Projects | Graduate Access | University of Oxford
Chemical flasks with luminescent contents
Flasks in the laboratory
(Image Credit: Greta Pintacuda / Graduate Photography Competition)

Projects and supervisors in 2020

You’ll have the opportunity to tell us about your research interests and your preferred department/subject area/project(s) in the application form. If you are successful, we will try to match your interests to available projects/supervisors. Please note that we won’t always be able to meet your preferences, but we'll try our best to do this wherever possible.

Applications for our 2020 programmes have now closed. Register your interest to keep up-to-date with news about the future of Graduate Access Programmes at the University of Oxford. The information on this page is correct for our 2020 programmes. 

Information for applicants to our 2020 programmes

Information about the departments, supervisors and projects which offered places in 2020 for UNIQ+ and Wellcome BVS at Oxford can be found below.

The information below is correct for applications to our 2020 programmes.

In the application form, you will be asked to indicate at least one preferred department, subject area or project, and can indicate up to a maximum of three. Enter in the application form the name of the department and if listed below, the name of the supervisor or project as they appear below. To apply for a project in a department where supervisor and/or project details are not listed, please specify the department as one of your choices and provide information about any areas of research you may be interested in. If there is a particular area or supervisor you are interested in which is not listed below, you can include this in the application form, but please note that it will not always be possible to accommodate preferences to work with a particular member of staff. There is no need to contact potential supervisors before submitting an application.

Medical sciences

Department of
Biochemistry

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may also be available with:

Cardiovascular Science

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

CRUK Oxford Centre

Projects may be available with:

Professor E Yvonne Jones

  • Structural biology of cell surface signalling assemblies

Professor Shona Murphy

  • Using CRISPR to investigate the role of kinases in transcription of human genes

Associate Professor John Christianson

Nuffield Department of
Clinical Neurosciences

Projects may be available with:

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may be available with:

Department of
Experimental Psychology

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may be available with:

Nuffield Department of
Medicine

Projects may be available with:

Professor E Yvonne Jones

  • Structural biology of cell surface signalling assemblies

Professor Lisa White

  • Mathematical modelling

Dr Proochista Ariana

  • Maternal and Neonatal health in low resource settings

Dr Opher Gileadi

  • From Genes to Drug Targets: Under-explored potential targets for treating Alzheimer’s disease

Dr Tobias Krojer

  • The research area is structural biology/ protein crystallography

Professor Frank von Delft

Professor Holm Uhlig

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may also be available with:

Radcliffe Department of
Medicine

Projects may be available with:

Department of
Oncology

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Sir William Dunn School of
Pathology

Projects may be available with:

Professor Shona Murphy

  • Using CRISPR to investigate the role of kinases in transcription of human genes

Ivan Ahel

Tanmay Bharat

Anton Van der Merwe

Sumana Sanyal

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may be available with:

Department of
Paediatrics

Projects may be available with:

Department of
Pharmacology

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may be available with:

Department of
Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may be available with:

Nuffield Department of
Population Health

Projects may be available with:

Nuffield Department of
Primary Care Health Sciences

Projects may be available with:

Dr Marta Wanat and Dr Sarah Tonkin-Crine

  • ALABAMA project: Penicillin allergy status and its effect on antibiotic prescribing, patient outcomes, and antimicrobial resistance.

Department of
Psychiatry

Projects may be available with:

Nuffield Department of
Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences

Projects may be available in the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology with:

Nuffield Department of
Surgical Sciences

Projects may be available with:

Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS)

Department of
Chemistry

Projects may be available in the following areas:

Professor Stuart Conway

  • Chemical biology
  • Photochemical Biology
  • Synthetic Chemistry

Chemistry in Cells

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may also be available with:

Department of
Computer Science

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Mathematical Institute

Projects may be available with:

Dr Fabien Haiden

  • Knot theory

Dr Ben Fehrman

  • Differential equations
  • Probability
  • Machine learning

Dr Daniel Woodhouse

  • Topology and group theory

Dr Erik Panzer

  • Graph theory
  • Algebra and deformation quantization

Dr Aden Forrow

  • Mathematical biology

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may also be available with:

Department of
Engineering Science

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may be available with:

Environmental Research (NERC Doctoral Training Partnership)

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Department of
Materials

To gain an indication of the research interests of our staff please look at the projects described on the department's website (those in both the  ‘funded’ and ‘unfunded sections’). These are full DPhil (PhD) projects, rather than short summer projects, but they will give you an up-to-date idea of the current research in the Department. Having identified possible areas of interest then you can also look at the webpages of members of staff in whose work you are interested.

Interdisciplinary Bioscience (BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership)

A wide range of departments may offer projects in Interdisciplinary Bioscience. Please review the other departments on this page to identify supervisors that may be participating.

Department of
Physics

The Department of Physics plans to offer internships across its six sub-departments. The current areas of research can be found on the department's website and applicants are encouraged to highlight several specific areas and/or projects for which they are interesting in pursuing.

Department of
Plant Sciences

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may be available with:

Department of
Statistics

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may be available with:

Sustainable Approaches to Bioscience projects may be available with:

Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)

Projects may be available with:

Professor Ilan Davis

  • Python/machine learning

Dr David Sims

  • Machine learning (computational genomics)

Dr Frank von Delft

  • Protein chemistry and protein crystallography
  • Structure-based compound design
  • Chemical biology

Dr Brian Marsden

  • Hotspot analysis of XChem fragment data sets

Professor Martin Booth

  • Computational microscopy: combining optics and software for novel biomedical imaging.

Professor Garrett M. Morris

  • Developing novel machine learning methods to investigate the interactions of proteins with small molecules, including predictions of binding affinity and model validation using standard benchmarks.

Department of
Zoology

Projects may be available with:

Professor Fritz Vollrath

  • Examining whether spiders can gauge the relative value of prey from vibrations in their web. Female Drosophila are bigger than males. Therefore females are more valuable prey and we may expect them to be preferentially targeted if spiders can deduce this information from vibrations in their webs.

Dr Rob Salguero-Gómez

  • How will immortal species respond to climate change? This project involves assessing the role of calorie restriction in the lab on the individual and population-level performance of flatworms. Flatworms are invertebrate species, some of whom have the ability to fully regenerate after undergoing physical damage.
  • Determining the environmental drivers of ageing. This project involves using open-access data and computational programming approaches on the demographic performance of thousands of animals and plants for which ageing rates will then be correlated with various abiotic and biotic factors such as degree of aridity, environmental stochasticity, mode of reproduction, etc.

Professor EJ Milner-Gulland

  • Carrying out a desk-based review of disease events and health issues in the past 20 years recorded both in wildlife and livestock across Asia's steppe and mountains.
  • Carrying out a desk-based review of wildlife disease events in relation to climate change in the past 20 years with the aim of understanding trends and impacts.

Interdisciplinary Bioscience projects may also be available with:

Social Sciences

Successful candidates for Social Sciences projects will be hosted by Nuffield College, alongside students who are participating in its Nuffield Undergraduate Scholars Institute (NUSI) summer programme. Please note that UNIQ+ and NUSI are separate programmes and you will need to complete the UNIQ+ application form to be considered for a place on the UNIQ+ programme. 

Department of
Geography and the Environment

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Oxford Internet Institute

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Department of
Politics and International Relations 

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Humanities

Please note that projects in the Humanities will be four weeks in duration.

Faculty of
English Language and Literature

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Faculty of
Theology and Religion

You can consult the department's website to find out more about current areas of research.

Mathematics
Graduate research students collaborate
(Image Credit: Antonio de Capua / Graduate Photography Competition)

UNIQ+ 2019 Example Projects

For 2020 applicants wondering what type of project UNIQ+ participants get to work on during their time at Oxford, the examples below provide an insight into the projects undertaken by UNIQ+ students in 2019.

The list of examples below is not comprehensive, but includes projects from a range of subject areas such as Chemistry, Genetics, Pathology, Maths, and Zoology.

Previous UNIQ+ projects

Chemistry

  • Biochemical studies of oxygen-sensing mechanisms in algae and early land plants

Medical sciences

  • Recognition of abnormal cells by leukocyte receptors
  • Ion channels and membrane proteins - simulations, modelling & bioinformatics.
  • Reducing the risk of obesity-related diseases and preventing weight gain
  • Determining which growth factors are released upon injury in the cartilage

Case studies of two other Medical Sciences projects can be found below.

Maths

  • Tau invariants of metrized graphs
  • Techniques for modelling cell differentiation from RNAseq data
  • Fractals and hyperbolic surfaces
  • Software Engineering
  • Interactive visualisation for Bayesian parameter estimation

Zoology

  • Investigating the role of telomerase in the amphipod crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis
  • Testing sex-specific responses to diet and mating across Drosophila using a nutritional geometry approach

UNIQ+ 2019 project case study one

Project title: Exploring the changes that take place in the brain as infants develop, with a particular focus upon how infants process pain.

Infants who are born prematurely or are sick regularly undergo painful procedures as part of their clinical care; however it is difficult to assess pain severity and to treat pain in this population. This project explored the changes that take place in the brain as infants develop, with a particular focus upon how infants process pain. The project involved observing brain imaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) with infants who were inpatients at the John Radcliffe Hospital whilst they underwent minor clinical procedures, and analysing patterns in the data collected. There was also a large existing dataset available for analysis, which included infants with various conditions undergoing a range of clinical procedures.

This project took place in under the supervision of Professor Rebeccah Slater in the Department of Paediatrics.

UNIQ+ 2019 project case study two

Project title: DNA repair mechanisms and human disease.

A number of genetic diseases are known to be linked to defects in specific components of various DNA damage response pathways. Such diseases are extensively linked with cancer, neurodegeneration, immunodeficiency or developmental abnormalities. This project utilised techniques including biochemistry, structural biology, cell biology to study pathways and protein functions underlying genome stability, and which are regulated by a type of post-translational protein modification called ADP-ribosylation.

This project took place in Dr Ivan Ahel’s lab in the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology.

A student in a lab coat cutting DNA
Cutting DNA bands from an agarose gel in the laboratory
(Image Credit: Laurynas Pliuskys / Graduate Photography Competition)

Wellcome BVS Example Projects

The University of Oxford has offered places to holders of Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships for a number of years. The examples below provide an indication of typical projects that Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship students have worked on during their time at Oxford.

Previous Wellcome BVS projects at Oxford

  • Monocarboxylate Transporter 4: A Potential Therapeutic Target in Refractory Rheumatoid Arthritis (see the case study below for further details)
  • Molecular Simulations of Membrane Protein Lipid Interactions
  • The Effect of Priorizing Information in Working Memory on Later Behavioural Interference
  • Role of FoxP heterodimers in perceptual decision-making
  • Matrix sequestration of latent TGFb in normal and Marfan syndrome aortas
  • Mathematically Modelling Metabolism with Hyperpolarised MRI

Case study of a previous Wellcome BVS project at Oxford

Project title: Monocarboxylate Transporter 4: A Potential Therapeutic Target in Refractory Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) occurs as a complex set of interactions between adaptive and innate immune cells and stromal fibroblasts. Using mouse models of RA we have previously shown that tissue fibroblasts can both promote inflammation and tissue repair. Using a combination of immunohistochemistry, multi-parameter cytometry and single cell RNAseq of both primary human biopsy material and mouse RA models we have identified three different populations of fibroblasts, inflammation lining fibroblasts, resolving sub-lining fibroblasts and pericytes. From analysis of gene expression signatures on these different tissue fibroblast populations we have identified difference in metabolic function. One of key proteins we have identified that is up regulated in inflammatory joint fibroblasts is the monocarboxylate transporter 4 (mct4) which has a key role in the export of lactate resulting from glycolysis. This receptor has been shown to a have a key role in cancer metabolism and disease progression which has lead to the development and clinical trial of high affinity inhibitors.

The aim of this project was to further characterise mct4 expression and function in rheumatoid arthritis fibroblasts using gene expression, immunohistochemistry and functional assays to determine if a mct4 inhibitor could potentially make a novel treatment for treatment refractory rheumatoid arthritis.

This project took place in the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology under the supervision of Professor Mark Coles.