Susan Blacker 

Susan Blacker completed her first degree in Psychology in Cardiff in 1995. Since then she has worked in the Learning Disabilities field in direct care and management. Susan completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Person-centred and Existential Counselling in 1998 and has worked at Dr Giraldi’s since 2000. She took a break from academic pursuits to raise her family until last year when she embarked upon a Post-Graduate Certificate in Research at the University of Bath and she has now begun her PhD at the University of Gibraltar.

Susan finds her work with people with learning disabilities very rewarding and her research interests centre around this group. She plans to use inclusive research projects to work in partnership with people with learning disabilities and empower them to achieve goals that they set themselves.  She is interested in the functioning of these groups and the best ways to support them. She is also interested in their similarities to therapy and support groups and what that may teach us about emotional capacity and its relationship to intellectual ability.

Angelo Cerisola 

Angelo L. Cerisola is a Ph.D. student with research interests in social systems, public policy, social work and health and social welfare. His thesis aims to explore boundaries, ethics and relationships existing between individuals, groups and institutions and their impact on professional child protection practices. Prior to enrolling at the University of Gibraltar, Angelo interned at the United States House of Representatives in Washington D.C. in 2015, where he worked directly with a Member of Congress. Through his role in Congressional Relations and Political Affairs, he became actively involved in working with several House Committees, constituents and federal agencies, and gained first-hand experience with the formation of new legislation. Angelo also read Politics and Public Policy with an emphasis on the Middle East at The Washington Center for Academic Seminars.

In 2014, Angelo graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Social Work, from the University of Essex. During his time at University, he also served as Student Ambassador for the University and represented the student body at academic and review panels on the development of the curriculum to reflect the latest standards for social work education in the U.K. In 2014, Angelo took part in the Health and Care Professions Council review taskforce on Social Work education criteria in the U.K, and made recommendations for the improvement and design of the social work program in the U.K. In 2015, after graduating, Angelo returned to the University to present to a consortium of practice educators, lectures and final year students on the laboratory for skills development and the realities of practicing as a social worker in children’s services.  His presentation was very well received by the practice educators who were attentive to his viewpoints and used his presentation as a springboard for discussion.

Currently, he is a Social Work Practitioner with the Government of Gibraltar, Care Agency. His responsibilities include complex casework in the protection, promotion and wellbeing of vulnerable children and their families. His practice involves assessments and qualified interventions. Between 2014 and 2016, Angelo was a member of the Sub-Committee for Training and the Care Agency and, as a qualified trainer, he also delivered bespoke child protection workshops to professionals with multidisciplinary backgrounds.

He is co-founder and Chairman of the Gibraltar Association of Social Workers and a longstanding Officer of the Order of St. John Ambulance. In his free time, he enjoys poetry, theatre and cultural activities.

Darren Cruz 

Darren, a Plant Superintendent for AquaGib’s Water Production Department, is currently undertaking a PhD in organizational change for corporate sustainability.

In 2015 Darren gained a Master of Engineering Degree from the Open University, with modules in Environmental decision making, Sustainability and Change. For his final dissertation Darren worked with three other Engineering students, in the design of an eco village in Cumbria, focusing on water, waste water and waste management.

Locally, Darren has worked on various engineering projects, such as the re-designing of sewage pumping stations, focusing its operational elements on an environmental and economic sustainability design.

Darren’s research will centre on an internal action research plan, specifically applied to assess Gibraltar’s water industry core business practices. Identification of organizational methods, processes and procedures, will be evaluated to provide a vision of sustainable corporate opportunities, aiming to identify improvements where required; these, focused on the organizations culture/social systems, governance structure and communication techniques.

Rebecca Gabay

I am currently undertaking a PhD in Gibraltarian Literature. From 1995 – 1998 I studied English and American Literature at Kent University. I went on to complete a PGCE and taught at Bayside Secondary School for thirteen years, where I became the Post-Sixteen Coordinator. During that time, I enjoyed teaching a range of literary works. Further, I took a sabbatical from 2003-2004 and completed an MA in ‘D. H. Lawrence and the Modern Age’ with Nottingham University.

Five years ago, I took time out from teaching in order to spend more time with my family. Since then, my husband and I have had two children. I have also completed an MA in Creative Writing with Lancaster University.

Both in my teaching, and in my studies, I have noted a lack of attention to the spectrum of local literature to date. My aim in this PhD is to document works written by Gibraltarians. I hope to understand more about Gibraltarian culture and identity through close reading and analysis of local writers and their works.

Sonia Montiel Lopez

Sonia is the head teacher of St Bernard’s First School and Nursery. She has been teaching for over twenty years and is a strong believer in the importance of lifelong learning. After achieving her first degree in English and Teaching Studies at St. Mary’s University, Sonia has continued to attend a wide range courses and lectures within her specialist areas over the course of her career. After undertaking a diploma in Special Educational Needs with Sheffield Hallam University, she spent fifteen years as a SENCo. Sonia relished the opportunity of working closely with teachers, parents and professionals to identify the individual needs of children in order to help them achieve their full potential. Collaboratively, she initiated a number of support groups to ensure that pupils had the opportunity to develop the skills they needed through tailor-made programmes. These interventions included narrative therapy, fine motor skills, Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL), maths and literacy support.

Sonia was also tasked with setting up a government nursery and enjoyed seven years in the Early Years setting in addition to her primary SEN role. In 2013, Sonia graduated with distinction from the University of Durham after undertaking an Executive Masters in Leadership and Management and shortly after took on a senior management role within her school. Her first headship was achieved 2 years later. Sonia’s current research is exploring how mobile technology is shaping the way teaching and learning happens in the classroom, and how it can be used to support the acquisition of 21st century skills in pupils. Her research is informed by a Critical Theory paradigm. Its focus on collaboration and participation influences a Grounded Theory method and moves its approach towards an evolving ‘Critical Grounded Theory methodology to ensure a transformative outcome. It is hoped that this information can inform the Department of Education in Gibraltar as to the future role of mobile technology within the local education system and how Gibraltar can successfully rise to the challenge of effectively implementing a 21st Century pedagogy.

Sonal Samtani 

Sonal Samtani was initially appointed to work in the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) to help with the creation of the dementia strategy for Gibraltar. Three years later, she has acted as a coordinator for the upcoming dementia day centre; constructed the dementia patient registry; assisted with the national dementia strategy and interacted with individuals who have dementia as well as their families to discover the great impact society faces with this chronic illness. Although the learning curve in these years has been steep, she also realised how much potential Gibraltar has to grow in the area of dementia care and the importance of preparing the healthcare system for the future.

Sonal’s research will be based on identifying the risk factors that affect the quality of life of patients with Alzheimer’s disease as well as their caregivers. There will be two parts to the research: the first uses a quantitative study when dealing with patient quality of life and the other uses a qualitative study for caregivers. She expects the research methods to become more creative as her study progresses. Most importantly she aims to create a prognosis model that can be used by clinicians and therefore contribute to the improvement of dementia care in Gibraltar.

Lewis Stagnetto 

Lewis Stagnetto is a PhD student within the Institute of Life and Earth Sciences, at the University of Gibraltar.

Lewis is a marine biologist with a particular interest in how climate change will affect the oceans and the organisms within it. To this end he is presently researching how changes in carbon chemistry, prompted by increases in atmospheric CO2, will alter the ability of Coccolithophore species to calcify. This is widely considered to be a key aspect of carbon exportation from the surface waters to marine sediments and could have huge impacts on future oceanic saturation capabilities.

His research has taken him from the Southampton University in the UK, where he studied for his degree, to University of Wilmington, North Carolina, where he undertook a research project closely related to his present work. He also has a degree in Computer science from Nottingham Trent University.