Vice-Chancellor’s Awards

Vice-Chancellor's Awards banner

The Vice-Chancellor’s Awards recognise the achievements and celebrate success across the collegiate University, from academics and researchers to professional, technical and support staff. 

What was previously five separate groups of awards became a University-wide celebration in 2024, with 11 categories spanning strategically important areas.

A Showcase of the shortlisted nominations took place at the Weston Library, and the winners were announced at a special ceremony hosted by the Vice-Chancellor in the Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday 8 May.

This year’s awards brought out the very best of Oxford. It highlighted the outstanding contributions our amazing people make every day in this great collegiate University.

Bringing the awards together into one larger celebration allowed us to learn from and inspire each other across disciplines. It was fantastic meeting the finalists at the showcase and ceremony. I would like to congratulate not only the highly commended and winning teams, but also the hundreds of colleagues from all parts of the University who were nominated. Thank you for your commitment to the University’s mission of teaching and research.

About the awards

About the awards

The Vice-Chancellor’s Awards recognise the achievements and celebrate success across the collegiate University, from academics and researchers to professional, technical and support staff. 

What was previously five separate groups of awards became a University-wide celebration in 2024, with 11 categories spanning strategically important areas.

In 2024, there were 250 award entries, with 1,500 individuals included in the nominations, from all parts of the University and colleges.

Nominations were assessed by stream judging panels made up of colleagues from across the central University, divisions, colleges and GLAM. Final decisions about the winners and highly commended nominations were made by the Vice-Chancellor and Senior Officers.

A total of 65 nominations were shortlisted, and were given an opportunity to share their work at a showcase event at the Weston Library from Tuesday 7 May to Thursday 9 May 2024.

The winners of the 2024 awards were announced a special ceremony hosted by the Vice-Chancellor at the Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday 8 May.

You can find information about the finalists of the 2024 awards on the 2024 winners tab.

Information about awards in future years will be announced in due course.

2024 winners

Congratulations to all the teams and individuals nominated in the 2024 awards.

Click on the award names below to find out about the winners and highly commended nominations. 

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Recognising groups of colleagues who have supported students' development.  

Winner:

Heritage Pathways: supporting student development through training and sector engagement – Humanities Division   

Since 2015, The Humanities Division’s Heritage Partnerships Team has been developing an extensive training and development programme for students and early career researchers to provide the skills, knowledge and confidence to engage effectively with external heritage partners in what is a notoriously competitive sector. Through a range of training opportunities internships, doctoral placements the programme encourages participants to understand their research in a wider context and gain valuable professional experience.

Highly commended:

Promoting a 'value added' culture in an undergraduate programme – Regent's Park College 

The Regent’s College History cohort is consistently over 90% state school, and with over half of its students coming from backgrounds flagged with widening participation characteristics. Over the last five years 47% of its historians have gained Firsts in their finals. The college has achieved this through a holistic approach to education, centring welfare, academic enrichment classes which go beyond the standard curriculum, and a culture which emphasises inclusivity and collective support as well as individual ambition and independent thinking.

Finalists:

  • Hertford Library: the heart of student support – Hertford College  
  • Oxford SDG Impact Lab – Oxford Department of International Development  
  • Somerville Skills Hub: delivering academic, wellbeing and careers support – Somerville College  
  • Supporting disabled student inclusion through creation of accessible resources – Accessible Resources Unit, Bodleian Libraries  
  • Tailored Sold Support Pathway and Student Support Plans – Student Welfare and Support Services, and Centre for Teaching and Learning 

Recognising groups of colleagues who have implemented new approaches to education at Oxford. 

Winner: 

North Korea Crisis Simulation, Master of Public Policy (MPP) – Blavatnik School of Government 

The Blavatnik School’s students must be prepared to make high-stakes decisions in difficult circumstances, and the North Korea Crisis Simulation is a course that prepares them for this. In June 2023, 48 Master of Public Policy students worked intensively to navigate a complex economic, political, and military scenario in the North Korea Crisis Simulation. By combining structural features of a ‘war-game’, which is then conducted under time-pressure, students have not just an immersive learning experience, but experience a level of agency which is otherwise unachievable in a conventional teaching context.

Highly Commended:  

A comprehensive self-directed online course in statistics for everyone – Nuffield Department of Population Health 

Developed by a team of staff and students across the Medical Sciences Division, this fully online and self-directed statistics course increases capacity for statistical training. Fundamentals of Statistical Software and Analysis provides self-directed learning materials, including over 65 videos that span over 40 different statistical techniques, all available in R, SPSS or Stata. Within a week of opening there were over 60 students registered, with over 350 registrations a year later. Alumni leaving Oxford have since asked to translate the course into other languages to use on other continents.

Finalists: 

  • Blocking Biochemistry: an innovative immersive approach to teaching and learning – Department of Biochemistry 
  • First augmented reality experience in MBA course worldwide – IT Services, Saïd Business School and Department of Computer Science

Recognising groups of colleagues who have adopted approaches that make teaching more inclusive for different groups of students. 

Winner:   

Digital Synergy: Unleashing dynamic and inclusive anatomy education – Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) 

The Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics team created a diverse range of teaching initiatives using immersive technologies to support their students. This included virtual reality and digital resources such as 3D software tools, touch screen devices, and H5P-based Canvas materials - all aiming to enhance students’ learning by reducing barriers that could hinder their engagement in anatomy learning. Student feedback has been incredibly positive, and the nomination outlined the collaborative team working practices across various skills and knowledge from different departments and alignment with the university's Digitally Supported Inclusive Teaching Toolkit. 

Highly commended:  

Training conservation scientists and practitioners from around the world – Department of Biology 

The Post Graduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice run by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit aims to train conservation biologists and practitioners from the Global South and furbish them with useful skills and cutting-edge techniques. The team brings colleagues from these regions to train and learn in Oxford, enabling them to make an impact in their home regions. They focus on the most talented and least privileged applicants, who would not normally have the opportunity to attend a world-class university. 

Diversifying the curriculum in Biblical Studies at Oxford – Faculty of Theology and Religion

 A new paper in New Testament studies, first offered in 2021 and provocatively entitled ‘Why Women, the Environment, Colonisation, and Black Lives Matter to New Testament Interpretation’ invites students to think critically and carefully about how perspectives and approaches can determine our interpretation of a biblical text. The teaching team at the Faculty of Theology and Religion diversified the curriculum, by intentionally including scholars and teaching approaches in the classes. The class format also enables students with diverse learning needs, especially students with Student Support Plans.

Finalist:

  • Diversification of assessments in Sleep Medicine – Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Recognising those who have enriched their research through engaging with those outside the University, for the benefits of wider society. 

Winner: 

REACH: improving water security for vulnerable people in Africa and Asia – School of Geography and the Environment

Since 2015, Oxford has led a global programme of research with partners in governments, universities, civil society organisations and UNICEF to improve water security for 10 million poor people by 2024. Through respectful and inclusive partnerships, major advances have been achieved in delivering safe and reliable drinking water for communities, health clinics and schools, understanding and responding to floods and droughts in East Africa and Bangladesh, and addressing river water pollution in Ethiopia. 

Highly commended:

Influencing the design and implementation of biodiversity net gain in England – Department of Biology

Producing guidance for local authorities and engaging with them extensively; presenting to private committees in Parliament; and working with businesses, people experiencing new housing developments and farmers to put research in to practice - the team from the Department of Biology have informed the public and influenced the policy development at both national and local levels for one of the world’s most innovative new ecological policies, Biodiversity Net Gain in England. 

‘Your Amazing Brain’: A university and regional museum partnership – Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging and Banbury Museum

‘Your Amazing Brain: A User’s Guide’ is a multi-year collaboration between the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging and Banbury Museum, culminating in a family friendly neuroscience exhibition and accompanying events programme that travelled to Discover Bucks Museum in Aylesbury and is on long-term loan to the Rumble Museum at Cheney School.

Finalists: 

  • Building sustainable relationships with local Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities – Department of Psychiatry 
  • Collecting COVID Project: Public and community engagement with research – History of Science Museum and Bodleian Libraries 
  • Funder co-ordination for clinical trial pandemic preparedness policies – Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness Research & Policy Team, Pandemic Sciences Institute 
  • Sensing volcanoes: public and community engagement with volcanic risk – Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford; University of East Anglia; University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory

Recognising individuals or teams undertaking research-led innovation or commercialisation. 

Winner:  

The R21/Matrix-M Malaria vaccine clinical development programme – Nuffield Department of Medicine   

The R21/Matrix-M Malaria vaccine is the first example, that we are aware of, where a vaccine has been directly licensed by a university to a large-scale manufacturer (rather than a spinout, a biotech or pharma company). The Nuffield Department of Medicine’s R21/Matrix-M Malaria Vaccine Clinical Development Programme’s success provides a superb example of innovation and strategic commercial partnering for large scale manufacture and impact with the University leading the clinical development, providing a new high efficacy low-cost product for saving the lives of millions of African children and supporting eventual malaria eradication.

Highly commended: 

Refeyn – Development and commercialisation of mass photometry: single molecule mass measurement  

Refeyn is a spinout from the Department of Chemistry based on a completely novel approach for weighing molecules using light scattering which emerged from more than a decade of fundamental research in ultrasensitive light microscopy and mass measurement workflows for biomolecules. It has raised close to $100M, employs 180 worldwide, and has sold 250 instruments with more than 100 papers published annually that leverage the technology.

The global dissemination of effective psychological treatments – Department of Psychiatry

Disseminating psychological treatments is not straightforward as they require well-trained therapists to deliver them. The team from the Department of Psychiatry have developed digital training, freely available to eligible therapists worldwide, and digital treatment through app-based cognitive behavioural therapy which is being piloted in the NHS.

Finalists: 

  • Brill Power – Making batteries better 
  • Improving global epilepsy diagnosis through interdisciplinary research and technologies – Epilepsy Pathway Innovation in Africa, and the Oxford Martin Programme on Global Epilepsy

Recognising those who have contributed to a positive, inclusive, and equitable research culture. 

Winner: 

Improving research culture in the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS), Oxford, and in the UK – Anjali Shah 

Anjali Shah has advocated for and represented Research Staff and helped to introduce policies to support researchers locally in the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, and the wider University, as well as at the national level with the UK Research Staff Association and the Wellcome Trust. She has been involved with the Researcher Development Concordat, the Reimagining Research Culture project and chaired the Oxford Research Staff Society.

Highly commended:  

‘The Hitchhiker’s guide to a Happier Lab’ – Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging 

A Lab Handbook is a document outlining a team’s ethos: its culture, expectations, and opportunities to provide all members with a consistent message on how the team operates. Building on their own experience the team at the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging created open writing resources and material to communicate the concept to a global research audience.

Developing an Ethical Fieldwork Code of Conduct for Oxford University – School of Geography and the Environment  

Driven by anti-racist activism by a collective of graduate students in the School of Geography and the Environment the Ethical Fieldwork Code of Conduct provides a framework for helping fieldworkers across disciplines, methods, country context, and career stages improve equity in their fieldwork processes.

Finalists: 

  • Growing an inclusive research team at the Pitt Rivers Museum 
  • Hope into Action: Social Sciences Impact Conference 2023 – Research Impact and Engagement Team, Social Sciences Division 
  • X-NET: Removing barriers for collaborative & inclusive interdisciplinary research – Oxford University (Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and the Kavli Institute); University of Edinburgh; University of Aberdeen; University of Dundee

Recognising colleagues who have partnered with others to make a positive difference locally, nationally or globally. 

Winners:

Inclusive programming for adults with learning disabilities in the University of Oxford’s Gardens, Libraries, and Museums (GLAM) 

Adults with Learning Disabilities are some of the most vulnerable, isolated and under-represented people in society, Engagement staff at the University of Oxford’s Gardens, Libraries, and Museums (GLAM) division address this gap with a free, regular and comprehensive programme in a holistic and friendly environment. The initiative was developed collaboratively with the community itself, empowering individuals to access GLAM’s seven venues and collections with confidence. 

Supporting young people from African families in accessing science capital – History of Science Museum and Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) scientists  

This collaboration saw colleagues from a number of University departments working with community group African Families in the UK to support young people of African and black Caribbean heritage to enjoy science and build cultural connections. Based in Blackbird Leys, one of the 20% most deprived wards in the country, the project included a programme of events and workshops at the History of Science Museum, the University’s science facilities, and other sites – helping those from migrant families to develop and build confidence and self-esteem, and bring them closer to the scientific community. 

Highly commended:  

Tackling childhood malnutrition in Oxfordshire: From grassroots to policy actions 

This community partnership brought together 65 stakeholders from community groups with policymakers and academics at a series of roundtable meetings to discuss poverty and food insecurity in Oxfordshire. They started a multidisciplinary dialogue about tackling income and food inequalities, and ensuring that every child in Oxfordshire has access to nutritious, affordable food every day. The meetings catalysed actions at local and national level, with the team feeding into the key local projects and policies in Oxfordshire, and engaging in national policy and advocacy dialogues as a result of this work. 

Finalists:  

  • Africa Oxford Initiative: Transformational impact via pan-university partnerships with African institutions (Winner of the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Contribution) 
  • Global Leadership Challenge: Empowering the next generation of responsible leaders – Department of Politics and International Relations 
  • Ten-Minute Book Club – English Faculty

Recognising professional and administrative staff who support the University's academic mission through delivering effective professional services. 

Winner: 

Innovative leadership in transformation and delivery of Professional Services – Lesa Levett, Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health (NDWRH) 

Lesa Levett is Head of Administration and Finance at the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health. Since her appointment, Lesa has been the driving force for change. Among other things she has introduced a new behaviour charter, biweekly pulse surveys, measures to promote mental health, service reviews and project management tools, and new staff development opportunities. Always leading by example, Lesa’s innovative leadership has transformed the operational delivery and culture of the department.

Highly commended:

Resilience and professionalism under challenging circumstances – Cassie Sprules, Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, University Administration Services (UAS)

Cassie Sprules in the Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach in the UAS experienced significant disruption to Oxford’s undergraduate admissions tests this year. In the most stressful of circumstances, Cassie remained calm, and supported the UAO team to provide effective customer service to candidates and their supporters who contacted the University. She was truly remarkable and an outstanding example to her colleagues, and without her level-headedness, bravery and resilience, the situation would have been so much worse. 

Supporting a healthy environment for University staff and students – Occupational Health team, University Administration Services (UAS)

The University Occupational Health Service has worked tirelessly to improve its service. Among other things, the team has offered proactive training through the Confident Manager and Wellbeing at Oxford programmes; implemented a new ‘case conference’ approach to those with complex health needs; migrated to a new IT platform; developed a new Ill-Health Early Retirement process; hosted the staff counselling service pilot and supported the roll-out of the University’s Employee Assistance Programme. This has led to significant performance improvements and reduced wait times. 

Finalists: 

  • Continuous improvement and collaborative working – Graduate Admissions team, UAS 
  • Cross-departmental collaborative partnership undertaking HR service review – NDORMS and the Department of Paediatrics 
  • Planning the shared building operations model for the Life and Mind Building – Biology and Experimental Psychology teams 
  • IT Professionals working together to deliver IT & AV systems for Reuben College and GLAM

Recognising colleagues who have furthered work to support the University’s Environmental Sustainability strategic goals and commitments.

Winner:  

Global Youth Climate Training – School of Geography and the Environment  

Global Youth Climate Training is a partnership between the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, the Global Youth Coalition and Eco Interpreters. Through 13 free fortnightly training sessions, the team educated 4,500 activists under the age of 35 from over 177 countries. The training empowered young people around the world with the knowledge and skills to navigate and engage effectively with climate change. There were more than 10,000 applications for the free training, the majority of whom were from areas most impacted by climate change. 

Highly commended:  

‘Everything is Connected’ season – Cultural Programme, Humanities Division   

'Everything is Connected' was a two-month programme of events from the Cultural Programme in the Humanities Division. It gave an opportunity for the public to engage in academic research focusing on the environment and the challenges facing humanity. Activities included an installation that translated words into birdsong to highlight the precarity of species of birds being pushed to ‘pollution pods’ that allowed people to experience the quality of air in some highly polluted cities. In total, 8,000 people took part in the 38 events offer the course of the season. 

Finalists: 

  • Advancing cycle safety through the Vision Zero Working Group – Ed Wigzell, Environmental Sustainability team, Estates Services 
  • Biodiversity friendly futures for the highlands of Ethiopia – Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), Department of Biology 
  • Driving multiple colleges’ sustainability progress – Peter Nitsche-Whitfield, Lincoln College 
  • Supporting prospective international undergraduate applicants sustainably – Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach team, UAS 

Recognising colleagues who role model equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) through their work, and have made a difference to EDI at Oxford.

Winner:  

‘We Are Our History’ project – Bodleian Libraries  

‘We Are Our History: Towards Racial Equity’ is a project that helps the Bodleian Libraries to take a close look at its collections, its work with audiences, and its staffing through the lens of race and the legacies of the British Empire. The aim is to make recommendations for improvements in a range of areas covering collections, audiences and staffing – supporting the Bodleian’s commitment to actively foster inclusion and diversity in everything it does. 

Highly commended:  

Medical Sciences Division Inclusive Leadership Programme  

The Medical Sciences Division has developed an Inclusive Leadership Programme that trains Oxford Principal Investigators and professional services leaders to become more inclusive, transparent, and supportive leaders.  Through a series of training sessions and workshops to nurture leadership skills for fostering inclusive and equitable environments. The programme has six in-person skills sessions, three group sessions of action-oriented problem solving, and a personal 360° feedback review. Participants also undertake a tailored inclusion project. 

Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team Gold Award – Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences (NDPCHS) 

In March 2023, the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences was the first in the University of Oxford to be successfully awarded Athena Swan Gold award. This gold award is the result of over a decade of work from the departments’ Athena Swan lead and the Self-Assessment Team which reflects the department’s commitment to representation, progression and success for all. It acknowledges the innovative, inclusive policies and practices developed across the department and the detailed action plans for improvement. 

Commitment to Equality and Diversity in Data Science – Sara Khalid, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) 

This is an individual award for Sara Khalid, of NDORMS. As an associate professor of health informatics and biomedical data science, Sara leads research to promote health equity for minority ethnicities, groups with rare conditions, and populations from the global south. She has been an ambassador for the global network of Women in Data Science and has participated in various activities to encourage others to reach Oxford, inspired by her experiences as the only woman engineer from Pakistan to become a Rhodes Scholar and then an Oxford academic. 

Finalists: 

  • Championing EDI and role-modelling best practice – Fadi Issa, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences 
  • Increasing African student representation in Oxford's postgraduate studies – The Oxford Africa Society / Africa Oxford Initiative 
  • ‘Taboos and Transitions’ seminar – Dr Sarah Cullinan-Herring, Faculty of Classics

Awarded to a colleague or team that has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to supporting the University's mission. 

Winner:

Africa Oxford Initiative

The Africa Oxford Initiative is dedicated to partnering with Universities across Africa, to increase educational opportunities for students from the continent, boost employment opportunities and support new partnerships. 

For eight years, it has worked at individual, institutional and regional level in Education, Research and Innovation – with a string of successful placements, courses and grants for African students and staff. 

It was nominated in two categories in this year's awards – in the Community Partnerships category, and jointly with the Oxford Africa Society for in the Support for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion category for its work increasing representation in Oxford's postgraduate studies.

The Vice-Chancellor praised the team for the way the team has worked tirelessly, collaboratively and in a sustained way over several years to make a positive difference in pursuit of the University's academic mission. 

Vice Chancellor's Awards Ceremony 2024 at the Sheldonian Theatre
Feedback

Feedback

We are now inviting feedback about the 2024 awards through this feedback survey.

The survey asks for feedback about all parts of the awards this year – from the nominations process to the ceremony and celebration. 

It is for everyone to complete – regardless of which part of the awards they were involved in (or if they were not involved at all).

On completion, there is an opportunity to be entered into a prize draw to have a chance of winning one of four £25 vouchers to spend in Blackwell’s.

Please complete the survey before the deadline of Friday 31 May.

You can also contact the awards team on vcawards@admin.ox.ac.uk