Autumn Neagle, Digital Communications Officer

I came on board with the Oxford Trust as Digital Communications Officer in January 2016. Using my smorgasbord of digital skills I get to tap into my creativity and love of writing and design to share our stories, and shine a light on the brilliant stuff that goes on at the Trust and Science Oxford. Whether I’m producing films, visuals or campaigns promoting our programmes and events, it’s great to encourage people of all ages to try something new.

Current climate: Science and technology are always in the news these days and our creative programmes and activities reflect the latest hot topics, from raising awareness of climate change and the potential of clean energy, to the amazing research going on with vaccines during the pandemic – some developed right here in Oxford. It’s great to play a part in inspiring innovators of the future!

Inspiration: There’s always something to talk about. From incredible cutting-edge research by companies & start-ups based at our innovation centres to planetarium or pond dipping, it’s exciting to have our new Science Oxford Centre and 15 acres of woodland to play with, along with resident newts, badgers, beehives and lots more. I’m personally inspired by the story of our patrons, entrepreneurs Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood, who’s work on superconducting magnets made possible the development of MRIs, and who’s passion for the environment also led to our sister charities Earth Trust and Sylva Foundation.

Comms in COVID: I loved engaging families at home during lockdown with online videos and activities to try, particularly our regional Big Science Event competition. It was great fun sharing their experiments carried out in the kitchen, garden or park, or even over zoom with grandparents. It was great to share our team’s activities, where they kept busy delivering free kit loans to local schools, with sewing projects to make masks and visor bands, rainbows for our free family day for NHS and key workers, or sourdough and baking cakes! We’ve been learning how to live-stream science shows to member primary schools, and of course running lots of events online. I’ve also been busy this year updating our Science Oxford website accessibility & navigation and developing ideas around EDI for digital resources, with some inspiring people working with UK science centres.

The best bits? I got to quiz experts on the ‘weirdest moments of their career’ on our virtual STEM Insight Week for yr 10 work experience students (answers: finding dinosaur fossils in a lunch box, building a giant dinosaur out of plastic bags, or checking Tim Peake’s shoe size!). Some stand out moments in My job are: watching Oxford Uni Professor of Astrophysics, Chris Lintott’s talk about career goofs and how it doesn’t matter! (Having watched the Sky at Night since childhood, he’s a Legend); launching children’s 3D-printed designs into Space; seeing an epic Star Wars monologue performed by a robot (when Luke Skywalker discovers Darth Vader is his father: ‘Noooooo’); Plus, unusual Photoshop requests and tweeting about silly things on the internet!

Career journey: Starting out, after my Art Foundation I interned for 6 months at the Observer Magazine Art (and Fashion) Department, London, learning the fundamentals of desktop publishing, paste-up and graphic design in a bustling media environment, where coming up with catchy headlines was an office sport! I came to Oxford for my BA Visual Arts/History of Art joint degree at Oxford Brookes, and continually upskill in design, web editing and digital comms. I’m lucky to have combined all my passions, after running press for a music venue backed by Radiohead, Ride and Supergrass (now the 02 Academy Oxford) for ten years (I once sat in a room with Coldplay’s Chris Martin for a full half-hour while he read his paper) I went on to work for and with a range of arts organisations and cultural events, festivals and venues across the South East / London. I managed social media for the annual IF Oxford science and ideas festival showcasing over 100 events, with everything from contemporary dance inspired by the Sun, to the science of Gin. Cheers!

At home: I currently live in Witney, West Oxfordshire, where I contributed to Witney Music Festival, volunteered for OxJam – and ran a campaign for Asylum Sounds, a mini-fest raising funds and awareness for refugees in Oxfordshire. I did a ‘take-over’ of Oxfam’s community Twitter for the day, reaching their highest engagement for the month! Our Witney Warm Welcome Blanket (which I named after the famous local blanket & wool industry) was created from messages from the day and became part of The Museum Without a Home, organised by Oxfam and Amnesty International; it toured abroad, Arts at the Old Fire Station, Oxfam HQ and the Houses of Parliament. I also worked with folk musician Sam Lee on a project to uncover songs of historic Witney for an Imperial War Museum project with Sound UK, to mark 100 years since the First World War, culminating in a performance at Cogges Farm with live BBC Radio coverage and later at the Barbican with The Unthanks!

I once attended a Select Committee to celebrate Magna Carta 800 at the Bodleian Library as part of a project I was working on with Oxfordshire Library Service, to engage young people in politics and the arts. The event was about the spread of infectious diseases, and the main outcome was: ‘communication is key’.

(Pic – me at Gaia, helping out with an installation by Luke Jerram, Coventry Cathedral ruins during Coventry City of Culture 2021 & Cop26)

Join the fun @scienceoxford

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