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.
Meet the 2022/3 OPEN Fellows
Dr Katherine Sugar
This Fellowship will support the growth of relationships and information sharing amongst the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford and UK Government Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) – formerly known as Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This Fellowship will form a key part of the broader "GoZero" project and DESNZ has a direct opportunity to shape this current research. GoZero is a 2-year project to investigate the governance of small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Dr Sugar will work with DESNZ to address shared objectives and research questions including how can policy best support SMEs to achieve net zero, and what actions can SMEs take to reduce carbon emissions and what are the barriers to implementation? The knowledge exchanged during this Fellowship will also be shared with, and add to knowledge within, the wider community researching SME decarbonisation.
To meet its net zero target, the UK has made ambitious pledges of restoration of its forests. However, evidence of slow or no progress has been reported, with more than half of the UK target still remaining and mixed evidence from Scotland. With forest expansion being a cornerstone of policy combatting climate change in the UK, it is essential to understand the factors that influence uptake of these policies. In this fellowship, I am partnering with NatureScot, the Oxfordshire Treescapes Project, Highlands Rewilding and other policy actors to identify key enabling factors and barriers to restoring forests in Oxfordshire County and the central Scottish Highlands. This will include understanding factors such as land tenure and engagement of private entities in restoration activities. I will engage with farmers, landowners and other groups to characterise the new drivers that influence decisions around restoring woodlands in the UK. Understanding these driving factors will help policymakers develop effective policies and incentives for tree-planting.
Dr Michael Gilmont
This project, in partnership with UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office aims to deliver a policy-relevant and accessible assessment of water resources across Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories. In order to introduce new politically feasible ideas to a sector that is often characterised regionally by political deadlock, the team will produce briefing notes summarising the current situation and future options for resource management, based on publicly available data sourced and reconciled from across the region, with a view to providing a solid evidence base to inform the UK's participation in regional and international deliberations around water and peace and stability. Such a review has not been carried out by the FCDO in recent years and represents an opportunity for Oxford-led analysis to update knowledge and policy in the region.
Dr Maia Chakseliani
Higher education funding in Georgia is almost entirely merit-based and does not consider the financial need of a student. During this Fellowship Dr Chankseliani will review the existing evidence on the models of needs-based funding, analyse the nation-wide data from Georgia and engage with key stakeholders to come up with a solution to reducing financial barriers for students accessing University education in Georgia. This project will set up a pilot mechanism for identifying students in need and sources of needs-based funding (both public and private) and prepare recommendations for the Ministry of Education on the ways of modifying the higher education funding model with a focus on needs-based scholarships. This project will strengthen the contribution of academic evidence and expertise to policy community in an ODA recipient country.
Dr Howard Ryland
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) is the in-house organisation that provides independent and impartial research and analysis of policy issues related to science and technology for both Houses of Parliament. Howard will be working with POST to develop a briefing for parliamentarians around key aspects of the Mental Health Act reform, to facilitate effective scrutiny of the proposed legislation. This will help to ensure that any changes to the Act will reflect the best possible available scientific evidence, which in turn should optimise its positive impact for people with severe mental illness subject to its provisions.
Dr Nicole Miranda and Dr Radhika Khosla
Demand for air conditioners is expected to reach an equivalent of 10 units sold per second from now until 2050. F-gases, particularly hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), are critical to delivering on this surging demand. The problem is that HFCs could become 19% of total greenhouse gas emissions by 2100 and the metric we use to proxy their atmospheric warming (CO2-equivalent emissions) is not fit for purpose for these short-lived and highly potent greenhouse gases. Therefore, how do we understand the effect of these refrigerant emissions on global warming and make policy decisions to reduce them if we don't have appropriate metrics? Delivering this knowledge to policymakers is essential to staying as close as possible to the 1.5C global warming limit. During the Fellowship a policy brief will be informed by new modelling work combined with a policy scoping work. The brief will assist policy makers to understand the effect of different HFC policy efforts on global warming, and inform a speedier the achievement of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The project will focus on India as a leader in cooling planning internationally. Nicole and Radhika’s work will lead the discussion in a stakeholder roundtable in India and will serve beyond India as an example to other countries experiencing such rises in cooling demand.
Dr Isang Awah
Many Nigerian children are victims of violence and abuse, and exposure to abuse has severe and lasting adverse effects on children. Parenting programmes are an effective approach for improving families' outcomes including the abuse of children. However, the limited literature on parenting programmes in Nigeria suggests a gap between research and policies on child protection in Nigeria. This project seeks to address this gap by fostering collaboration between research and policy in Nigeria, and ultimately, using research to improve policies on child protection in Nigeria. Dr Isang Awah has worked as a researcher on the Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) programmes since 2019. During the Fellowship, Dr Awah will work with the Gender, Adolescent, School Health and Elderly (GASHE) Division of Family Health Department at the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria to learn more about policy processes in Nigeria and provide technical assistance on how to improve outcomes for children and families through parenting programmes.
Dr Shobhana Nagraj
One in three children in the UK (4.1 million) live in poverty, with 2.5 million children living daily with food insecurity. Ensuring access to affordable, nutritious food during the first 18 years of life has significant long-term health and economic benefits. In Oxfordshire, over 30% of children in Blackbird Leys, Rose Hill and Iffley (OX4) live in poverty, experiencing daily food insecurity. Ensuring universal access to healthy, nutritious food for children and reducing stigma facing families requiring emergency food provision is needed. With rises in energy costs, coupled with the cost of living crisis and the effects of the pandemic on job security, there is an ideal policy window to make significant impact both locally and nationally. I will be working with GoodFood Oxfordshire to influence local and national food strategy and strengthen the partnership between the University and the community around improving childhood nutrition.
Dr Jonathan Menary
Biodiversity loss is occurring at an unprecedented rate. In December 2022, nations adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework, which sets out measures to ensure humans live in harmony with nature. What role new genetic technologies might have in biodiversity conservation is not clear - this has led to a wave of interest in how they might be regulated and how stakeholders and the public can be meaningfully engaged in such choices. We intend to build on the progress we've made together during our previous OPEN Seed Fund award by incorporating – and building upon - the latest research on stakeholder and public engagement around environmental issues, focussing on new genetic technologies. Our goal is to embed the latest research in technology engagement with Natural England at the procedural and policy levels. This will contribute to more sustainable innovation in genetic technologies in the UK, developed in more responsible ways.
Dr Roisin Mooney
In the UK it is well documented and evidenced that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are detained under the Mental Health Act more frequently than their white British counterparts. In this project we will be working with charity the Mental Elf to build on the work of Co-PACT, a NIHR PRP funded project which combines photovoice and codesign to capture the experiences of people who have experienced compulsory care. We will be hosting three face to face photographic exhibitions followed by policy workshops to explore and define how knowledge gained from research involving marginalised communities can translate into relevant policy. We hope that this work will inform the ongoing reform of the Mental Health Act, and form the basis of a collaboration between mental elf and our research group to disseminate the findings of research conducted with marginalised populations using creative methodology to policy makers.
Meet some of our previous OPEN Fellows
Dr Hannah Dalgleish
Light 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
Unprecedented 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.
Dr Hollie Booth
Ocean 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
Contractions 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%.
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. Read more about ranger based monitoring.
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.