Dr Ruth Armstrong Law Criminology: Desistance 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. Full profile
Dr Paul Cocker Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) Behavioural neuroscience 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. Full profile
Dr Marieke Dhont Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion Biblical Studies & Hellenistic Judaism My main areas of interest are Hellenistic Judaism, the Hebrew Bible in the Hellenistic period (in particular the Septuagint, but also the Dead Sea Scrolls), and Jewish-Greek literature. In my research on ancient Jewish literature, I engage sociolinguistics and contemporary theories of culture, literature, and translation. Full profile
Dr Andrea Dimitracopoulos Natural Science (Biological) Neuronal Mechanics, Mechano-Biology, Neuroscience, Biophysics, Developmental Biology, Cell Biology The role of the physical properties of neurons and their environment on axon formation during neuronal development. Full profile
Dr Taras Fedirko Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) 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’. Full profile
Dr Calbert Graham Linguistics Phonetics (speech science) My current research interests centre on phonetic (speech science) theory and its applications in forensic speaker identification (and, in my previous research, language technology). Forensic phonetics is concerned with the analysis of spoken language for investigative purposes where the characteristics of an individual’s speech are critical to their identity. More and more court cases involve the need to establish the speaker of some recorded speech - a hoax emergency call, a fraudulent phone transaction, and so on. However, voices are not like fingerprints or DNA. A person's voice varies, depending for instance on whether they are sober or not, how loud and fast he or she is speaking, among many other factors. Despite this wide variation in speech, however, it is still subject to structural constraints that make processing by both humans and machine possible. My research focusses on the computational modelling of speech to isolate the invariant properties of a person’s voice or speech uttered in different contexts that are critical to their identity. Full profile
Dr Emmanuelle Honoré Archaeology Archaeology of Africa, Northern African Prehistory, rock art 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. Full profile
Dr Sarah Inskip Archaeology Bioarchaeology 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. Full profile
Dr Aviad Levin Natural Science (Biological) Biophysical Chemistry, Peptide Self-Assembly, Protein Aggregation, Biotechnology. In nature, sophisticated materials and structures are formed through self-assembly, a process where chemically simple building blocks form complex arrays of biomolecules functioning cooperatively to underpin biological activity in living systems. This phenomenon has inspired a sustained research effort to elucidate the basic physical principles which govern self-assembly and the nature of the structures that emerge from this process, in contexts ranging from artificial materials to understanding human disease. My research interests lie in developing microfluidic approaches for the study of the fundamental driving forces involved in the self-assembly of peptides and proteins into ordered structures on the very small scale at which such processes occur inside living cells. By harnessing small volume confinement achieved by microfluidics, I specifically focus on the early molecular level interactions that trigger protein aggregation and deposition in aberrant protein disorders. I will further focus on elucidating the mechanism by which misfolded protein species can propagate in tissues. I thus aim to extend current biophysical approaches and gain fundamental understanding of the behaviour of biomolecules in systems with spatial inhomogeneities, thus bridging length scales from the atomic through nano to the microscale. Full profile
Dr Emma Loftus Archaeology African archaeology, stable isotopes, palaeoenvironments My research project focuses on climate and subsistence records from archaeological shells, in order to better understand coastal adaptations among Middle and Later Stone Age hunter-gatherers in Africa. I am broadly interested in African and prehistoric archaeology, and in scientific applications to archaeological questions. Full profile
Dr Laura Maggini Engineering Nanomanufacturing 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 Engineering Energy, Fluid Mechanics and Turbomachinery 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 Full profile
Dr Elizabeth Michael Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) Cognitive Neuroscience/Visual Perception 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. Full profile
Dr Stephen Montgomery Natural Science (Biological) Zoology 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. Full profile
Dr Justin Pearce Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) Politics and International Relations 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. Full profile
Dr Christopher Proctor Engineering Electronic materials and devices My research is focused on engineering devices and developing materials to enable a seamless connection between electronics and living tissue in order to address intractable disorders. On going project themes include:
Electrophoretic drug delivery: Targeted drug delivery can focus treatment on the region of the body affected by a given pathology thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the treatment while reducing side effects inherent in systemic treatments. Towards that end, we are leveraging the ion conductivity of polymers to develop implantable devices that can deliver drugs precisely when and where they are needed. We showed this to be a promising method for managing epileptic seizures. We are currently testing the efficacy of this approach for treating pathologies such as brain tumours and Parkinson’s disease.
Flexible devices for neural interfaces: We explore the application of organic electronic materials patterned onto flexible polymeric substrates in neural interfacing aiming to understand how the brain works and to develop new tools to address neurological disorders.
Dr Akshay Rao Natural Sciences (Physical) Optoelectronics The optical and electronic properties of novel semiconductors and molecular materials, for applications in solar energy harvesting and optoelectronic devices. Full profile
Dr Rachael Rhodes Natural Sciences (Physical) Paleoclimatology 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. Full profile
Dr Christopher Russo Natural Sciences (Physical) Structural biology, Electron microscopy 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. Full profile
Dr Caroline Rusterholz History My research interests include the fields of comparative gender history, historical demography and social history of medicine and sexuality. My current research project supported by the Wellcome Trust 'Youth, gender and teenage sexual counselling in Britain: The making of the Brook Advisory Centre, 1964-2000' uses the history of Brook Advisory Centres (BAC) as a case study through which to reassess the history of teenage sexuality and of the anxieties it caused in postwar Britain. From the first Centre opened in 1964 in London to the present, BAC has been an important provider of contraceptive advice and sexual counselling for unmarried people and teenagers. Although the centres have provoked fierce opposition and triggered recurrent public debates on teenage sexuality, little is known of their history. As a non-governmental organisation which however had clear connections with the Family Planning Association and the National Health Service, BAC provides an insightful locus to explore the way teenage sexuality was handled and debated publicly.
Beyond my interest in youth sexuality, I have published on the history of reproductive politics in Switzerland and on the role played by women doctors in the medicalization of birth control in twentieth century Britain and France.
Security, privacy, transparency and accountability regarding ICT Jat is an EPSRC Research Fellow working at the intersection of technology and law/regulation. Much of his work concerns issues of security, privacy, transparency and accountability regarding ICT. He leads the newly formed “Compliant and Accountable Systems” research group, which takes an interdisciplinary (tech-legal) approach to tackling issues of governance, control, agency, accountability and trust regarding emerging technology. Jat is also a Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national centre for data science and AI, and co-chairs the Cambridge Trust & Technology Initiative (SRI), which drives research exploring the dynamics of trust and distrust in relation to internet technologies, society and power. He is also active in the tech-policy space, serving on advisory councils for the UK Government and Financial Conduct Authority. Full profile
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. Full profile
Dr Martin Taylor Natural Science (Biological) 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. Full profile
Dr Rose Thorogood Natural Science (Biological) Zoology 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. Full profile
Dr Banu Turnaoğlu Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) 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. Full profile