Since MCR elections are taking place so late this year, I have unilaterally extended my reign to include one last Clareity Evening! Join us for the first Clareity Matters Evening of the Easter term where we’ll hear Lachlan Fleetwood examine the history of scientific exploration in the Himalayas and Navin Ramakrishna will discuss the development of sperm and eggs in the embryo. As always pizza, snacks, wine, and other drinks provided! (Abstracts below)
“Science on the Roof of the World: Exploration, Altitude Sickness and Local Guides in the Himalaya, 1800-50”
Motivated by both science and empire, European explorers increasingly ventured into the high Himalaya after 1800, where they encountered the insidious yet little understood effects of altitude sickness. They never did so alone, however, which meant that they were inevitably forced to compare their minds and bodies against those of the Asian guides and porters that accompanied them. In this talk, I consider the way explorers presented these comparisons in their journals, questions around bodies as scientific instruments, and attitudes towards indigenous understandings of altitude sickness. Together, I use these to examine expedition sociability and agency, and bring into focus the practical, everyday aspects of intermediary relationships, which have often been overlooked in the histories of exploration and scientific practice. Throughout, I relate this to my PhD research more broadly, which traces the scientific and political constitution of the Himalaya as the northern borderlands of British India, and the formation of global mountain sciences.
“How are sperm and egg made?”
The reproductive cells of the body represent what is essentially an ‘immortal’ cell lineage: sperm and egg are the only cells passed on, from generation to generation. It turns out that precursors to the gametes are set aside, or specified, as early as the 2nd week of embryogenesis, with mature sperm and egg being rather unique with their specialised forms and halved genome contents.
As a developmental biologist – someone who’s interested in how organisms grow and develop – I am interested in studying how this fascinating cell lineage is made in the embryo. In particular, I study one molecular aspect of this developmental process, by characterising the precursors to gametes at various stages of their development, and by using model systems to complement our understanding of this process.