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Applications for the 2025 WIN Engagement Ambassador programme will open in autumn 2024. 

Considering applying? Please read the FAQ first. 


Engaging with the public is a vital component of academic research. It not only lets us inform and inspire the many audiences who are major stakeholders in our research, but it can also help to shape us as researchers and shape the research that we do. To foster a culture in which public engagement can thrive, we set up the Public Engagement Ambassadors Scheme in 2017.  Each year, our ambassadors receive formal training in public engagement and are given lots of opportunity to hone their PE skills throughout the year. You can find out more about the current (2024) and prior 2020-2023 ambassadors below.

public engagement Ambassadors 2024

Grid composite of six headshots, all women smiling at the camera in front of neutral backgrounds.


Lara Bolte is a DPhil student in Psychiatry. “My research focuses on the interplay of longitudinal changes in white matter integrity, cognition, and clinical outcomes during the early stages of psychosis. Prior to starting my DPhil, I worked on other neurological and psychiatric disorders including different forms of dementia and epilepsy. I am excited to be an engagement ambassador because I want to help bridge the gap between science and “the real world” and believe that making scientific progress more available, communicating with the public, and valuing their input will get us closer to reaching that goal.” 

Polytimi Frangou is a postdoc in the Stagg research group. “My research looks into the role of brain chemicals in interpreting the world around us. I am particularly interested in what goes wrong when patients experience visual hallucinations and in developing new treatments that can improve their quality of life. Being an ambassador offers great opportunities to share what being a neuroscientist is like with children and inspire them to follow a career in STEM. I look forward to the excellent training programme that is planned for us this year!” 

Eugénie La Grange is the Executive Assistant to some senior staff members at WIN, including Heidi Johansen-Berg and Stuart Clare. “I’m involved with a broad range of administrative tasks within WIN and I work with a lot of the core staff team members to ensure that the day-to-day operations of the centre are managed efficiently. I was motivated to be an Engagement Ambassador as I am inspired by the passion, dedication, hard work, and scientific excellence that is incorporated by the students, researchers, and PIs at the centre. I believe that the research being performed here will continue to have a positive impact on the broader scientific landscape and I want to do my best to help inspire more people to pursue a path of scientific discovery and innovation.” 

Sarah Schreiber is an MRes student working in WIN’s Pain and Aversive Learning Lab. "My research focuses on the relationship between sleep and pain avoidance learning. I use neuroimaging to study brain activity during sleep and wakefulness to understand how learned information is reorganized during sleep. I'm excited to share my enthusiasm for science with everyone and to be part of a team working to make research more accessible and inclusive.” 

Faye Tabone is a Research Assistant in NDCN, primarily involved in the development and validation of new tools to assess cognitive, visual, and motor impairments post-stroke. “I applied to be an amabssador because I strongly believe in collaborating with patients to make our research truly impactful. Additionally, ensuring that our research not only addresses real-world needs but is also communicated effectively to a broader audience in an engaging manner.”  

Rebecca Willis is a DPhil student in the WIN Vision Group. “I’m investigating how the brain changes when children with a Lazy Eye receive Patching Therapy. I’m really excited to be an engagement ambassador this year. I think that working with the public to make our research relevant and accessible is really important!” 

Additionally, WIN students Izabelle Lovgren (DPhil) and RuoHan Liu (MRes) were selected to be 2024 Sports Engagement Ambassadors, as part of the university-wide programme coordinated by WIN's Football on the Brain public engagement project. 

Public engagement ambassadors 2023

 Headshots of 2023 PE Ambassadors. Seven people.

Laura Cini is a research assistant working within WIN’s core staff team. She supports WIN’s programme of translational research which includes assisting with activities of multiple in-house translational clinical research studies and external trials. She supports WIN’s innovation and technology transfer activities and is also involved with policy engagement projects. She is excited to be a public engagement ambassador to better engage participants of clinical trials and ensure this reaches a diverse group of people. 

Eoin Kelleher is a DPhil student in Irene Tracey’s PAIN group, and his work focuses on the interplay between sleep and cognition in people with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. His background is as an anaesthetist from Dublin, Ireland. When not at work, he can be found doodling cartoons! 

Camille Lasbareilles is a second year DPhil student in Clinical Neuroscience at WIN. Her research aims to improve our current understanding of non-invasive brain stimulation, specifically transcranial alternating current stimulation, in the context of healthy human motor learning and post-stroke upper limb motor recovery. Camille feels that public engagement is a vital part of science and is thrilled to be a part of a team that promotes the dissemination of knowledge to the wider community in a fun and accessible manner.  

Sumedha Nalluru is a research assistant working in Dr Helen Barron and Prof Jill O’Reilly’s groups, in MRC BNDU and the Department of Experimental Psychology. Currently, she is working on a project looking into the neural computations in learning and memory. Prior to this she completed her MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, and did one of her rotation projects on microglia in ALS and the other on learning and decision-making in adolescent psychiatric conditions. Through public and policy engagement she hopes to better communicate science and research to make it more inclusive and accessible. 

Barbara Robinson is a Research Assistant in the Plasticity Group at WIN. Her research examines the relationship between sleep and rehabilitation after stroke, such as testing whether poor sleep can be improved in stroke survivors and if this has a subsequent impact on movement learning. As a Public Engagement Ambassador, she hopes to deliver exciting experiences that make research both accessible and relatable. 

Abi Wyllie is a research assistant in the WIN Vision Group, working on multiple research projects investigating amblyopia (lazy eye), Charles Bonnet syndrome, and looking behaviour. She is currently working on a public engagement research project about art and culture and has been involved in other public engagement activities in the past, including the 'Big Brain Roadshow', which set up interactive stalls in secondary schools to show students the types of things the University is researching and get them interested in science and research. She is excited to work with the public and increase communication with them to better spread the word about the research being done at WIN. 

Qiming Yuan (Simon) is a DPhil Student in Experimental Psychology at the Speech and Brain Research Group. Simon is investigating the neural basis of speech disorders (e.g., stuttering). Specifically, He uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see how brain function and structure change in people with speech disorders and how we can use noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) to enhance their speech fluency. The research has the potential for both understanding the role of our brain when we speak and triggering the improvement of therapeutic interventions for people with speech disorders. He is thrilled to be a public engagement ambassador and hopes to use this opportunity to introduce speech and language research to the public.  

Additionally, WIN DPhil students Denise Kohlhepp and Zhiyu (Jerry) Zheng were selected to be 2023 Sports Engagement Ambassadors, as part of the university-wide programme coordinated by WIN's Football on the Brain public engagement project.


Profile photos of the WIN Public Engagement Ambassadors 2022.

Merethe Blandhol is a research assistant working in the Psychopharmacology and Emotion Research Lab in the Department of Psychiatry. Currently, she is working on projects looking at new potential treatments for depression by investigating how emotional information is processed in the brain. Before this, she completed her MSc in Psychological Research at the University of Oxford, looking at sustained attention and fatigue across the lifespan. Through public engagement Merethe hopes to make science and research more inclusive and accessible to a wider group of people. 

Sankalp Garud is a DPhil candidate in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. His research focuses on how we choose and initiate our social relationships like friendships. He studies how the background environment might impact our propensity to form friendships, and what regions in the brain might support such decisions. He likes public engagement to communicate the exciting discoveries psychologists and neuroscientists with people interested in learning about the mind and the brain. 

Lucy Jobbins is a Research Assistant in the Heart and Brain Group within the Department of Psychiatry. Here, she leads participant testing, which combines MRI, vascular ultrasound, and cognitive testing to examine the relationship between the heart and brain as people age. She is passionate about finding novel targets for intervention in dementia. Furthermore, during her BSc and MSc, she worked closely with people with dementia to produce multiple projects such as co-producing a peer support intervention and a poetry project. She is excited to be a Public Engagement Ambassador to improve understanding of dementia and end the stigma about the disease.

Daniel Kor is a DPhil student in Clinical Neurosciences in the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging. His research seeks to explain the biological basis of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). He does this by marrying microscope data with MRI images. As a WIN Public Engagement Ambassador, he would like to make a small but lasting impact on school students who may not have had the necessary resources to learn science, or who may not have had a positive experience with science. He would like to show how real science is, and how it can be used to study really cool phenomena. 

Morgan Mitchell is a Research Assistant in the Plasticity Group at the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging. Her research explores the use of using sound (auditory stimulation) during sleep as an intervention to boost the memory consolidation processes underlying the learning and relearning of movement for stroke rehabilitation patients. Having been involved in public engagement projects and community-based research positions previously, Morgan is excited about engaging a range of different audiences in neuroscience research in a way that presents complex concepts as both fun and relevant. In turn, she is also passionate about making sure that academic research becomes more representative of the surrounding community. 

Raihaan Patel is a postdoctoral researcher in the Heart and Brain Group. Raihaan's research aims to understand how the co-occurrence of multiple chronic health conditions, termed multimorbidity, impacts neuroanatomy, cognitive decline, and dementia risk. As a Public Engagement Ambassador, Raihaan hopes to build relationships with the public to better communicate how neuroscience research can impact public health. 

Lucy Starling is a research assistant in the WIN Vision Group, primarily assisting with a research project that aims to understand the capacity for visual rehabilitation after stroke. She has taken part in public engagement activities in the past, including supporting a ‘Soapbox Science’ event in York, which allowed female scientists to share their research with the general public. She is particularly interested in improving engagement with science in women and girls, as well as young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.  


Public Engagement Ambassadors 2021

Public Engagement People 2021

Jemma Pitt is DPhil student in Psychiatry interested in developing biomarkers for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. I am involved in a study that uses multiple neuroimaging techniques (MRI & MEG) to track disease change that will hopefully help identify the earliest features of Alzheimer’s for future clinical trials. I really enjoy getting to know patients and their families, and hope I can share my love of brains through public engagement.

Lilian Weber is a postdoctoral researcher in the Cognitive Computational Neuroscience lab at the Department of Psychiatry. In her PhD at ETH Zurich, and in her current work, she tries to understand how drugs affect the way we perceive the world and make good decisions. She hopes that this understanding will contribute to developing better treatments for psychiatric illnesses. Passionate about raising mental health awareness, she hopes to engage with young people from all backgrounds and encourage them to think about their brains in a scientific way - and discover the fun in science and engineering.

Madalena Fonseca is a Junior Fellow sponsored by the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging. Her research explores how the brain balances different sources of information to make decisions about if and when to act. She is particularly interested in understanding how the brain chemical serotonin (one of the main targets of psychiatric drugs) interacts with other brain systems to regulate these types of decisions. As a Public Engagement Ambassador, Madalena hopes to help build trust in science and inspire young people from all backgrounds to become part of the scientific community themselves. 

Sonia Vallentin is currently Project Coordinator for the AGENDA Project, a research group that aims to improve the diagnosis of epilepsy in Brazil, India, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe through designing portable electroencephalograms and smartphone applications. Before coming to NDCN, she completed an MSc in Global Mental Health at King's College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She is interested in the design and implementation of interventions to address the treatment gap for mental and neurological disorders in low-resource settings. 

Joel Fundaun is a DPhil candidate and physiotherapist interested in neuropathic pain after whiplash injuries. Joel’s project involves using skin biopsies and clinical sensory tests to assess for nerve pathology. He is also interested in understanding factors that may predict persistent pain. Joel has been involved in multiple public engagement projects as a clinician and is excited to combine that with his research interests. 

Hossein Rafipoor is a DPhil student in Clinical Neurosciences interested in neuroimaging. His research aims to develop new software tools that can be used to study microstructural changes in the brain through diseases or developmental processes using MRI scans. For many years, Hossein has been involved in introducing neuroscience to high school students, as he believes this is a fascinating field of research that the next generation should know about since early ages. Hossein would like everyone with any background and level of education to see they can both contribute to and benefit from studying the brain. 

Oana Gurau is a DPhil student in Clinical Neurosciences who seeks to understand different memory mechanisms at a behavioural level, by asking how age groups differ in their memory use and how this function is affected in patients with autoimmune limbic encephalitis. Through her research, she aims to contribute to the prevention of common neurological diseases. Passionate about education as a gateway to equity, she hopes to demystify neuroscience and make it accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. 

Neil Garrett is a researcher in the Experimental Psychology department at Oxford University. My research looks at how humans learn the value of things they encounter in everyday life and use this to make decisions in the world. Central to this is how humans form a sense of how "good" their world is at the moment - a new job opportunity might be perceived as good or bad for instance depending on whether the economy is in a recession or doing well. I use a mixture of experiments and fMRI to try to understand this process. I love public engagement for it's capacity to get me out from behind a computer, connect with people outside of my academic circle and get others interested in how the brain attempts to tackle decision making.   

Sarah Vollam is a post-doctoral researcher. With an intensive care nursing background, her research focuses on improving recognition of worsening illness in hospitalised patients, and improving the care of patients discharged from intensive care to the wards. She believes involving patients and the wider public in her research is central to ensuring it is relevant and useful. 


Public Engagement Ambassadors 2020

Images of the eight new public engagement ambassadors 

Andrew Galloway is the Research Coordinator the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neurogaming. Andrew completed his PhD in phytology (plant science) at ​​the University of Leeds. He also completed two postdocs at Leeds and at the University of Tromsø, which is 200 miles from the north pole in plant root polysaccharide secretions aka plant snot. Andrew's peers would describe him as a plant fantastic who really enjoys speaking to the public and school children about scientific misperceptions. ​
Beatriz Silveira is a DPhil student in Clinical Neurosciences. Her research focuses on developing non-invasive means of treating tremor in essential tremor and Parkinson's disease. She hopes that this work​​ will result in tremor treatment that is available to a wider demographics. Beatriz is passionate about mentoring and aims to inspire young people from diverse backgrounds to engage with science and engineering. 
MaryAnn Noonan is the group leader of the Developmental Neuroscience's lab. For the last 10 years her research has explored how individuals learn and make decisions. Her work investigates how cognitive functions responsible for goal-directed behaviour develop across adolescence and how the brain adapts during this critical period of life. MaryAnn enjoys being part of public engagement events and, to meet the challenges that 2020 brings, I am excited to develop activities that can bring us together and bring science into our homes - virtually. 
Yan Tse is DPhil student in the Sleep and Cognitive Neuroscience Institute (SCNi).  Her research focuses on the investigation of the mechanistic pathway between insomnia and depression. Yan has been involved in several public engagement events with children and adults. she is passionate in promoting the importance of research to the public and to encourage everyone to participate in research studies.
Cristiana Tisca is a DPhil student within the Oxford-Nottingham Centre for Doctoral Training in Biomedical Imaging, working on brain imaging of genetically modified mouse models. Cristiana is interested in linking her findings in animal models to observations from human brain imaging studies. She would like to encourage people of all ages and levels of education to think more about their brains, by introducing them to some of the scientific questions we've been able to answer about the nervous system. As a WIN Public Engagement Ambassador, Cristiana hopes to inspire young people from all backgrounds, and in particular women, to consider a career in science. 
Selene Lee is a DPhil student in Clinical Neurosciences focusing on synucleinopathies. Her research aims to investigate the biochemical and structural properties of a-synuclein strains of different synucleinopathies generated from a protein aggregation technique called RT-QuIC (Real time Quacking Induced Conversion assay). Selene is interested in bridging the gap between the public and the scientific community by making science more accessible and approachable.   
Hanna Willis is a DPhil student in Clinical Neurosciences interested in cortical blindness after stroke. Hanna's research a​ims to understand the capacity for visual rehabilitation after stroke and the neural mechanisms that underlie any improvements. She has been involved in a range of public engagement activities before and is particularly interested in engaging with children, adults and patient groups and encouraging everyone to be interested in science. Hanna would like everyone to see science as fun, relevant and something they can be involved in.
Giedre Cepukaityte is a PhD student in Experimental Psychology interested in memory functions across healthy ageing and in people who are at an increased genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder that affects memory. Her research aims to aid early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease by developing computerised memory tests that can detect subtle changes in memory that occur before the start of clinical symptoms. She is interested in creating fun and engaging activities that would foster interest in science and its applications.