Museum of Natural History - Super Science Saturday
Museum of Natural History - Super Science Saturday
Credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Engagement opportunities

Public Engagement with Research Leadership Scheme

Public Engagement with Research Leadership Scheme awardees announced

Eight successful applicants have been chosen as the 2019-20 cohort of Public Engagement with Research (PER) Leaders. The PER Leadership scheme is for academics to take on a leadership role in a culture change project for their departments and faculties to enhance support for PER. The scheme is targeted at those who have a strong interest in PER, who want the opportunity to demonstrate their leadership skills within an academic environment and to explore new ways of working through facilitating change. The eight winners will each receive £5,000 to initiate PER-focused initiatives within their departments, and will participate in training from a variety of internal and external PER and leadership professionals throughout the year.

The awardees are:


William Allen

Dr William Allen is a Fellow by Examination in Political and Development Studies at Magdalen College, as well as a Researcher at the Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS) based in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. His work examines how messages conveyed through media impact public attitudes towards immigrants, as well as how data increasingly matter for global mobility and politics. His record of public and policy engagement activities, which includes using theatre-based techniques in museum and schools settings, was recognised with a Highly Commended citation for Early Career Impact from the University of Oxford in 2018. These activities have informed his interest in improving scholarly understanding and practice with respect to public engagement and knowledge exchange. He is also an Associate Editor for the journal Evidence and Policy.

 Alex Betts

Professor Alexander Betts is Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, William Golding Senior Fellow in Politics at Brasenose College, and Associate Head (Doctoral and Research Training) of the Social Science Division, at the University of Oxford. He served as Director of the Refugee Studies Centre between 2014 and 2017. His research focuses on the politics and economics of refugee assistance, with a regional focus on Africa. He is co-author, with Paul Collier, of Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System (Penguin Allen Lane and Oxford University Press), which was named by the Economist as one of the 'Best Books of 2017'. He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, was named by Foreign Policy magazine in the top 100 global thinkers of 2016, and by Thinkers50 as an emerging business influencer. His TED talks have been viewed by over 3 million people, and he has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Washington Post. He currently leads the IKEA Foundation-funded Refugee Economies Programme, which undertakes participatory research on the economic lives of refugees in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.

 Samuel Cohen

Professor Sam Cohen completed undergraduate degrees in mathematics and finance, and a PhD, at the University of Adelaide, before moving to Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow at St John's College in 2010. He is now an Associate Professor in the Mathematical Institute and Senior Research Fellow at New College, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute. His research looks at the mathematics of decision making in the presence of risk and uncertainty -- in particular how to incorporate data and statistical modelling into decision making in a consistent manner through time. He is also interested in mathematics generally, and in the interaction of mathematics with economics and finance.

 Sean Elias

Dr Sean Elias a Principal Investigator at the Jenner Institute studying non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS). Since May 2016 he has been working with Professor Calman MacLennan on invasive NTS disease in Ghana and Burkina Faso and has more recently run his own clinical studies in the UK and Kenya looking at non-invasive sampling methods for gathering immunological data. As an immunologist he is interested in human antibody and cellular responses to NTS pathogens and how greater understanding of this can aid in future vaccine development. Since 2018 he has run his own public engagement initiative funded through the University Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund program: Oxford University Board Games & Public Engagement focuses on using board games to engage the public, using both commercial games and novel games designed by researchers at the University of Oxford.

Since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic Sean has been one of the leaders on the Jenner Institute’s science communication on the Covid-19 vaccine trials alongside colleagues from the Oxford Vaccine Group and Public Affairs Directorate (PAD). This important work also became the focus of his PER Leadership project. Sean created 'A Scientists Guide to Medical Science Public Engagement’ a guide based on his experiences of PER as a scientist in the Pandemic, how it compared to his PER work before and tips on creating PER projects based on the wide variety of projects he has worked on over the past few years. The hope is that this guide can inspire and help scientists to take up PER alongside their scientific research just like he did.  


Sam Henry

Dr Sam Henry is a Detector Development Scientist in the Particle Physics Sub-department working on instrumentation for experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. He has built up a series of Public Engagement with Research activities in Particle Physics, including a successful festival stall at IF Oxford (Oxford Science and Ideas Festival) and other events. He won an MPLS (Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences) Impact Award for Public Engagement with Research in Feb 2019, and was Highly Commended in the Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards, for his project using online fan fiction and the My Little Pony cartoon characters to engage a diverse audience with science.


Peter Hommel

Dr Peter Hommel is a researcher in archaeological science and Eurasian Prehistory at the School of Archaeology. He works primarily in Russia and Central Asia and is interested in technological innovation, social landscapes and the emergence of stable relationships between societies with very different ways of life.  Since arriving in Oxford in 2011, he has developed a strong profile in public engagement, delivering a series of imaginative events in collaboration with the Pitt Rivers Museums. Over the last year he has developed new programmes of engagement with theatres, community groups and local primary schools, and he is currently working with teachers to develop new cross-curricular resources for the Key Stage 2 Curriculum. He was Highly Commended for his activities in the Early Career Researchers Category at the VC’s PER Awards 2019. He is jointly holding his awarded PER Leadership Scheme funding with Dr. Jade Whitlam.


Katharine Owen

Dr Katharine Owen is a consultant endocrinologist and academic working in OCDEM (Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism) with an interest in rare monogenic forms of diabetes and young adult diabetes.  She has organised events to showcase the research done in her department as well as to mark World Diabetes Day. She is chair of a local patient research panel – a group of interested lay members and patients who help comment on the priorities and design of our clinical research with the Biomedical Research Centre diabetes theme.  She also works in the Thames Valley Clinical Research Network as a public engagement champion, encouraging patients to be involved in assisting research teams with study recruitment and dissemination of research findings.

 Jade Whitlam

Dr Jade Whitlam is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Archaeology and a Junior Research Fellow at St Peter’s College. Her research investigates past farming practices, in particular examining how local communities managed and consumed plants in western Asia during the emergence of agriculture. Over several years she has built up an extensive portfolio of public engagement with research activities, focusing on the ways in which farming has shaped people’s lives from prehistory to the present and how we can use archaeological insights to address the future of farming. In 2019, supported by the University’s Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund, she launched “Farming: the first 12,000 years”, a collaborative project with the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) in Reading. She is jointly holding her awarded PER Leadership Scheme funding with Dr. Peter Hommel.

2019 Reference Documents:

Festivals and Events

Festivals and other public events offer an excellent opportunity to engage the public with your research. There are many different ways to engage at a festival including talks; panel debates; performances; table-top interactive activities and many more.

This guide provides a list of the key festivals and events that take place in and around Oxford and includes some national festivals to help you select which one might be the right one for you:

Other opportunities

Ashmolean MuseumLiveFridays enable researchers to take part in a night of performances, creative workshops and lively talks after-hours at the museum. 
Bright ClubThe 'thinking person's variety night' - for one night only researchers become comedians.
I’m a Scientist, Get me out of HereAn online event where school students meet and interact with scientists. 
Museum of Natural History 

ScienceSaturdays and SuperScienceSaturdays enables families to explore the collections, take part in interactive activities and meet the University's scientists.

Oxford SparksAn online platform to share the scientific research that takes place at the University with wider public audiences through high-quality animations and podcasts.
OxploreA digital outreach portal from the University of Oxford. As the ‘Home of Big Questions’ it aims to engage those from 11 to 18 years with debates and ideas that go beyond what is covered in the classroom.
Pint of ScienceBrings brilliant scientists to a local pub to discuss their latest research and findings with the wider public.
Science CabaretInformal talks in bars, cafes and other public venues organised by Science Oxford.
The ConversationAn online source of thought-provoking articles written by researchers and academics, across all disciplines, for the public in the UK and globally. Further information is available here.
Three Minute ThesisThree Minute Thesis (3MT) challenges doctoral candidates to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes.

The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) engages wider audiences with research activity that transcends traditional boundaries.