Scholars to speak at Internal Symposium

  • October 30, 2017
Scholars to speak at Internal Symposium

Four Scholars will address subjects ranging from memory formation to the ethics of cancer screening.

Four Gates Cambridge Scholars are presenting their research at an Internal Symposium on 1st November on subjects ranging from the mental health of women in the slums of Mumbai and memory formation to migration between Japan and Mexico and the ethics of cancer screening.

Saloni Atal’s talk is entitled Suffering, Survival & Transformation: Lay Understandings of Mental Illness Among Women in Mumbai’s ‘Slums’. It covers depressive and anxiety disorders among slum-dwelling women in India. Her research explores local understandings of distress and healing among slum-dwelling women and found that mental ill health was understood in essentially social terms through the idiom of ‘tension’ and defined against community norms surrounding family responsibilities, gender roles and economic productivity. Saloni, [2017], who is doing a PhD in Psychology, says: “Treatment for mental ill health was seen to require the mobilisation of community resources through social networks, seeking expert advice and generating employment. Women also stressed the need to be self-reliant and cultivate psychological resources through re-framing, endurance and moral fortitude.” She hopes her findings will help in the development of methods of intervention which are appropriate to local contexts and which make use of local cultural and linguistic resources.

Alex Quent’s talk is entitled Interaction between reward anticipation and stress hormone during memory formation. It looks at how memories are encoded in the brain by focusing on those associated with stress or reward. His research found that, while there were no significant effects of stress or reward on overall memory performance, for events where no reward was anticipated, increases in stress-related cortisol in stressed participants were related to increases in recall and increases in recollection-based recognition responses. In contrast, for events where a reward was anticipated, increases in stress-related cortisol were not related to increases in memory performance. Alex [2017], who is doing a PhD in Biological Science, says the results indicate that the stress and the reward systems interact in the way they impact episodic memory and shed light on the neurobiological mechanism of how memories are formed.

Jessica Fernandez de Lara Harada [2016] will speak about her research on United States – Japan – Latin American relations and their impact on large-scale long-distance migration from Japan to Mexico at the turn of the 20th century. She will address state policies, national politics and institutional and popular discourses on migration, nation and miscegenation and citizenship, but she is more concerned with the individual experiences, motivations and trajectories of Japanese migrants and their descendants across generations. Jessica, who is doing a PhD in Latin American Studies, says: “My research addresses globalisation as everyday process, race and multi-culture and world history."

Joseph Wu’s talk is entitled Should you get screened for cancer? He will explain the benefits and harms of cancer screening and map these onto the main points of controversy around the early detection of cancer. In doing so he will look at the ethical issues screening raises and look at the implications for medical practice and health policy. Joseph [2016] is doing a PhD in History and the Philosophy of Science.

*The Internal Symposium takes place on 1st November in the GCSR from 7-9pm. All Gates Scholars and their guests are welcome. Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Saloni Atal

Saloni Atal

  • Scholar
  • India
  • 2017 PhD Psychology
  • Christ's College

I am a social psychologist and I study and mobilise around drivers for gender equality and sustainable development. My doctoral research at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health aims to use theoretical perspectives from social psychology to evaluate the impact of an innovative NGO-run community education programme in Mumbai (https://www.muktanganedu.org/) on the empowerment of women.

Through my research, I aim to produce policy relevant insights into women's empowerment and well-being in low-income settings. Prior to my PhD, I completed the MPhil in Social and Development Psychology at Cambridge (2015-16), as part of which I examined perceptions of mental illness among slum-dwelling Indian women and how these relate to their sociocultural context. My findings have been published in Transcultural Psychiatry: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1363461520947836

I am immensely thankful to the Trust for their support, without which I would not have been a part of this rich heritage. I had many mentors on my way to this scholarship and I am passionate about paying it forward. If you're interested in my work you can follow me on Twitter: Saloni_Atal

Previous Education

University of Hong Kong
University of Cambridge

Alexander Quent

Alexander Quent

  • Scholar
  • Germany
  • 2017 PhD Biological Science at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
  • Clare Hall

Functioning memory is one of the most crucial cognitive competences that shape who we as human beings are. This sparks my general interest in (long term) memory. Specifically, I am keen to know what aspects of a situation as well as of the past and future determine what we will remember later. I also want to understand what the mechanism(s) is/are behind this. This knowledge could help to develop interventions for those with problems in that domain. I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, with a semester abroad at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, USA, and a research visit at the University of California – Davis, USA, where I started my Master’s project on the tag-and-capture theory as the mechanism behind the memory enhancing effect of post-learning stress and reward anticipation. During my PhD at Cambridge University, UK, at the MRC CBU I plan to study the effect of schema-inconsistency (e.g. evoked by objects at unexpected locations) on memory performance and how this modulatory effect might change in the course of ageing. I am interested to know what forms of memory (e.g. associative or single item memory) are modulated by schema-inconsistency and how brain regions in the medial temporal lobe and medial prefrontal cortex interact in this context.

Previous Education

Ruhr-University Bochum

Jessica Fernandez De Lara Harada

Jessica Fernandez De Lara Harada

  • Scholar
  • Mexico
  • 2016 PhD Latin American Studies
  • Emmanuel College

Jessica is a qualified lawyer and human rights defender with over five years of experience in legal practice, research and advocacy work. Her doctoral research examines overlooked Asian minorities in Latin America. In particular, she focuses on Mexican Japanese experiences of racism, mestizaje and transnational identity. Jessica is currently building upon her master’s dissertation on graphic novel representations of mestizaje, the positioning of afro-descendants, and the operation of race and racism in Mexico. Her research interests include the history of race relations, overlooked ethno-racial minorities, and nation-state formation in twentieth century Mexico. Previously, Jessica completed an MA in Latin American Studies (with Distinction) at University College London, and a BA (First Class Honours) in Law at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She was the principal researcher for the Survey of Nikkei Communities in Latin America commissioned by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Historical Studies at El Colegio de México; and co-founder of the CRASSH Graduate Research Group 'Power and Vision: The Camera as Political Technology'. Jessica is co-organiser alongside Dr. Rin Ushiyama and Zeina Azmeh of the interdisciplinary conference Memories in Transit, supported by The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement, at the University of Cambridge, and the British Academy.

Previous Education

University College London
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Joseph Wu

Joseph Wu

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2016 PhD History + Philosophy of Sci
  • King's College

I grew up in southern California and attended Duke for my undergraduate studies. I started out in biology, researching the genetic regulation of skin cancer and spending my summers with kids affected by cancer. I transitioned to philosophy out of a desire to explore, not just the functioning of disease, but also the nature of our attempts to mitigate it. My PhD examines one such attempt, the early detection of cancer though screening, an issue that cuts across public health ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of medicine. We can ask of screening: what are the benefits and harms, and how can we distribute them justly throughout the population? What sorts of ethical obligations shape how we communicate about cancer? What are the ultimate aims and limits of medicine? Answering these questions is central to developing ethically sound and effective health policies. Apart from research, I compete for the Cambridge University water polo team, and co-captained the team in 2016-2017. Some other things that I enjoy are: reading good advice, breakfast foods, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Previous Education

Duke University
University of Cambridge

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