Research Talks

All members of Darwin are encouraged to present their research at informal seminars held on Tuesdays and Thursdays during term. Everyone is welcome, whatever your degree or discipline.

Darwin members pick up lunch from 12:00, taking it into the Richard King Room (on the left at the top of the stairs leading to the dining hall) or 1 Newnham Terrace (straight through at the far end of the dining hall). Wine is served. Non-Darwin members are welcome to attend, although lunch is only available to guests of members. The talk begins at about 1:15 and lasts for about 20 minutes and is followed by questions over coffee. We adjourn at 2:00pm at the latest.

Upcoming Talks

Tuesday 25 May 2021
Online (ask organizers for link)
Dr Laure Miolo

Abstract not available

Past Research Talks

Tuesday 23 February 2021
Dr. Edwin Rose, Munby Fellow in Bibliography, University of Cambridge

Many reading this abstract will be familiar with the New Museums Site in central Cambridge. However, prior to its development from the mid nineteenth century, this was the location of the Cambridge Botanical Garden. Founded between 1760 and 1763 on the grounds of the old Augustinian Priory and funded by a donation of £1600 from Dr. Richard Walker of Trinity College, the Botanic Garden remains one of the first major scientific initiatives established by the University of Cambridge. In 1762 Thomas Martyn (1735–1825) was appointed as the third Professor of Botany who immediately embarked upon arranging the Botanic Garden according to the new Linnaean system of classification that divided nature into kingdoms, classes orders genera and species; the first institution of its kind to be founded on Linnaean principles in Britain. This talk examines how printed books and herbarium specimens, many of which are still held by Cambridge University Library and Cambridge University Herbarium, were used to manage information on the living plants in the Cambridge Botanic Garden between 1760 and 1820. This was the responsibility of Martyn and a succession of curators who navigated between the living plants, dried specimens and an annotated library of approximately 1000 volumes used to identify, classify, describe and arrange species represented in the garden and Martyn’s Botanical Museum. This system for managing information was designed to accommodate the increasing numbers of living plants, specimens and seeds Martyn and his curators received from a global network extending across the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, many of which they cultivated in the Cambridge Botanic Garden.

Thursday 18 February 2021
Dr Matishalin Patel

It is often confusing to people. Why evolutionary theorists are still hammering away? Didn't Darwin say all that needed to be said? In this talk I will give a small introduction to the field of social evolution theory. How evolutionary biologists think about spite, altruism, and cooperation. And introduce my own focus which is on conflict and spite in evolution.

Tuesday 16 February 2021
Clément de Rivas

The extent to which reconstructing the purposive content of national identity can set in motion and shape the dynamics of institutional change is a neglected issue. To shed some light on this topic, this paper develops the constructivist foundations of the institutionalist political economy perspective. Relying upon discourse analysis and the process-tracing procedure, it analyzes how Gaullist France (1958-69) redefined its national purpose, which led to new objectives and policy paradigms being set by the political process. This paper then seeks to elucidate how the economic activities that would allow these objectives to be implemented were identified. It also investigates how the respective roles of markets and of the state were reconstructed so as to promote these economic activities. These roles nonetheless conflicted with one another to some extent. The cabinet thus had to rank its objectives in order of priority, which shaped its institutional reforms. The dynamics of Gaullist institutional change are analyzed more in depth through a case study on the computing industry and in the context of European integration. Overall, it is argued that the so-called dirigiste Gaullist state had in fact a limited capacity to transform the economic structure so as to implement its political objectives.

Thursday 11 February 2021
Dr Sanne Kaalund

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a severe and incurable neurodegenerative disease associated with loss of neurons in frontal and temporal cortices, and abnormal deposition of misfolded and aggregated proteins. Although the molecular mechanisms underlying FTD are heterogeneous, the illness is striking in the specificity of neurodegeneration to layer II and V of the cortex. This creates the opportunity to study how protein inclusions perturb neuronal networks, and how the pathological specificity at post mortem microscopy may improve ante mortem brain imaging for early diagnosis and tracking of disease progression. Using a set of mathematical and statistically methods, called stereology, I am measuring the burden of protein pathology and numbers of brain cells in FTD.

Tuesday 9 February 2021
Stefanie Felsberger

Self-tracking applications promise scientific and exact knowledge about people’s bodies through data analysis. The fastest growing sub-sector of these are fertility or period tracking apps. In my PhD research I ask on how the unpaid work that feeds the commodification of user data is understood by women who use fertility apps and thereby navigate the intersection of data as source of value and knowledge. I hope to contribute to the ongoing discussion about (data/surveillance) capitalism. In my presentation, I begin by laying out the context of period tracking applications and why they are uniquely situated to study the commodification of menstruation and data. I discuss the predominant claims of the tech industry that “your phone knows you better than yourself” and provide an overview over popular apps, and their business models, and how they are set up to collect user data. Finally, I outline my future research plans and methodology.

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