Graduate conference, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge - Lent 2019
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MCR Graduate Conference Lent 2019

The biannual Graduate Conference is the opportunity for Fitzwilliam’s graduate student community to share their research with a broader audience of their peers, and Lent 2019 showed once again the extraordinary depth and range of work being undertaken in the College.

The afternoon began with Constantin Kilcher (MPhil Modern European History 2018) discussing ‘The Many Beginnings of German Eugenics’. By studying four different historical strands of Rassenhygiene, or race theory, development, Constantin proposed a new relationship between the eugenics movement in the early twentieth century, medicine and modernity. He described his work as ‘an experiment in form as much as history’, building up an understanding of a historical moment by bringing together stories found in archival material.

Elisabeth Petrina (Hamilton Kerr Institute, Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings) then explained her work on seeking an attribution for Dives and Lazarus, a small painting dating, it is thought, from between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries from a Flemish school. Elisabeth talked us through how she is using scientific and technical analysis to narrow down the possible date range for the painting, and possibly even find a more precise attribution than ‘Flemish’. The picture will be part of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s exhibition on food in paintings, on display in 2020.

Lambert Li (MPhil Innovation, Strategy and Organisation 2018) spoke next on his work at the Judge Business School, looking at ‘Professionals as Activists – The Role of Professionals in Institutional Change’. Lambert explained how China has just one sentence regarding self-defence in its legal code, and how the interpretation of this one line is evolving from a strict interpretation to a looser understanding.

Refreshed by tea and biscuits, the group reconvened to listen to Dan Andrei Iliescu (MPhil Advanced Computer Studies 2018) speak on ‘The Latent Space – A Common Language’. Dan explained how one of the most ambitious goals of AI research is teaching machines to learn to create internal representations of the world by themselves. His own work explores how those deep neural networks in human beings can be replicated by computers.

Eva-Maria Ahrer (MPhil Physics 2018) next presented an introduction to exoplanet research, a very recent and rapidly growing field. She explained the different ways by which exoplanets can be detected and the different challenges in the field, including her own work disentangling the different signals from exoplanets.

The afternoon was rounded off by Andrew Dullea (MPhil Public Health 2018) talking on ‘Determinants of Different Subtypes of Oesophageal Adenocarcinoma: A Case Study’, oesophogeal adenocarcinoma is a disease with very poor prognosis. Following the recent observation that the presence or absence of Barrett’s Oesophagus can be a major prognostic marker for the disease, Andrew researches the implications of this, and its potential impact from a public health perspective.

Thank you to all speakers. It was a fascinating afternoon, followed by a wonderful formal dinner to thank the outgoing MCR Committee.

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