OPEN Fellowships

OPEN Fellowships enable Oxford researchers with a passion for improving public policy to understand better the relevance of their research to local, regional, national and international policymakers; to work with policymakers to identify and explore mutual interests; and to develop and leverage networks and other resources to generate benefits to research, policy and the wider world.

Researchers from any discipline at Oxford can apply for an OPEN Fellowship.

2022 funding call now open - find out how to apply here.

Meet the 2021/2 OPEN Fellows

Dr Hannah Dalgleish

Woman with curly hair and sunglassesLight pollution negatively impacts all living things and significantly contributes to climate change, but is an often overlooked topic in the UK policy world. A lot of night-time emission from LEDs emits at blue wavelengths, causing physiological health problems, while damaging ecosystems and biodiversity. Protecting the night is equally important for the preservation of cultural heritage, boosting mental health, and empowering communities via dark sky tourism. Hannah is working with the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough (ABC) Council, the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP), and the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) to scope how dark skies can be embraced at a local level, with the aim to inspire change across the rest of the UK.

 Dr Mohammad Farhadinia

Man with a grassy hill in the backgroundUnprecedented changes in climate and biodiversity, driven by human activities threaten nature and human lives around the world. 30x30 is a campaign to protect 30 per cent of the world's oceans by 2030. Although this is an ambitious plan there are few opportunities for Asian countries to work towards their targets, such as effective area-based conservation measures and transboundary landscapes. In partnership with the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre as a world leader in biodiversity knowledge and policy, this project will be working to develop policy frameworks to facilitate the engagement of developing countries in policy and research aiming at the 30x30 framework. Receiving such a competitive fellowship, which in addition to support my career at the intersection between academia and policy, will enable me to make my previous research works more relevant and involved in policy making. Watch a short interview with Mohammad here

Dr Hollie Booth

Woman smiling reading a notebookOcean ecosystems are threatened by overexploitation. Slow-growing marine megafauna – such as sharks, rays and turtles - are amongst the world's most threatened species, and their decline compromises ecosystem productivity and services. However, direct use of ocean resources also provides food and jobs for billions of people, and threatened marine megafauna can serve as an important source of food and income in small-scale mixed-species fisheries. This project works with customary fisheries management institutions and the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in Indonesia, in collaboration with the UK government’s Centre for Environment, Aquaculture and Fisheries, to design evidence-based policies to manage these trade-offs. The goal is to facilitate sustainable and equitable ocean management, which can reduce overexploitation of endangered marine species, whilst supporting the well-being of vulnerable coastal communities. This project will adopt a multi-level approach, translating research into national-, provincial- and local-level policy, which can catalyse meaningful and scalable change.

Dr Kate Orkin

Woman with short brown hair wearing a sleeveless top and black trousersContractions in the South Africa economy, due to COVID 19, resulted in devastating spikes in job loss and food poverty of a magnitude not seen in decades. During the pandemic the country implemented a strict lockdown, and 3 million workers lost their jobs. Hunger spiked; before government measures, 1 in 5 people were going to bed hungry (compared to 1 in 10 before the pandemic). Since March this project, made up of researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Cape Town, and Duke in partnership with technical advisors from the Project Management Office (PMO) in the Private Office of the South African President, have been working to inform South Africa's policy response strategy. To date, the team’s recommendations influenced a social protection package of ZAR 97.5bn (GBP 4.87bn), reaching 28.5 million South Africans. During the Fellowship, the team continued to jointly shape South Africa’s post-COVID recovery, which resulted in an extension of cash grant support for 10.5 million unemployed people until March 2023; substantial innovation in job search support for jobseekers; and a commitment to increase the value of the national youth wage subsidy by 50%.

Meet some of our previous OPEN Fellows

Arvind Kurian Abraham 

Arvind Kurian Abraham specializes in constitutional law and has worked as the Legislative Advisor to Dr Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament of India, and drafted several Bills including on areas such as hate crimes and mob lynching. The OPEN Fellowship has enabled him to collaborate with scholars at Oxford's Faculty of Law to identify policy and legal measures to address the inequalities that have been particularly exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, to inform and mobilise the adoption of a comprehensive equality legislation in India.

Dr Claire Cullen (Blavatnik School of Government)

Claire partnered with Young 1ove Organization, a non-government organisation based in Botswana that connects youth to proven life-saving information in education and health. Together, they have supported policymakers to rapidly scale-up and evaluate a 'low-tech' SMS and phone call intervention to stem children’s learning losses during COVID,  and to build rigorous evidence-based systems using iterative A/B testing.  During the Fellowship, Claire worked with Young 1ove’s research and programs teams to conduct randomised trials testing and scaling Young 1ove's phone-based education program with over 10,000 children in India, Nepal and Kenya during COVID school closures. This work has led to numerous partnerships with other organisations keen to implement and test the program in new contexts. 

Dr Neven Fučkar (Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment)

Public health in the UK and across the world is inherently linked to climate-related risks. As the climate changes, climate extremes (such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, etc.) that threaten human health and the socio-economic fabric of society are occurring at an increasing frequency and intensity. This OPEN project, with the Climate Change and Health Group at Public Health England (PHE), has made stakeholder-oriented contributions relevant for public health policy on adaptation and resilience strengthening in current and future climates. The outcomes encompass peer-reviewed papers on the interaction of climate change with human health and food systems, as well as inputs to selected chapters of the 4th report on Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK. Neven has also co-organised a series of online, monthly PHE panel discussions on the road to COP26, “Climate Change, Health and the 2030 Agenda”. 

Timothy Kuiper  (Department of Zoology)

African elephant populations declined by an estimated 30% between 2007-2016 due largely to ivory poaching, with significant implications for African states. Dr Kuiper of Oxford’s Interdiscipliniary Centre for Conservation Science is partnering with colleagues at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) to tackle elephant poaching through unlocking the immense potential of poaching data collected by wildlife rangers. The team's long-term research in Zimbabwe has shown that ranger-collected data can help park managers track changes in poaching, and strategically direct and measure the performance of different anti-poaching strategies. Tim has worked with ZimParks colleagues to develop a national policy brief that translates this research into guidelines and strategies for maximising the contribution of ranger-collected data to enhanced management across Zimbabwe’s parks. The draft brief has already enjoyed endorsement by senior government officials and an implementation strategy workshop has been planned with key actors (local managers, rangers, and data managers) from identified pilot sites. Find out more

Dr Sivapriya (Priya) Mothilal Bhagavathy (Department of Engineering Science)

Priya worked in partnership with the Smart Energy Innovation team in the Science and Innovation for Climate Change Directorate (Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy) to ensure policymakers invest in smart technologies that maximise the security, flexibility, and sustainability of energy systems. Read about Priya's OPEN Fellowship experience.


Dr Michelle Cain (Oxford Martin School)

Michelle, a Science and Policy Research Associate from the Oxford Martin School, worked alongside climate change specialists from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to deliver several resources designed to feed into policy-making. Read about Michelle's OPEN Fellowship experience.


Dr Jack Matthews (Oxford Museum of Natural History)

Jack has worked in partnership with two organisations sponsored by the government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Natural England and The National Forest Company) to create a science-led framework for managing and conserving the geological features of Charnwood Forest. Read about Jack's OPEN Fellowship experience.


Dr Sonali Nag (Department of Education)

Sonali worked with policymakers in the state of Karnataka in southern India to create new resources to improve language and literacy outcomes for the state’s 6 million pre- and primary schoolchildren. Read about Sonali's OPEN Fellowship experience.


Dr Alison Smith (School of Geography and the Environment)

Alison completed her Fellowship in 2019, working in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council to quantify and map the ‘natural capital’ value of all land in the county to inform development of the Oxford to Cambridge Growth Arc. Find out more about Alison’s experience and the impact of the partnership. You can also listen to Alison talk about her work and find further details about her project.


Professor Kate Sullivan de Estrada (Oxford School of Global and Area Studies)

Kate is Associate Professor in the International Relations of South Asia. In 2019 she worked with the Indian Ocean Commission and others to strengthen regional maritime security, including through evaluation of relevant regional policy initiatives. Listen to Kate discuss her OPEN Fellowship.


Dr Joe Wherton (Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences)

Joe's OPEN Fellowship enabled him to explore how a new analytical framework (the Non-adoption, Abandonment and challenges to Scale-up, Spread and Sustainability, or NASSS) could be used to support the planning and implementation of technology-support change programmes within health care organisations. Read about Joe's OPEN Fellowship experience.


Dr Anna Wilson (Oxford School of Global and Area Studies)

In 2019 Anna completed a Fellowship focused on developing an interdisciplinary approach to understanding viewpoint construction in media from the multimodal perspective, and strengthening international policy responses to information threats. Read about Anna’s research.