Keele SOLACE student ambassadors

Written by Lisa Dikomitis 

When I was preparing the proposal for the AHRC-MRC GCRF call inviting interdisciplinary public health projects proposals (SOLACE was one of the 12 successful bids), I was keen to include undergraduate students from Keele University and Ateneo de Manila University (the two academic institutions in the SOLACE partnership) in the SOLACE activities. I strongly believe it is important to enthuse future clinical and creative workforces for public health and interdisciplinary ways of tackling urgent public health challenges.


A beach in Northern Samar,
through the lens of Filipino photographer Martin San Diego

In January 2018 we launched the Keele SOLACE student competition. Medical and Humanities undergraduate students were invited to submit a piece of creative work, in a format of choice, on global health. The submission had to convey the student’s interest in global health. We were really overwhelmed with the number and quality of the submissions. We will have a series of blog post from the students who entered the competition. The winning students will travel to Northern Samar for a week of fieldwork in the summer of 2018. They will be paired up with the Ateneo student ambassadors, the winners of the Ateneo SOLACE student competition.

But now….. drum roll…. I am very happy to introduce the two Keele SOLACE ambassadors: Frances Gibson and Harriet Howells.

Frances Gibson:

‘Hello, I am Frances and I am from ‘the middle of nowhere’, just outside of Durham. I have always been fascinated by our vast and diverse global ecosystem, which I was able to study and truly appreciate throughout my degree in Biological Sciences at Warwick University. I am interested in the interactions and intimate connections that exist between humans and their environment and all of the organisms that inhabit it; both in terms of nutrient acquisition, global processes, ecology and disease. I wrote my dissertation on the medicinal properties of the Bryophytes, a collection of plants with ethnomedical uses that have recently been shown to induce apoptosis in various cancer cell lines. After graduating, I began to study Medicine at Keele, as it has always been my dream to help others. I was able to explore the influence of societal structures on people when writing my first year essay on how our environment and cultural capital influences our health behaviours and disease outcomes. This fuelled my interested in global health, as I am passionate about the equal distribution of resources among people. I love art and so when I heard about the SOLACE competition I thought it sounded fantastic and I had to apply! I am over the moon to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the SOLACE team and to contribute to their fantastic work.’

Frances Gibson

Frances Gibson, Keele SOLACE student ambassador 

Harriet Howells: 

‘My name is Harriet. I am 22 years old and I am from South Wales. In 2014 I came to Keele to study a degree in Neuroscience and Biochemistry and am now in my first year of study as a Medical student.  Working within the NHS since I was 16 alongside consultants, nurses and clinical scientists gave me an appreciation of what I learnt during my first degree and the altruistic way in which teams delivered care clarified that medicine is the career for me. I have spent the last three years working within Sexual Health and Family Planning. There are almost 20 clinics set up across my local health board and all are extremely busy. Thinking about SOLACE made me wonder how easily these facilities are accessed in other countries and inspired me to investigate this further. I became passionate about global health inequalities after volunteering on holidays within local schools and nurseries which were exceptionally underdeveloped compared to tourist areas and yet were only 10 minutes away! I am therefore overwhelmed to have won the SOLACE competition and to have the opportunity to expand my knowledge and raise awareness of a topic which is close to my heart.’

Harriet Howells

Harriet Howells, Keele SOLACE student ambassador 

Frances and Harriet, congratulations and a warm welcome to the #WeAreSolace team!