Four scholars to speak at internal symposium

  • February 3, 2017
Four scholars to speak at internal symposium

Scholars will discuss research on areas such as protecting populations in Central African Republic.

Four Gates Cambridge Scholars will speak at an internal symposium next week on subjects ranging from Disney utopias and cell biology to curbing mass atrocities in the Central African Republic.

The symposium takes place from 7.30-9.30pm on 8th February in the Gates Scholars Common Room.

The speakers are:

Eddie Cano Gámez [2016], who is doing an MPhil in Biological Science. He will give a talk entitled We are what we read: studying the immune system through its favourite books. He says the genome – the entire genetic material of an organism which is the same in all the cells that form it – can be imagined as a library, an old collection of books from which cells, which are very diverse, pick their favourite titles. He says that under this analogy, cells are what they read so analysing their gene expression, or the books they prefer under the library analogy, can provide important information on how they function and when they are dysfunctional. This can in turn help to cure disease.

Kevin Chew [2016], who is doing a PhD in Film and Screen Studies, will give an analysis of the vision of utopia portrayed in Disney's film Zootopia. The film is described by critic Peter Debruge as being about 'a place where mammals of all shapes, sizes and dietary preferences not only live in harmony, but also are encouraged to be whatever they want’.  In his talk, On War and Cuteness: The Utopian Politics of Disney’s Zootopia, Kevin will touch on the conflict between film industry depictions of utopia and arguments that the industry is a tool of social control. He will also talk about the ethical value of utopian impulses in Disney films against the current political backdrop.

Georgiana Epure [2016], who is doing an MPhil in International Relations and Politics, will address how successful the international Responsibility to Protect populations from mass atrocities has been in the Central African Republic. R2P is a global political commitment which was endorsed by all member states of the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Georgiana's talk, The Responsibility to Protect in the Central African Republic. How Successful? will cover what different levels of success might look like for R2P and how R2P operations were implemented on the ground in CAR. She will say that R2P in CAR has been a mixed story of failure and success. "Lacking the political will to prioritise the situation in CAR and respond to early warnings, the international community failed to prevent the escalation of the crisis. When it acted, the response of the international community was not proportional with its goal of halting the crisis and creating good governance to advance the prevention of mass atrocities," she says. However, she adds: "Despite operational, institutional and capacity challenges, R2P in CAR has significantly reduced the levels of violence." Nevertheless, she will argue, R2P should be about more than halting mass atrocities and should include effective strengthening of sovereignty, something that has not happened in CAR.

Arazi Pinhas [2015], who is doing a PhD in Astronomy, will also speak about his research into clouds in exoplanet atmospheres.


*Picture credit: Bangui, Central African Republic c/o Wikimedia commons

Eddie Cano Gamez

Eddie Cano Gamez

  • Alumni, Scholar
  • Mexico
  • 2016 MPhil Biological Science (Sanger)
    2017 PhD Biological Science at the Sanger Institute
  • Selwyn College

From my childhood, I remember the smell of books. The shelves full of novels at my grandmother’s house, the aroma of old pages in the reading room of my primary school during winter. I like to think of my life as a series of libraries. From the surreal verticality of Biblioteca Vasoncelos, with its whale skeleton hanging from the roof, to the Maori carvings of Auckland University Library. When I think of it that way, perhaps it is not surprising that, after pursuing a degree in biotechnology in Mexico City, I ended up studying immunogenomics. Picture, for instance, Alice through the looking glass. “Here it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”, said the Red Queen. When I read this quote, I think of the immune system. How fast must it run to keep our place in a world ruled by microbes? But the immune system does not run, it plans ahead and divides tasks. It is a community of cells that talk to each other. During my PhD in at The Sanger Institute, Cambridge I will study the immune system, using transcriptomics to link gene expression and cellular functions to genetic variation across individuals. Because I firmly believe in the transforming power of knowledge, when out of the lab I like teaching, and promoting art and science. Languages and music are my biggest passions. Monet, my favourite painter. And my dearest dream, to someday have a positive impact in Latin American society. As a Nahuatl poet once put it, “all that is true has a root”. And, to me, the desire to improve our world will always be the root from which everything else stems.

Previous Education

University of Auckland
University of Cambridge

Kevin Chew

Kevin Chew

  • Scholar
  • Singapore
  • 2016 PhD Film and Screen Studies
  • Gonville and Caius College

During my undergraduate studies in French and German at the University of Cambridge, I developed an interest in the role of film in the creation of political and ethical discourses. My work was informed by the historical backdrop of annihilating violence symbolised with particular clarity in Berlin, where I spent an exchange year studying film. These interests, along with my experience as a former serviceman in the Republic of Singapore Navy, informed my writing on wartime visual culture during my MPhil course in Screen Media. Topics I examined in this context ranged from the National Socialist propaganda machine to Marvel Studios’ Captain America film trilogy. As this turn implies, the focus of my work shifted from the Second World War as the high-water mark of physical destruction to the regime of vulnerability inflicted on global society in the ‘War on Terror’. Following this shift to mainstream cinema, my present research concerns the political and ethical weight of Disney animated features from 2012 onwards.

Previous Education

University of Cambridge

Georgiana Epure

Georgiana Epure

  • Alumni
  • Romania
  • 2016 MPhil International Relations & Pols
  • Christ's College

Georgiana is currently working on accountability, liberty and economic justice at the Open Society Justice Initiative in London. Before her current role, Georgiana was a trainee in the Strategic Planning Division at the European External Action Service in Brussels. Prior to this, she was an intern in the Investigation Division, at the Office of the Prosecutor, at the International Criminal Court.

She holds an MA in Social Science Research Methods from the University of Leeds, an MPhil in International Relations and Politics from the University of Cambridge (Christ's College) and a BA in International Relations from the University of Leeds. Her main interests lie in the area of responses to gross human rights violations, especially accountability.

Georgiana is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Responsibility to Protect Student Journal, the first global student-led journal on responses to gross human rights violations ( She is a passionate advocate for gender equality and as a Women Deliver Young Leader alumna and a member of the Association for Liberty and Gender Equality she has been involved in advocacy projects for fighting sexual harassment in the workplace and introducing comprehensive sexuality education in the national scholar curriculum in Romania.

Previous Education

University of Leeds

Arazi Pinhas

Arazi Pinhas

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2015 PhD Astronomy
  • Hughes Hall

My gratitude is to existence.

Previous Education

University of Oxford
University of Pennsylvania
University of Cambridge

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