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WELS bakes the way to victory for second consecutive year

A star baker chef's hat with a whisk, mixing bowl and eggs.

Results are in for the annual Open University Graduate SchoolBake Your Research’ competition… and WELS has bagged the top spot for a second year running. 

Now in its fifth year, the contest asks PhD researchers from across the University to cook up a creative and delicious representation of their research studies. Following in the footsteps of 2021 winners Katie Jones and Anna Madeley, Linda Robson from the School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport (ECYS) was announced as star baker. 

Photograph of the 'When Life Goes Cookie' cakeLinda, whose research explores the benefits of study breaks, made When Life Goes Cookie, a chocolate and vanilla buttercream sponge ‘book’ covered in vanilla cookies connected to a ‘brain’.

Linda explained: “The cookie brain is trying to engage in study, but various life events (cookies) are getting in the way. Each small cookie represents an issue that was reported by students in interviews about their experience of taking a study break, such as getting married, starting a new job or caring responsibilities.

If students are able to deal with the issues (eat the cookies) during their study break they will then be able to return to study. If the issue is ongoing at the end of the study break period, they will have to stop studying.”   

Linda was delighted to take first place: “It’s so lovely to win and to have so many people engage in my research. I shared photos on Facebook and now my family and friends all have a much better understanding of what I’m doing.My son helped eat quite a lot of the cake, but we did get to a point where he refused to eat any more! 

Photograph of the 'Dragon Boat Success' cakeLinda wasn’t the only winner from WELS. Lauren Rose, also from ECYS, won alongside Dr Judith Taylor (Research, Enterprise and Scholarship) in the staff category, for their clever recreation of the Postgraduate Researcher (PGR) team’s victory at the 2022 Milton Keynes Charity Dragon Boat Festival.

Lauren said: “Winning the dragon boat festival was incredible. We were a group of PhD students who came together, trained hard and ultimately triumphed against the odds. It was a fabulous day where the OU PGR and Graduate School community came together, both in the boat and on the bank, with our many supporters roaring on the sidelines.   

“This cake reignited the memories and gave us all a chance to relive the special day whilst we experienced the fiery gingerbread breath of the dragon. Thanks must go to Judith Taylor. Not just for co-creating the cake, but also for her constant support of the Postgraduate students.”       

A special mention is also deserved for three other WELS entries, including Michelle Sokol’s gravity-defying scales of justice, Phil Wilson’s palette-perfect hospital beds and Ann Flynn’s intricate jigsaw icing.

Photo collage of the other WELS entries in the 2022 Bake Your Research competition

Robert Wilson, OU Graduate School Manager, spoke of the standard set across the board: “This year we saw bakes that covered topics across all five of the University’s primary research themes and we also saw students use the opportunity to reflect on their experience of doing Postgraduate research. The event is a popular fixture in the Graduate School’s calendar, and we’re always really encouraged by all the engagement both online and on-campus.” 

Bake Your Research’ is just one of the ways Postgraduate researchers connect via the OU Graduate School. As well as an annual poster competition, there are also research groups plus a thriving online network that offers support throughout studies. Plans are also underway for the 2023 Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival, as well as other in-person events.

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