Meet Zyra Evangelista, Newton Fund grant awardee.
Research topic: Assessing campus climate and its relation to the academic integration and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender university students in the Philippines and the United Kingdom
Host institution / UK university: University of Glasgow
Home institution: De La Salle University – Manila 
Degree programme: PhD Psychology
March 2020

Describe your PhD research in simple terms.

My research focuses on understanding anti-LGBT+ prejudice in order to improve LGBT+ inclusion in higher education. It involves assessing the current campus environment for LGBT+ university students in the Philippines and the UK. The project aims to provide evidence-based recommendations for creating safer and more inclusive campus environments for LGBT+ students.

What is the relevance of your study to the economic development, welfare and poverty issues in the Philippines?

Every society needs to embrace diversity and inclusivity. 

Prejudice and discrimination lead to various negative outcomes for LGBT+ people, which lead to social and economic damage that adversely impacts global welfare and economic development. Compared to their cis-heterosexual counterparts, LGBT+ university students are more likely to experience prejudice and discrimination and to drop out of higher education. Every LGBT+ student deprived of quality education is a loss of a potential productive member of society.

Creating inclusive campus environments can translate to better mental health outcomes and allow for greater participation of LGBT+ students in higher education. Universities can reflect and shape society and if we can make schools a better place for LGBT+ students, we can potentially translate that into the wider society and improve global welfare and development.

How do you envision your UK education can contribute to your future career as a researcher?

Completing my master’s degree at the University of Glasgow in 2013 developed my research skills and paved the way for me to enter the academe. Pursuing my PhD at the same university has widened my perspective of what research is and how it can be used to advocate for social issues and create impact beyond academia. The progressive research environment in the UK has challenged me to think about how my work impacts individuals and societies. My UK education equips me with transferable skills and trains me to be a researcher adept in meaningful academic endeavours and public engagement.

How has the commitment of the UK in science and technology influence your decision in choosing the Newton Fund?

I applied for the Newton Fund because it is committed to research aimed at improving society. Social science research contributes greatly in understanding the relationship between individuals and their environment. This understanding is vital if we are to ultimately improve individual lives and societies. I am grateful that the social sciences have found a supporter through this funding scheme and I hope that the Newton Fund will continue supporting social science research.