Research Talks

All members of Darwin are encouraged to present their research at informal seminars held on Tuesdays and Thursdays during term. Everyone is welcome, whatever your degree or discipline.

Darwin members pick up lunch from 12:00, taking it into the Richard King Room (on the left at the top of the stairs leading to the dining hall) or 1 Newnham Terrace (straight through at the far end of the dining hall). Wine is served. Non-Darwin members are welcome to attend, although lunch is only available to guests of members. The talk begins at about 1:15 and lasts for about 20 minutes and is followed by questions over coffee. We adjourn at 2:00pm at the latest.

Upcoming Talks

Darwin Lunchtime Talks will recommence next term and the schedule posted here.

Past Research Talks

Thursday 18 May 2017
Shahin Tavakoli

Dialect sound variation is of considerable interest in linguistics and other social sciences. However, traditionally it has been studied using proxies (transcriptions) rather than acoustic recordings directly. We introduce novel statistical techniques to analyse geolocalised speech recordings and to explore the spatial variation of pronunciations continuously over the region of interest, as opposed to traditional isoglosses, which provide a discrete partition of the region. Data of this type require an explicit modeling of the variation in the mean and the covariance. We then propose spatial smoothing for these objects which accounts for the possibly non convex geometry of the domain of interest. We apply the proposed method to data from the spoken part of the British National Corpus, deposited at the British Library, London, and we produce maps of the dialect variation over Great Britain. In addition, the methods allow for acoustic reconstruction across the domain of interest, allowing researchers to listen to the statistical analysis

Tuesday 16 May 2017
Guy Williams (University of Cambridge)

China's banking sector has undergone a remarkable transformation since the establishment of the socialist market economy in 1993. This sector, which previously struggled with bad debt, is now home to four of the five largest banks in the world. The orthodox view of reform in China's banking sector evaluates change as conformance with a Western, neoliberal model of banking. This paper argues instead that this reform is best understood as an evolution of institutions that reflect historical patterns of political and economic organisation in China.

Guy Williams is a PhD student at the Centre of Development Studies. His research examines the evolution of China's banking sector since the establishment of the socialist market economy in 1993. As part of his research he interviewed officials from the China Banking Regulatory Commission, which has regulated China's banking sector since 2003. Guy has spent four years studying and working in China.

Thursday 11 May 2017
Daniele Biasci

Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract, thought to arise from a dysregulated interaction between the host immune system and the gut microbiota. Symptoms may be debilitating and usually require a lifetime of care.

Some patients experience frequent relapses and require treatment with increasingly potent immunosuppressants and/or surgery, whereas others achieve prolonged remission without any additional therapy. Such variability in prognosis occurs in other immune-mediated diseases and can make the difference between an excellent long-term outcome or progressive disability. Yet, the causes of such variation remain largely unknown.

The inability to predict disease course consequently affects clinicians and patients, leaving them with a choice between two unsatisfactory options: proactive treatments which may be unnecessary, or reactive therapies which may arrive too late. Solving this challenge would not only enable doctors to tailor treatment appropriately, but also help them design better treatments, which could specifically target the biological processes responsible for frequent disease flare ups.

Tuesday 9 May 2017
Karoliina Pulkkinen

Abstract not available

Tuesday 2 May 2017
Professor John Rust (University of Cambridge)

Historically psychometrics has a chequered history, from its beginnings with IQ testing one hundred years ago to the current controversies on privacy and psychological micro-targeting on the internet. Often in spite of the best intentions, the field has been beset with a host of unintended consequences. The vision behind IQ and meritocracy turned all too easily into eugenics and bell curve thinking. We didn't see it coming then, but can we now - is it too late for history to help us? Social networks has given us communication, but big brother is hovering in the wings.

Professor John Rust is the Director of the Psychometrics Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School.

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