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27 September 2021

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St Hugh’s DPhil student wins prestigious Vice Chancellor’s Social Impact Award

Congratulations to Carla V. Fuenteslópez who has been awarded the accolade for her outstanding commitment to social change, working both within and outside the University. Carla is in her second year as a DPhil student at St Hugh’s studying Engineering Science.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards are given each year to Oxford University staff or students who demonstrate exceptional achievement and commitment to social change.

Carla’s projects which have had a direct social impact outside of the University include:

  • OxVent – a rapidly manufacturable low-cost ventilator. Carla undertook several roles with OxVent, including contributing to the ventilator’s design for large scale manufacturing, in vivo testing in Uppsala and laboratory testing in Mexico, supply chain and manufacturing set up, and distribution network development in Latin America.
  • The Refugee Programme of Oxford Aid to the Balkan which is part of Oxford Aid to the Balkans (OXAB), which aims to provide support to refugees, mostly from the Syrian crisis. Carla’s contribution centred on health care provision for refugees and as part of her work she analysed the care provision capabilities in the refugee camps. While supplies were available, Carla realised that there was an even bigger problem: most of the refugees had no access to their medical records. She then pursued an independent project to systematise the health records of asylum-seekers and refugees residing in the main camps in Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • Two educational projects co-run by students at Makerere University, Uganda and UniTED:
    • “Growing Together “(GT), where Carla helped to develop and implement a mentorship programme for underprivileged youths in Uganda and also lead mentoring sessions in Kampala. This tutoring programme is aimed for children 8-12 years old living in Katanga, one of Kampala’s slums. There was a high index of school desertion so the idea was to continue providing some sort of education to these children to prevent them from dropping out of school, help them catch up and get back and to provide some tutoring despite them not being enrolled in school.
    • Teachers’ Empowerment Platform (TEP) where Carla contributed to the development of a strategic plan and financial needs assessment, and designed workshops to empower teachers with ICT skills. Since her work with TEP, it has become a fully registered organisation within Uganda and has supported teachers to integrate ICT into their classrooms.
  • A research project on Palliative Care in Humanitarian Settings, commissioned by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Carla is one of the researchers looking into the standards of care for palliative care and how to translate them to humanitarian settings. Once finished, this work will help policy development for humanitarian interventions by MSF.

Within the University, Carla aimed to contribute to her small community of students, by training and acting as a peer supporter with St Hugh’s College. Carla strongly believes that the student experience at University is enriched by extracurricular activities, so she has tried to contribute to this by undertaking committee positions with the Oxford University Exploration Club, the Bioengineering Society, the Personalised Medicine Society, and the First Aid Society.

Carla said, ‘I feel very honoured to have received this award. None of these projects could have been done without the invaluable contributions of several people and organisations, and I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them.

Carla was also part of the teams given the following awards:

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