Research News

Professor Alison Noble, Professorial Fellow in Engineering at St Hilda's College and Director of Oxford’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME), was elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Society on 5 May 2017. Professor Noble's election to this prestigious learned society recognises her ground-breaking biomedical image analysis research. Professor Noble's work has advanced knowledge of how to automatically extract clinically-useful information from medical ultrasound scans.

Professor Noble was awarded the inaugural Laura Bassi Award for Outstanding Female Researcher of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2015. In 2016, the IBME received the Queen's Anniversary Prize for the University's pioneering work in biomedical engineering and Professor Noble was part of a group of members who, with the University's Chancellor, Lord Patten of Barnes, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, attended the award ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Awarded every two years, the Queen's Anniversary Prizes recognise universities and colleges which have demonstrated excellence, innovation, impact and societal benefit.

Dr Helen Swift, Tutorial Fellow in Medieval French and Tutor for Graduates, took part in 'In Our Time' on Radio 4 on 9 June 2017. Dr Swift and other guests discussed with Melvin Bragg the life and works of Christine de Pizan, who wrote at the French Court in the late Middle Ages and was celebrated by Simone de Beauvoir as the first woman to 'take up her pen in defence of her sex.' Christine de Pizan wrote across a broad range, and was particularly noted for challenging the depiction of women by famous writers such as Jean de Meun, author of the Romance of the Rose. She has been characterised as an early feminist who argued that women could play a much more important role in society than the one they were allotted, reflected in arguably her most important work, The Book of the City of Ladies, a response to the seemingly endless denigration of women in popular texts of the time. Listen to the programme here. Dr Swift's book, 'Representing the Dead: Epitaph Fictions in Late-Medieval France', an examination of how the dead were memorialised in late medieval French literature, was published by Boydell & Brewer in October 2016.

Professor Julia Yeomans has been awarded £78K funding from BBSRC for a pre-competitive multi-disciplinary research project involving collaborations between academia and the food industry. The project, entitled ‘Developing multiscale models of digestion to enable targeted product solutions for nutrition and metabolic health’, aims to stimulate technological advances that can deliver healthy nutrition for consumers. The project is led by Professor Gary Frost at Imperial College London, with co-investigators Dr Maria Charalambides (Imperial), Professor Julia Yeomans (University of Oxford), Professor Serafim Bakalis (University of Birmingham), Dr Cathrina Edwards (Institute of Food Research), and Professor Alan Mackie (University of Leeds). The research is supported by BBSRC, MRC, EPSRC, and ESRC, with Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mondelez and pladis as industrial partners. Read more here.

Professor Julia Yeomans had an article published in Nature entitled ‘Topological defects in epithelia govern cell death and extrusion. Read it here.

Our Principal Professor Sir Gordon Duff was awarded the Sir James Black Award for Contributions to Drug Discovery by the British Pharmacological Society, to recognise his group's original discovery of Tumour Necrosis Factor alpha (TNFα) as a therapeutic target in human arthritis in December 2016. Inhibitors of TNFα have also been used in the treatment of other diseases including including severe inflammatory diseases of skin, GI tract and lungs. Drugs that target TNFα are among the most notable therapeutic developments in modern medicine and have improved the lives of millions of patients worldwide.

Professor Selina Todd, Tutorial Fellow in History, St Hilda's College; Professor in Modern British History, History Faculty, has been awarded a John Fell fund to support her work on a study of social mobility since the 19th century. Read more here. Professor Todd has also been awarded an Arts and Humanities Council Fellowship of £245,000 to study Shelagh Delaney and feminism. This award will enable Professor Todd to write a book on this topic to be published by Chatto and Windus, and to stage a trilogy of Shelagh Delaney's plays in collaboration with her project partners: the Guinness Housing Partnership and their tenants in Salford, MaD Theatre Company in Manchester, Charlotte Delaney (playwright), and the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. 

Dr Ana Namburete, an Associate Research Fellow, has been awarded a prestigious five-year Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship. These fellowships support outstanding early career researchers to establish research groups. Dr Namburete's research focuses on creating computational algorithms to enhance the diagnostic value of sonographic images. Through her work, she aims to establish ultrasound as a cost-effective tool for early assessment of brain maturation during pregnancy. Dr Namburete has also secured funding through the UK government's Global Research Challenges scheme to form knowledge exchange links between Africa- and UK-based scientists.

Dr Ben Bradford, Associate Research Fellow in Criminology, has published two titles: 'Stop and Search and Police Legitimacy' by Routledge, in the Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice series in 2016 and The SAGE Handbook of Global Policing, co-edited with B. Jauregui, I. Loader and J. Steinberg by SAGE, also in 2016.

Associate Professor Sarah Green, Lord Hoffmann Fellow in Law at St Hilda's College, was awarded funding from the John Fell fund to finance a workshop in College on 19th May 2017 on "Illegality after Patel v Mirza". This will bring together leading academics and judges from across the common law world to discuss the wide-ranging implications of one of the most significant Supreme Court decisions of recent times. A book on the results of the discussion will be published in 2018 by Bloomsbury/Hart. Sarah Green has also been awarded, jointly with David Fox (Cambridge), Travers Smith Funding for an invited workshop in St Hilda’s on 7th July on ‘Private Law Aspects of Virtual Currencies’. The papers discussed will be edited by David Fox and Sarah Green and published in 2019.

Dr David Howey has been successful in two joint applications to the EPSRC Global Challenges Research Fund focused on off-grid battery systems (totalling around £120k, one of them in collaboration with Physics), and an InnovateUK project to study re-use of lithium-ion batteries at end of life (£76k). Dr Howey also has a new St Hilda's graduate student, Trishna Raj, who is part-sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover. She will be studying accelerated ageing of lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Our Tutorial Fellow in Zoology and Associate Professor of Evolutionary Genomics, Department of Zoology Dr Aris Katzourakis's work on on viral fossil hunting was discussed in an article in Quantum Magazine in March 2017.

Professor Julia Yeomans is part of a team of scientists that used a virtual prototype to demonstrate how the natural movement of bacteria could be harnessed to turn cylindrical rotors and provide a steady power source. The team has been exploring the potential of the natural movement of bacteria to serve as a power source. These microscopic 'natural engines' may one day be able to power micromachines such as smartphone components. Read more in Scientific Advances.

Professor Amanda Cooper-Sarkar was awarded the 2015 Chadwick Prize and Medal for her study of deep inelastic scattering of leptons on nuclei, which has revealed the internal structure of the proton. Professor Cooper-Sarkar plays a leading role in the ATLAS groups at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The ATLAS groups are making new measurements of the proton structure function, thereby ensuring that new generations are able to use the techniques that Dr Cooper-Sarker has devised to make improved measurements of the proton structure in future years.

Dr Robert Paton, Fellow in Organic Chemistry, received an Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from the American Chemical Society and OpenEye Scientific Software, for 'Redefining the rules for ring closure through computations: quantifying substrate and catalyst control with quantum chemistry'. The ACS COMP OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award program provides $1,000 to up to four outstanding tenure-track junior faculty members to present their work in COMP symposia.The Awards are designed to assist new faculty members in gaining visibility within the COMP community. Dr Paton received the award at the American Chemical Society National Meeting held in Boston in 2015.

Take a look at our Academic Staff profiles for further information about their research interests.

Graduate student Giovanna di Martino (DPhil Classical Languages and Literature) organised the event 'Translation into Theatre and the Social Sciences', 16-17 June 2017. The conference is being supported by the University of Oxford, Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation, the British Comparative Literature Association, the Oxford Theatre and Performance network, the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, and St Hilda’s College. Day 1 of the Conference will take place at St Hilda's. Keynote speakers are Professor Carole-Anne Upton (Middlesex University London); Margherita Laera (University of Kent); Lorna Hardwick (The Open University); and Liliane Campos (Université Paris Sorbonne-Nouvelle).

Some of our graduate students have won prestigious awards, such as the Humane Studies Graduate Fellowship awarded by the Institute of Humane Studies to the 2015/16 President of the Middle Common Room, Kameron St Clare.

St Hilda’s students have also taken part in projects throughout the University, such as the Digital Manuscript Toolkit project at the Bodleian Library. Daniel Sawyer led one strand of this, provisionally investigating how we can use digital tools to investigate and present medieval roll manuscripts.

Our students regularly attend conferences, such as the CHAVI-ID conference in September 2015 at Duke University (North Carolina, USA), at which Thomas Partridge gave a talk on a method he is using to identify novel T cell targets on HIV-1-infected cells, which could potentially be of use in vaccine strategies. For this, he won a Pre-doctoral Award and a poster prize.