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Beyond Boundaries

The 2023 Beyond Boundaries science-inspired art competition for state school children in Years 5-8 across Oxfordshire is now complete! You can view the artwork from this competition here.

In 2023 we profiled six scientists from the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences and Medical Sciences Divisions, who each identify as coming from Black, Asian or Minority-Ethnic backgrounds, and children were invited to create artwork inspired by their lives in science.

Winners were invited to an awards presentation at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on 30 June 2023, where selected entries were displayed in a public exhibition. The exhibition was then displayed in the Andrew Wiles Building throughout August. You can see photos from the event and exhibition here.

About the competition

The Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division first launched the Beyond Boundaries project in 2018. This science-inspired art competition is open to all Oxfordshire state school students in Years 5, 6, 7, and 8. It invites children to create artwork inspired by the research of Oxford scientists from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

Originally funded by the University of Oxford Diversity Fun, the competition aims to increase the visibility of Oxford’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic scientists and mathematicians, bridge the perceived divide between science and art, and further connect schools and local communities with the University.

Each year the participating researchers and academics are profiled on the Oxford Sparks website, with short and engaging descriptions of their career paths and research to date – along with photos and informal videos. They also give up their time to participate in outreach work within participating schools and community groups such as Scouts and Girl Guides.

Once the competition launches, school children are invited to select one of the role models and create an artistic representation of that person’s research (for example, a painting, sculpture, or piece of digital art), and submit their artwork along with a short statement explaining what they have created. For ideas, see past artwork from the 2018 competition and 2020 competition.

Prize money is awarded for each winning entry (£100) and runner-up (£50), and both winners and runners-up are recognised at an awards ceremony and with a long-weekend exhibition in central Oxford in June. Winning artwork is also shared on the Oxford Sparks website and on University social media channels.

About the researchers

You can meet our 2023 researcher role models on the Oxford Sparks website. They are:

  • Chy Akpulu - DPhil student, Department of Biology (Linacre College)
  • Zhiyao Luo - DPhil student, Department of Engineering Science (Reuben College)
  • Morgan Mitchell - DPhil student, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (Reuben College)
  • Misha Patel - DPhil student, Department of Engineering Science (St Catherine's College)
  • Lauren Rudd - DPhil student, Department of Biology (Green Templeton College)
  • Sushma Shankar - Clinical Lecturer, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences


If you are interested in taking part in the competition this year, please contact our ED&I Co-ordinator, Jo Knights, to find out more at, or visit the Oxford Sparks website for full details.