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The MPLS Research Staff Forum (RSF) was set up in 2016. It is a committee that meets termly, and it aims to represent the needs of research staff at a divisional level. 

The RSF discusses issues raised from a departmental level, and it contributes to debates on institutional and external research staff initiatives, such as eligibility for training, or the drafts of the Researcher Development Concordat. 

The RSF also makes policy proposals to the Research Staff Consultative Group, MPLS ECR Forum, and Divisional Board.  It shares good practice in establishing and running research staff societies at a departmental level, and acts as a conduit of information from division to research staff in departments. The chart below indicates the structure of the RSF, and how it connects and functions within the University system.

A diagram showing how research staff are represented at the University.

The committee aims to have at least one research staff representative from each department in the division.

One of the co-chairs of MPLS RSF sits on the Divisional Board, the governing body of the division. The other co-chair sits on the MPLS Training and Development Steering Group. Both co-chairs sit on the Research Staff Consultative Group of the University. Issues discussed at meetings of MPLS RSF can then be raised at divisional and institutional levels. Two representatives from MPLS RSF (usually the co-chairs) sit on the MPLS ECR Forum.

Current Co-chairs: Jack Muir and Liang He

Jack Muir

Jack Muir

Jack is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow in Earth Sciences, having started at Oxford in March 2022. Jack completed his PhD in geophysics at the California Institute of Technology; his main areas of research are seismic imaging and machine learning for the understanding of the geological structure of the near surface, especially in the context of seismic hazard. He has enjoyed swapping out the mountains of California for early morning starts rowing on the Isis, and loves exploring the British countryside with his partner and 2 year old daughter. He strongly believes in advocating for the benefit of fixed term researchers, who form an absolutely crucial part of the University’s research and teaching activities but who are still undervalued in practice despite much recent work in improving conditions. He has extensive experience as a graduate student representative at Caltech, including as treasurer of the graduate student council.

Liang He

Liang He

Dr. Liang He is a researcher in soft robotics. He completed his Ph.D. at Imperial College London with the Morph Lab. From 2017 to 2020, He has been a key researcher in the EPSRC Motion and RoboPatient project, where he develops robot-assisted approaches for medical training. He aims to understand human behavior in haptic exploration and develop a robotic framework to support the learning process. In early 2021, he joined the Soft Robotics Lab at the Oxford Robotics Institute, where his work focuses on active soft sensing and using the inherited physical reservoir for assisted computation. He has a strong interest in the translation of soft robotic actuators and sensors in healthcare applications, robot-assisted interactions, and haptic-embodied virtual reality. He is a member of the Researcher Committee in the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford. He is a member of the UK-RAS Early Career Researcher Network. He is a reviewer for several leading robotic journals (IEEE Transaction on Robotics, Soft Robotics, IEEE Robotics & Automation Letters, IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, etc.) and conferences (IEEE ICRA, IROS, RoboSoft, etc.).

 Current MPLS Research Staff Forum committee members

Adina Pusok

Adina Pusok

Adina Pusok is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences, investigating the role of magma in the dynamics and deformation of Earth’s tectonic plate boundaries. She became a postdoc representative because she believes in active personal development and community involvement. Her primary objective is to create a dynamic postdoc community in the department. Since every researcher contributes to the academic and lab culture, she wants to enable postdocs to make more active choices to improve the postdoc experience in the department and university.

Robert Timms

Robert Timms

Robert Timms is currently a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, working on the mathematical modelling of batteries. His research focuses on developing efficient and accurate models describing the electrochemical, thermal and mechanical response of Lithium-ion cells. Robert became a RSS representative to help foster a supportive and engaging environment for research staff within the Mathematical Institute and beyond, and to share best practice across the division.

Wenkai Xu

Wenkai Xu

Wenkai is a postdoctoral research associate in statistics affiliated with the Department of Statistics. He did his PhD in Gatsby Unit of Computational Neuroscience, where part of his work is on analysing neuroimaging and functional MRI data. Beyond research, he is very keen to maintain a healthy ecosystem for the research community, especially caring for disabled researchers and the researcher's mental wellbeings. As a representative, he hopes to make a stand and voice out to facilitate ED&I committee, specifically for disabled researchers, and to improve the for researchers' mental wellbeing in Statistics, as well as project the actions to the MPLS community.

Patrick Salter

Patrick Salter

Patrick is an Early Career EPSRC Fellow working in the Department of Engineering Science, with research interests in laser manufacturing and optical microscopy. He has been active in research at Oxford for over 10 years and believes strongly in creating a positive environment for research staff in academia. He was previously chairman and one of the founding members of the Engineering Science Research Committee.

Matt Raybould

Matt Raybould

Matt Raybould is a postdoctoral researcher in the Oxford Protein Informatics Group, based in the Department of Statistics. He works in immunoinformatics, applying a combination of structural biology and statistics to understand better the inner workings of the immune system and to apply this knowledge to the development of novel medicines. He became a representative to continue the excellent work of previous committee members in raising awareness of the challenges faced by postdoctoral students.

The Researcher Training and Development Manager supports MPLS RSF by acting as a secretary to the committee, providing continuity, induction for new members and giving briefings on specific subjects.

Justin Hutchence

Dr Justin Hutchence

Researcher Training and Development Manager, MPLS Division, University of Oxford

Justin is an experienced coach, facilitator and trainer who once was an academic teaching and researching international relations. He leads a team that delivers a training and development programme for 3600 DPhil and Post-Doc researchers within the MPLS Division. The provision covers a number of different themes including: research skills, personal and professional development, enterprise, public engagement and research leadership. The mean average feedback for all the courses the team delivers annually has ranged between 8.4 and 8.6 out of 10 since 2016. Justin chaired the panel that judges the UK Three Minute Thesis competition for DPhil students 2017-19. He is now Chair of the Vitae Researcher Careers Working Group.

Commonly known as the Researcher Development Concordat, it is an agreement between stakeholders to improve the employment and support for researchers and researcher careers in higher education in the UK.

It sets out three clear principles of environment and culture, employment, and professional and career development. The principles are underpinned by obligations for the four key stakeholder groups, funders, institutions, researchers, and managers of researchers, to realise the aims of the concordat. The secretariat responsibility for the concordat is held by Universities UK.

Further information is available on the Concordat website.