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We have appointed our fiith cohort of five Public Engagement Ambassadors to lead and develop public engagement activities in the lab.

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.   
Hannah Willis is a DPhil student in Clinical Neurosciences interested in cortical blindness after stroke. Hannah'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. Hannah 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.