The Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Awards are an opportunity to celebrate the strength of commitment to equality and diversity at Oxford and to recognise individuals and groups who have inspired others, demonstrated leadership and made a difference to equality and diversity in the University’s working, learning and social environment.
The University of Oxford is committed to fostering an inclusive culture which promotes equality and values diversity. We recognise that the broad range of experiences that a diverse staff and student body brings strengthens our research and enhances our teaching, and that in order for Oxford to remain a world-leading institution we must continue to provide a diverse, inclusive, fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.
I am delighted to introduce the shortlisted nominations and winners for the 2022 Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Awards. The University is deeply committed to promoting equality and diversity in the workplace and to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our community. Exceptional work is being undertaken at all levels of the University in this area and countless colleagues devote time and energy to initiatives which promote equality and diversity – often on top of their usual responsibilities. The awards recognise and celebrate these pioneering initiatives and the people behind them.
Professor Louise Richardson
Lauren Rudd, DPhil student, Zoology and Green Templeton College
Lauren has spearheaded equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives as the VP for Equality and Diversity at Green Templeton College, an active member of the Zoology Race Equality Task Force, an MPLS EDI Fellow and co-founder of the BIPOC STEM Network. At GTC, Lauren campaigned for positions for Black and LGBTQ+ student representatives and engaged with the college’s senior leadership. She co-created the Zoology Department’s reverse tutorials scheme, to promote awareness of EDI issues among academic staff. With the BIPOC STEM network, she promotes and supports the work of People of Colour within the University and beyond through an outreach programme and a wide range of events.
Mary Adeyemo, DPhil student, Law and Wolfson College
Mary is a graduate moot mentor for the Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law Programme, which provides mentoring to support Year 12 and 13 students from low-income backgrounds to join the legal profession, and has directly and indirectly mentored nearly 60 students. She is a volunteer tutor at Tutor The Nation, a charity connecting university students with pupils in the State sector for free online tutoring. Mary founded CareerCarriez to promote education amongst low-income families from Ikorodu, Nigeria. She organises monthly webinars on how to access scholarships and global opportunities; she has reached over 500 students and at least five have progressed to higher education.
Rebecca Colquhoun, DPhil student, Earth Sciences and University College
Rebecca leads initiatives that tackle racism, homophobia and ableism at department, college and divisional level and beyond Oxford. Within the Department of Earth Sciences, Rebecca has invited LGBTQ+ speakers to the department careers fair, co-founded the department’s LGBTQ+ affinity group, and co-founded Oxford Unlearning Racism in Geoscience, which produced anti-racism policies and resources. At University College, they advocate for disabled students, running social events and promoting available support. They have shared their own experiences of being neurodiverse to encourage disabled students to apply to university. They are the institutional liaison for the International Society of Non-binary Scientists and co-organised the American Geophysical Union annual LGBTQ+ meet-up.
Devika Devika, VP Graduates, Oxford SU
Devika has been a true champion of equality and diversity throughout her time at the University, bringing issues to the forefront, and constantly supporting others to learn and grow. Her influence has been felt at St Antony’s, ensuring support for the BAME community; at the Bodleian, contributing to diversity and race inclusion workshops, seminars and strategy; as a researcher and guide for Uncomfortable Oxford, helping people to see the hidden and problematic histories of colonialism at Oxford; and within Oxford SU, representing students on over 33 committees and contributing to the Race Equality Task Force.
Geoffrey Mboya, DPhil student, Mathematical Institute and St Peter’s College
Geoffrey has been active in the Mathematical Institute since 2019, first joining the Departmental Committee as postgraduate representative, then serving on the Equality and Diversity Committee. He was elected as one of the ten inaugural MPLS EDI Fellows, contributing to the Race Equality working group. Geoffrey is the founder of the Mfano Africa-Oxford Mathematics Virtual Mentorship Programme, a mathematical science mentorship scheme for Black research students from Africa. Mfano Africa has enabled eleven students to gain research experience and build their networks, and Geoffrey has co-supervised three Masters theses. Earlier this year, Geoffrey was shortlisted for the WorldSkills UK EDI Rare Rising Star Award.
Georgina Dettmer, Undergraduate, English Language and Literature, Trinity College
Georgina outlined diversity and inclusion as a central goal for her year as President of the Oxford University Dramatic Society and raised the benchmark for diversity, equality and access within Oxford’s student theatre community. She also founded the Quick Company, a student theatre company devoted to working with first-time actors, many of whom have experienced structural barriers to acting. It has become a staple part of Oxford drama, bridging a gap in a university society often associated with elitism. Georgina collaborated and supported the production 'Intimacies' from 2021-22, showcasing all-Black acting talent in a prominent Oxford space. Many of the cast have gone on to head up their own projects.
Krisha Hirani, Undergraduate, English Language and Literature, Brasenose College
Krisha is proactive in making Oxford a more inclusive space, frequently engaging with outreach and access, including as UNIQ Ambassador, Asian Heritage Ambassador and Outreach Ambassador. As a columnist for Cherwell, she discusses the beauty of shared language between Hindi and Urdu and the significance of food in culture. Krisha founded the Oxford University Asia Society to embrace Oxford’s Asian diaspora and to promote Oxford as a safe and inclusive space, welcoming non-Asian students and those who want to educate themselves. Krisha also celebrates her culture with those close to her, often cooking dishes that remind her of home and feeding over ten people.
Yusuf Ben-Tarifite, Medical Student, Green Templeton College
As a Crankstart Scholar, Yusuf is passionate about equality of opportunity. An Outreach Ambassador, he has attended student conferences and Virtual Open Days and filmed an Open Day Video, with over 8,000 views. Yusuf founded a social enterprise, The Aspiring Medics, to help disadvantaged students to get into medicine and leads a team of over 40 medical students from across the UK. Its website, providing advice on the application process, had over 100,000 users in the last 12 months. As first Secretary and now President of Oxford University’s Powerlifting Club, Yusuf has sought to make powerlifting more accessible, including through ensuring equal gender representation at future Powerlifting Varsities.
Jane Garnett, Professor, History Faculty and Wadham College
Jane has promoted EDI for many years and successfully operates at all levels, from the interpersonal to the institutional. Among her many achievements she has created a robust EDI strategy for the Humanities Division, led the development of UK BME PGT Studentships and established the Divisional Culture Change Fund. Jane has been a driving force behind the interdisciplinary MSt in Women’s Studies (now 'Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies') since its foundation and engages junior scholars in teaching and governance. At Wadham College, Jane has spearheaded numerous initiatives, supporting students individually and collectively, advocating for better support of care-experienced and estranged students and for a graduate disability scholarship.
Colin Larkworthy, Clinical Trials Support Officer, Jenner Institute
Alexandra Ramadan, Postdoctoral Researcher, Physics
Alex works towards an inclusive academic environment and mentors younger students within her research group. She participates in a range of outreach activities, mentoring students from under-represented backgrounds, hosting students for research placements and giving regular talks in schools. She initiated the lecture series ‘Challenges and Changes in Physics’, aimed at raising awareness and driving actions to enact real change the department, and organises reading groups and panel discussions to engage as many people as possible. Alex was a postdoc representative on the University’s Race Equality Task Force, providing a strong and challenging voice, and is an MPLS EDI Fellow, contributing to wider divisional policies and actions.
Leanne O'Donnell, Administrator, Astrophysics
Leanne has been the driving force behind ensuring that the department’s public engagement events really are inclusive and open to all. As a key member of the Stargazing Oxford planning team, she identified that young people with additional support needs (ASN) were interested in engaging with science but found events inaccessible. In response, she spearheaded the development of a dedicated Stargazing event for children with ASN and their families. She has built the department’s relationship with KEEN Oxford, an organisation promoting disability rights and inclusion, and members regularly attend events.
Lucy Taylor, Junior Research Fellow, Zoology and Christ Church
Lucy’s commitment to improving mental health for staff and students has had a lasting impact on the University community. She has served as an MPLS EDI Fellow and as a researcher representative, sitting on numerous committees and working groups to actively improve support for early career researchers and students. Lucy was the driving force behind the MPLS Mental Health Awareness Week in 2021, which engaged over 660 different individuals from across the University, and is trained as a Mental Health First Aider. During the pandemic, she sent weekly mentoring emails to graduate students in her department and organised online socials for those struggling with isolation.
Mindy Chen-Wishart, Dean, Law Faculty
Mindy launched the #RaceMeToo campaign on Twitter in July 2021 and has since generated over 1,600 tweets on the issue of racism in the academy. In the aftermath of Black Lives Matter, the campaign touched a nerve and gave voice to a long-ignored issue. The campaign has spilled over from Twitter into multiple other fora, gaining attention in the media, attracting numerous invitations to speak at events and inspiring other law schools in the UK and beyond to take action. Mindy has made herself available to answer questions, deal with backlash, offer sympathy and solidarity, hear voices of shared experiences and offers leadership on the issue of racism.
Full list of the nominations in the Student and Staff Champion categories
We received a remarkable range of nominations in the Student and Staff Champion categories, and had a difficult task drawing up the final short-list. Here are the other people who were nominated, and what those nominating said about them…
Afsie Sabokbar, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Botnar Research Centre, NDORMS
‘Afsie is an accomplished scientist whom is equally as compassionate, caring and genuine. She is an academic member of staff whom one can trust with sensitive concerns, which is what makes her so gifted as a champion of equality, diversity and inclusion’.
Members of the Breaking Barriers in Biology Group, undergraduate students, Zoology Department
‘I'm impressed with the tenacity of this group, the amount of time and effort they have devoted to their mission and the constructive way in which they have engaged with the Department. Because of this, they have had a positive impact on the way that Biology is taught in our university’.
Calliope Dendrou, PI and EDI Champion, NDM
‘Calli is a tireless champion of EDI and mental health matters, and acts as a bullying and harassment advisor. She is trusted by her colleagues to address their concerns and goes over and above what is expected to resolve problems’.
Chloé Ashbell, Senior Test Analyst, IT Services
‘Chloé has made a significant contribution to IT Services and the wider University through promoting awareness and supporting digital accessibility best practice. Her idea of creating a Digital Accessibility Champions Network will accelerate cultural change’.
Christina de Bellaigue, Professor, Faculty of History and Exeter College
‘Christina has been an exceptional advocate for diversity. Consistently thoughtful, committed and persuasive, she has been the mainstay of the History Faculty’s EDI initiatives, and, on becoming Vice Chair of Faculty Board, provided leadership to new initiatives and fresh impetus to existing ones’.
Daisy Hung, Equality, Diversity andInclusion Manager, MPLS
‘Daisy has been the driving force behind the huge advances in ED&I within the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, where she has successfully lobbied for greater funding for ED&I practitioners, and set the standard for others to follow’.
Daniel Epih, Accommodation Manager, St John’s College
‘Daniel is a compassionate and trusted leader who lives the values of equality and kindness to others and is a powerful advocate for his staff. Under his guidance, our team of scouts from a diverse range of backgrounds feel included and always go the extra mile to support staff and students’.
Elizabeth Kiss, Warden and CEO, The Rhodes Trust
Emily Hotine, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences
‘Emily has encouraged honest and open conversations between all members of staff and students, and has inspired some really though-provoking and opinion-changing, conversations within the Department’.
Frewyeni Kidane, Director of Advancement and Engagement – International, Rhodes Trust
‘Frewyeni has made a transformative impact in advancing equality, diversity and inclusion at the University of Oxford. She made establishing scholarships the priority by raising considerable funds to broadening access to opportunities and mentored University staff and students from minority backgrounds’.
Hannah Ravenswood, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Facilitator, MPLS
‘Hannah has always worked hard to make sure that the University is inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities, constantly promoting awareness and leading by example by being open about their own LGBTQ+ status and disabilities’.
Heather Harrington, Professor, Mathematical Institute
Helen Mountfield, Principal, Mansfield College
Helen Swift, Professor of Medieval French, St Hilda’s College
‘In Helen’s willingness to show her own vulnerability – combined with her immense professional achievements – she has managed to raise awareness of the challenges faced and concealed on a daily basis by disabled and neurodivergent people’.
Jason Todd, Departmental Lecturer Department of Education
Javaria Abbasi, Madeleine Footeand Mary Newman, postgraduate students, Medieval & Modern Languages and History Faculties
Josephine Agyeman-Duah, DPhil student, Green Templeton College
‘Josephine has been a role model for students, staff and fellows and her passion has inspired others and led to a series of practical steps in college’.
Kathryn Boast, Access Officer, Department of Physics
‘Kathryn has transformed the Department’s access programme with a strategic and proactive approach and consistently pushes boundaries with an innovative schedule of events to support students through their application journey’.
Katy Poncin, Postdoctoral Researcher, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology
‘As chair of the School’s anti-bullying group for the past two years, Katy has initiated, promoted and actioned various activities that have had a profound impact on the Dunn School culture and awareness of bullying and harassment’.
Mohamed-Salah Omri, Professor of Arabic Literature, Institute of Oriental Studies
‘Mohamed-Salah is an ideal role model who can contribute a lot to the challenging environment in which we work and can provide a model to replicate in the many other parts of our university which suffer from strict hierarchy based on ethnic grounds’.
Nesrine Ramadan, DPhil student Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences and St. Anne’s College
‘Nesrine has promoted equality, diversity and inclusion at Oxford through various approaches, in her department, her college and societies, and is involved in various activities aimed at empowering and building confidence in women in STEM, innovation and entrepreneurship’.
Nicole Dvorak, DPhil student, NDORMS
‘Even when confronted with difficult and intimidating audiences, Nicole always sticks up for the underdog and makes sure their voices are heard. As a result, numerous students have found support to better handle EDI-related concerns throughout their studies, contributing to their well-being’.
Nigel Emm, Head of Testing, IT Services
‘Nigel has long been a champion of digital accessibility, helping make sure that the software that we buy and develop ourselves can be used by all, focusing on the user with the accessibility need rather than the legislation and developing a culture of continuous improvement’.
Nina Hallowell, Professor, Nuffield Department of Population Health
‘Nina is an active promoter of women’s career progression. Within our group she has particularly supported women in their mid-career phase to work towards a transition to leadership positions and has made Oxford open and accessible to students who would not normally consider applying’.
Omar Ammar, Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health
Omar Phoenix Khan, Lecturer, Centre for Criminology
‘Omar’s impact on the experience of racialised and otherwise multiply-marginalised students in just a few short months has been especially clear. Not only does he make time for any student who seeks out his advice, but his deep personal humility and heart of service are so clear in every interaction’.
PK Kulasegram, EDI Manager, School of Geography and the Environment
‘PK is a role model in using inclusive language and in speaking candidly about their experiences and insights in a range of SoGE meetings. The trickle-down effects of empowering marginalised voices to emerge is profound’.
Rawz(Rory Campbell), Community Connector, GLAM
‘Rawz is an Oxford wordsmith, Hip Hop artist and community engagement specialist with a commitment to developing and supporting public facing programmes that actively work to break down the separation between Oxford’s ‘Town and Gown’ communities’.
Ray Cheung, undergraduate student, Classics Faculty and Wadham College
Rebeccah Slater, Professor of Paediatric Neuroimaging, Department of Paediatrics
‘Rebeccah is a prolific professor in her field, and as a female scientist, she is a highly regarded role model in our department, leading her research group in a professional and ever-supportive way’.
Roxana Akhmetova, DPhil student, Keble College
Sadie Slater, Head of Administration and Finance, English Faculty
‘Sadie has applied compassionate administration to the wellbeing of early career researchers and other especially precarious researchers with children or caring responsibilities, using her skills to protect and nurture those who would otherwise have fallen straight out of the ‘leaky pipeline’’.
Sarah Stephenson-Hunter, Staff Disability Advisor, EDU
‘Sarah is the kind of person who brings up other people around her. At a time when it feels like disability is always shoved to the bottom of the priority list, Sarah is still going above and beyond to drive change and make it a priority’.
Sonia Antoranz Contera, Professor and Associate Head of the Physics Department
‘Sonia has, in my view, completely revolutionised the ED&I activities from something that was loaded with good intentions into a flourishing pool of many activities with widespread buy-in and contributions from many members of the department’.
Stefan Neubauer, Head of Cardiovascular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine
‘Stefan has developed a highly inclusive research team, where staff are valued for the unique perspectives they bring to both the team’s social life and multi-disciplinary research. He is a role model and one of the most supportive bosses of my career’.
Tanesha Allen, Strategic Outreach Associate, Biology Department
Tori Ford, DPhil student, Green Templeton College
‘I am impressed with how Tori turned her own experience with chronic illness, medical dismissal and social stigma into a global movement through Medical Herstory to eliminate sexism, racism and ableism from health experiences’.
Winner: Inclusive Culture
Unlearning Racism in Geoscience, submitted by Rebecca Colquhoun, Earth Sciences
Gave members of the Earth Sciences department an opportunity to educate themselves on what it means to be anti-racist and identified actions the department could take.
Winner: Diversifying Participation
The Refugee-Led Research Hub, submitted by Alexander Betts, Department of International Development
Has created opportunities for refugee researchers to access training, mentorship and funding in order to build research careers in Social Sciences and Humanities.
Winner: Promoting Awareness
Challenges and Changes in Physics, submitted by Alexandra Ramadan, Physics
Has raised awareness of the lack of diversity in Physics and promoted the changes that department members can make to build a community that is more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
Beyond the Binary, submitted by Jozie Kettle, Pitt Rivers Museum
Worked with community partners to co-curate what has been a hugely successful exhibition and bring LGBT+ voices into the Pitt Rivers Museum’s public programme.
Changing the Narrative, submitted by Helen Worrell, Bodleian Libraries
Has championed inclusive collection development in the Bodleian Libraries and expanded the range of EDI resources available to readers.
Mfano Africa-Oxford Mathematics Virtual Mentorship Programme, submitted by Geoffrey Mboya, Mathematical Institute
Has provided opportunities for mathematics students from Sub-Saharan Africa to work on a research project with Oxford-based mentors and receive support to develop postgraduate research applications.