DPIR alumni awarded Winchester and Pavry prizes

Two DPIR alumni have been recognised for their outstanding theses in the faculties of Social Studies, Law and Modern History in 2021.

Ross Gildea has won the Bapsybanoo Marchioness of Winchester Prize, which is given for an outstanding thesis on international relations, with particular reference to the area of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

And Vanessa Meier has won the Dasturzada Dr Jal Pavry Memorial Prize, awarded for an outstanding thesis on a subject in the area of international peace and understanding.

Bapsybanoo Marchioness of Winchester Prize

Ross’s thesis - The Political Psychology of Issue Selection in Transnational Advocacy Networks – explores decision-making within International NGOs and why these organisations focus attention and resources on some issues of concern but not others.

He argues that, given a significant menu of issue options and limited resources, organisations often face ethical dilemmas in prioritising their work, where some forms of suffering are inevitably overlooked.

Ross used a mixed-method approach, including survey experiments and qualitative research, to explore the psychology of why key decision-makers may be attracted to some kinds of issues and not others.

“I was extremely pleased to hear I had won the Winchester Prize.

“It is a lot of work to get to the point of submitting a DPhil thesis, and it is really the culmination of a collective effort.

“I have learned and received so much guidance from friends, colleagues, and my supervisors Andrea Ruggeri and Richard Caplan.

“The thesis was immeasurably better because of the generous input and conversations I had with people around me.”
Ross Gildea

Ross is now a postdoctoral research fellow at Oxford's Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict.


Dasturzada Dr Jal Pavry Memorial Prize


Vanessa’s thesis – ‘External Military Assistance to Civil Wars: The Unintended Effects of Intentional Interference’ – examines the adverse consequences of military-to-military cooperation during intrastate armed conflicts.

Using quantitative data on all civil wars in the period 1975-2017, her thesis demonstrates how the presence of external military assistance short of troop deployments can aggregate coup risk, violence against civilians, and the reliance on terrorist tactics in civil wars.

In her thesis, 
Vanessa argues that external supporters’ regime type and military capacity act as mitigating factors in this relationship.

“It is a great honour being awarded the 2021 Pavry Prize for my DPhil thesis.

“Writing a dissertation is a challenging task and I am thankful for the support I received from my supervisor, Andrea Ruggeri, colleagues both at DPIR and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, friends, and family along the way.

“The current war in Ukraine once again underlines the great need for a consolidated effort at international peace and understanding.

“Outside actors play a key role in shaping conflict dynamics. Yet, their involvement does not only affect the balance of power between warring parties. It can also produce unintended or unforeseen consequences for the civilian population and civilian institutions that need to be taken into account.”
Vanessa Meier

Vanessa currently splits her time between various academic projects and her work as a Data Consultant at a Berlin-based firm.