An Oxford University academic has been named as one of 10 early-career academics who have been identified as some of "the most promising and pioneering contributors" in their fields.

Dr Jacob Downs, a Christ Church alumnus and currently a departmental lecturer in music, has been announced as a 2024 New Generation Thinker by the BBC and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Every year, the BBC and the council conduct a nationwide search for early-career academics in the arts and humanities.

Herald Series: Christ Church in OxfordChrist Church in Oxford (Image: Oxford Mail)

These New Generation Thinkers are identified for having ideas that could engage and intrigue BBC radio listeners.

After a process involving hundreds of applications, selected academics are given a chance to present their ideas on BBC Radio 4.

The winners also receive training and support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and BBC.

Dr Downs' research focuses on the experiences of musicians and listeners using sound technologies such as noise-cancelling headphones.

His work brings together insights from the fields of sound studies, phenomenology, musicology and music psychology.

He said: "My research explores contemporary listening experiences, adopting a range of approaches, from the scientific to the philosophical, to study perceptions of music and sound in both public and private spaces.

"For example, I explore how people use headphones to cushion themselves against the onslaught of contemporary life, what individuals are looking for when they listen to hours of whispered videos on YouTube, and why lots of us seem more and more to be choosing to play sound from our phones out loud on buses.

"It’s fantastic to know the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council appreciate the weirder end of humanities research and have made me a New Generation Thinker for 2024."

Dr Downs' journey started at Christ Church in 2012 when he joined to study music.

He graduated with a first-class BA in 2015, also bagging the Clifford Smith Prize in Music.

Subsequently, he earned his MSt with distinction from St John's College, Oxford, in 2016.

Dr Downs completed his PhD with no corrections at the University of Sheffield in 2021.

After holding research positions at the Universities of Cyprus and Sheffield, he returned to Oxford to serve as organising tutor in music at Lady Margaret Hall.

He also serves as the chair of Oxford's Faculty of Music.

He added: "I began my academic pursuits at Christ Church in 2012, where I spent three of the best years of my life so far.

"I thank Christ Church wholeheartedly for its continuing support."

Christ Church congratulated Dr Downs on his selection as a New Generation Thinker.