Senior Studentship Holders 2020/21

Cillian Brophy

I am a DPhil student in Biochemistry, and I am interested in how viruses interact with the normal functioning of cells. The virus that I mainly focus on in my research is the influenza virus, which is responsible for causing the flu in humans. During a flu infection, influenza virus particles latch onto cells and move into the nucleus – the brain – of the cell. There, the virus interferes with the normal activities of the cell. One of the most fundamental of these activities that is carried out by every cell is the reading of its DNA code to create proteins, which are the workhorses of the cell. In my research, I look at how influenza hijacks this process for its own benefit. This is an important aspect of the viral life cycle which is considered during the development of viral therapeutics and vaccines.

Flaminia Pischedda
I am a 3rd year DPhil student in Oriental Studies, Chinese. Before obtaining my BA and MA in Oriental Languages and Civilizations (La Sapienza University of Rome), I studied in some of China’s most renowned universities for long periods, during which I was educated in classical Chinese language and early Chinese systems of thought following the traditional methods. I then spent a full semester at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice where I was introduced to a relatively new and exciting field of study - Chinese palaeography - and to an alternative approach to early China. This experience would turn out to be critical for the development of my research interests.    
Broadly speaking, my research explores the different manifestations of early Chinese divination traditions and communities as seen from both newly retrieved palaeographical evidence and the received literary production. More specifically, my doctoral project emphasises the importance of considering the intricacies involved with the so-called shuzi gua 數字卦 (numerical divinatory symbol) palaeographical corpus. This corpus covers a wide range of time, spanning from the Longshan Culture (龍山文化, ca. 3000-1900 BCE) to the late Warring States period (戰國時期, 481-221 BCE). To date, roughly a hundred instances of shuzi gua have been found on a diverse set of unearthed objects, such as oracle bones, bronze vessels, and bamboo manuscripts. Visually they consist of sequences of numbers, including ‘one’, ‘four’, ‘five’, ‘six’, ‘seven’, ‘eight’, and ‘nine’. The numbers are written (engraved or brushed) on the material carrier in many different directions, vertical, horizontal, and oblique, resulting in a diverse structural and visual mise-en-page. During my first year of DPhil, I have developed a new analytical framework within which I am currently carrying out a reassessment of this specific corpus. The expected outcome is a more accurate organisation of shuzi gua, which will eventually lead to a reconsideration of the origin and nature of early Chinese divination traditions.


Kathryn White
My DPhil history research focuses on the intersection of social, religious and military history to place the work of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) during the First World War into the broader context of religious change and societal response to war. The YMCA is a charity dedicated to providing social service and youth development with a Christian ethos. Although founded in 1844, its leadership viewed the First World War as its ‘supreme opportunity’ in which it could rapidly expand both the scope and reach of its work. This war work primarily consisted of a network of recreation huts serving the British Army, including its imperial branches, through which it delivered the trifold mission to care for soldiers’ ‘mind, body and spirit’. This holistic approach was an innovation, creating comforting spaces in which soldiers could access refreshment, entertainment and education in huts that became known as ‘Tommy’s home’. The YMCA’s hutwork also pioneered an ecumenical and inter-faith approach that centred around a commitment to non-proselytising social-based evangelism. This makes the association a crucial case study in understanding the relationship between religion and society at the time of the First World War and the myriad ways the war was to catalyse such changes both within Britain and across the world in its aftermath. 


Allie Hexley
As a third year DPhil student in Experimental Psychology and a Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher on the RealVision Innovative Training Network, my research is focused on exploring the intra- and inter- personal differences in colour perception. Modern psychophysical methods enable disentangling the ill-posed question “is the red I see the red you see?”.  While ill-posed, this question is nonetheless pertinent to display manufacturers who aim to accurately reproduce colours on displays for the majority of their consumers. Vision scientists have also long sought to characterise the nature of individual differences in the mechanisms underlying colour vision and the consequences of such differences on colour perception. Understanding individual differences in colour perception is not only crucial to inform the development of display technologies on which almost every member of the general public relies on daily, but also to satisfy the basic curiosity of understanding the biological mechanisms behind such differences. 
In my research I take a multi-disciplinary approach, combining psychophysical, genetic, retinal imaging, and simulation techniques to form a comprehensive model of the individual colorimetric observer. I also focus on the development of new display technologies and metrics, and the applications of these display technologies to assess human vision in ways that have been previously inaccessible. The goal of my research is to develop and utilise new technical capabilities in stimulus generation and control to enable new tests of human colour vision to elucidate the biological and psychological factors that influence colour perception.  


Melissa Alexander
In my thesis, '"What am I to do with these?": Literary Objects in Virginia Woolf's Oeuvre," I argue that objects achieve unique importance in the modernist era, yielding special affordances to central debates regarding aesthetics, politics, philosophy, and psychology. While Virginia Woolf’s early essays appear complicit in the elision, or denigration, of objects in fiction, close examination of ordinary, domestic objects in her oeuvre enriches our understanding of key issues in Woolf studies: 1)the Edwardian-modernist “divide” and the antagonism between character and things implied in her early essays, 2) the defence of impersonality that inflects Woolf’s social critiques, 3) her novels’ engagement with philosophical questions, 4) her approach to language and intersubjectivity.  I unpack the generative potential Woolf finds in objects, suggesting that they provide provocative tools for theorizing artistic production, social life, time and community.