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International Women's Day: Students

Written by Eleanor Sanger, posted on Thursday, March 8, 2018

Our students get up to some pretty amazing things both in college and further afield - from sport to music and photography, they've amassed some brilliant achievements over the past year. Here's a quick guide to what some of our female students have done since the last International Women's Day in 2017 - click on the links to read the full story: 


Just last weekend, third-year music student Victoria Gill was a finalist in this year’s Oxfordshire Concerto Competition! After getting through the first few rounds, she played Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 in Oxford Town Hall, alongside the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Traill, and was awarded the prize of runner up in this year’s competition. She was also the only female finalist!

In July Georgina Lloyd-Owen, who is now in her second year of studying Music at Christ Church, appeared on BBC One’s prime time show Pitch Battle with Oxford a capella group The Oxford Alternotives. The programme saw six groups per week take compete against each other in a series of vocal challenges. The Alternotives were picked to audition in London out of a range of extremely talented groups, and were selected to make it through to a final list, before ultimately being chosen to appear on the show.

Christ Church had eight rowers taking part in last year’s Oxford and Cambridge Cancer Research UK Boat Races! Harriet Austin was in the 6 seat for the OUWBC Blue Boat, making her debut for Oxford having previously represented New Zealand at the Elite World Rowing Championships. In the Reserve Boats we had Lise de Buisson in the OUWBC boat, Osiris, in the two seat – she was reading for a DPhil in Astrophysics and was a novice at Christ Church Boat Club in 2015! This year we once again have rowers taking part in the Boat Races, including Sara Kushma (MBA) in the six seat of the OUWBC Blue Boat, and Naomi Holland rowing in the OUWLRC reserve boat at the Henley Boat Races against Cambridge.

Back in December, Christ Church had two students playing in the 2017 Varsity Rugby Matches against Cambridge, including Pat Metcalfe-Jones. The scrum half is currently a second-year at Christ Church studying for a BA in Modern Languages (French and Italian). Although Cambridge won both matches this year, being selected for the Oxford team is an amazing achievement, and a testament to the hard work and hours of training put in by all those playing at this level.

In July 2017, graduate student Harriet Austin, who was at Christ Church studying for an MBA, rowed in a 200-mile race across the Mediterranean, organised by the NOMAN campaign, to raise awareness of HPV (Human Papillomavirus). Harriet was part of an all-female crew of 4 amateur rowers, with the race marking the culmination of months of fundraising and arduous training. Harriet’s crew managed to cross the finishing line in just 50 hours, and she also raised over £2000 for the NOMAN campaign!

In May last year we had the fantastic news that a Christ Church graduate student, Vanessa Restrepo-Schild, had created the first synthetic retina! A doctoral student and researcher in the Department of Chemistry, Vanessa led a team at Oxford in the development of a ground-breaking synthetic retina, which replicates the natural processes that take place in the human eye. This research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, has the potential to revolutionise the bionic implant industry, as it could allow the development of new technologies which are less invasive and damaging as they bear a closer resemblance to human body tissue, and are therefore less likely to produce an adverse reaction than traditional mechanical devices. In the future, retinas such as the one produced by Vanessa and her team could help to treat patients with degenerative eye conditions.

Michaelmas Term saw a number of initiatives at Christ Church to help the homeless, including the Advent Sleepout Challenge in the Cathedral, and fundraising by graduate student Anna Shepherd, who raised over £300 to buy clothes and other necessary items for Oxford’s homeless. Anna studied for her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature at Christ Church, and is currently studying for an MSt in English (1550-1700). She reached out to fellow graduate students and used the money raised to buy items such as warm clothes and sleeping bags, which she donated to Simon House, a 52-bed hostel for rough sleepers and single homeless people in Oxford.

In the 2016-17 academic year we held our first Christ Church Photo Competition, open to all members of the JCR and GCR! The theme was ‘friendship’, and the entries were judged by the College Communication Officer, Jacqueline Thalmann (Curator of the Picture Gallery), and Peter Rhoades (Christ Church Art Tutor). 1st prize went to first-year Biological Sciences Student Annika Schlemm, for her photo from a punting trip with friends, whilst Highly Commended went to graduate student Viridiana Courty for her photo from Matriculation.