Laidlaw Scholars undertake a research project at any world-leading research institution, along withÂ an exclusive programme of leadership training. A list of Laidlaw Scholars and the details of their projects are provided below. The projects are wide-ranging, but can broadly be categorised by different Oxford University divisions, by applying a filter below.
“New methods for micro-mechanical testing of minerals: implications in subduction initiation“
Olivine is the dominant material in the upper mantle and its mechanical properties influence large scale tectonic processes. One of the current scientific debates is on strain localization and initiation of subduction zones. Numerical models using classical fluid dynamics fail to predict subduction as we observe on Earth. Many plate tectonics simulations rely on experimentally derived flow laws for olivine under lithospheric conditions. These experiments use olivine aggregates so that the mean effect is the cumulative contributions of intrinsic crystal strength and interactions between crystals at grain boundaries. In order to fundamentally study the properties of olivine I applied materials science techniques to an Earth Science problem. I used the focused ion beam (FIB) to manufacture olivine micro-cantilevers by shooting gallium ions at a magnesium rich olivine sample.
Download Diana’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Use of novel “Zellscanner” technology to investigate germinal centre composition and B cell developmental progression in murine and humans“
The germinal centre is an essential structure in the immune system acting as the site of clonal expansion and affinity maturation of antibody-producing B cells. The production of which is essential for the bodies adapted immune system, and ability to effectively combat infection. Understanding of the germinal centre has further clinical significance, as stimulating a B cell response is key to the generation of immunity during vaccination. Furthermore, dysregulation of proliferation in the germinal centre can lead to currently poorly treated cancers such as B cell lymphomas. As such significant interest is placed on understanding the germinal centre in more detail. My project aimed to do two things; firstly, to show that Zellscanner technology could effectively be used to study human tissue samples and to furthermore answer meaningful scientific questions.
Download Kyle’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“A Breath of Fresh Air: Stem Cell Therapy in Combination with Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation during Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in an Ovine Animal Model“
My research project looked at identifying how neurological side-effects occur in patients receiving lung bypass. Patients with severe chest infections (for example severe pneumonia) are often put on lung bypass, allowing proper blood oxygenation which provides valuable time for antibiotics and other treatments to take effect. Unfortunately, this intervention is commonly associated with neurological events, such as stroke, coma and brain death. To determine how lung bypass may cause these side-effects, I performed numerous experiments on sheep samples. These sheep previously had severe pneumonia induced in an experimental context, and were put on lung bypass. After sheep were sacrificed, I took brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples. I performed numerous experiments on the CSF samples, quantifying protein and inflammatory markers. I then performed electron microscopy on the brain tissue, looking for damage to blood vessels. My results suggest that lung bypass damages microscopic blood vessels in the brain, resulting in bleeding and inflammation in the brain. This work will be continued in the future to verify these findings.
Download William’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“‘The Immune Bomb’ - Investigating immunotherapy combinations for use in ultrasound triggered liposomes in targeted treatment of cancer through in vitro models“
During my project in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Oxford I worked on developing liposomes containing immune modulators including the immune checkpoint inhibitor monoclonal antibodies anti-OX40 and anti PD-L1.
Download Morgan’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Sex, syphilis, and suspect sisterhood: female physicians and approaches to venereal diseases and sex education in Progressive era America“
My research project looked at women doctors and venereal disease in the Progressive era: and in doing so engaged with wider historical debates regarding gender, social, and medical history. My supervisor, the archivists, and the other staff members at the Legacy Center were welcoming, supportive, and enthusiastic when sharing their—abundant—expertise. We had regular informal discussions and meetings, which maintained an open dialogue about my research. The Legacy Center team were able to provide unique insights into the large, diverse collection of historical material at the archives.
Download Elizabeth’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Does Mandated Female Representation Alter Public Goods Provision? A Study of Taiwan’s 1999 Electoral Quota Reform“
Download Yiqin’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Investigating the role of PPIase proteins in splicing“
The aim of my project was to investigate the roles of PPIases (a family of proteins) in splicing and alternative splicing. During the flow of information in the cell from DNA to mRNA (transcription) and mRNA to proteins (translation), splicing occurs to process pre-mRNA to mRNA. This is necessary to remove regions that do not code for protein (introns) and join together protein coding regions (exons). Exons can be recombined in different ways in alternative splicing. My proteins had previously been shown to interact with the spliceosome, a large dynamic molecular machine responsible for carrying out splicing. The project consisted of protein expression and purification of wildtype proteins and mutants, as well as the subsequent use of these proteins for in vivo and in vitro experiments (splicing assays).
Download Anna’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“The effects of elephants on vegetation and the resultant influence on herbivore distributions and habitat preferences in Pongola Reserve, Kwa-Zulu Natal“
My project was focused on African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and their impacts on reserves. I spent six weeks in South Africa, in Pongola Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, researching the effects of elephants on vegetation and the resultant influence on herbivore distributions and habitat preferences. African elephants are ecosystem engineers, which means they affect the availability of resources for other species by causing physical changes. They therefore can have huge impacts, both positive and negative on vegetation and other animals within a reserve. Pongola Reserve offered a rare opportunity to study the impacts of elephants by comparing different densities in the elephant population. For several years, due to the drought, the elephant population has been decreasing as they have relocated to nearby reserves, where vegetation is more nutritious. At the beginning of this year, the entire elephant population had left the reserve. I hoped to study how the vegetation responds, and herbivores alter their distributions in response to the removal of elephants from the reserve.
Download Emma’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“How can humans exist as gift-givers? How do the incentives of different economic and political institutions affect humans as gift-givers?“
My research dealt with questions at the intersection between philosophy, sociology, theology, history and economics – these were questions related to the nature of human flourishing. The research can be divided into two parts: one theoretical and one practical. Part one (theoretical): how can theories of gift-giving enhance our understanding of the nature of human flourishing? Part two (practical): how does social exclusion effect the way in which one perceives economic inequality?
Download Andreas’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“What makes central bankers ‘cheat’ and how we can stop them: Implementing a Walshian optimal contract“
I worked on a project assessing the flexibility to which central bankers felt when conducting policy with specific reference to the mission statement & mandate of the central bank. Logistically it turned out to be easier to have supervision run remotely and as such the support I received was via Skype and email. This involved being put in touch with former central bankers, planning interview questions and reviewing the interviews.
Download Kiran’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Structural Analysis of the Glycan Shield on Different HIV Env Trimers“
Dengue virus infects up to 500 million people a year and may result in hemorrhagic fever, while the related zika virus resulted in the 2015-2016 zika epidemic, with cases associated with microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults. Initially my research project intended to focus on the effect of antiviral compounds on infection with dengue virus and zika virus. While assessing the ability of iminosugar compounds to reduce viral infection by both dengue and zika, it became apparent that variation occurs with different cell types, as well as between the two viruses. As such, my project focused on the optimisation of virus growth on different cell types, which will be used in the future to test these antiviral compounds.
Download Re'em’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Mapping the challenges for environmental law after Brexit: accountability and the courts“
My project considered how UK courts have enforced EU environmental legal obligations, to understand what challenges environmental law will face when the UK leaves the EU. To explore this I looked at the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment and how the EU principle of effectiveness has changed the way UK courts enforced the law. I explore the theme of legal accountability to question what role courts should play in decisions about our environment, and explore how the EU legal culture has provided a framework for the relationship between courts and public authorities in environmental decision-making.
Download Maia’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Aim: To Develop Single-cell ChIP-seq to Characterise Chromatin States of Cell Subpopulations“
My project involved developing a technique that is used to characterise cancer cells in a novel way, by taking into account the unique environment of each individual cell. As this project was geared towards technique development as opposed to cell characterisation, I worked in a physics laboratory as opposed to a biochemical one.
Download Praveen’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Islamic extremism in English Muslim immigrant communities during the 1980s; origins, characteristics, successes and failures“
My project focused on examining the Muslim community in Britain using the East End of London as a case study. I focused my research on the development of their communal identity before 9/11 and how global events shaped how they viewed their religion and their status as British citizens to explain why at the end of the 20th century some began to turn towards religious fundamentalism as a solution to their grievances.
Download Katherine’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Numerical Analysis of Variable Intake Valves on Diesel Engine Combustion and Emissions“
Nitrogen oxide emissions are overtaking other chemical compounds as the most damaging to the ozone layer and air quality. In an experimental test on a prototype for the year 2021 Jaguar Land Rover engine, by adjusting the flow of air into a combustion chamber, NOx emissions were notably reduced for a slight tradeoff in unburnt fuel. My project was to conduct a numerical analysis to understand NOx emissions for phase air-fuel mixing using Converge, a computational fluid dynamics software, and a pre-existing model of the engine. Data was collected by running cases for different phases between the two air intake valve cycles to the combustion chamber and then meaningful hypothesis for the reduction in NOx were formed from the data.
Download Muyi’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“A study of changing notions of truth in Thucydides’ and Burke’s accounts of revolution“
I worked on an independent project investigating the way Thucydides explores notions of truth, both in his own period and for his own History. I originally intended to pursue a comparative study of the notions of truth in the work of Thucydides and Edmund Burke, expecting that there would be fruitful contrasts and links to the present; when I began looking into the Thucydidean scholarship in earnest, however, I decided to focus purely on his History. This decision arose partly because I discovered the topic of truthfulness in Thucydides was relatively understudied, and yet was a basis for some extremely prominent debates and works. I was also convicted early in my planning phase that a crucial element of Thucydides’ style and authority had been missed by the previous scholarship: he treated his own claims to truthfulness with a dose of circumspection and irony, as a way of demonstrating both his artistry and sincerity.
Download Daniel’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Do Animals Really Use Quantum Mechanics to Sense the Earth’s Magnetic Field?“
For my research project, I investigated the quantum mechanical magnetic field effects of natural flavo-proteins, which are potential candidates for magnetoreception in animals and plants. By understanding the origins of magnetoreception, we hope that it will begin to give some understanding as to how animals migrate and contribute to the emerging field of quantum biology. During my 8 weeks of placement, I learned to use a spectroscopic technique which is unique to Oxford University called Cavity Ring Down Spectroscopy (CDRS). This involed using three class 4 LASERs and having LASER safety training. Using this technique, I worked with a DPhil student to analyse the magnetic field effects of two different biological proteins. We then worked up the data using matlab coding skills, which meant I was very involved in not only the processing of the data but also the statistical analysis of it.
Download Jessica’s presentation poster for more details of this project.
“Temporal and chemical variations of Vesuvian eruptions from the 18th to early 20th Century, from analysis of contemporary reports and archived materials“
Between 1631 and 1944 Vesuvius was active with its eruptions varying between fire fountaining and slow effusive style. My research project was to investigate what caused these variations and how society viewed them. This was done by doing chemical analysis of pyroxenes in lava samples and the use of artwork and literature. The samples I used were provided by Oxford University’s Natural History Museum. They have a large range of samples from this time period that were collected by previous professors of the university such as John Philips and Charles Daubeny. The samples I used were from the Philips work, however they had not been catalogued or analysed previously. Once they had been catalogued, I was granted permission by the museum to analyse them. This included looking at the whole rock composition, creating thin sections of them, imaging the pyroxenes on the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). Once I had identified the pyroxenes in a sample I would select 10 to analyse, on the Electron Probe, how the chemistry varied across the zones of the mineral. This chemical variation across the growth zones reflects how the magma chamber that the pyroxene grew from changed during the period of growth.
Download Emma’s presentation poster for more details of this project.