Odhran O'Donoghue, a Medical Student in Wadham College, talks about his work with the University’s AI Society and his involvement in the Oxford Foundry’s Student Advisory Board.
What do you like most about being part of the University?
That has to be the diversity of the talent. Stick your head into any student common room, and you'll find a team of people who together can make anything. In the last two years I've worked with others on an anatomy teaching application, an AI (Artificial Intelligence) system to combat fake news, a satellite system to map routes by safety and I am now in a team of four attempting to tackle the youth unemployment crisis. Oxford is very much made by its diversity of thought, perspective and talent.
Tell us a little bit about the AI Society and your role
The AI Society provides a platform to educate, build, connect and employ an AI community across the University and, hopefully one day, the world! The society focuses on education, research and careers and recruitment as well as creating an AI community. We have a philosophy where 50 per cent of our time is spent working on our official role, the other 50 per cent on helping the rest of the team. Officially I manage the society’s PR but I’m also working to set up a new AI outreach summer school for A-level students.
What is your proudest achievement since being at Oxford?
Probably becoming the youngest National Health Service Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow in the country! I joined the NHS program designed for qualified doctors during my first year of study at medical school. The program has provided amazing opportunities including attending the House of Commons for the reception of the UK Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and accompanying the NHS National Clinical Lead for Innovation to meet with the Finnish healthcare technology delegate at the British Embassy in Finland.
What does being a member of Oxford Foundry’s Student Advisory Board (SAB) involve?
I’ve worked with the Foundry from day one and I absolutely love it! I have two hats – the AI Society and the NHS. I’m currently working on two long-term entrepreneurial projects, one in the Medical Sciences Division and a new ambassador’s scheme across the whole University.
What has been your biggest challenge at Oxford?
Probably my background: I was a state comprehensive kid that spent two hours on the bus every day to get to school, but considered myself very well off compared to others. To be flagged on four of the seven contextual data measures that Oxford used for screening candidates in 2016 puts into perspective the issues Oxford has with undergraduate admissions. While I’ve made a lot of great friends from all sorts of backgrounds, there are many cultural expectations that involve spending a lot of money (attending balls being the prime example). It can occasionally make day-to-day life quite frustrating. However, my background has also been one of my greatest motivators, driving me to do as much as I can with the opportunities on offer
What do you hope to do once you have completed all your studies?
I’m looking to complete a masters’ and a PhD so it may take ten years in total! However, I plan to combine part-time clinical practice with entrepreneurial work on medical technologies. I believe that having a computational background in medicine is essential for the modern age, and health data science is a hotbed for innovation. At Oxford, I’ve also met my ’dream’ start-up team– we’ve won every hackathon we’ve entered and I fully intend to keep working with them long into the future.