Day of research 2017

  • April 27, 2017
Day of research 2017

Scholars will present research findings at a flagship event in May.

The latest research in areas ranging from how cognitive science can illuminate Brexit to the links between democracy and contemporary forms of imprisonment will be on display at this year’s Gates Cambridge Day of Research next month.

The flagship internal event of the Gates Cambridge Scholars Council will take place on 12th May.

The Day is broadly organised under three main themes: identity, globalisation and exclusion, but other topics will also be discussed in interactive discussions and panels, including on how government and media influence on policy and how engagement with natural systems can inform human biological advancement.

Twelve researchers will talk for 15 minutes about their research, followed by four minutes devoted to Q & A. Alumnus Daniel Greenfield [2005] will give the keynote and will speak about what research looks like beyond the ivory towers.

The talks are:

Naomi Woo [2014], who is doing a PhD in Music, on 'the practicality of the impossible' in 20th century piano music.

Leor Zmigrod [2016], who is doing a PhD in Psychology, on Brexit and neuropolitics. She will examine the relationship between the strength of individuals’ nationalistic identities and their cognitive performance, asking whether individual differences in cognitive and psychological characteristics predict the strength of a person’s nationalistic identity.

Elijah Foo Keat Mak [2013], who is doing a PhD in Psychiatry, on the role of neuroimaging in assisting the early identification of dementia, serving as surrogate markers for disease progression and detecting patterns of brain changes to distinguish various types of dementia.

Callie Vandewiele [2014], who is doing a PhD in Latin American Studies, on the relationship between contemporary Mayan weavers in Guatemala and the role that museums could play in their heritage development.

Stephen Kissler [2014], who is doing a PhD in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, on how mathematics has helped us identify where the 2009 outbreak of H1N1 influenza was introduced, how it spread and who was most responsible for driving its explosive transmission.

Annalise Higgins [2016], who is doing a PhD in History, on how attempts to manage the Panama Canal in World War One and to renegotiate its international status were problematised by intersections between its strategic and commercial significance.

Greg Reeves [2014], who is doing a PhD in Plant Science, on how to spread the benefits that some plants derive from a more efficient version of photosynthesis to cereal crops.

Camilo Ruiz [2016], who is doing an MPhil in Biological Science, on how artificial intelligence techniques might be used to pick the optimal treatment for patients with cancer by mining a database of 1,000s of prior patients.

Aliya Khalid [2015], who is doing a PhD in Education, on how mothers conceptualise and shape their influence on schooling and learning outcomes for their daughters in Punjab, Pakistan.

Morgan Seag [2016], who is doing a PhD in Polar Studies, on the integration of women into Antarctic science institutions in the second half of the twentieth century.

Josh Feinzig [2016], who is doing an MPhil in Criminology, on ethnographic research into prisoner-led councils and deliberative democratic programmes within prisons that attempt to foster a sense of ‘prisoner citizenship’. He will claim that democracy is principally incompatible with imprisonment.

Alex Wood [2015], who is doing a PhD in Medicine, on how the anaphylatoxin C5a, traditionally thought to be a pro-inflammatory molecule, appears to impair a vital cell in the immune system.

*The Day of Research takes place at the Fisher Building in St Johns College from 1-6.30pm with a networking reception to follow. Preliminary schedule/more details of the day can be found at the sign-up link here.

Daniel Greenfield

Daniel Greenfield

  • Alumni
  • Australia
  • 2005 PhD Computer Science
  • Trinity Hall

(Update: I am now CEO of PetaGene. We tackle challenges in Personalised Medicine, making unwieldy genomic data from sequencers smaller, better and faster, to reduce costs, improve analysis and speed up collaboration.) My PhD research developed models for the physical locality of networks. Locality is fundamentally important for the performance of future computer systems with thousands of processors on a chip, but not much is fundamentally known about it. What is very exciting is that in collaborations with the Brain Mapping Institute, we've also found the theory can explain some mysteries of mammalian neuronal networks and we believe it may help to explain other natural phenomena where physical position matters such as social, epidemic, financial, and traffic networks.

Naomi Woo

Naomi Woo

  • Alumni
  • Canada
  • 2013 MPhil Music Studies
    2014 PhD Music
  • Clare College

I am a pianist, harpsichordist and conductor studying Performance Studies in the Music Faculty at Cambridge. My current and former research interests have included translation studies, musical transcription, 20th-century French music, musical memory, time, mathematics, and the mind. As a performer, my interests run the gamut from historically informed performance, to experimental/multidisciplinary concert experiences, to promoting works by female composers. I hold a BA in Mathematics&Philosophy from Yale College, and a MMus in Piano Performance from the Yale School of Music. www.naomiwoo.com

Leor Zmigrod

Leor Zmigrod

  • Alumni
  • Netherlands
  • 2016 PhD Psychology
  • Downing College

A critical question that permeates history and the media of today is how and why people become radicalized. Growing up in the USA, Europe, and the Middle East, I was intimately aware that radicalization can emerge on all sides of conflict and so is not merely a product of a particular ideology or demographic. By combining cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology to study the psychological processes that underlie radicalization to an ideology or group, my PhD will aim to address the gap in our understanding of the cognitive susceptibilities to internalizing a doctrine and a willingness to harm and self-sacrifice for an ideological cause. Through this research, I hope to bring a fresh perspective to questions which have been traditionally only dealt with in the social and political sciences, and thereby to shape interventional and educational programs aimed at identifying vulnerabilities to radicalization. I am excited and honoured to be a part of the Gates Cambridge community.

Previous Education

University of Cambridge

Elijah Foo Keat Mak

Elijah Foo Keat Mak

  • Alumni
  • Singapore
  • 2013 PhD Psychiatry
  • Trinity College

Upon completing my degree in Psychology, I made my first foray into psychiatry by working as a research assistant to at Singapore's National Neuroscience Institute. While administering neuropsychological assessments for dementia patients, I became fascinated by the global challenge to halt the disease. I decided that fighting against neurodegenerative disorders would be my life endeavor. With a MRI research fellowship at University at Buffalo’s Neuroimaging Analysis Center, I am investigating the neural correlates of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. It is just so exciting to be part of a respected team at Cambridge, where I aim to improve early and accurate diagnosis of dementia subtypes. Through the utilization of mulitmodal neuroimaging techniques, I will be working with Professor John O'Brien to identify distinctive and signature patterns of cerebral abnormalities associated with specific dementia subtypes.

Callie Vandewiele

Callie Vandewiele

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2014 PhD Latin American Studies
  • Newnham College

Born in Utah, I was raised the oldest of six siblings first there and then just outside of Portland, Oregon. "Unschooled" until the age of 16 my foray into traditional education began with a handful of highschool classes, and then a dive into Spanish language, music and biology at the local community college, where I quickly developed a taste for academic work. As a non-traditional student I graduated first with an AAOT in General Studies from Clackamas Community College and then with honors from Pacific University in 2008, where I received a B.A. in Politics and Government. After graduation I lived and worked in the Alta Verapaz of Guatemala where I developed an interest in women's leadership education and the ongoing interactions between globalized western culture, local cultures and the evolution of ancient traditions.

Stephen Kissler

Stephen Kissler

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2014 PhD Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics
  • King's College

Born and raised at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Castle Rock, Colorado, I completed my Master's degree in Applied Mathematics just a few miles north at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2014. At Cambridge, my PhD research will involve mathematically modelling influenza epidemics, in order to better understand the disease's transmission and to predict which control measures (such as vaccination, travel advisories, and school closures) will most effectively slow or stop an outbreak. I hope that this will ultimately lead to a career in mathematical epidemiology, emphasizing in preventing emerging infectious diseases that cross over from animal to human hosts. In addition to research, I also love to teach mathematics, and I hope to find ways to do so during my time at Cambridge and over the course of my career.

Annalise Higgins

Annalise Higgins

  • Scholar
  • New Zealand
  • 2016 PhD History
  • Trinity College

As a historian, I thrive on imagining the past and asking the question ‘why?’. Growing up in New Zealand surrounded by many stunning landscapes, I have developed a strong interest in how people think about the natural world. These interests were inspired and refined by the opportunity to complete a BA in History and Psychology, and a BA(Hons) and MA in History, at the University of Auckland. At Cambridge University, I will be researching intersections between the environment and diplomacy, with a particular focus on interoceanic canals. I am interested in treating international diplomatic treaties as texts which must be considered within their environmental contexts, rather than being mentally sequestered within the confines of diplomatic meeting halls. My previous research has focussed on public perceptions of international diplomacy, notably neutrality and the 1899 Hague Peace Conference, in the late nineteenth century. I have become fascinated by the challenge of trying to understand how people have grappled with ideas about their world and how it functions. Environmental challenges are particularly salient in the present, and I believe that an integral part of working towards international cooperation in addressing environmental challenges is developing historical understanding of how the inherently international challenges presented by the environment have been confronted in diplomatic contexts.

Previous Education

University of Auckland

Gregory Reeves

Gregory Reeves

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2014 PhD Plant Sciences
  • King's College

Experiencing the tragedy of disease, poverty and starvation, both personally and in various countries, has left an indelible passion in me to pursue plant science to make a brighter future for humanity. For my Master’s research, I studied the inheritance of disease resistance and spicy flavor in chile peppers, where I discovered a new gene that inhibits disease resistance, helped sequence the chile pepper genome and broke the world record for "hottest pepper". At Cambridge, I will investigate improving crop productivity by working towards transferring the more efficient C4 photosynthesis into less efficient C3 photosynthetic, yet economically important, crops--notably rice and wheat. Engineering C4 photosynthesis into C3 crops could potentially increase current yields by 50%, while adding greater nitrogen- and water-use efficiency. This would be an incredible solution to global food security and supply! Upon completion of a PhD, I aspire to become a plant breeder.

Camilo Ruiz

Camilo Ruiz

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2016 MPhil Biological Science (Sanger Institute)
  • King's College

Camilo Ruiz is a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology majoring in Biological Engineering. He has conducted extensive research focusing on translational and high-impact work. Working on a team at the DNA Medicine Institute, Camilo helped to develop a blood diagnostic device capable of shrinking a room’s worth of hospital equipment into a patient’s hand. The device won the $500K Nokia Sensing XChallenge competition and is a finalist for the $10M XPrize. Working on a team at MIT’s Langer Lab, Camilo helped to develop the CellSQZ, a microfluidic device to deliver macromolecules to many cell types. In 2014, the device was named a “Top 10 World Changing Idea” by Scientific American. Overall, Camilo has two main goals. First, he hopes to develop cutting-edge tools that make bioengineering cheaper, faster, and more accessible. Second, he hopes to invent biotechnologies that solve critical problems in health and energy. Through the Gates Cambridge Fellowship, Camilo will pursue an M.Phil. in Biological Science. By developing a strong foundation in machine learning and other computational techniques, he hopes to model, design, and construct biological systems more effectively.

Previous Education

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Aliya Khalid

Aliya Khalid

  • Alumni
  • Pakistan
  • 2015 PhD Education
  • Newnham College

My hometown, Peshawar, Pakistan, once known as 'The City of Flowers' has lost its distinguishing character of hospitality and patience as extremism and intolerance have spilled over across the borders. A girl here has no identity. She is supposed to be voiceless and faceless. This mindset ensures there are fewer opportunities for education and employment for them. Being from an enlightened family I was able to work my way up the education ladder to The Institute of Management Sciences where I graduated with a Master’s in Public Administration with top honors and a gold medal. I have extensive experience volunteering in the social and development sectors. I have worked with women bound in court cases, female convicts in jails, conflict victims, internally displaced persons, youth leadership development, managing an education system and being part of the Institute for Policy Reforms, a Pakistani think tank. My region suffers from orthodoxy which affects the lives of women and minorities. States, in addition to focusing on traditional national security measures, must look at human security aspects of the population and ensure their rights. Unfortunately, the ‘right to education’ for women remains unaddressed. In a country with half of its child population out of school, almost two-thirds is comprised of girls. I aspire to research issues that impact access and learning outcome in female population of Pakistan. The prestigious Gates Cambridge scholarship has provided me with an opportunity to pursue a PhD in Education at the University of Cambridge.

Previous Education

Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar
University of Peshawar

Morgan Seag

Morgan Seag

  • Scholar
  • United States
  • 2016 PhD Polar Studies at Scott Polar RI
  • Girton College

Morgan’s research interests center on science, policy, and social change in international spaces. In broad terms, she is interested in the "human" side of these common spaces: how are they used? by whom? to what end? More specifically, her PhD research at Cambridge's Scott Polar Research Institute examines scientific institutions in the polar regions, asking how they have evolved to become more gender inclusive over time. Morgan became interested in the polar regions during the austral summers of 2011-12 and 2012-13, when she worked for the US Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Her PhD research also builds upon undergraduate training in political science at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as early career experiences in cross-cultural communication and science education. Her research is motivated by a belief that in order to create a better world, it is essential to understand how institutions can become more diverse and equitable; and she is driven to share her excitement about the possibilities opened up with a better understanding of our shared global spaces.

Previous Education

University of Pennsylvania
University of Cambridge

Joshua Feinzig

Joshua Feinzig

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2016 MPhil Criminology
  • Pembroke College

As an undergraduate studying Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale University, I focused on the intersection of criminal justice and political theory, with a particular emphasis on the intellectual history of punishment and state justifications for mass incarceration. I seek to integrate political and moral philosophy into criminology, in the hopes of imbuing criminal justice policymaking with new theoretical considerations to further the development of alternatives to incarceration across the world. In addition to working on criminal justice reform at the state level, I have served as a city commissioner in New Haven (Connecticut) and co-founded an alternative regional juvenile justice court system grounded in balanced and restorative principles. I believe that to rebuild public trust and reinvigorate civic possibility, American cities must develop restorative criminal justice systems by drawing upon local community values and mores of inclusion. At Cambridge, I seek to continue applying social scientific frameworks to develop new alternative diversionary models, while also considering how criminal justice policy normatively shapes ideas about race and citizenship. I’m honored to be joining the Gates Cambridge community and working with others so deeply committed to social justice and the public good, and I look forward to the friendships and collaborations ahead.

Previous Education

Yale University

Alex Wood

Alex Wood

  • Alumni
  • Australia
  • 2015 PhD Medicine
  • Emmanuel College

Previous Education

University of Western Australia

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