Authors: Prof Susie Dunachie, Prof Philippa Matthews

In September 2019, we convened back-to-back meetings at St Catherine’s College in Oxford, supported by Drawnalism’s Alex Hughes. 

The Oxford Tropical Network (OTN) meeting was attended by delegates representing our University’s international sites including Vietnam, Thailand and Kenya, as well as local researchers based in Oxford. Sessions covered a diverse range of topics from malaria and hepatitis, to antimicrobial resistance, ethics, public engagement, mathematical modelling and health informatics. Presentations included many brief ‘quick fire’ talks, as well as plenaries from experts in different centres, and opportunities for discussion and networking. 

Some of Drawnalism’s output from the Oxford Tropical Network

After the OTN meeting, we hosted a one day ‘Equity in Academia’ event, to focus attention on challenges in academia, and to develop strategies to improve equity for researchers at different career stages, in different geographic locations. We focused discussions on boosting opportunities for under-represented groups, and tackling barriers in academic publishing. For this kind of event, it can be hard to capture the content and flavour of discussions for sharing more widely beyond the confines of the meeting itself. Drawnalism art has been a huge asset in this respect. 

Drawnalism were on-hand to capture the content and flavour of discussions at #EIA2019

Drawnalism reports helped to stimulate discussion and generated a lot of social media impact for both meetings, especially on Twitter. Delegates also reported how much they enjoyed watching an illustrator at work, and discussing the graphical output which was displayed as an evolving real-time gallery as the meetings progressed. 

We have used the art as a lasting record of both meetings, and it has been warmly received by sponsors and stakeholders as positive feedback following their support and investment. Having shared digital versions of the work widely with conference delegates, the originals have also made wonderful gifts to plenary speakers who are very excited to have their output represented in this way as a lasting record of the meeting and a way to display their work. We used Drawnalism images to populate a report of the equity event, that has been circulated throughout our units.

Alex was thoroughly committed to representing both events in the best possible way; he invested time and effort in understanding the aims and content of the sessions in advance, and worked together with presenters and their slides to ensure his output was focused and accurate, as well as being eye-catching and entertaining. He engaged with leadership teams for both meetings to make sure he was absolutely on-message, and invested in the events as a sociable and enthusiastic participant. He even left us with the offer of making any small technical corrections to art after the events to correct any factual inaccuracies in his work (of which there were very few!). Alex was flexible in working with the available space and facilities, and respectful of the interesting constraints of displaying new artwork in a listed building!

It was an absolute pleasure to work with Alex, and we would recommend Drawnalism whole-heartedly. We hope to have the opportunity to work together again in future.

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