St Cross Talks

St Cross Talks 

West Wing Lecture Theatre

Tuesdays, 5.30pm - 6.30pm, followed by drinks.

Admission is free and all are welcome - please book by clicking on the relevant links below.

Tuesday 17 October

'The NHS - "the nearest thing the British have to a national religion!"'

Ed Macalister-Smith, MSc Forestry and its Relation to Land Use, 1978

Ed will talk about his career experience of the English National Health Service - "the NHS is the nearest thing the British have to a national religion" (quoted as such by leaders from both the left and right of British politics).  Ed has worked in senior management roles in the NHS for 30 years, 13 years as a CEO of various bits of it, including one of our local Oxford hospitals.  Ed will welcome observations, questions and debate from the audience.  He will also reflect on some of the many conundrums faced by leaders in the NHS, which make the NHS CEO role one of the best jobs there is...

Ed is currently a non-executive director of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire; Chair of one of the National Institute for Health Research funding Panels (NIHR HS&DR); a leadership mentor for clinical leaders; and the occasional Independent Reviewer of Ratings for the CQC (Care Quality Commission) - as well as a Board member for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and a keen gardener.  

His final full-time role in the NHS was as system CEO for the NHS for Wiltshire and Bath with an annual turnover of £1bn.  Earlier, he was CEO of the then-independent Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust in Oxford, and signed the contract to rebuild it through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).  

Ed was privileged to be an early student member of St Cross, when the College buildings consisted of the "wooden hut", and is grateful for the support of the College in enabling him to complete the MSc in Forestry and Land Management at the then Commonwealth Forestry Institute on South Parks Road.

Book your ticket via Eventbrite here

Tuesday 31 October


Tuesday 7 November

Linden Vongsathorn, MSc Sociology, 2010

"The digital video revolution: Its human and social impact"

Video streaming is revolutionising traditional film, TV and broadcast industries. YouTube, BBC IPlayer, Amazon Video, Netflix, and others have changed the patterns of video creation, distribution and consumption. More than 70% of all internet traffic is now video. Linden will give a non-technical explanation of what digital video really is, how it works, and how the evolution from physical broadcast to digital streaming has led to the clash of two major industries. She'll also talk about broader social implications of these changes, from the new role of citizen journalists, to international debates about net neutrality.

Finally, she will talk about being a woman at the intersection of technology and film - two industries that are grappling with diversity and inclusiveness. She will talk about how the lack of diversity can lead to technology that perpetuates inequality, rather than addresses it.

Linden Vongsathorn is a Software Development Manager at Amazon, working on their Video streaming systems. She graduated from University of Oxford (St Cross) in 2010 with an MSc in Sociology, and has a BA in Computer Science from Dartmouth College, USA. She has worked as a game designer and artist, and as a software developer on the HoloLens mixed reality headset, the launch of the Xbox One games console, and in broadcast TV. She currently leads a team responsible for instant video playback on the Amazon Video app. She has published papers in Human-Computer Interaction and Information Security, and has served on jury panels for the BAFTA Awards (Best British Game, Best Debut Game). Linden also actively works to increase the number of women and racial minorities in STEM fields, especially technology, through regular public speaking, mentorship, and involvement with schools and universities.

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Tuesday 14 November

'The Desk-Bound Naturalist: An Unlikely Career as a Game Theorist'

Dr Mike Mesterton-Gibbons, DPhil Mathematics, 1974

Mike Mesterton-Gibbons grew up in Coventry and graduated in 1974 with a BA in Mathematics from the University of York and in 1977 with a DPhil in Applied Mathematics from the University of Oxford.  He moved to the US in 1982 for a tenure-track position in the Department of Mathematics at Florida State University, where he has been a full professor since 1996 and recently became an emeritus professor.  His research develops game-theoretic models of animal behaviour, on which he has published numerous articles.  He is also the author of three texts on modelling and optimization, and until recently was an editor for Journal of Theoretical Biology.


I joined Florida State University as an assistant professor in 1982 to teach mathematics and to do research on fluid dynamics, a natural enough progression,since my DPhil thesis was on magnetohydrodynamics and I had later worked on helicopter dynamics.  Yet I have done no research on fluid dynamics ever since.  Improbably, given that I have never taken a course in biology, my career has instead been dominated by models of animal behaviour known as games, usually developed in collaboration with biologists in an effort to answer questions raised by their field studies.  I will begin my presentation by describing the work that I ended up doing (in a wholly non-technical fashion).  I will then talk about how I got there, sharing my perspective on life abroad in academe.

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Tuesday 21 November

'Social Media and the New Language of Politics'

Professor Massimiliano Demata, DPhil English Language & Literature, 1994

Digital communication has revolutionised politics. The importance of political information and propaganda spread on new media has outgrown that of traditional media. The elections of Barack Obama (called by many “the Facebook President”) and Donald Trump (“the Twitter President”) are seen as evidence of the influence played by social media in mobilising the electorate.  If the media have changed (and are continually changing), so verbal and visual modes of expression within political communication.  Elaborating on the analytical perspectives of Critical Discourse Analysis (including Critical Multimodal Discourse Analysis), Prof. Demata will discuss some of the linguistic and non-linguistic strategies employed by American politicians in the new media environment.

Massimiliano Demata is Assistant Professor of English Language and Translation at the University of Bari, Italy. He took his DPhil in English at St Cross College, Oxford in 1999 and was a Fulbright Research Scholar at Yale University (1999) and Indiana University (2014). In 2008 he published his monograph, Representations of War and Terrorism. The Ideology and Language of George W. Bush.  He has published extensively on the language of British and American media and politics, Computer-mediated communication and translation and ideology.  His current research focuses on social media and Multimodality in the context of American politics.

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Tuesday 28 November