advising students and staff on all elements of PGR registration and examinations.

I graduated with a PhD in Higher Education Internationalisation and Educational Strategies and Practices from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (Italy) in 2022. I did my master's and bachelor's degrees in International Management and Economics in France and Russia. I joined the LSE with the background of administrating a research unit and an international relations office at a business school, as well as teaching experience.

To contact me, please email me at l.pliner@lse.ac.uk, or book appointments via the PhD Academy book-an-appointment form.


Michael Twyman

Research Degrees Officer

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I assist PhD candidates with examination entry queries and thesis submissions. I also support the arrangements for viva examinations, engaging with PhD supervisors, PhD programme managers and external examiners. I can also be contacted with queries about PhD student registry changes, change of circumstances requests and, generally, anything to do with supporting PhD research. I have previously worked in higher/tertiary education management and IT/technical support.

To contact me, please email me at m.twyman@lse.ac.uk, or book appointments via the PhD Academy book-an-appointment form.


Meet the Events & Communications Team

Loraine Evans

Events & Communications Manager

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I have been with the PhD Academy since its inception in 2016. I support the Director of the PhD Academy in the administration and development of the events programme for PhD Students. I am responsible for developing networks with partner institutions alongside managing communications across a range of media. 

 I previously worked in the Department of Mathematics and the Research Degrees Unit. I earned a BA and MA from QMUL in English Literature, both taken as a mature student.

To contact me, please email l.evans1@lse.ac.uk or phdacademy@lse.ac.uk.

Faith Langley

Events & Communications Officer (currently on long-term leave)


I am responsible for our webpages, communications and social media feeds and support the running of the PhD Academy events programme. Alongside this I support the Research Partnerships Manager when required.

I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical science in 2013 from Kingston University. Prior to joining the LSE in 2016 I worked at Kingston University looking after MSc students in Engineering. 


Zia Simpson

Events & Communications Officer


I work with Loraine to update all of the PhD Academy's webpages and manage our communications with students, staff, and departments. I coordinate all of the PhD Academy's events both in our Teaching Room and off-campus, liasoning with trainers, catering, and attendees. I also support the Research Council Team with ESRC events and trainings, and the Research Degrees Managment team with incoming student queries. 

 I started at LSE in September 2023, after graduating with an MA in History of Art (Distinction) from The Courtauld Institute of Art. Before this, I earned my BA in History with minors in French and Psychology (Distinction) from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. 

To contact me, please email z.simpson@lse.ac.uk.

Meet the Research Partnerships Management Team

Kirsty Rawlings

Research Partnerships Manager

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I have been with the PhD Academy since its inception in 2016. I manage processes to ensure compliance with ERSC reporting and accreditation requirements.  As the LSE ESRC nominated contact I am responsible for developing relationships with the wider DTP network.  I also provide advice, guidance and support to students, academics and administrative staff on key Research Council initiatives, workshops, conferences and events.  

I am the lead for the LSE DTP Training Needs Analysis and the ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowships recruitment processes.I graduated with a BA (Hons) in History from Essex University and joined LSE in 2014 as Senior Administrator to the Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) having previously worked in the voluntary, education and public sectors in contract compliance and administration.


Yoshi Shungu

Research Partnerships Officer

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I assist in providing advice, guidance and support to students, academics and administrative staff on key Research Council initiatives, workshops, conferences and events. I also provide support to the Research Partnerships Manager with the the ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowships recruitment processes.

 I joined LSE in 2019, having previously worked at the SSC in the Events Management Team, as well as the School of Public Policy and the Department of Sociology in programme management. I graduated with an MA in Applied Linguistics and Communication from Birkbeck University. Furthermore, I have a background in EFL teaching in South Korea and the UK, and events administration at City University.

To contact me, please email y.shungu@lse.ac.uk or submit an enquiry form to the PhD Academy.