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A two-day student symposium returned to the Kennedy Institute bringing together students and peers from across the department to discuss their latest research.

Student prizewinners
Some of the student speakers at the Kennedy symposium

Now in its 5th year the symposium is designed to open the doors to the exciting research undertaken at the institute. The students are able to showcase their skills, training, and research findings to each other, mentors, and invited speakers across the world, and it paves the way for networking between students, PIs, post-docs, and staff. 

The meeting consisted of a programme of 42 short talks from 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students who presented their research for discussion to a hybrid audience who attended in person at the Institute and via Zoom. Students also displayed their work in posters in the Kennedy atrium.

Niamh Richmond presents her research on'Resident memory B cell migration and function in the lung.'Niamh Richmond presents her research on'Resident memory B cell migration and function in the lung.'

14 new first year students joined the institute, but with last year’s symposium being run online, this was the first time many of the students from different year groups had met in person.

Two external speakers joined the event remotely. On day one, Professor Ellen Robey, Professor of Immunology and Pathogenesis at UC Berkeley highlighted her research investigating transcriptional regulation of early fate decisions during thymic T cell development and differentiation.  What stood out to the audience, aside from her incredible research program, was the value she held for the people she’s worked with during her career.  She mentioned that this has been one of the most important factors impacting her work experience - the people she’s had the opportunity to work with and learn from. 

Day two saw Dame Kate Bingham DBE, Managing Partner of SV Health Investors give the audience a flavour of her role as former chair of the Vaccine Task Force.  In that role her remit from the Prime Minister was to procure a vaccine for the UK, to distribute it internationally for those at risk, and to ensure we are prepared for future pandemics. Dame Bingham drove the strategy to procure a portfolio of vaccines to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, which included building a team of experts across different fields, recruited citizens to trial the vaccine, and building and scaling up manufacturing capability, an unenviable challenge that helped save lives internationally.

Fabian Fischer and Niamh Richmond from the student committee organised and delivered the symposium as well as presenting their work at the event.

Mark Coles, Professor of Immunology and Director of Graduate studies praised the committee: “My congratulations and thanks go to Fabian and Niamh as our student chairs who worked tirelessly to deliver an amazing event that was a testimony to the hard work of graduate students who have been working through COVID pandemic, not only delivering cutting edge science but also contributing to COVID-19 research in Oxford.”

Students view the research posters on display at the Kennedy symposiumStudents view the research posters on display at the Kennedy symposium

Prizes were awarded to the top speakers of each year and the top poster presentations for second and third-year students.  The prizes of a voucher for a local Oxford bookstore as well as a local coffee shop were awarded as follows:

  • First year talks: Yavuz Yazicioglu
  • Second year talks: Fabian Fischer
  • Second year poster presentation: India Brough
  • Third year talks: Alice Robinson
  • Third year poster presentation: Niamh Richmond
  • Fourth year talks: Sara Danielli 

Niamh Richmond, student chair reflected on the event: “Based on feedback from attendees, everyone was grateful for the return of in-person events and scientific discussion.

We want to thank Kennedy IT (Leia), for setting up the new hybrid system and their support throughout!   As well, to thank the Kennedy ordering team and NDORMS AP for their help with ordering food, drinks, personalised mugs and prizes for the symposium!  It was a lot of work and couldn’t have been done without them.”

“We would like to express our gratitude as well to our Health and Safety Officer Emma, as well as the whole Kennedy Institute facilities team, who helped making the symposium COVID-safe and organised the logistical aspects,” added Fabian Fischer.