AUT Student Wins ‘Best Paper’ Award at International Conference

AUT postgraduate research student Marjs Lavides won the Best Paper Award during the First International Conference on Multidisciplinary Filipino Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi. Congratulations Marjs! Her achievement was all the more impressive since the award was open to researchers at all levels – and she won as a PhD student!

Marjs’ research examines how biracial children in the Philippines can exercise their rights; with a particular focus on the offspring of foreign sex tourists and Filipina ‘bar girls’ in Angeles City. She is motivated by an intense love of her home country, and she is committed to working with an indigenous Filipino methodology because she believes that “developing a decolonizing methodology [will] benefit my people and my culture.” This does mean, though, that she has had to work hard to break new ground with her research methods. “On many occasions, it felt like I was doing two PhD theses,” she says.

She also had to prepare to actually present the paper. For the sake of consistency, Marjs echoed the structure of the paper in her oral presentation. She also gave local presentations before the conference, and she says that “being a presenter during the AUT Postgraduate Symposium last August 2017 helped me practice my presentation.”

On top of all the academic preparation, Marjs also had to work hard to self-fund her conference travel. She took part-time employment as an exam invigilator and administrative assistant to earn money to cover her costs.

However, her hard work has paid off extremely well. “After winning the award, I immediately received informal offers from two reputable universities in my home country to teach in their respective institutions after my PhD,” she says. “I was really happy because I no longer have to worry about looking for a job when I return to the Philippines after my scholarship [ends].”

Marjs is a big proponent of indigenous methodologies, and she believes that the originality of her approach is a large part of why she won the award. “At this point,” she says, “I just hope that the award would help me inspire other researchers to try to develop methodologies based on their own culture and not to solely rely on Western approaches.”


Marjs Lavides is conducting research for her PhD at AUT through the New Zealand Scholarships programme. The programme enables students from developing countries to study in New Zealand and the Pacific. You can find more information at

Marjs will talk about her experience developing a decolonising research methodology at the next meeting of the AUT NZ Scholars and ASEAN Students’ Group. The meeting will be held on Thursday 24 May at 3pm in WU518 on the city campus. Email to RSVP.



About Graduate Research School (Auckland University of Technology)

The Auckland University of Technology Graduate Research School offers support and resources to all postgraduate students at AUT. Come and visit us on the 5th floor of the WU building.

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