Fruitful discussions and sharing ideas at Clare College, Cambridge

Clare Research Symposium 2010

The 3rd Clare Research Symposium took place on the 11th of March 2010 in the Gillespie Conference Centre, Clare College, Cambridge. The programme of the day included four sessions of 6 speakers, on a wide range of topics, as well as a keynote speech by Tim Potts, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum and Fellow of Clare. Click here to download a pdf of the programme.

The Clare Research Symposium 2010 was organised by Peter Kett, Nora Pashayan, Owen Churches & Peter Riley. Our thanks to all of them for an excellent day.

9:00-9:20 Registration & Coffee
9:20-9:30 Welcome by Professor Tony Badger, Master of Clare College

Session 1 — 9:30-11:00

Session Chair: Dr Tamara Follini

9:30-9:45 Eamon Murphy
Shakespearean Tragedy and the Literature of Roguery

Abstract: Criticism has long recognized that Shakespeare drew upon themes and terms from the so-called literature of roguery in writing several of his plays, but an argument about the specific uses he made of these materials has yet to be attempted. My research aims to identify a characteristic Shakespearean mode of integrating contemporary discourse on criminal deviancy into poetical works for the stage.

In particular, I am interested in how such discourse functions in the tragic contexts of Othello, Hamlet, and King Lear, where I believe Shakespeare uses it to construct for his characters a language of loathing, both of self and of other. In addition to putting criminal types onstage as characters-as he does in, say, Measure for Measure, or the two parts of Henry IV-Shakespeare distinguishes himself from his contemporaries by turning the specters of whoredom, thievery, and homelessness into persistent presences in the psyches of his imaginary people, even those who are uninvolved in underworld life.

9:45-10:00 Karina Jakubowicz
Concepts of Landscape in the Writing of Hilda Doolittle

Abstract: This paper considers the work of the American poet Hilda Doolittle, and explores the role that landscape play in both her poetry and prose. Her work reflects contemporary views of landscape in the early 20th century, expressing the rapid development of geographical concepts, as well as the vast physical changes to the Western landscape.
10:00-10:15 April Ledbetter
Gender Identit(ies) in Harry Potter Costuming

Abstract: While contemporary criticism has deconstructed traditional gender binaries, few have explored the role of identity construction beyond this framework. This essay analyzes the phenomena of proliferating gender identities in fan culture, specifically, how fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series construct and perform identities based on characters and themes from the novels. Using the case study approach, this project focuses on Perseus Lepage, an intersex costume performer who maps his identity onto Lucius Malfoy, a haughty, aristocratic villain from the series. This paper employs close-textual analysis of Perseus’s blog, which seamlessly blend textual material from Harry Potter with the day-to-day occurrences of his own life, in order to analyze how Perseus utilizes the novels to articulate his identity and relationships and, moreover, to analyze how Perseus negotiates between the conscious performance of his role and the performative habits of repetition which constitute traditional gender categories.

Session Chair: Professor Jim Woodhouse

10:15-10:30 Mark Schenk
Folded Textured Sheets – From Origami to Concrete Formwork

Abstract: In engineering, shell structures are structures where the material thickness is very small compared to the structure’s overall dimensions. Their use is widespread, and ranges from plastic drinks bottles, to aircraft fuselages and building façades.

In my research I explore the properties and possibilities of textured shell structures; by introducing a local texture to thin-walled sheets and shells, we can change their global mechanical properties. Our focus lies on exploring the properties of folded textured sheets, where the texture pattern is either created by folding the sheets, or, more generally, where the shell consists of a polyhedral faceted surface with distinct (straight) fold lines. The folding pattern provides the sheets with unique mechanical properties, which are primarily a result of its geometry, rather than the material properties.

Current work is focused on exploring the ability of folded textured sheets to assume doubly-curved shapes; in more mathematical terms, they are capable of changing their global Gaussian curvature. An application currently being investigated is the use of folded textured sheets as reusable formwork for doubly-curved concrete panels, with the aim of dramatically reducing their production cost. I will present preliminary results from ongoing work into the feasibility of this application.

10:30-10:45 Simon Byrne
Graphical Models

Abstract: All statistical methods rely on assumptions: the stronger the assumptions that one makes, the more information that can be obtained from the data. One common assumption is that of independence: it is typically assumed that each observation does not influence any of the others. However there are many situations in which this is not appropriate, and an analysis which utilises this assumption may be misleading.

Graphical models provide a powerful framework for performing statistical analysis without assuming independence. A graphical model involves representing elements of the data as individual nodes (points), with edges (lines) connecting pairs of nodes that denote the relationship between these elements. This structure, what mathematicians call a graph, provides a convenient diagrammatic representation of the data, and an efficient mechanism for performing statistical inference.

I will provide an introduction to the concepts of graphs and graphical models, and provide some examples of their applications to statistical problems in various fields.

10:45-11:00 Alison McDougall-Weil
‘What do Scientists Do all Day?’: Architectural Intent and User Experience in the Architecture of Science

Abstract: The first question that you don’t know the answer to – but you need to know – is: ‘what do scientists do all day?’

– Rafael Viñoly, architect of several major science laboratories

With the rise of multi-discipline bioscience in the past hundred years comes a stream of new interdisciplinary bench research laboratories, each representing substantial financial and cultural investment. The architectural orthodoxy of how to build a lab has changed over the past fifty years in particular: with these changes, the laboratory is now explicitly acknowledged as a spatial instrument for advancing science, and therefore the architecture matters. But how should the success of architecture be judged? It is not beneficial to stop at a formal or aesthetic assessment, nor its functional assessment of its capability to afford experimentation. An architect’s intent towards the users may not translate into their experience of the laboratory, and this research intends to explore what that experience is in order to improve future laboratories.

This presentation will briefly describe the innovations in laboratory architecture, outline a joint ethnographic and quantitative methodology for studying user experience, and will additionally look to the audience for comments on their own experience of working in both purpose-built and converted laboratories.

11:00 – 11:20 Coffee Break

Session 2 — 11:20-12:50

Session Chair: Dr. Andrew Preston

11:20-11:35 Peter Riley
Walt Whitman and Real Estate

Abstract: Whitman’s poetic persona is an organicist fiction – a figment of a transcendental ideological realm that is constructed by the poet to assimilate the riotous contingencies of an historical ‘self’ within the mystical and escapist narratives of ‘oneness’, ‘spirit’ and ‘progress’. The contingencies of history – the mistakes, inconsistencies and contradictions that make up human experience – are ordered by his poetry within an ideal organic system that provides a patterned sense of ‘natural’ continuity and meaning. I want to show that the restless Whitmanic ‘self’ is not the result of the poet having successfully tapped into the rhythms of the transcendent organic universe that supposedly sinews everything around us, but actually the result of a specific adaptation to the marketplace. I read Whitman’s poetic ‘I’ as a byproduct of his successful negotiations of the notoriously unstable Brooklyn housing market between 1852-1855.
11:35 -11:50 Robin McCaig
Debunkin’ Dönitz: What the Nuremberg Trial Really Said about Submarine Warfare

Abstract: Over the course of the Second World War Karl Dönitz rose from head of the U-boat arm, through chief of the German Navy, to (very briefly) fϋhrer of the Third Reich. In 1945 he was one of the “major war criminals” indicted by the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg.

The principal charge against Dönitz was that he had ordered “unrestricted submarine warfare” against enemy and neutral merchant ships. Acquitted with regard to enemy merchantmen (which were armed, and convoyed by warships), Dönitz was found guilty of a war crime for targeting neutral vessels. However, because the Allies had operated a similar strategy, he was not punished for it directly.

This paper will examine the implications of the Dönitz judgment for the present law of naval warfare, examine how it was arrived at, and- given that Dönitz was sentenced to ten years imprisonment by the IMT- analyse in brief the other charges against him.

11:50-12:05 James Blackstone
‘Reds under Beds’ Revisited: The McCarthyite Right and US Foreign Policy 1950-1954

Abstract: Writing in his classic biography of Joseph McCarthy, Richard Rovere asserted that the Senator and the Republican right more generally were an influential factor in understanding US foreign policy during the early 1950s. Relatively little has since been written on the subject, and even then, this literature largely concludes that the Republican conservatives might have huffed and puffed, but the house was most certainly not blown down.

This paper illustrates how I have sought to build on the most recent historiography by questioning these long-held assumptions, and directly addressing the means by which these politicians attempted to exert such an influence. It shall briefly cover the major areas of my research: constitutional conflict; interference with the State Department; Anglo-American relations, and East and South-East Asian policy. The paper will also attempt to illustrate how McCarthy must be reintegrated into his political context by highlighting the crucial roles of his ideologically-likeminded peers in the Senate, rather than solely focusing on the man and his lengendary “ism” itself.

Session Chair: Dr. Celia Duff

12:05-12:20 Rebecca Voorhees
Crystallographic Study of the Ribosome: Quality Control in Protein Synthesis

Abstract: The human body contains millions of proteins that control every aspect of life at the molecular level. These proteins include hormones like insulin, digestive enzymes, and the antibodies of our immune system. In every cell in all living organisms, proteins are made by a single enzyme known as the ribosome. The ribosome links chains of amino acids into proteins, the order and sequence of which is dictated by an mRNA template.

My work uses a technique called X-ray crystallography to study the ribosome in chemical detail. X-ray crystallography is used to produce molecular ‘photographs’ that pinpoint the location of each atom in a molecule or enzyme. These high-resolution images are powerful tools; crystal structures of the bacterial ribosome have been essential in understanding its biological function as well as designing more potent antibiotics. Work towards understanding the accuracy and precision with which the ribosome translates the genetic code into protein will be presented.

12:20-12:35 Jutta Wellmann
Can Mechanical Forces Regulate Cell Adhesion?

Abstract: To allow the integration of single cells into functional units and to build multi-cellular organisms, it is crucial that the cells hold together. This is achieved by protein complexes at the cell surface, called adhesions, which attach cells to each other and to their surroundings. Malfunction of adhesion components causes a variety of diseases including defects in immune function, blood clotting, muscular dystrophies and cancer.

I study whether and how mechanical influences regulate adhesion. If you exercise, your muscles get stronger, but is the connection between the muscles and the bones, which needs to hold this increased force, also strengthened? Is there a correlation between the mechanical force a cell is subjected to and the strength of its adhesions? What are the molecular mechano-sensors that mediate responses to physical tension? These questions also address how mechanical signals contribute to and modulate the genetic program that forms an organism.

12:35-12:50 Matt Cliffe
How to INVERT Data into Structure: Structure Determination of Disordered Materials from Diffraction Data

Abstract: The information gained in spectroscopic experiments regarding the number and distribution of atomic environments can be used as a valuable constraint in the refinement of the atomic-scale structures of nano-crystalline or amorphous materials from pair distribution function (PDF) data. The effectiveness of this approach is illustrated for three paradigmatic disordered systems: molecular C60, amorphous Si, and amorphous SiO2. Vastly improved atomistic models are attained in each case without any a-priori assumptions regarding coordination number or habit. This approach may form the basis for a generalised methodology for structure “solution” from PDF data applicable to network, “nanocrystalline” and molecular systems alike.
12:50-14:00 Lunch Break & Poster Session
Poster Titles and Presenters

Braxton Boren – Recreating Lost Soundscapes of Renaissance Venice

Owen Churches – Attention to Faces in Autism: An Event-Related Potential Study

Matt Cliffe – INVERT: A New Information-Based Structure Determination Technique for Disordered Materials

Claire Cox – Role of Sin3A in Mediating Myc-specific Gene Repression

Gary McDowell – Proteasomal Degradation of a Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Factor Regulating Neurogenesis

Sylvia Nuernberg – MEIS1 ChIP-seq identifies putative cis-regulatory elements in a megakaryocytic cell line

Nora Pashayan – The effect of PSA detection on stage of prostate cancer, and the relationship with Gleason score

Claire Pike – The Proline Isomerase FKBP25 as a Chromatin Modifier

Richard Wallbank – The evolution of development and gene regulation: Bristle patterning in the Drosophilidae

Keynote Speech

14:00-14:50 Keynote Speech delivered by Dr. Timothy Potts, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum and Fellow of Clare College
Introduced by Dr. Patricia Fara, Senior Tutor of Clare College

Session 3 — 15:00-16:30

Session Chair: Professor Paul Cartledge

15:00-15:15 Rebecca Bradshaw
The Beit el-Wali Temple of Ramesses II

Abstract: Modern scholarship increasingly shows that ancient Nubia, which encompasses much of today’s northern Sudan, holds many clues to the nature of ancient Egyptian civilisation. A source of gold, ivory, ebony and precious stones from the time of the earliest dynasties, this region was annexed by the empire-building pharaohs of the Middle and New Kingdoms, many of whom left their permanent marks on the land in the form of towns, mines and temples.

One such temple, the temple of Beit el-Wali, is unique. Small in comparison to the many other monumental building works of Ramesses II, the temple contains exceptional wall reliefs that offer insights into the contemporary economic, social and political relationships between Egypt and Nubia. Modern archaeological investigation into this temple has, however, been sparse and piecemeal. My paper aims to look more carefully at this exceptional temple and assess its contribution to works on the materialization of kingship, Egyptian art and architecture, as well as the sometimes elusive subject of wit and humour in the ancient world.

16:15-15:30 Jared James Eddy
The Roman Disease “phthisis” and Modern Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Abstract: As early as the 5th century B.C.E. ancient Hippocratic physicians conceived of a chronic respiratory illness characterized by cough, fever, and emaciation they called “phthisis.” The description of phthisis given by the Greek physician and Roman citizen Aretaeus of Cappadocia in the first or second century C.E. has become the classic account for all later forms of phthisis during the early modern period and the 18th century, as well as for our modern disease “tuberculosis.” But are phthisis and tuberculosis really the same disease? Despite a largely shared symptomatology, important differences result from the differing historical contexts. These differences include ideas concerning pathogenesis, disease interactions, and even the very conceptualization of disease as ontological or physiological. Bearing these in mind, what can ancient medical descriptions of phthisis tell us about tubercular infection in the Roman Empire?
15:30-15:45 Jonathan Jarrett
What’s in an Ethnonym? Arabic-named Christians on the Frontier of Tenth-Century Spain

Abstract: Early in the tenth century the Spanish kingdom of Asturias, one of the areas where the Muslim invaders of the eighth century had never penetrated, moved its capital south to the city of León. This move also heralds a boom in documentary preservation that exposes to us a substantial stratum of persons with Arabic names, but apparently Christian and often churchmen. These persons have usually been seen as immigrants from the south, but other explanations are more plausible. This paper briefly explains what the alternatives are and gives an example of how Dr Jarrett’s ongoing project tests the competing theories.

Session Chair: Dr. Anna Philpott

15:45-16:00 Gary McDowell
Frogs, Mice, Zombies? Making Proteins Stable in the Quest for Brains

Abstract: One of the processes by which proteins are broken down in the cell has often been described as using a particular chemical linkage. However, unusual behaviour in a protein involved in neural development – Neurogenin – has shown that other as yet relatively ignored linkages might play important roles in breaking down proteins. Work first using frogs and then in cells from mice tell an interesting story about a peculiarity of certain proteins that is often disregarded as background noise. This may have important implications for the possible effects our protein may have in neural stem cells and brain tumours.
16:00-16:15 Madzia Kowalski
Glimpse into Translational Ovarian Cancer Research: is AMD3100 a Potential Therapy?

Abstract: Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women. There is a pressing need to understand the disease and find treatments.

The interaction between tumours and the body’s immune system are important, complex factors in the progression of the disease. Certain cells of the immune system – ‘T-cells’ – have been shown to interact particularly strongly with tumours. The exact mechanism likely involves the receptor CXCR4 and its ligand CXCL12, so there has been interest in manipulating this system (i.e. the receptor-ligand axis) biochemically. The drug AMD3100 is a candidate because it inhibits the CXCL12-CXCR4 binding.

My project aimed to investigate whether AMD3100 could be effective in fighting ovarian cancer. Mice were treated with AMD3100 and the responses of their T-cells compared with that of untreated mice. This work proposes a link between findings in molecular biology and human disease and as such is an example of translational research – a dynamic and exciting area of modern scientific endeavour.

16:15-16:30 Scott Newman
Evolving Genomes in Breast Cancer

Abstract: Cancer genomes develop hundreds of errors (mutations) in their DNA sequence. Probably, only a few provide a growth advantage—these are termed ‘driver’ mutations—while most do not to contribute to cancer development and are carried along in dividing cells as ‘passengers’. The ongoing challenge is how to tell driver mutations from passengers. This is a major question for the field of cancer research as driving mutations are targets for screening and drug intervention whereas passenger mutations do not warrant any further study.

In addition to mutations at the DNA sequence level, the genomes of many tumours are highly rearranged; chromosomes or parts of chromosomes can be duplicated, joined to other chromosomes or lost entirely. In recent years our group has generated detailed genomic maps of several breast cancer cell lines and we have concluded genome rearrangement adds hundreds of additional mutations to the average tumour genome. The problem of drivers versus passengers is, therefore, also relevant when considering genome rearrangements.

To address this issue we used our genomic maps to ask how a single breast tumour’s genome had changed over time. This evolutionary approach allowed us to conclude that structural rearrangement and DNA sequence mutation can each produce driving mutations and often work together to cause loss of function of certain genes. We show that this subset of genes most likely contains the early driving mutations and used this fact to generate a lower estimate of the number of driving events that occurred in the lifetime of this tumour.

16:30-16:50 Coffee Break

Session 4 — 16:50-18:20

Session Chair: Dr. Josip Glaurdic

16:50-17:05 Masayuki Tamaruya
Sue you in America, or in England?

Abstract: Case management, multi-party litigation, evidentiary discovery, and summary judgment-the technicalities of these court procedures are the object of my research. And I am grappling with two countries: the United Kingdom and the United States. Not surprisingly, my thesis involves lots of nuts and bolts. Nevertheless, if we look behind the rules, we can see the contrasting dynamism that drives the procedures in these countries. In America, the belief in popular participation and check upon the powerful runs through the court procedure. In England, the leading lawyers and judges take firm control of the procedure. The cross-border implication of such contrasting approaches cannot be missed. American procedure has provided a forum for non-Americans, as well as Americans, to challenge corporate or governmental wrongdoing, whereas English procedural reform has keenly focused on maintaining London as an attractive market for cross-border legal business of commercial litigation.

17:05-17:20 Teale Phelps Bondaroff
Campaigning in Prime Time: Sea Shepherds Media Capture Strategies

Abstract: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) has adopted a new and innovative media strategy in their collaboration with Animal Planet to produce the action-documentary program Whale Wars, which documents the SSCS’s direct action campaign against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. This paper will begin with a discussion of the SSCS’s media strategy and its evolution over time. It will then demonstrate that Whale Wars represents a new form of media capture and one which provides a myriad of benefits that cannot be achieved using traditional capture methods. The use of the media by the SSCS in Whale Wars will be compared to the use of embedded journalists in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and it will be argued that the SSCS has strategically chosen this means of media capture to benefit from the enhanced, sustained, and favourable media exposure it provides. It will be argued that while the traditional media capture methods of civil society organizations tend to moderate these organizations tactic, embedded journalism does not have this effect.
17:20-17:35 Peter Dixon
Barriers to Cooperation in Civil War Interventions

Abstract: The objective of the research is, in the context of post-Cold War intra-state violent conflict, to identify barriers to cooperation between those intervening to prevent and resolve conflict. The complex causation of civil war suggests a need for a comprehensive spectrum of official and non-official, military and civilian, intervention to achieve sustained peace and stability. It seems self-evident that cooperation between intervening agencies is essential to success. Research into cooperation, if not on what constrains it, is well established for the post-conflict context, only partially developed for the active conflict management phase and limited for conflict prevention. Further research is needed into constraints upon cooperation in conflict prevention and conflict management. In order to provide the research with sufficient focus, I test the hypothesis that the primary constraint on cooperation between intervening third parties is imposed by differences between their respective ideas and belief systems.

Session Chair: Professor Nicky Clayton

17:35-17:50 Susanne Schweizer
How Working Memory may Dry your Tears and Fight your Fears

Abstract: In everyday life we continuously attempt to manipulate information in the service of multiple desired goals. Whether our attempts are successful, is to some extent dependent on our executive control capacity. Executive control capacity has long been thought to be stable across the life span and is associated with intelligence, academic and professional success and mental well-being, with deficits in executive control being prominent features of emotional disorders. Recent studies, however, have shown that executive control may be increased by training. In the present study we show that training executive function has a wide range of far transfer effects. Specifically, participants increased working memory performance on non-trained working memory task, increased their fluid intelligence respective to a control group and most surprisingly became better at automatic emotion regulatory processes. We further investigated the neural substrates of these effects. Our findings have wide ranging implications including the potential for optimised treatment interventions for emotional disorders.
17:50-18:05 Sinead English
Measuring Growth Rates in Wild Meerkats

Abstract: Analyses of growth rates in wild animals are often hindered by access to repeated measures of body weight on the same individual or the inability to determine age accurately. Here, I present analyses from a long-term database of weights of hundreds of meerkat individuals over the course of their life-span, comparing several standard growth curves to determine the curve of best fit. Parameters from this curve will then form the basis for future work on the social and environmental conditions influencing growth in this cooperative mammal. Ultimately, we aim to investigate whether females try to outgrow their competitors in order to attain the dominant breeding position in their group.
18:05-18:20 Merlin Sheldrake

Abstract: I present the Clare College Growers’ Project: an experiment in student gardening. As an enterprise it is neither novel, nor unique. It does, however, serve to bring to light a number of interesting issues. I will discuss attitudes towards gardens (particularly vegetable gardens and orchards) as productive and recreational spaces; the social impact of these ‘productive’ gardens and its relation to professional and non-professional gardening pursuits; the impact of contemporary fashions on biological form, as seen through the selection and breeding of plant varieties; and the revival of ‘period’ plant varieties in the field of ‘retrospective horticulture’.
18:20-18:30 Closing Remarks and Thanks by Professor Nicky Clayton, Graduate Tutor of Clare College