Kate Dicker


Year of Birth 1995

Hometown Marlow, Buckinghamshire

Nationality British

College Exeter College

Undergrad/Graduate Graduate, DPhil student

Year 3rd

What are you studying? DPhil in Infection, Immunology and Translational Medicine

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I study viruses so this year has been very interesting! I research HIV and the proteins it interacts with in our cells with the aim of finding new targets for antiviral therapies. I’d like to stay in research once I finish my PhD and work for teams involved in pandemic preparedness and how we can design vaccines and treatments for future unknown viruses.

Future ambitions? I’d love to continue rowing and race at Henley Women’s Regatta. I also want to continue my research and genuinely make a positive impact on people’s lives through advances in virology. I’m hoping both of these ambitions will enable me to travel to lots of new places and discover things I don’t even know exist yet. My goal in life is to never be bored and to always do what I enjoy. A lot of people have said that it’s impossible to row whilst doing a lab-based DPhil and I’m very much enjoying proving them wrong.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? With insane amounts of organisation. It requires a lot of planning and early starts but I think being so busy pushes me to be more productive and time efficient. I’ve gotten used to multitasking and rowing provides a really nice break from work which helps me with managing stress. When I row I have to focus on what I’m doing in the boat or on the erg, I can’t be thinking about work and stressing myself out, it’s one of the only things that forces me to empty my head of anything work-related.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing when I was 11 because the school rowing coach, Dave Curry, pointed at me in a PE lesson and went ‘You’re tall, you’re now on the rowing squad’. I went along for a few sessions to see what it was about and was instantly hooked. I loved the physical challenge of the sport and camaraderie between crewmates.

What was your first club? My school, Sir William Borlase.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? It’s inspiring to row with such a dedicated squad that are so passionate about their sport.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I raced all the way through school but took a break during my undergrad due to a back injury. I loved competing at National Schools Regatta each year and have a few medals but the Boat Race is definitely my biggest achievement.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? No.

Your favourite race so far? Racing at National Schools Regatta has always been great and I love the atmosphere of home regattas but nothing beats the first race you win. We were so proud of ourselves for putting all of the training to work and starting to look like decent rowers.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? Lucky socks.

Your sporting idol? Helen Glover.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? I’d love to have the dream team of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning in the boat.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? Reminding myself of how far I’ve come. I never thought I’d be able to do a PhD or get into Oxford, let alone row for Oxford in the Boat Race. I want to make the most of it all.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I hike, cycle and play netball and when I’ve had enough of sport, I love to find new things to try and cook. I really enjoy making food for friends and spending an evening getting overly competitive at a board game.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? Focusing on the fact that these restrictions won’t last forever. I want to be as fit and as strong as possible once we get back to normal. There’s also plenty of cake!