Schools Science Writing Competition 2023

Schools Writing Competition

The 2023 Oxford Scientist Competition, which was more competitive and rewarding than ever, featured a distinguished panel of senior judges, including Nobel Prize-winning physician scientist Sir Peter Ratcliffe, Environmental Researcher Dr Anna Murgatroyd, Senior Researcher in Translational Proteomics Dr Darragh O’Brien and Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Hannah Jones. The competition was proudly organised by the Oxford Scientist team and led by the Competition Leads Franziska Guenther and Gavin Man.

We are delighted to announce the winners and runners-up for the 2023 Schools Science Writing Competition.

The overall winner of the competition is ‘The wheels on the bus… return of the flywheel by Joseph Lailey, Sandringham School.

Year 12-13 winner is ‘Bacteria: Taking a bite out of climate change‘ by Isabel Hubbard, Abbey School, Reading.

Year 10-11 winner is ‘Has scientific visibility come with greater skepticism or support?‘ by Mariam Elalfy, Wolverhampton Girls High School.


‘How has Covid-19 changed public perception of Science?‘ by Abira Prasad, The Tiffin Girls’ School.

Geoengineering: The Ethical Dilemma of Climate Science‘ by Aoife Oliver, St James’ Catholic High School.

Has COVID-19 changed public perception of Science?‘ by Leonardo Mercado, Radley College.

Climate change denial: cause for concern?‘ by Milly Kanagasabay, Guildford High School.

‘The path to save the world is a bleak one’ by Michael Coleman, St Augustine’s Catholic Sixth Form.

Climate Change: Complicated Science, Complex Solutions?’ by Matt Fitchie, RGS Guildford.

The Judges

Dr Sir Peter Ratcliffe

Peter J. Ratcliffe, M.D. is a physician scientist who trained as a nephrologist, before founding the hypoxia biology laboratory at Oxford. His laboratory elucidated mechanisms by which human and animal cells sense oxygen levels and transduce these signals to direct adaptive changes in gene expression. For this work he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2019.

He holds appointments as Director of Clinical Research at the Francis Crick Institute, London, and is a Distinguished Scholar of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Oxford.

But it’s not all hard work: this year he took part in an episode of Master Chef and attended the King’s Coronation.

Dr Anna Murgatroyd

Dr Anna Murgatroyd is a research associate at the Environmental Change Institute in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on making sure we have access to safe and reliable water, both now and in the future. She has experience modelling water systems, examining the vulnerability of water supplies to climate change and changing demand. She also investigates potential new water supply infrastructure, demand management schemes, operating policies and regulatory rules, working closely with the Environment Agency and OFWAT.

Dr Darragh O’Brien

Dr Darragh O’Brien is a senior researcher in Translational Proteomics at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, where he utilizes biological mass spectrometry approaches to characterize and decipher mechanisms of human disease. His interests lie in how protein structural disorder and modifications such as phosphorylation and ubiquitination relate to protein function and disease, with a specific focus on neurodegeneration. He obtained his PhD in Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, which was supervised by Professor Sir Simon Lovestone, where he developed quantitative proteomic strategies for the discovery and validation of plasma and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition, Dr O’Brien has held research positions at Institut Pasteur in Paris and University College London. In his spare time, Darragh is an avid reader, and enjoys supporting his native Ireland in rugby.

Dr Hannah Jones

Dr Hannah Jones studied her PhD at the University of Bath in biophysics, on the thermodynamics of enzyme catalysis. Since 2019 she has worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Oxford, within the Nuffield Department of Medicine. There, she applies mass spectrometry based proteomics to investigate a potential drug target for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.