Fruitful discussions and sharing ideas at Clare College, Cambridge

Clare Research Symposium 2013

The 2013 Clare College Research Symposium took place on March 14th in the Gillespie Conference Centre, Clare College.

8:50-9:10 Registration & Coffee
9:10-9:20 Welcome by Professor Tony Badger, Master of Clare College

Panel 1 — 09.20-10.05

Art and Religion – Chair: The Rev’d Dr. Gregory Seach

9:20-9:35 Alexander Hampton:
After Transcendence: Romanticism as Religion for the Immanent Frame
In 1788 Schiller’s poem Die Götter Griechenlandes described a “entgötterte Natur”, contrasting a cosmos of immanent divinity, populated by the gods of antique polytheism, with his own age, where a God of philosophy stood at an infinite ontic distance from creation. Yet by 1800, early German Romantics such as Schlegel, Novalis and Hölderlin were mythologising an immanent divinity, present not just in the traditional forms of religion, but in poetry, the sciences and ethics. This project aims toward a new understanding of romantic spirituality as an idiom for religion in what Charles Taylor has called the immanent frame, which re-locates fullness and meaning from a transcendent beyond to an immanent present. Placed within this shift, Romantic spirituality is understood as an attempt to translate religion from the transcendent to the immanent frame. As such, Romanticism is read as re-enchantment, pointing the way toward an understanding of contemporary religion as it exists in extra-intuitional and syncretic forms.
9:35-9:50 Jamie Klair:
Clash of ideologies: Ways of Being Free from Apartheid
The 1970s and 1980s presented perhaps the most tumultuous challenges for black South Africans under apartheid – and for the theologians amidst their number, daily arrests, bannings, and government discrediting were common. This monochrome government, presiding over a ‘Christian nation’, was not without contention for these theologians who saw apartheid as an injustice and a heresy. Less obvious, however, is the distinct divide in their response. As the Civil Rights Movement came to a climax across the Atlantic, ‘Black Theology’ proposed liberation from apartheid as consisting in the embracing of Black identity and an apolitical rejection of the White structures over them. This narrow, exclusive response was criticised and came into conflict with a broader ‘Prophetic Theology’ which took on a specifically political tone to denounce the unjust capitalist apartheid that oppressed for profit, rather than simply against race.
9:50-10:05 Gabriel Byng:
Church Building and Persuasion in the Medieval Village
Parish church construction was one of the great endeavours of medieval Europe, not only for its artistic accomplishments but also as an example of communal organisation. In countries where much of the population was frequently on the brink of starvation, the execution of large and expensive building projects in stone required the galvanising of an entire community.
This paper will argue that such endeavour was not the result of the natural swell of communal devotion but instead relied on a small elite who were at great pains to represent the work as communal and popular. Even though responsibility for building work was concentrated in the hands of the few it required energetic marketing, through plays and the careful use of communal language, to ensure the cooperation of the community and the veneer of pious endeavour.

Panel 2 — 10:05-10:35

Chemistry and Biochemisrty – Chair: Dr. Jonathan Goodman

10:05-10:20 Elin Sivertsson:
Destroying proteins – enzymatic unfolding and degradation of linear repeat proteins
Protein degradation in the cell is carried out by molecular machines called ATP-dependent proteases. Protein degradation has many essential functions, including the removal of faulty proteins and the regulation of cellular processes such as the cell cycle. In my research, I use the ATP-dependent protease ClpXP, a simple bacterial analog of the proteasome, to study the enzymatic unfolding and degradation of linear repeat proteins. Linear repeat proteins consist of tandem arrays of repeats (20-50 amino acid motifs) that stack together into elongated structures, giving them a one-dimensional character. Together, ClpXP and linear repeat proteins form a simplified model system that can help us elucidate general principles about protein degradation that are relevant also for more complex systems such as the eukaryotic ubiquitin-proteasome pathway.
10:20-10:35 Kerstin Timm:
Developing hyperpolarised 13C magnetic resonance imaging probes as in vivo markers of tissue redox status

Increased production of reactive oxygen species is common in drug-induced tumour cell death and is an early event in tumour response to treatment. A reduced intracellular environment in tumours correlates with aggressiveness and drug resistance. Non-invasive imaging of tumour redox state could be a powerful tool to detect tumour treatment response and may provide early insight into development of drug resistance.
Recently, a dynamic nuclear polarisation method was developed whereby hyperpolarised 13C nuclei allow a ~10,000-fold increase in sensitivity in magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This technique enables dynamic metabolic imaging, which makes spatial mapping of 13C-labeled metabolites in vivo possible. Previous work in our group has shown that 1-13C-dehydroascorbic acid (DHA), the oxidised form of vitamin C, can be hyperpolarised and subsequently injected and imaged in vivo. I am establishing hyperpolarised [1-13C]-DHA as a redox marker of early tumour treatment response and drug resistance in vivo in a murine lymphoma model.
10:35-11:00 Tea Break

Panel 3 — 11:00-11:45

Medical Sciences – Chair: Dr. Robert Semple

11:00-11:15 Dr. Mark Agius:
Attempting to Correlate Information on Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder has been described as the ‘Heartland’ of Psychiatry, and arguably it remains one of the most mysterious health disorders. There is great difficulty at present relating the Neurobiology including the Neuroimaging fidings of bipolar disorder to the clinical picture seen in Bipolar Disorder, and this is complicated by the fact that bipolar disorder appears to be a group of conditions –otherwise known as the Bipolar Spectrum. Most Neuroimaging studies appear to have been done on Bipolar I Disorder. Is it safe to extrapolate these to Bipolar II, which is, arguably, a more common condition? Furthermore many important co-morbidities complicate the clinical picture of bipolar disorder. One major issue in the treatment of bipolar disorder is the link between bipolar disorder and suicide. The presentation will show how many medical students, including ‘Clarites’ have collaborated with me in elucidating some of these problems.
11:15-11:30 Tashfina Mirza:
Rearrangements of the ODZ4 gene in human carcinomas
I am investigating mutations in the ODZ4 gene in cancer. The Odz4 protein is important in many developmental processes but its exact function is unknown. This gene is rearranged in breast and oesophageal cancers. In one breast cancer this gene is found fused to NRG1, which encodes the heregulins and other ligands for the ErbB- EGFR family, and is itself often altered in breast cancer. I aim to determine how such rearrangements alter protein expression or function, and how this contributes to tumorigenesis. Once fully characterized, the fusion gene may be a potential target for therapy or diagnosis.
11:30-11:45 Dr. Eleanor Raffan:
Why do Labradors get fat? The genetics of obesity in dogs and other species
On a simplistic level, the genesis of obesity as the consequence of energy intake exceeding energy expenditure is easily understood. However, it is not clear why different individuals respond to the same environmental pressures by becoming obese, whilst others remain lean. In humans, body weight is highly heritable — meaning it is in large part down to our genes. Breed predilections to obesity suggest genes are equally important in dogs.
I am studying obesity in two related breeds: Labrador and golden retrievers. Breeding dogs to do specific jobs and have particular appearances has resulted in an unusual genetic architecture in the species which makes gene mapping straightforward relative to humans. We will capitalise on that to map the genetic regions associated with obesity. The results will be translated into comparative studies in humans and laboratory studies to understand the molecular basis by which obesity develops.

Panel 4 — 11:45-12:15

Material Science and Technology – Chair: Moos Peeters (MCR President)

11:45-12:15 Dr. Alexander Eggeman:
Inelastic electron diffraction – What happens underneath Bragg reflections
There is a wealth of information about a structure contained in electron diffraction patterns, beyond the lattice plane ideas determined by the Braggs a century ago. The difficulty lies in finding the correct experimental geometryto explore it and the theory to describe it. In this presentation I will show how the use of a dynamic hollow cone of electrons (or precession electron diffraction) affects the beam-sample interaction to allow elemental information, encoded as inelastic scattering, to be clearly identified in a diffraction pattern. A simple analysis allows this information to be extracted and offers the possibility of elemental ‘diagnosis’ of structural variations in future studies.
11:45-12:15 Chrysoula Litina:
Self-healing cementitious composites with high levels of cement substitution
Aqueous cement suspensions without aggregates have been commonly applied as a remedial technique in structural and geotechnical applications, often comprising part of the permanent infrastructure. However they suffer severe tensile cracking phenomena that can endanger the long-term functionality of the installation. Moreover, the remote positioning of these installations hinders available maintenance processes.
To date common practice of durability enhancement involves the limitation of cement-use coupled with partial substitution by supplementary cementitious materials (eg. fly ash, slags, silica fume). However the latter does not offer a robust long term solution. Therefore a biomimetic approach of damage response for the design of high performance cement suspensions is put forward. This approach involves two stages, i.e. determination of the autogenous crack sealing behaviour of various compositions that meet typical performance criteria and the subsequent enhancement of autogenous healing processes through the inclusion of microencapsulated healing agents. Herein we focus on the investigation of the effect of compositional variation on the intrinsic properties of physical response to cracking.
12:15 -13:30 Lunch Break & Poster Session

Keynote Address

EDIT : Unfortunately, due to a last minute illness, Julian Huppert was unable to deliver the keynote address. Therefore, Dr. Patricia Fara has kindly agreed to give a talk on her last book Erasmus Darwin : Sex, Science, and Serendipity, OUP, 2012.

13:30-14:30 Dr. Julian Huppert, Fellow in Computational Biology, MP for Cambridge,
Introduced by Dr. Patricia Fara, Senior Tutor of Clare College

Panel 5 — 14:30-15:30

Earth and Climate – Chair: Dr. Andrew Friend

14:30-14:45 Lois Salem:
Reconciling sulphur dioxide emissions from satellite data with petrological volatile data for explosive eruptions of Mount Etna, Italy
The sulphur dioxide (SO2) output during a volcanic eruption is dependent on the pre-eruptive concentrations of sulphur in the melt and in the vapour, and on the erupted mass of lava. It has been observed that a large fraction of sulphur exsolves into vapour prior to eruption for oxidized magmas. This study compares gas emissions data and petrological data, combined with data on erupted volumes, to assess the gas/melt ratio for different eruptions, and for different stages within an eruption, which might be related to eruption style. We present a new SO2 gas emissions remote sensing dataset measured by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) for the eruptions of Mount Etna, Italy, between October 2004 and December 2008. A relationship between SO2 in the plume and SO2 degassed from the melt was obtained and an empirical model for sulphur partitioning between melt and vapour was used to predict the SO2 output for a large historical eruption of Mount Etna, 1669 Monti Rossi flank eruption, for which no plume gas data was available.
14:45-15:00 Dr. Andrei Bejan:
Exploring Trade-offs in Electricity Grids with Storage and Wind Power Integration
Future energy grids face the significant challenge of integrating inherently intermittent and variable renewable power generation while maintaining a high degree of security of supply. The increasing penetration of renewables in electric power generation aims to lessen dependence on fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Energy storage systems are obvious candidates in helping to smooth the output of renewable energy generators and ensuring demand matching.
In this talk I will briefly introduce a general stochastic model for large scale fast response storage and slow-to-moderate ramping generators with high wind penetration. I will also highlight the long-term effects of fast response energy storage in reducing the amount of conventional power used and talk about trade-offs between various system performance characteristics, including wind spill and the loss of load probability. Mathematical and statistical challenges in studying such storage models will also be mentioned. This is a joint work with Dr Richard Gibbens (Computer Laboratory) and Professor Frank Kelly (Statistical Laboratory).
15:00-15:15 Tim Tito Rademacher:
An investigation into the impact of vegetation dynamics on the global carbon cycle using Hybrid 4.0, a dynamic global vegetation model, and field data
Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVM) are complex mechanistic computer models calculating ecosystem structure and qualities from climatic frocings. Atmosphere-biosphere interactions are crucial for climate change projections. In fact, DGVM constitute a primary source of uncertainty. Getting more defensible and accurate projections of climate change and plant growth is essential to tackle the great challenges of the 21st century such as the biodiversity crisis and food security. My research focuses on reducing uncertainty by constraining vegetation dynamics in an individual-based DGVM called Hybrid with field data. Vegetation dynamics such as tree mortality and recruitment, which constitute a causative factor of difference in DGVM projections, will be validated against field data. Data-constrained models will provide more defensible answers to questions such as:
(i) Will we experience an Amazon forest dieback?
(ii) Will terrestrial vegetation continue to absorb a third of human CO2 emissions ?
(iii) What are future constraints to future forest productivity?
15:15-15:30 Dr. Aideen Foley:
Climate modelling tools for integrated assessment
The potential impacts of climate change span a wide range of sectors, e.g. energy and health, and correspondingly, require an interdisciplinary research approach. Integrated assessment frameworks, which combine knowledge and modelling tools across a number of sectors, are therefore a convenient tool with which to generate policy-relevant information on climate change impacts for decision-makers. This paper provides an overview of integrated assessment and examines the role of climate modelling in such a framework, with particular emphasis on the impact-relevant data generated by different modelling tools, and the associated uncertainties of each approach. Ultimately, highly complex, high resolution modelling approaches provide the most comprehensive representation of the climate system, but test the limits of current computing power and are therefore difficult to incorporate into an integrated assessment framework, precipitating the need for less computationally expensive approaches that do not capture climate variability as meticulously.
15:30-16:00 Tea Break

Panel 6 — 16:00-16:45

Zoology – Chair: Dr. Anna Philpott

16:00-16:15 Jolle Jolles:
Dominance, pair bonds and boldness determine social foraging tactics in rooks
In a wide range of animal species, individuals have been found to show large and consistent differences in the way they cope with their environment. The focus of my research is to understand why these so-called animal personalities exist and its link with the social environment. In a social foraging context, animals can either search for food themselves (produce) or exploit the discoveries made by others (scrounge). Individual differences in boldness and social factors are expected to strongly influence the dynamics related to these foraging behaviours. To investigate this hypothesis we presented a captive group of rooks with a social foraging experiment in which individuals can produce by pulling up baited strings, or scrounge by retrieving fallen food items or joining a producer. As expected, dominance, pair bonding and boldness had very strong and contrasting effects on various foraging tactics and resulted in high consistency in individual foraging tactic use. Our study highlights the important link between animal personality and social factors (heterogeneity) and the role these individual differences may play in social foraging.
16:15-16:30 James Austin:
The factors affecting biodiversity and species distribution in salt pans
As habitat loss and species extinctions continue, it is important to prioritise what and where we conserve. Salt marshes currently face multiple threats across a global scale. This study investigated the patterns underlying community assemblance in salt pans. There was a clear species-area relationship. Salinity and signs of desiccation appeared to have no effect on the salt pan communities. Correspondence analyses showed there were different communities in different parts of the littoral zone. Depth had a strong influence upon community assemblance suggesting that it is a requirement for certain taxa. Artificial pools showed similar morphospecies richness to salt pans and the morphospecies-area relationship was steeper in salt pans by the sea. Both suggest that many of the taxa are swept in from the sea. This study takes the first steps in providing a way to select salt marshes for their aquatic biodiversity according to physical features of the salt pan.
16:30-16:45 David Labonte:
How to stick but not get stuck – functional principles of dynamic attachment during insect locomotion
Many insects are fast runners and skilful climbers. In order to allow climbing insects to forage efficiently and to escape rapidly from predators, contradictory demands must be met: attachment forces must be sufficient and reliable, but voluntary detachment should be rapid. Indeed, some insects can withstand detachment forces equivalent to over 100 times their body weight while at the same time they are able to run upside down on smooth surfaces. In this talk, I will illustrate some principles of controlled attachment in insects, focussing on the attachment structures of the indian stick insect. These insects posses two different attachment pads per leg that are specialised for fundamentally different functions: “friction pads” that produce friction when pressed against the substrate, but only negligible adhesion, and “ adhesive pads” that stick only when activated by shear forces. I argue that these characteristics render the combination of the two pads an effective system that ensures safe attachment, but at the same time energy-efficient detachment in a variety of locomotory situations.

Panel 7 — 16:45-17:45

History and Politics – Chair: Dr. Sian Lazar

16:45-17:00 David Jimenez Torres:
Ramiro de Maeztu and Spanish-English contacts in the early 20th century
My work is on Ramiro de Maeztu, a prominent Spanish intellectual who spent 15 years (1905-1919) living in London and publishing for the Madrid press. He was part of a generation who sought to reform Spain by bringing it into contact with the rest of Europe; his reporting from London tried to operate as national pedagogy that would disseminate the ‘secrets’ of British success amongst his compatriots. I try to investigate the things he focused on, what things he considered more typically ‘British’, what he thought was exportable to Spain and why, and, more generally, the reasons for his growingly ambivalent attitude towards his host country. I argue that, in the end, he became so successfully immersed in the British culture of his time that he adopted the deprecatory attitude which many British intellectuals of the time had towards their own country. This would be the reason why he ended up going back to Spain.
17:00-17:15 John Miller:
The Few, The Favored: Regime Demographics and Tax Capacity in Developing Countries
My research examines the political economy of taxation in the context of special interest groups that operate in various degrees across many developing countries. Interest groups may be based on regional alignment, ethnicity, religion, ideology, or economic advantage. While controlling for administrative capacity and regime typology, I quantitatively isolate the political relationships and coalitions which adversely (positively) impact revenue generation. This approach focuses on the distributive conflict inherent in policy-making. In my analysis, I utilize panel data with fixed and random effects. We examine 135 middle and low-income countries between the years 1989 and 2009.This methodology treats tax capacity (taxation as a percentage of GDP) as the dependent variable and the presence of various interest groups, nested in the executive, as the explanatory variable.
17:15-17:30 Benjamin Oseroff:
Maximizing Global Health Reform: Thinking Beyond the Health Impact Fund
The current global health system is clearly imbalanced. Millions of poor people die each year from otherwise treatable or curable diseases, motivating a variety of economists, philosophers, and health policy commentators to suggest reforms. In this talk, I focus on one of the most prominent proposals: the Health Impact Fund (HIF). A pragmatic plan, the HIF intends to shift the market incentives for pharmaceutical companies, rewarding them for reducing the global burden of disease (GBD), rather than selling high-priced products. I identify three key difficulties for the HIF: measuring impact on GBD, quantifying this burden, and relying on industry for innovation. I conclude that the HIF, as currently designed, is unlikely to be successful in addressing global health inequities. While the HIF might be reformed to take some of these criticisms into account, this would undermine the practicality of the plan and, consequently, its raison d’être. In the remaining space, I offer some suggestions for how we might reorient global pharmaceutical reform.
17:30-17:45 Teale Phelps Bondaroff and Danita Catherine Burke:
A Bridge Over Frozen Waters? Evaluating the Potential for Collaboration Between Different Sides of the Sealing Issue
This paper examines the history and role of seal hunting in Atlantic and Northern Canada, and explores some of the impact that the anti-sealing movement and its campaign have had on sealing communities.
This is done to examine the potential for collaboration on environmental issues, between the groups on either side of the sealing issue. We argue that some collaboration is possible, however, this is dependent on the type of organization, the measures that organization undertake in order to repair relations, and upon the duration and extent the organization’s involvement in the anti-sealing campaign. Conservationist environmental groups are found to have the largest potential for, and interest in, collaboration with sealing communities. However, such collaboration comes with a high entry cost, namely the need to repair damages caused by the anti-sealing campaign, as well as the need for organizations to differentiate themselves from ongoing anti-sealing activity.
17:50 Closing Remarks – speaker Dr. Patricia Fara, Senior Tutor of Clare College
18:00-19:00 Drink in the Garden Room (all are welcome to attend)
19:30 Dinner for speakers and chairs (Small Hall)