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Profile: Emily Rowland

a smiling person

Emily Rowland (2020, DPhil Clinical Medicine)

Emily is currently a second-year DPhil student in structural biology/neuroscience, having previously completed her Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry/neuroscience at the Australian National University in Canberra (but she’ll forever be a South Aussie at heart!). When she manages to dodge the clutches of lab work, you’ll likely find Emily playing Aussie Rules footy in Uni Parks, attempting to row on the Isis, or curled up somewhere with a good fantasy novel.

As one of two Welfare Officers (along with the lovely Leonie), please feel free to contact Emily with any questions/concerns or just for a chat – just beware that you may find yourself recruited into her footy team in the process!

Why did you decide to do an DPhil? What is the current direction of your research?
I always knew I wanted a career in research, so a DPhil was a logical and indeed crucial step in that journey. In particular, I was always fascinated by neuroscience and developed an interest in structural biology during my undergraduate degree. Hence, my DPhil attempts to bridge these two fields by researching a protein released from blood vessels, which regulates memory by acting on cells in the relevant brain region.

How do you think you have changed since walking through Univ’s doors for the first time?
Well, I’m usually running off a lot more sleep (compared to arriving off the back of a 2-day journey)!

I think the most interesting shift for me has been in my priorities – much like every nascent Oxford DPhil student, I walked through the doors of Univ laden with both luggage and imposter syndrome. So my DPhil began to feel like hard work, like an obligation. I like to think I’ve adjusted my mindset and my schedule to a more healthy balance and find myself enjoying the work a lot more again as a result. I’ve come to appreciate Oxford and Univ as social institutions as well as academic, and I think this has done wonders for all areas of my life.

What do you hope to achieve as a welfare officer?
The College system was completely foreign to me coming into Oxford, and so I was incredibly surprised and grateful to have this added layer of safety net below me that I wasn’t used to. I’m excited to be a part of that for the coming year!

I think welfare is often viewed as a system that you turn to when something goes wrong. Obviously, that is an important part of it, but I’m hoping to get more Univ graduates to recognise it as a system that works best when engaged with both in and out of times of need. When it is nurtured in good times, it will be better able to support you in the bad!

Emily punting on the riverDo you have any advice for people on settling into Oxford/Univ life?
I find this such a hard question because not only did my settling in period involve navigating COVID and lockdowns, but everyone’s process is so different. For me, it was about finding a routine for my DPhil work and the mundane (e.g. grocery shopping, laundry etc.), and then building social experiences and relationships around that. In the COVID era, this looked like trying to schedule one walk with a new friend each weekend, but obviously, it is a lot easier to gather these days!

What are your favourite Univ memories so far?
I think my favourite memory here so far is the 12 Days of Christmas sung at Univ’s Christmas formal hall. Each line was designated to one group of people (e.g., “Table 1” or “Science students” or “Students who play sports”), and you had to stand up and sing the line of every group you were associated with. By the final verse, people were bobbing up and down as they stood for their lines and then sat again, and the hall was a sea of chaos. It was some of the best fun I’ve had at Oxford!

Describe Univ in three words.
Home away from home (look, technically “home” is the same word repeated twice, so I’m going to take it!).

Published: 3 May 2022

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