Announcing: Oxford Sparks Ambassadors
4 January 2022
Public Engagement - news
The Oxford Sparks Ambassadors scheme is a new initiative to provide hands-on training and support for researchers to create online videos to share with the wider public about their research. Read about the first ever cohort of six researchers to take part in this scheme.
This year Oxford Sparks, the University's digital science engagement programme led by the MPLS Division, launched a new initiative to support early career researchers to develop their understanding, skills and confidence to communicate their research in a way that reaches, appeals to and is accessible to public audiences.
Having taken part in an initial Science Communication Masterclass, the six 'Sparks Ambassadors' are the first cohort of the programme's pilot year.
They will take part in an in-depth training course covering the key steps of producing online video for wider public audiences, including 'on screen presence', scripting and storyboard, marketing and promotion, and a whistlestop tour of filming and editing. They will then work with Oxford Sparks over the coming year to create at least one video based on their area of work.
We're delighted to announce our first team of Ambassadors:
DPhil Student, Pharmacology
My name is Atreyi and I’m a final year DPhil student studying the cellular and network mechanisms of sleep regulation in the brain, which sometimes involves me being sleep deprived. When not in the lab, I enjoy sleeping, writing science articles, dancing and making short films. I am excited to be an Oxford Sparks Ambassador and really looking forward to communicating science through videos!
DPhil student, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences
I’m a neuroscientist in the first year of my DPhil at Oxford. I first started studying the brain during my undergraduate degree, and very quickly became fascinated with how we can explain effects as intangible and undefinable as emotions and psychological health with something as real and grounded as biology.
Now, my research uses maths and coding to test whether our theories of how brain networks create these psychological effects actually work. Specifically, I’m interested in creating models of how strong habits are made in the brain during addiction and discovering why these behaviours are so hard to get rid of. These models will hopefully give clues to how we can overcome bad habits everywhere and help guide better treatment.
DPhil Student, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
Hi my name is Becky! I did my Biological Sciences undergraduate degree at Oxford, and then I popped over to the 'other place' (Cambridge) to do a Bioscience Enterprise Master's degree. I have just started my DPhil at Oxford University, where I will be researching 'deprescription', the concept of reducing medication that is deemed to be inappropriate. My interests are wide-ranging but all have a key core theme - the practical application of science to society.
The reason I applied to be an Oxford Sparks ambassador is because I passionately believe that science must be communicated in a fun, accessible and easy-to--understand way in order to capture people's initial interest and then keep them engaged. I ultimately hope to become a university lecturer, and so I am looking forward to developing my presentation skills by creating Oxford Sparks videos!
DPhil student, Dept. of Engineering Science
Chenying is a 3rd-year DPhil in Engineering Science where her research spans both origami and soft robots. Specifically, Chenying designs and fabricates interesting origami mechanisms, and explores their potential to create intelligent robots with adaptability. She is keen to make these scientific contents more accessible to the general public. Outside of research, Chenying used to be St Hugh's MCR academic officer where she facilitated a series of graduate academic talks known as Thirsty Thursday and Hugh's Spotlight. Now Chenying is a welfare officer at Wolfson College. In her spare time, Chenying enjoys meeting friends, cooking, and Chinese dancing.
Marie Cure Fellow, School of Geography and Environment
Yu’s broad area of research is the resilience of urban-nature systems under climate change. Her current focus of research is the resilience of coastal environments against storms. Highlights of her research include using satellite-based observations to study long-term, large-scale environmental changes and applying machine-learning algorithms to describe the interactions among the socio-economic and natural elements.
Senior Postdoctoral Research, Department of Oncology
Jia-Ling Ruan is a senior postdoctoral researcher from the Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford. Before coming to the UK, she read biochemistry and electrical engineering at the National Taiwan University and then undertook her PhD training in bioengineering from the University of Washington in the USA. Jia-Ling is interested in tackling human diseases using bioengineering approaches. Her research in Oxford focuses on investigating the mechanism and application of FLASH radiation, a revolutionary radiotherapy technology that can cure cancer without little or no side effects. She also works on optimising cancer radiotherapy by smart drug delivery and modelling radiation-induced damage by organoids and tissue engineering.
We can't wait to share the wonderful videos they'll be creating, so watch this space.