Football on the Brain is a partnership between the University of Oxford and Oxford United in the Community, Ignite, Football Beyond Borders, She Kicks, and Oxford University Sport.


Our team at the University of Oxford includes:

Team photo of football team including professor Heidi Johansen-Berg.

Professor Heidi Johansen-Berg (on right wearing grey and black) is Director of the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN) and Associate Head of the Medical Sciences Division (Research), University of Oxford. At WIN, she leads the Plasticity Group, whose research focuses on how the brain changes with learning, experience, and damage. Heidi is a keen football player, coaches an U16 girls team and enjoys watching the Lionesses! 


Holly (second from right, front row) poses with her college football team. 11 women wearing green jerseys stand/kneel in two rows, with a woman in red jersey in the centre front.










Professor Holly Bridge (second from right, front row, with her New College women's football teammates) is a Professor of Neuroscience at WIN. Her research uses non-invasive human brain imaging to understand the organisation of the visual system in both people with normal vision and those who have abnormal visual function. She is particularly focussed on rehabilitation for people who have suffered a stroke affecting their vision, along with those who have problems with their binocular vision. Holly has played football for over 30 years, is a level 2 qualified coach currently coaching u15 boys and spends a lot of time driving children to football training and matches.  


Louise sits in the stands at a football match. She has brown hair and wearing a multicoloured scarf. Two young boys smile at the camera behind her, and so does an man behind them.

Louise Aukland is a teacher and impact evaluation officer. Her Football on the Brain role involves translating the neuroscience and research into training materials for players and coaches, and leading on impact evaluation. Louise’s football skills are limited to kicking the ball around the garden with her children or supporting them in Sunday matches. You might also spot her in the family stand at Oxford United matches! 


Morgan plays football in an indoor gymnasium. Wide shot of her with a ball and a crowd in the background. She is wearing green kit.

Morgan Mitchell is a DPhil (PhD) student at WIN. She researches the use of Targeted Memory Reactivation (TMR) during sleep as an intervention to boost the memory consolidation processes underlying motor learning for stroke rehabilitation patients. Morgan has played football for over 20 years and is a qualified coach currently coaching U14 girls. If she’s not playing football in her spare time, she loves cycling and has recently branched out into tackling triathlons, endurance running (including running the Oxford Half Marathon on her birthday and tackling the upcoming London Marathon!), hiking and playing basketball.  


Blond woman with shoulder length her smiles at the camera against a neutral background. She is wearing a black top and cream cardigan.

Dr Iske Marshall is a Research Coordinator at WIN. Her background is in the cognitive neuroscience of memory and language. She doesn’t know anything about football but is happy to dress up in orange on the rare occasions the Dutch national team has some success. 


Woman with cropped short dark hair leans with one hand against her face.












Hanna with long blond hair against green leafy backdrop wearing purple top.


Dr Carinne Piekema is the Public Engagement Manager and Dr Hanna Smyth is the Public Engagement Officer at WIN. They develop, deliver, and support a wide range of public engagement activities and training opportunities across WIN. Neither have ever played football (though enjoy training for other sports!) but are happy to celebrate when the Dutch or Canadian teams (respectively) have a win.


For 2023 we are piloting a new programme here at Football on the Brain: Sports Public Engagement Ambassadors, who will develop and deliver activities that connect research with various sport audiences. Our four 2023 Sports Sports Public Engagement Ambassadors are:


Zhiyu profile photo

Zhiyu (Jerry) Zheng is a DPhil student in Clinical Neurosciences in the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging. His research aims to improve Magnetic Resonance Imaging’s ability in distinguishing between different types of structures in the brain. He achieves this by studying the underlying physics of Magnetic Resonance and physiological phenomena. He is passionate about neuroscience and football. As a sports public engagement ambassador, he hopes to explore applications of neuroscience in sports and communicate them to football enthusiasts and the general public. Twitter: @Anonymouszzy. Instagram: @jediknightnapoleon



Lauren Rudd is a DPhil candidate at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit in the Department of Biology. Her research focuses on understanding the impact that disturbances, such as disease outbreaks, have on lion social behaviour. She is also really interested in science communication, and researches the ways that bias can affect how the public engage with conservation recommendations on social media. She is passionate about sport, particularly increasing access to sport for women and those from minority backgrounds, and currently plays basketball for the University of Oxford.  



Denise Kohlhepp is currently pursuing a DPhil in Experimental Psychology funded by the ESRC Grand Union DTP. Founded on her passion for sports, she investigates the causal mechanisms of physical activity on cognitive and brain health. Denise previously obtained a Master’s in Psychology and Education and the British Psychological Society accreditation at the University of Cambridge. She is also a trained teacher with Staatsexamen from Germany, and prior to returning to academia, Denise spent several years as a teacher, head of department and athletics coach in a boarding school and as a tutor for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford. Twitter: @kohlhepp_denise. Instagram: @runningyogibee



Eliza Copland is a second year undergraduate in biochemistry. She is particularly interested in how science has the potential to improve football. She co-founded and co-captains the women’s football team at New College. Instagram: @eliza.copland