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Dunn School Researchers Support Community Collaborations in Science Together Programme

Two postdoctoral researchers from the Dunn School, Fangfang Lu (Freeman Lab) and Qilin Long (Gullerova Lab), have taken part in the Science Together programme 2023-24, strengthening the department’s commitment to the local community in Oxford.
Science Together & The Parasol Project

From left to right: Phil Oakley (Parasol Project), Jaid Debrah-Donkor (Radcliffe Department of Medicine), Nicoleta Gaciu (Oxford Brookes School of Education, Humanities and Languages), Qilin Long (Sir William Dunn School of Pathology), Leandros (Leo) Tsiotos (Nuffield Department of Population Health)
Photo credit: Andrew Bailey

About the Science Together Programme
Science Together is an initiative that bridges the expertise and experience of local community groups with the skills and resources of researchers from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University. Launched as a pilot programme in 2021-22, and following a successful second cycle in 2022-23, the 2023-24 programme involved seven groups from Oxford and its surrounding areas working with university researchers to address issues impacting local people’s lives.


Fangfang Lu’s Work with Slade Nursery School
Fangfang Lu, a postdoctoral researcher in the Freeman Lab, collaborated with Slade Nursery School in Oxford. The nursery is dedicated to fostering six core values in children: Curiosity, Independence, Knowledge, Respect, Creativity, and Resilience. Serving a diverse community, the nursery has a higher number of children with special educational needs, disabilities, or additional linguistic requirements than many other areas of Oxford.

Fangfang’s project focused on evaluating the nursery’s alternative provision aimed at helping disadvantaged children self-regulate their behaviour and improve their overall well-being and involvement. Using standardised measures, including WellComm and teachers’ assessments based on the work of researcher Ferre Laevers, the project aimed to gauge both the immediate and long-term effects on the children’s development.

Fangfang Lu (Freeman Lab) and Science Together, Slade Nursery School

Slade Nursery School Science Together project team meeting
From left to right: Rachel Ashwanden (MPLS), Daisy Hopkins (MPLS), Huan Yang (Oxford Brookes Business School), Fangfang Lu (Freeman Lab, Dunn School of Pathology), Sarah O’Leary (Slade Nursery School and Day Nursery) and Sushanta Mahanta (Department of Chemistry)
Photo credit: Clea Boorman

Qilin Long’s Partnership with the Parasol Project
Qilin Long, a postdoctoral researcher in the Gullerova Lab, worked with the Parasol Project. Established in the early 1990s, the Parasol Project provides inclusive play and leisure activities for disabled and vulnerable young people in the local area. The charity offers engaging activities and support for children and young people aged 5 to 19, in partnership with parents, carers, and other organisations.

Qilin’s project involved developing a case study on the Parasol Project’s culturally inclusive teaching initiative, which empowers non-verbal young people and those interested in careers in care work. By evaluating the impact of this initiative over the course of eight months from October 2023, Qilin and the Parasol Project aimed to enhance support for these young people and provide valuable insights into the benefits of inclusive educational practices.

Science Together & the Parasol Project

Qilin Long (Gullerova Lab, Dunn School of Pathology) and Jaid Debrah-Donkor (Radcliffe Department of Medicine) make finishing touches to the Parasol Project display
Photo credit: Andrew Bailey

Celebrating Community-Engaged Research
The involvement of Fangfang Lu and Qilin Long in the Science Together programme underscores the Dunn School’s dedication to engaging with the local community and addressing real-world challenges through collaborative research. Their efforts are a testament to the positive social impact that can be achieved when researchers and community groups work together.

The Science Together programme has been praised by the Vice-Chancellor and Alex Betts, the university’s Local and Global Engagement Officer, for its significant contributions to community-led research. The Head of the Dunn School, Professor Matthew Freeman, said, “We are very proud of Fangfang and Qilin’s contributions to the Science Together programme. Their work highlights the impact that our researchers can have on the local community, fostering valuable collaborations and driving positive change.”

Science Together

For more information about Science Together and to learn how you can get involved, please visit the Science Together website.


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