2016/17 OMT Travel Grant Reports

Thanks to the support of our Old Members, Univ is able to offer undergraduates and postgraduates the chance to undertake travel and research for their studies that might not otherwise have been possible. Students are asked to write a journal of their travel and experiences. Approximately a sixth of Univ students receive an Old Members’ Trust Travel Grant worth between £100 and £1,750 each year.


Travel Reports


Ellen Jones, DPhil Oriental Studies

Firstly, I would like to thank the Old Members for their support in enabling me to attend the Current Research in Egyptology 2017; this conference is designed specifically for early career researchers in my subject.

I arrived in Naples on 2 May, and used the rest of my travel day to visit the archaeological site of Pompeii. I am studying the position of women in the ancient Egyptian family and so visiting this spectacularly preserved site was useful for imagining daily lived experience in ancient towns, which can then be compared to other ancient sites such as that of Deir el-Medina and Amarna in Egypt.

The conference then ran from 3rd-6th May, including a wide variety of talks ranging from Middle Kingdom personal adornment to new perspectives on ancient Egyptian family structure, and marriage and inheritance practices, all of which relate to my own area of research. During the conference I gave a 20 minute paper on my Masters research which was well received and will hopefully lead to the publication of this paper in the conference proceedings. This conference was my first international conference and so was also useful for developing contacts with the wider Egyptological community, especially for meeting and discussing with other scholars who are studying subjects similar to my own.

I would like to thank the Old Members again for this opportunity, which has not only benefited my current DPhil research, which builds on my previous Master’s studies, but has further strengthened my ability and determination to pursue a career in academia.

Australia and Vanuatu

Helen Vigar, Medicine

As part of the final year of my medical degree I had the opportunity to travel to Australia and Vanuatu to undertake medical placements. I left Oxford in early February and stayed with friends for 5 days in Hong Kong before travelling to Sydney. In Sydney I had a placement in the Children’s Hospital Westmead, which is a large paediatric hospital in the Western suburbs. After this I flew to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Here I spent my second placement in the Vila Central Hospital, a government run hospital. On my way home I stayed a few days in Bangkok before returning to Oxford in Mid-April to complete my degree.

Australia: For my placement in Sydney I was placed on one of the general medical teams which allowed me to build on my knowledge from the paediatrics course in the 5th year of medical school. Due to the size of the hospital and its role as a referral centre the cases were often more complex than I had seen on my previous paediatrics placement, and patients were often referred from other hospitals in the surrounding area. While I was with this team I went on ward rounds, observed procedures, joined the junior doctor teaching and attended outpatient appointments. I was glad to stay with the same team for the duration of the placement because it allowed me to follow the patients from their admission to their discharge and to understand the decisions made about investigations and treatments in each case.

The time I spent in Sydney was fantastic, and as well as my medical placement I was able to take trips to the Blue Mountains, the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens and many of the beautiful beaches! After the placement in Sydney I flew to Cairns for a couple of days to see the Great Barrier Reef, before travelling to Brisbane to catch my flight to Vanuatu.

Vanuatu : The second placement was at the Vila Central Hospital on the island of Efate in Vanuatu. Here I spent half my time on a surgical placement and half my time with the medical team. Vanuatu has limited healthcare resources so the experience was very different from medicine in the UK and in Sydney. On the surgical placement I was able to assist in surgery and also see patients (under supervision) in the outpatient clinic. On my medical attachment I joined the junior doctors and assisted with tasks such as blood tests and blood cultures, writing discharge summaries, requesting consultations from other specialists and ordering tests. As well as many medical conditions common in the UK, there were a number of patients with diseases which I hadn’t encountered before, and this was a great learning experience. Vanuatu was just coming to the end of a Dengue outbreak when we arrived, and it was interesting to hear about the symptoms and signs of this disease and also about how such outbreaks are managed. The access to treatments and medications was very limited, and therefore there were a number of patients with chronic conditions who were managed in very different ways in Vanuatu compared to the UK. One of the key examples of this is in diabetes care. There is a high rate of type 2 diabetes in Vanuatu, but patients do not have access to the same treatments or follow up as we have in the UK. As a result I saw many patients on my surgical placement who were having amputations, and on medicine I met patients with severe eye problems as a result of poor diabetic control. These complications would be very rare in the UK but in Vanuatu are much more common.

Vanuatu was an incredible place to stay for a month and I really enjoyed the placement. The islands were beautiful, and during my free time I went and visited lagoons and waterfalls, snorkelled the coral reefs and kayaked around one of the tiny islands.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to go on this medical elective, and the support I received from the Old Members Trust Bursary. I am sure that the confidence I have gained from doing placements in these different environments will help me when I start my first foundation year as a junior doctor in July.

The Hague, Netherlands

Emilie McDonnell, Bachelor of Civil Law

The Old Members’ Trust Travel Grant allowed me to visit The Hague in the Netherlands from 5 to 7 of March as part of my Bachelor of Civil Law option, International Dispute Settlement. It was a study trip to the International Court of Justice hosted by our teacher, Professor Antonios Tzanakopoulos.

Our group visited the International Court of Justice and sat in on the provisional measures hearing titled: Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, (Ukraine v. Russian Federation).

We met with three Judges from the Court over the course of the trip: Judge Greenwood, Crawford and Gaja. In our meetings, we were given the opportunity to ask them questions relating to topics we had been learning about in our course, their role as a judge and pertinent legal issues raised by the case.

We also met with Legal Counsel from both Russia and the Ukraine and had the opportunity to question them about their strategy before the Court, who engaged them as Counsel and any problems they foresaw. We had dinner with the ICJ interns and legal officers, where we asked questions about what it was like working at the World Court, their qualifications, role and relationship with the judges.

Following all our meetings we engaged in in-depth discussion with each other and our Professor and explored pertinent legal questions, which has proved useful in writing later tutorial essays. Other activities included meeting with the Court’s Registrar, touring the Peace Palace Gardens and visiting the Hague Academy and library.

This study trip was an excellent opportunity to apply what we had learned from our readings, seminars and tutorials, and explore how International Dispute Settlement works in practice. I am grateful to the Old Members’ Trust for allowing me to partake in this valuable experience.

Munich, Germany

Jan David Bakker

Thanks to the support by the ‘Old Members' Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Grant’ I was able to participate in the 8th Economic Geography and International Trade Research Meeting at the Ifo Institute in Munich.

This research meeting provides a forum for junior researchers to present their academic work and get feedback from more experienced researchers in the field of economic geography and international trade.

I presented a draft of my first chapter that explores the effects of an exogenous population shock on the distribution of population in the urban system using the end of Apartheid in South Africa as a natural experiment. Michele Battisti and Gabriel Felbermayr, the director of the Ifo Center for International Economics, served as discussants for my paper and provided valuable feedback that will significantly improve the quality of the paper. The subsequent discussion focused on challenges relating to the identifying assumptions and possible extensions that focus on the ethnic diversity within South African cities.

In one of my other chapters I want to analyse the distribution of firms in space and how it has changed over time. Some of the more experienced researchers have written very influential paper on similar issues using various data sets. Wolfgang Dauth and Jens Südekum have worked with the German Establishment History Panel of the Institute for Employment Research a 50% sample of the universe of firms. Since I plan to analyse the same data, this was a great opportunity to discuss with them potential ideas and problems I am likely to face in this analysis.

It was also a great pleasure to meet fellow PhD students and other junior researcher from all over Europe that are interested in similar topics to discuss ideas and potential collaborations.

Overall, this trip allowed me to get valuable feedback on my first chapter, to practice presenting at academic conferences and to discuss the ideas for my second chapter with leading researchers in the field as well as people who have worked with the data I am planning to use.

I am very grateful to the trustees and contributors of the Trust that enabled me to participate in the conference.

Lugano, Switzerland

Matteo Croci

Thanks to the Old Members' Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund help I was able to attend the workshop and winter school in Uncertainty Quantification at the Universita’ della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland.

Uncertainty Quantification (UQ) is now one of my research fields. However, my mathematical background is quite different (I have mainly worked on deterministic problems) and the winter school/workshop was essential for a good Dphil-level introduction to state-of-the-art UQ research. In only 5 days I learnt more than I would have in three weeks of individual study.

The workshop was also a great opportunity to meet other researchers in the same area and to see what is their approach to problems I am also working on. Some of the methods they are developing are relevant to my research, they look really promising and I will probably use them in the future. I left the workshop with a plethora of new ideas, some of which, I hope, will prove useful in the future. There might also be some scope for collaboration with people from Warwick that I have met while I was there.