Senior Studentship Holders 2017/18


Harriet Mercer

Debates about the production of climate knowledge and the human impact on climate are often assumed to be recent phenomenon. But my project aims to demonstrate the deeper history of human-climate interactions. I'm investigating past human-climate interactions in the context of the nineteenth century European colonisation of Australia, the continent with one of the most variable climates on earth. How, I ask, have past societies understood climate and the human influence on climate over time? And what is the relationship between climate and colonialism? Do we live with legacies of that relationship today? 


William Arlidge

The unintended catch (bycatch) of species which are not targeted, discarded and often unreported remains a major conservation issue in the majority of the worlds fisheries. Marine species with conservative life histories – characterised by low reproduction, late sexual maturity and longevity – show particular vulnerability to continual pressures from fishing. This includes turtles, marine mammals, seabirds and corals. Bycatch is also problematic for the fishing industry, causing damage to gear, catch reductions, and increasingly, consumer concern resulting in loss of market opportunities. Throughout the course of my DPhil research, I am investigating novel ways to reduce fisheries bycatch, based on strategies widely used for engaging with resource users in terrestrial conservation. As part of my work, I am exploring the effectiveness of different methods of changing fisher behavior in addressing bycatch, with a focus on reducing the number of turtles captured in both the Peru and US Californian surface driftnet fisheries.

Matthew Hewson

Since coming to Oxford my work has largely centred on belief. On the one hand, I've investigated belief's nature, by looking at norms - norms of belief or knowledge - that many hold are constitutive of it. On the other, I've examined accounts of the relationship between outright belief (like my belief that it will rain tomorrow) and partial belief (like my middling credence that it will rain tomorrow). In the remainder of the programme, I hope to unite these threads. The plan is to consider norms that govern partial belief. But rather than looking at relatively thin structural norms ('one's credences should be probabilistically configured', 'one should update one's credences via conditionalisation') the aim is to explore much richer norms, analogous to those considered in the case of outright belief. Here, the debate between a norm of truth versus a norm of knowledge is much newer. The hope is that by engaging with it, we not only learn something interesting about partial belief, but about its relationship to full belief, too.

Samira Lindstedt

Every era claims its own Renaissance, and the Middle Ages are no exception. Developments in devotional practice, the arts, and the technology of the manuscript book in the long twelfth century (c.1075-1225) combined to promote a flowering of intellectual thought and artistic expression that historians have retrospectively declared "the twelfth century Renaissance". Appropriately enough when investigating the era that medievalists claim "discovered the self", my DPhil research examines "Prayer as Performance, 1050-1250", exploring how metatextual factors such as the time, place, and book in which one prayed influenced the meaning and the function of a given prayer text. Building on the work of my BA and MSt degrees (also obtained at Oxford), I investigate previously overlooked features of the manuscript page, such as mise-en-page, punctuation, and the relationship between text and image, to determine how books make their texts signify. (Have you ever thought about whether you find it easier to retain information when reading a paper textbook or an ebook? My thesis investigates why this might be the case!) As the only surviving witnesses of long-dead medieval Christians, medieval books allow us to connect with the past in a tangible way as we, too, turn their pages and read aloud their texts.

James Charlesworth

I am a graduate-entry medical student at Pembroke, with a PhD in immunology from Imperial College, London. My ambition is to combine clinical medicine with translational immunology research. My PhD explored the immunology of hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and an immune-modifying treatment, allergen immunotherapy. My findings suggested that B cells have suppressive actions and that these are reduced amongst allergic individuals, and are recovered following allergen immunotherapy. Following my PhD I have carried out research alongside my medical degree. I have published on the placebo effect, in which inert medications can drive medical benefit in patients. I’ve established a collaboration with an immunologist to review the clinical outcomes for patients receiving antibody therapy, to assess whether genetic variations in antibody receptors affect cancer survival. During my final year I’m undertaking a project on diabetes in Sierra Leone, working with a charity who have set up the country’s only formal diabetes clinic. Some of their patients present in keto-acidosis, which is more typical of the childhood form of diabetes (type 1, autoimmune diabetes), implying they have lost the ability to produce their own insulin. These patients are older and overweight, appearing more like the diet-induced form of the disease who are able to produce their own insulin (type 2). In Sierra Leone insulin is not readily available, even for those who depend on it. It’s crucial to correctly identify insulin-dependent patients so they are counselled on disease management and maintain their access to life-saving insulin. I will be collecting samples from these unusual patients, and other diabetics, to set up local services to aid in their diagnosis and management, as well exploring the underlying disease process in Oxford.