Ben freeborn

Hi there! I’m Ben and I am currently a Law student at Somerville College. Some quick facts about me: I’m always down for a game of football; I am amazing at peeling oranges; I was so excited about testing mealworm-patties as a meat substitute but ended up consigning 5 friends to the loo subsequently. Since I was 15, my dream has been to run a think tank that works hand in hand with communities to problem-solve. In pursuit of this, I have been trying to understand development through different lenses. I have worked on multiple student-consulting projects for NGOs, am part of a small microfinance initiative operating in Kenya, and have spent 9 months working in Greek refugee camps. I hope that FTRU will be a small step towards realising that dream and can’t wait to see where this project goes.

ananya basu

Hello! I'm Ananya, the VP, and I'm studying PPE at Corpus Christi College. While not working on FTRU, you can find me debating, playing Classical Guitar or editing for a publication. While not having as much hands-on experience in aid as my impressive colleagues, I've worked in think tanks and research projects for various organisations. Its from this angle of bridging academic research with real-world impact on development that I'm most excited to explore FTRU - to try to improve how we can help communities help themselves. I'm greatly looking forward to seeing FTRU develop in our mission to improve bottom-up aid.


I am a second-year Experimental Psychology student at St Edmund Hall. As I have a deep interest in non-profit and development work, I volunteered for multiple NGOs in various capacities. For example, I helped to evaluate the impact of the education access initiatives of a global NGO and the microfinance initiatives of an Indonesian NGO using data analysis. Issues like inequality, child development, and education are especially close to my heart!

Outside of school work or volunteering, I enjoy working out and travelling. I am also interested in technology in general –– you can find out more about my interests here:

sAleh algannin

Hey! I'm Sal and I'm a second year studying PPE (actually, just the second P and E) at Somerville College and I'll be the Secretary at FTRU for this year! Though not as experienced as others on the committee with regards to sustainability and development, I'm very eager to get involved and research - especially interested in how I can help my country of heritage in the future with community-focused developmental initiatives.

helena holter

I’m Helena and I am studying PPE at Somerville College. My commitment to the development sector emerged from my interest in sustainability when I worked in Mozambique for two months, writing a research paper on the legal and financial challenges smallholder farmers face. I firmly believe that development should be led by local communities, who have first-hand experience of the issues at hand. In my spare time, I can be found playing lacrosse or football, cooking something up or connecting with the natural wilderness of Canada. I am looking forward to seeing FTRU grow and contributing to community-driven development this year!

michelle chan

I’m Michelle, a second year studying History and Economics. From my first point of contact with the development sphere, I was interested in examining the structure of the sector, including how resources, decision-making and accountability translate across local, regional and international levels. I’ve enjoyed my conversations with practitioners and academics in the sector, which have emphasised the need for community involvement and local expertise to create sustainable, effective impact. I am keen to actively learn and reflect as a part of From the Roots Up. Outside of academics, I am often making playlists, taking photos and planning my next train trip! I look forward to new perspectives and experiences in the year ahead.