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College Research Associates

The College Research Associates are post-doctoral Research Fellows of the University who augment the Fellowship in their specialist research fields. Each College Research Associate is appointed for several years, and they provide a particularly relevant point of contact for the graduate members of the College who may be considering remaining in academia, able to offer insight into the career and role of a junior academic.

Dr Ruth Armstrong

Criminology: Desistance
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow
What happens to us, individually, when we connect with others, socially? My research looks at how people rebuild their lives after being convicted of criminal offences. I have especially focussed on the role of faith, faith communities, trust and interactions between identity, agency, social structures and criminal justice practices. I have studied people’s experiences of this process as they are released from prison and during the years immediately after release and when they are imprisoned in high security prisons often with many years still to serve and sometimes when release is unlikely or impossible. Building on this, my current research involves the implementation and evaluation of a programme where university students and prisoners learn together within a prison. It is informed by previous work on intergroup contact theory and desistance theory.

Dr Paul Cocker

Behavioural neuroscience
Banting post-doctoral Fellowship
My research interests are broadly geared towards a better understanding of addictive disorders. Specifically, I am interested in the role of the insular cortex in contributing to the formation and maintenance of drug addiction. Interest in the insula as a key node in addiction circuitry arose following the observation that patients who sustained damage to their insula were able to immediately quite smoking. Additionally, both human and animal studies have suggested a role for the insula in substance and behavioural addictions, putatively through mediating interoceptive responses to addiction-related cues. My post-doctoral research at Cambridge, working in Dr. David Belin’s lab, uses chemogenetic techniques to elucidate the neural circuitry through which the insula contributes to addiction-related behaviours in animal models of cocaine self-administration.

Dr Theodor Dunkelgrün

History of Biblical Scholarship c.1450-c.1900
European Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellow.
My work at Cambridge is devoted to the history of Hebrew Biblical scholarship in Jewish and Christian traditions, especially the study of textual transmission in the 19th century. I hold a five-year post-doctoral fellowship based at CRASSH as part of the ERC-funded research project, "The Bible and Antiquity in 19th Century Culture".

Dr Taras Fedirko

Political Anthropology
I am a social anthropologist with an interest in bureaucracy, expert knowledge, ethics and communication. My first research site is in the British central government, where I have conducted extended ethnographic fieldwork for my PhD dissertation. I explored how new models of collaborative policy-making, introduced in the Whitehall, reshape civil servants’ authority and transform government institutions. My research demonstrates that powerful, yet ambivalent norms of transparency and public participation enable outside actors, such as transnational corporations and NGOs, to pursue political and moral agendas that sit uneasily with civil servants’ ideas of expertise, responsibility and the public good. If public sector cuts and outsourcing have changed the government by redistributing its functions to markets and the civil society, I focused on another frontier of change, namely, the manner in which participatory governance transforms government practices from within in the name of greater transparency and accountability. I am working on a book based on this project. My second field site is in Kyiv, Ukraine, where I focus on the problem of free speech and its various others – controlled, compelled, and manipulated speech – as they are imagined and practiced in the context of the so-called ‘information war’. This postdoctoral research is part of an ERC-funded project ‘Situating Free Speech: European Parrhesia in Comparative Perspective’.

Dr Stefan Hanss

Early Modern European Object History
Dr Stefan Hanß is a Research Associate in Early Modern European Object History at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of History. As a member of the Basel-Bern-Cambridge research group on early modern materialized identities, which is funded by the Swiss National Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, he is conducting research on early modern featherwork. He focuses on Reformation Germany with a particular interest in studying the history of the body in relation to material culture. His current research is therefore also devoted to the history of hair in Reformation Germany by examining the extent to which people’s everyday performances of hair mirrored fundamental religious and social changes at that time. He published on self-narratives and concepts of time as well as practices of timing in early modern Germany. His research furthermore centres on Christian-Muslim cultural encounters in the Mediterranean. The PhD thesis examined the sixteenth-century global event-making of the Battle of Lepanto and thereby decentered the history of Lepanto, which is commonly defined as a victory of ‘Christian Europe’, by revoicing stories silenced throughout history. In this context, he also published on Veneto-Ottoman diplomacy, Mediterranean slavery and its implications for the historiography of slavery as well as on the emergence of Ottoman language studies in Central Europe around 1600.

Dr Emmanuelle Honoré

Archaeology of Africa, Northern African Prehistory, rock art
Newton International Fellow
In North Africa, hundreds of rock art sites located in desert areas testify to the occupation of the so-called ‘Green Sahara’, when palaeo-environmental conditions were more favourable to human settlement and activities. Mostly dating from the Early and Middle Holocene periods (9 500 to 3 500 BCE), the Saharan rock art displays a large variety of scenes. Human bodies and social scenes are very frequent and show how prehistoric populations perceived and depicted themselves and the others. My research focuses on the expression of individual and collective identities through human depictions in the rock art of the Holocene Sahara.

Dr Alice Hutchings

My research interests include understanding cybercrime offenders, and the prevention and disruption of online crime. I mainly focus on cybercrime that affects data and financial security. I am a criminologist, but I take an interdisciplinary approach to my research, particularly computer science and economics.

Dr Sarah Inskip

Wellcome Trust post-doctoral Fellow
The analysis of past epidemics has significant potential to enhance our understanding of the present in addition to informing about the future. The Black Death, which killed between one quarter to half of the European population in the 14th century, was one of the most devastating epidemics known to humankind. However, much of our knowledge about the impact of the Black Death on the surviving and continuing population remains unclear, and very little is known about its immediate and long term biological consequences. By analysing human skeletons, which are direct sources of biological information, my research assesses whether there were significant changes in living conditions and health, as well as aspects of social identity. This will be achieved through an analysis of variation in diet, disease, physical activities, gender division, and population genetics between various communities of medieval Cambridge. My research will produce a novel perspective on the direct impact of this catastrophic event on an ordinary population of Cambridge, and advance our understanding of how epidemics can shape human health and society long after their occurrence. Outside this project I also undertake fieldwork at Saqqara, Egypt and at Jebel Qurma, Jordan.

Dr Laura Maggini

Marie Curie fellow (MSCA Fellow)
With the predicted population growth by around 2.7 billion by 2050, extreme pressure will be placed on our water resources. This, together with the growing number of contaminants entering our water supplies, makes the development of robust and sustainable technologies for water disinfection, decontamination and desalination ever more critical. Carbon-based nanomaterials have attracted increasing attention as potential substitutes for the commonly used activated carbon in filtration devices, as they can simultaneously provide a wide range of functions in water treatment including adsorbing pollutants, disinfecting pathogens, and supporting catalysts for contaminant degradation. I am thus working on the development of highly hierarchised microarchitectures of carbon-based nanomaterials and their subsequent integration in macroscale functional materials to implement in next-generation filtration devices.

Dr Luca Magri

Energy, Fluid Mechanics and Turbomachinery
Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow
Aviation is responsible for around 3.5 % of anthropogenic climate change, including both CO2 and NOx induced effects, growing up to 15 % of the total contribution by 2050 if action is not taken. The Advisory Council for Aerospace Research in Europe has set the industry two main targets for 2020: 80 % cut in NOx and 50 % reduction in noise. To reduce NOx emissions, cleaner aeronautical gas turbines are designed to burn in a lean regime. The downside is that lean flames burn very unsteadily, which causes two unwanted phenomena: combustion noise and thermo-acoustic instabilities. Both phenomena are unwanted and need to be minimized during the design or controlled if they occur. Key to my approach for design and control is the use of inverse computational methods based on adjoint algorithms, which enable the calculation of the systems sensitivity with backward-in-time simulations, and mathematical methods from chaos theory, quantum mechanics and stochastic theories. My vision is that future generations of engineering Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools will be designed to perform sensitivity analysis and optimization on the fly. With a better design, the new aeroengines will be cleaner, healthier and quieter. Key words: Reacting fluid dynamics, Combustion noise, Aero-Thermo-acoustics, Sensitivity and optimization, Multiple-scale methods, Uncertainty quantification, Adjoint methods, Chaos, Inverse design

Dr Beatriz Marin-Aguilera

Cultural contacts and colonialism, particularly in three different areas and periods: the Greek and Phoenician/Punic presence in the ancient Mediterranean; and the modern European colonialism in the Southern Cone and the Caribbean.

Dr Nayanika Mathur

Social Anthropology
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow
My primary research project studies the use of new technologies, particularly biometric IDs, by the developmental Indian state. This project constitutes a scaling-up of my first book, Paper Tiger (Cambridge University Press, 2015) as well as my collaborative work on the remaking of public goods in late capitalism. The concerns of this work extend from fears of state surveillance to the corporate and software restructuring of welfare provisioning in contemporary India. In addition, I am currently writing a book on human-big cat conflict in India, tentatively entitled Cats that Eat Humans. Combining ethnography with history, this book explores how humans have shared landscapes with predatory animals from the time of British colonialism right up till the present era of climate change.

Dr Elizabeth Michael

Cognitive Neuroscience/Visual Perception
Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship
My research focuses on the brain-wide interactions that allow us to make difficult perceptual judgements, like discriminating between very similar objects, or finding a target in a cluttered environment. It is often assumed that brain regions play a fixed or continuous role in perception, but an emerging view suggests that this is not the case - the role played by any given brain region is strongly influenced by our level of experience with a particular task. In my future research, I will study how the contribution of different brain regions to making these kinds of difficult judgement change as we become more experienced with the task. For example, when we are trying to detect a target in a cluttered environment, we might first heavily rely on brain regions that help us to ignore distracting information, until our visual system becomes robust enough to withstand this interference.

Dr Stephen Montgomery

NERC Independent Research Fellowship
Behavioural adaptations allow populations to respond to environmental change or invade new ecological niches. These behavioural adaptations are often mediated by the evolution of brain function, which may in turn involve changes in brain size or structure. My research aims to understand this process by asking how changes in brain size and structure relate to behavioural divergence, how brain expansion is produced by changes at the molecular and cellular level, and how brain evolution is shaped by functional and developmental constraints.

Dr Jesse Olszynko-Gryn

History of Medicine: Twentieth-century Britain
Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship
My main writing project is an academic book on the history of pregnancy testing in Britain. The first in-depth account for any period or country, it will show how the market for this now ubiquitous retail product was sustained less by medicalisation or the managerial state than by the entrepreneurial testers and diagnostic consumers who helped create and maintain demand. Beyond pregnancy testing, I have published on the history of population control and contraceptive technologies and have a strong research interest in the history of reproduction on film and television.

Dr Justin Pearce

Politics and International Relations
Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship
Justin Pearce is conducting research on the current civil strife in Mozambique, part of a project on political legitimacy in contemporary southern Africa with a focus on Angola and Mozambique. His research is supported by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the Department of Politics and International Studies, part funded by the Newton Trust. Dr Pearce’s research interests include the politics and history of Lusophone Africa and of southern Africa, with a thematic interest in civil conflict, peace making, the continuities between wartime and peacetime politics, and the politics of memory and memorialisation. Justin Pearce worked as a journalist in southern Africa before commencing his DPhil at Oxford. His book, Political Identity and Conflict in Central Angola 1975-2002, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.

Dr Julia Powles

Technology Law and Policy
I work at the interface of law and technology, with expertise in data protection, privacy, intellectual property, internet governance, regulation and business law. My postdoctoral research projects focus on data sharing, cybercrime, the internet of things, big data, adblocking, health and technology, patent law, and policy considerations pertaining to the global powerhouses the French have called, ‘les GAFA’ – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

Dr Naomi Pullin

Early modern Atlantic History
Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship
I am a historian of the early modern British Atlantic with research specialisms in gender and dissenting history. My postdoctoral research project, which is supported by the Leverhulme Trust and match-funded by the Isaac Newton Trust, investigates the relationship between female enmity and friendship in England and its North American colonies between 1650 and 1775. The seventeenth- and eighteenth centuries have frequently been regarded as an age of sociability and politeness, as new spaces for sociable interaction emerged like the coffee house, tea table and salon. But my project seeks to explore the tensions and opportunities for isolation and exclusion that emerged in these interactions and spaces. Through detailed exploration of the concepts of ‘friendship’ and ‘enmity’ as recorded by women (and their male counterparts) in diaries, correspondence and in published treatises and periodicals, my project seeks to challenge accepted frameworks on female sociability in the early Enlightenment by showing how an emerging culture of civility and politeness enhanced discussions about enmity and hostility. This research project has developed out of the doctoral work I completed at the University of Warwick in 2014. This work offered the first history of Quaker women in the British Atlantic between 1650 and 1750.

Dr Maanasa Raghavan

Population genetics, ancient DNA, genomics
My research focuses on the use of next-generation sequencing data to reconstruct human population histories and understand how and when patterns of present-day genetic diversity were formed. I use a combined approach that brings together modern and ancient DNA datasets in order to investigate human population dynamics over time and how events in the past, such as migrations and admixture, have shaped the current genetic landscape.

Dr Akshay Rao

EPSRC Early Career Fellowship, Winton Advanced Research Fellowship
The optical and electronic properties of novel semiconductors and molecular materials, for applications in solar energy harvesting and optoelectronic devices.

Dr Rachael Rhodes

Marie Curie Individual Fellowship
Understanding natural climate variability is critical to predicting how Earth’s climate will continue to respond to rising levels of greenhouse gases. Ice cores capture highly detailed records of past climate in both the bubbles of ancient air and the chemical signals preserved within the ice. By studying these records we can learn about the mechanisms involved in driving and propagating past climatic change. I am particularly interested in the role Arctic sea ice may played in a series of abrupt climate changes during the Last Glacial Period.

Dr Christopher Russo

Structural biology, Electron microscopy
Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship
Many of the outstanding questions in biology and medicine are difficult to address because there is no way to directly look at the complex molecular machines responsible for life. I work on developing new instruments and methods for imaging biological molecules, (DNA, RNA and proteins), at atomic resolution. This is done by improving the resolving power and image quality of the electron microscope to the point where we can image the atomic structure of molecules. This requires reengineering how specimens are made and imaged, to prevent them from moving before they are damaged by the high-energy electrons in the microscope. Using this new technology, we study the detailed mechanisms of bimolecular complexes to understand how they function.

Dr Mishka Sinha

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow
My research interests include the cultural and intellectual histories of philology, colonialism and orientalism, and the cross-cultural transmission of ideas. My current project, Ordering the Orient: A cultural and economic history of the publication of Eastern texts in the West, 1850-1939, argues for a new interpretation of the production, transmission, and transformation of 'Eastern' ideas in the 'West' through an economic and cultural analysis of the publishing and marketing of seminal texts such as the Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam, the Bhagavadgita and the Tao Te Ching, which became part of an 'oriental canon' that continues to mould perceptions of the 'East'. Focussing on Britain, the United States and Germany, where publishers like Trübner in London, Ticknor in Boston, and Brockhaus in Leipzig fed and stimulated an appetite for 'Oriental' works, my project analyses local and transcultural contexts and networks of production, mapping an entangled history of ideas, texts and individuals travelling and corresponding across Europe, North America and Asia.
Dr Martin Taylor

Dr Martin Taylor

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
In every cell division, genomic DNA, which encodes instructions for cellular function, must be completely and accurately duplicated, allowing each daughter cell to inherit a copy. However, DNA is constantly damaged in a variety of ways, which can slow or terminate the progress of the DNA replication machinery. A range of replication-associated molecular pathways facilitate completion of faithful DNA replication under stressed conditions to prevent mutations and chromosome rearrangements. My primary research interest is in understanding how cells respond to DNA replication challenges and how different replication stress response pathways are regulated. My research takes advantage of a combination of biochemistry, biophysics and genetics from different eukaryotic model systems to address these questions.

Dr Rose Thorogood

Society in Science, Branco Weiss Fellow
Animals from fruit flies to humans adjust their behaviour depending on personal experience and information gained by watching others. My research interests lie in explaining how and why these different sources of information are used in behavioural interactions within and between species, and how these in turn shape the ecological communities in which these interactions take place. I use a range of field-based avian study systems, including great tits in Finland, hihi in New Zealand, and reed warblers and cuckoos in Cambridge, and focus on the interactions that take place between predators and their prey, parasites and their hosts, and parents and their young.

Dr Banu Turnaoğlu

History of Political Thought
My research interests lie broadly in intellectual history, republicanism, and particularly in Ottoman political thought, and the legacy of imperialism in the Middle East. My current project, The Western Question: The Eastern Question seen from the East, examines how the Ottomans approached the Eastern Question – whether and how Ottoman territories should be partitioned, Christian minorities protected, Ottoman finances controlled, and the Empire “civilised” by the West – and how they struggled to respond to their own Western Question. A textual analysis considers how Ottomans evaluated and imagined politics, society, economics, and morality; how they employed ideas like imperialism, liberalism, peace, war, and religion; and how these ideas shifted in meaning over time and space. It illustrates the striking exchange of ideas and interconnection between Western and non-Western political thought, transforming a still largely Eurocentric narrative. My research argues that to understand the sources of today’s socio-political turmoil in the Middle East, the Black Sea region, and Eastern Europe, it is necessary to understand the Question’s emergence and evolution.

Dr Tao Uttamapinant

Marie Curie International Post-Doctoral Fellow.
My research focuses on the reprogramming of the protein translation machinery—consisting of the ribosome and its associated factors—to produce novel polymers with therapeutic and industrial potential in living cells.

Dr Jenny Zhang

My current research combines natural bio-catalysts with earth-abundant metal oxides to develop the basic science behind artificial photosynthesis. Specifically, I am optimising the electronic ‘wiring’ between the water oxidation enzyme, photosystem II, and nano-structured metal oxide electrodes to establish new benchmarks in water oxidation turn-over frequencies. This is important for inspiring more efficient and cost effective photocatalytic water-splitting systems, which would help to drive the realisation of hydrogen as a sustainable green fuel of the future.