CONTENTS 1 2
Editor’s Note Interview: Dr Anne-Laura Van Harmelen
‘Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always’ - Reflections on Geriatric Medicine
AI: Reasons to be cheerful?
Stroke Care - Helping the population and the individual
Interview: Dr Lorna Williamson
Technically Brilliant: Meet the women making tech happen
Editorial: The limits of solidarity
+FEATURES Interview: Rabia Nasimi
Opinion: Trans admission only a small step
Arts Editory Features Editor
Andrea Trozzo Rabia Nasimi
Health & Wellbeing Editor Ruth Cocksedge Visual Editor
Health and Wellbeing: Boosting resilience + meet the SU welfare team Sports: Interviews with Linnea Gradin and Melissa Wilson What’s On in Politics and Arts Creative Submissions
www.cavendishchronicle.co.uk @chroniclecav The Cavendish Chronicle
EDITOR’S Note Halfway through my first term at Cambridge, in December 2016, I found myself sitting in Dr. Leigh Stoeber’s office, whimpering. Cambridge was too hard, I told her. I couldn’t imagine ever being able to keep up with the endless round of essays, reading, and supervisions, never mind trying to involve myself in everything else Lucy Cavendish College had to offer. I was letting myself and everybody else down. I hadn’t managed to get out of bed for three days. Radiating the kind of warmth, compassion and common sense that could stop a missile in its tracks, never mind a panic attack, Leigh told me to breathe. She told me to give myself a break. Of course Cambridge is hard, she told me, but I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t do it. Among the many pieces of practical advice she gave me that morning, one particularly has stuck with me: try to be more present in the moment. She was trying it at home, and could vouch for its efficacy. If I could give myself half an hour in the mornings, just to look out of the window, drink a coffee and sit quietly without reaching for the nearest flashing screen, I would set myself up for a day of being entirely there. I would be amazed at what I’d be able to achieve, she told me, if I could just take some time out to be present.
Fast forward a year and - as Editor-in-Chief of the Cavendish Chronicle - I can confirm that, in this as in so many other things, Leigh was right. I wish I could tell her that. But this magazine – a team effort if ever there was one, built from scratch by a team of dedicated, passionate and talented Lucy students – is a testament to what can be achieved by being present and giving time to the things that really matter. Leigh was a scientist, and I hope she’d be proud of this showcase of talent in the Lucy STEMM community and beyond. The Editorial team and I have worked hard to create a magazine which truly reflects the student body. Lucy Cavendish is so much more than just a women’s college: we are an enormously diverse community made up of phenomenal women from across the spectrum of backgrounds, experiences and interests. Over the coming year we want to exhibit as much of this incredible diversity as possible. We are living in challenging times, and yet the strength and dedication of the Lucy community should empower us all. We hope you enjoy this edition of the Chronicle, and look forward to the upcoming Politics and Arts issues. The more of us are involved, the stronger the magazine will grow, so please don’t be afraid to add your voice!
A Tribute to Dr Leigh Stoeber Julie Damborg Sometimes you meet someone who, despite not knowing you, truly listens and understands you. Leigh was such a person. Always greeting students with a smile and a friendly reminder to take a break, she was perfect for the role of Senior Tutor. She was always ready to take our ideas and suggestions on board. I remember her excitement for the events she organised for students: the Freshers’ Week scavenger hunt, the Booze ‘n’ Schmooze evening, and the take-a-break sessions that she organised last term despite being away from college because of her illness.
When I was going through a problem I thought nobody would understand, Leigh did. Her openness, willingness to listen, and her empathy for where I was coming from made such an enormous difference, and I’m not certain that I’d still be at Cambridge had it not been for Leigh. Her smile and kind words are sorely missed at Lucy, and they always will be.
Understanding the Biology of Emotional Abuse The Chronicle meets Dr Anne-Laura van Harmelen, Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Senior Research Fellow in the Developmental Risk and Resilience Laboratory, in the University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry, and recipient of a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. Can it tell us anything? That’s a big question! We already know that CEM has an impact on behaviour and symptoms. My studies are great, but not novel, in a sense. But as soon as we can show that it impacts on biology, it is real. And seen to be real. You quoted some research on Nepalese child soldiers, which seemed to have something to say about the capacity of the brain to recover, even to show resilience. Is that right?
Image courtesy of Dr Laura-Anne van Harmelen
Can you tell us about how you made your way into your research career? I didn’t have a standard background for it. I did a degree in physical education originally, very different from what I do now, and I loved it! But it gave me a clear perspective that I did not want to continue. By specialising with children with special needs, I became really interested in understanding the brain. I was fascinated with psychology, neurological and genetic disorders, and began to read more and more. I went on to study psychology at degree, masters and PhD levels, and stayed with what really fascinated me. You use a wide variety of data, research methods and psychological theories in your work – how do you make the connections between them? I’m a generalist, and I think my expertise is in binding ideas together. Instead of just focussing on neuroimaging, I like to look at the different tools we have created in psychology, in order to investigate research questions in more depth. In a study I’m writing up now, for example, we used an advanced research method called tion modelling to look at neuro-images alongside a social-developmental theory called the stress-buffering hypothesis. What is the advantage of showing the brain effect of CEM? Just because we can map something to the brain, what does it tell us about how to intervene?
That study showed there was less post-traumatic stress for child soldiers in villages which were more supportive when they returned from the war. There was no neuro-imaging in those studies though. However in some studies looking at institutionalised children, for example in Romania and Bulgaria, who were subsequently adopted it’s been found that an earlier adoption age is related to more normal brain functioning. So that suggests that a period in a supportive family environment might help normalise brain development in these children. Extending theses research examples, the current paper I’m working on, we are finding that in a relatively healthy sample, with adversity in childhood, there was no effect of adolescent social support on brain responsivity. However, this sample reported low to moderate childhood adversity, and there’s a huge difference between that and children who’ve experienced Romanian orphanages. Furthermore, we do find effects of positive environmental experiences on behavioural symptoms in adolescence. Adolescence can be a time where mental health problems emerge. I’m fascinated by that time period, because I hope that if we intervene then, we might be able to do something to help.
So adversity seems to be useful, in a way? Possibly, or maybe they’re just used to it, not as threatened by it, or just blunted and don’t respond anymore. Do you have ideas yet that might influence how we intervene to make a difference for these youngsters? Working with parents, or the children and young people perhaps? Or is it too soon to say? It is a big leap, right! My research tries to come to a basic understanding of the pathways and mechanisms involved. It’s unclear whether or not we can improve friendships or social interactions. Even if we can’t, it is good to understand their importance. We would also have to test whether or not any intervention would result in a reduction of psychopathology later. There’s a clear example of how this kind of research has had an effect on policy and law. Improved understanding of the effect of emotional abuse has helped form policies and decision-making in this country (the Children and Families Act, 2014). This kind of abuse, as well as the more obvious physical and sexual abuse, is now considered equally damaging to children. It is now covered by the law, and has the potential to improve child protection. I feel a bit uncomfortable with even speculating on the influence of my own research, because it is a bit grandiose! But it might be a teeny tiny part of the puzzle. But maybe one day when it all comes together…
That would be nice! Do you think they learning from minor adversity to be resilient? Can you tell us about the grant you’ve been awarded for a new Exactly. This is an example of stress study by MQ, the Mental Health inoculation. Looking at the behaviour charity, to work on suicide preof this group, we recently found that vention? if you ask them how they are feeling after giving them negative feed- I think it is the most important quesback (during a task), they showed tion in psychiatry right now. And in improved mood compared to those adolescence, especially so. We’re who hadn’t experienced adversity. aiming to provide a better understanding of risk factors. What puts adolescents at risk? We don’t know
enough. Previous studies are about adults, and in really small samples. It is interesting that we do know that the rates of suicide are the same in all adolescent studies, across cultures. But there are many ethical issues in researching this phenomenon, but the need to do so is great. It is the second biggest cause of death in boys and girls, and it is actually the number one cause in boys. It seems ridiculous that we don’t know more about it. We are going to pull together all the data sets we have access to, and analyse them together. It will include neuro-imaging, clinical assessments, and assessments of the social environment. I am interested in how early life experiences and recent negative experiences, such as bullying, and victimisation, will interact with the neuro-imaging findings to predict suicidal behaviour and thoughts, over time. We will try to make a model of how all these factors are interrelated. If you find a brain mechanism, it doesn’t mean that it will lead to certain behaviours, it interacts
with the environment and previous experience. The research methodology will take this into account. How can you link your research findings like this with practice? There’s often a research-practice divide in psychology. The critical thing is two-way communication with clinicians. There are many clinicians in our department, and we communicate regularly. They make us think about what our findings really mean. We also present our findings at clinician symposia. With neuro-imaging, there’s a big divide between what we are doing and what people can learn from that, but we are always trying to bridge that. In the MQ research, we also want to have young people who have experienced suicidal ideation involved in designing our study. They can tell us what to look out for, what risk factors to assess. That is another important way to keep the research in touch.
Is there anything you’d like to say to aspiring women researchers? That’s not a small topic either! There is a huge gender bias in research that we need to work on. The higher you get in the field, the less females you see. We need to fight that I think it is important to be a role model, and show that you can have a successful career and have children, and that you don’t have to compromise. I think most important is something corny like “follow your dreams and do what you like best”. Then it is more like a hobby than work, even if sometimes it is tough. The mission statement of MQ is to become the equivalent to Mental Health of Cancer Research UK. Find out more about their work at: https://www.mqmentalhealth.org/mental-health More about Anne-Laura’s work is available here, including a list of publications: http://www.annelauravanharmelen.com/
‘Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always’ Reflections on Geriatric Medicine Chloe Gamlin
21st century geriatrics is no exception, with its absolute requirement for medical sciences to be buttressed with careful holistic reflection.
Image courtesy of Chloe Gamlin
ell, I did try to take a history”, I said to my consultant, ‘W but the patient thought we were on a boat”. Geriatric medicine is full of challenges, from both a professional and personal perspective, and it was a privilege to experience the specialty as my first taste of clinical medicine this term. Not only did I absorb a huge amount of medical science and practical techniques, but I came to understand the importance of medicine as an art form, too. The history of medicine is riddled with debate over its status as chiefly a value-free, logical science or a subjective art, and regular conclusions that the two are inextricably linked in our best tool to ‘deal with the very processes of life’ (Paracelsus).
tients becoming disorientated or delirious. This led to many failed attempts to take a medical history on my part. Memorably, I asked 84-year-old Mr Jones* for a sumWhen a patient in her late 80s, who mary of his illness, and in return we’ll call Mrs Smith, was admitted he asked for my hand in marriage! to the ward with pneumonia, it became clear very quickly that the care Challenges in geriatrics are not limitoffered by the geriatricians went far ed to logistics. Modern medicine gives beyond the prescription of antibiot- us high expectations – illness is treatics. The consultant leading the ward ed aggressively, and is often resolved. round that morning took Mrs Smith’s Unlike in other medical specialties, hand to reassure her that the pneu- however, death in old age was seldom monia could be cured, and explained viewed as a medical failure. That is not that the hospital would organize a to say, of course, that this reduced the carer to help her once she returned grief experienced by patients and their home. Arrangements like this were loved ones as they reached the end. made for almost every patient pass- Geriatrics provides a wonderful oping through the ward, and I came to portunity to care for patients at a comgreatly appreciate the focus on social plex and enriched stage of their lives. factors, such as frail patients living Many patients have numerous interalone, to provide the best care for the acting and incurable health problems, elderly both in hospital and in the but that doesn’t mean we cannot concommunity. tinue to help. Mrs Brown* taught me The aim of providing care in the com- this, when she slipped in and out of munity is to prevent frequent read- consciousness in her final days on the missions to hospital for patients with ward. She was frightened, but every chronic illnesses, when they might be member of the healthcare team did more comfortable in their own home. their very best to comfort her, always. The upheaval of the new hospital *Patient details (name, age, conenvironment can result in a large dition) have been changed to proportion of geriatric ward inpa preserve patient confidentiality.
AI: Reasons to be cheerful?
Politics Editor Genevieve Riccoboni attended a talk on Artificial Intelligence given by Max Tegmark at the Centre for Existential Risk. Here, she wonders whether we can afford to be optimistic. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are little understood, but greatly hyped in popular, media, and academic circles. There are varied perspectives on these technologies; some organizations are giddily optimistic about an AI-powered future, while others express concern at the cataclysmic societal changes that could result from a largely-automated society. Although the future is naturally uncertain, what is clear from recent research and debates is that careful regulation and human intervention into technological development is needed. This can only result from a powerful, strategic social movement surrounding issues of technology that addresses the core of the debates head -on. Noted physicist, cosmologist, and author Max Tegmark attempts to resolve some of the theoretical debates surrounding AI in his new book, Life 3.0: Staying Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence. On Sunday October 29th, the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk hosted Tegmark for a lecture. Tegmark spoke to an audience of 450 people (another few hundred were put on a waitlist), and argued for investment in curbing the adverse effects of technology, creating a framework of ethics for machines to operate in, and experimenting with redistribution schemes. Separating his discussion into themes of power and control, Tegmark made the case that AI algorithms are not only rapidly becoming more sophisticated, but will soon surpass humans at a wide variety of tasks (see the DeepMind experiments). Extending on this, he claimed that there are four tech-
nologies that policymakers must imminently focus on: superintelligence, synthetic biology, nuclear technology, and AI weapons. Why these technologies? In essence, it is because of their high potential to do harm. All intrinsically are, or could easily become weaponized against humans in ways that could spread beyond our control. Despite this grim overview, Tegmark’s tone for the rest of the talk was optimistic, emphasizing that humans have agency to curb the risks of highrisk tech. In order to control technology, he claimed, we must ensure that the machines we create align with human goals and priorities. If we are able to make machine goals match ours, society will not be seriously harmed. If true, this vision would be great indeed: a high-tech utopia with limited risk. But how can we make this happen? As a student of history and politics, I am skeptical that it can, at least without significant work. Universally training machines to be ethical requires a united human vision of what an ethical world would look like - a vision that is able to be institutionally supported. Humans disagree on nearly everything; people vote against their best interest; and priorities are deeply shaped by lived experience, social norms, and organizational priorities. For policy to be created, there must be political will. And when it comes to issues that drive to the core of what it means to be human - like AI - achieving this ontological unity is no easy task. A great part of the problem is that techcompanies, the drivers of this dysto pia are currently enjoying nearly un
rivalled levels of horizontal growth. The control of some of these companies over our data is enormous. Their uses of this data are questionable and often highly controversial (e.g., “fake news” targeting, online advertising). For anything to change at all, the political will we should seek to develop must be geared towards challenging the way these companies operate, and must aim to make them focus their technologies on protecting humanity, rather than pushing for continued rapid growth. “Centering ethics” does not mean doing a few philanthropic projects, or even many philanthropic projects. Ethical approaches do demand, however, reconsidering business models, democratizing strategy and corporate goals, investing more heavily in reining in than creating technologies, and being leaders in a post-capitalist dialogue. Is it indeed moral to have organizations with a profit motive creating things that could destroy all of humanity? That is a question we must answer. Tegmark’s starting point of increasing public awareness is key, but this must start earlier, at the elementary level of STEM education, and must combine education with very real restrictions on what tech companies can and cannot do. The rich breadth of political philosophy on ethics must be re-examined. And coverage of business, science, and tech must not be segregated from the mainstream media. People ought be as aware of technological developments as they are of war, policy, and elections, since tech has the ability to unhinge all of the above.
Stroke Care: Helping the population and the individual Karen Thomas
PhD Researcher Cardiovascular Team, Primary Care Unit School of Clinical Medicine
hy do we carry out research? If stage post stroke however contact with W we were to ask fifty Lucy Cav- clinicians tails off as time passes after endish students, we would like- leaving hospital. This is for a variety of ly get a multitude of answers. For many of us, it appeals to our inquisitive nature. It’s a way to increase our knowledge and get ever closer to the elusive expert status in our field. For me, the biggest reward in everything I do is being able to help others. I manage to squeeze hospital shifts into my schedule alongside my PhD. What motivates me is the desire to keep my skills up to date and I aim to be empathic, at a time when people need a boost to start them on their journey forward to recovery.
My area of expertise is stroke care. It would be safe to assume most people will have had contact with someone affected by a stroke be it personally or a close family or friend. In the United Kingdom, an individual suffers a stroke roughly every 3.5 minutes. Worldwide, this increases to one every two seconds. Stroke is one of the largest causes of disability, with this statistic accentuated by our ageing population, increased awareness of precursor symptoms and improving technology and treatments. A stroke can occur in two ways; a clot (ischaemic) or a bleed (haemorrhagic) in the brain. Despite its common occurrence and life changing effects, just £48 a year per stroke survivor is spent on medical research in the UK compared to £241 spent per cancer patient. Yet the economic costs of stroke in the UK from a societal perspective total around £9 billion a year. So, what specifically am I doing? I work in the Primary Care Unit in the Medical School focused on care of stroke survivors who have passed through the acute care pathway and are community based. Early Supported Discharge has greatly improved
reasons, many of which are out of our control as medical professionals. There are significant pressures on time, resources and abilities to provide regular support. I am researching Post-Stroke Fatigue (PSF). If you or I thought of fatigue, the first thing to come to mind may be working on an essay until 4am and
“In the United Kingdom, an individual suffers a stroke every 3.5 minutes. World-wide, this increases to one every two seconds.” finding yourself needing to concentrate more on keeping your eyes open in your 9am than on what is being taught. How do we deal with this? Likely a caffeinated drink or a nap before continuing with work. Or we push on and sleep well the following night. PSF is caused by the initial injury and resultant inflammation and damage in the affected area of the brain. It affects everyone differently, but for some a ten-minute conversation with a loved one may be all they can manage. They may feel tired from the anxiety of planning to go for a walk and being unsure if they’ll be able to complete it. Often, in the initial period following the stroke event, the priorities of the survivor and their family are functional such as weakness, ability to walk again and self-care. As a result, questions aren’t always asked regarding fatigue. When it does not ease, it is a cause of worry, and the lack of knowledge may lead to a feeling of isolation and lack of control. Little research has
been carried out in the area, so there is still no trusted definition, way of measurement or treatment. So what challenges are facing me in my research? I guess firstly, the sheer scope of what still needs to be understood. Oftentimes at the start of a PhD the optimistic bright-eyed researcher has the aim of creating a new and shiny intervention to transform individuals lives. However, this has been attempted and no significant interventions found. I believe this is because the ‘deep thinking’ process has not been carried out thoroughly enough. I aim to further understanding of what PSF is from the perspective of both the stroke survivor and clinicians leading community based fatigue management. I would like to see if my hunch of a mismatch between outcome measures used in clinical practice and research is correct, and if so how we move forwards. I want to investigate current management strategies in use, and .incorporate the elements I’ve discussed. It’s possible a multimodal intervention would be more suited to this population. I am coming towards the end of a busy first year of my PhD and am closer to answering my first question of what fatigue is as a construct. However, I have a long journey ahead in the next two years. To wrap up, the message I would like to send to all research enthusiasts is to never lose sight of why you are carrying out your work. It is easy to become engulfed in small details, paperwork and single experiments but never lose sight of what drives you.
Blood Ties The Chronicle meets Dr Lorna Williamson OBE, Lucy Cavendish Fellow Commoner and Director of Publishing and Engagement with the Royal College of Pathologists, to discuss transfusions, transplants and the challenges facing the NHS.
Tell us a bit about your background – how did you come to be a specialist in your field?
That does sound ideal. So where did When I retired from NHS Blood and haematology take you? these trials, but in my last role some of my research budget went towards Well, at the time all haematology funding them. It’s innovative stuff. trainees had to go and do a period in a blood transfusion centre. I went, and So what else is new in terms of blood discovered that transfusion was just the most amazing thing. This being the Transplant last year we were mov80s, however, it was also giving rise to ing towards a trial of red blood cells a whole host of problems, and trans- produced in a laboratory from human fusion was coming under the spotlight stem cells – so if you can picture fifty in a way it hadn’t before. Transfusion years down the line, we may be able isn’t a licenced drug – since it was to grow enough red blood cells in a developed as a therapy in the early lab to replace the blood supply. But nineteenth century it had principally that’s a long way off, and there’s the been developed for use in war timer, question of whether it will ever be as well as in obstetric medicine – but affordable – blood is currently doin the 80s things got very tricky with nated free, and while there are costs the emergence of Hepatitis B and C involved in processing and testing and HIV. It was a problem particu- it, the treatment is still very cost-eflarly for patients with haemophilia, fective. We won’t know for a decade who needed a manufactured product or two whether human bone marrow called Factor 8 or Factor 9 that was can be replicated in the laboratory on made from plasma. To make it on an a large enough scale to replace the industrial scale you needed about fifty entire blood supply. But it’s work thousand donations, and even if only that’s ongoing. one or two of the donors had hepatitis or HIV the entire batch could become infected. This resulted, sadly, in large numbers of haemophilia patients becoming infected all around the world, and it cast a huge shadow over what was otherwise some real progress in treating the condition. It was a horrible time for everyone involved.
I went to a state school in Scotland, which was excellent and had very high academic aspirations for everybody, particularly the women. From the age of about 13 I knew that medicine was what I really wanted to pursue, so – apart from a brief flirtation with biochemistry – it all went from there. I think my initial interest sprung from having been recruited to a Red Cross cadet unit by one of my teachers – I remember there being a lot of knitting involved, but we learnt first aid and did hands-on competitions. I went on to volunteer at the local A&E, in an era where you were allowed to do all kinds of things – assisting with suturing wounds and This is an ongoing case, isn’t it? mixing drugs and so on. All things you’d never get away with these days! It is. Two things have come out of it – there’s been a compensation sysI did medicine at Edinburgh. It was tem set up for people infected, and wonderful – it’s a very scientifical- there’s also been a very rapid advance ly-based course, and I chose to do an in biotechnology so that the product additional year of pathology on top. I can be genetically engineered withlearnt a lot about laboratory research out the need for human plasma. All – how slow it can be, how frustrat- haemophilia patients are now treated ing it can be, but also how reward- with recombinant Factor 8 and Factor ing. I was going to be a cellular pa- 9, which they can self-administer and thologist – entirely lab-based – until are able to lead pretty normal lives. four years into the course when we But the next stage in haemophilia started seeing patients. I loved the treatment, which is really exciting, is contact with patients. It was the best gene therapy – there have been some part of the job, and so I had to swiftly pretty successful small-scale trials of rethink my career path. Haematolo- a product where the abnormal gene gy as a specialism means spending can be injected into a patient’s muscle fifty percent of your time in the lab, and the muscle will produce enough and fifty percent in the clinic and on Factor 8 to restore normal blood clotthe wards – taking samples from pa- ting for a period of months or possibly tients, taking them away and looking even years. So from three injections a at them yourself, and going back to day you could be down to one a year, tell the patient what you’d seen – and which is incredible. I haven’t been diI just thought that was the coolest rectly involved in in these trials, but thing. So I went into haematology. in my last role some of my research budget went towards funding them. It’s innovative stuff.
And how did you make the transition for cancer of the cervix. She was a interpretation of the Human Tissue into working with organ donation? black woman, she was not well off, Act means that consent can be more and her doctors took cells from her generic and samples can be returned I was eventually Reader in Trans- tumour and grew them in their labora- to for new testing without explicit fusion Medicine here at Cambridge tory. They were able to keep permission. Finding the right balance University, but at the same time I had them growing, so that this cell line is between public benefit and the rights a medical consultant contract with now kind of immortal and has been of the individual is important work, what was the National Blood Service. In 2005 the Blood Service in England used in laboratories all around the and it’s ongoing. merged with the National Transplant world for decades. And of course Organisation to create NHS Blood Henrietta Lax never got a penny, Speaking of important work, do you and Transplant, and I was fortunate and it’s unlikely she ever even gave have any advice for Lucian medics enough in 2007 to become their med- consent. The situation is obvious- as they embark on careers within the ical and research director. I’d always ly very different now – since 2000, NHS? been interested in organ donation, when there was the ‘scandal’’ at Alder so it was fascinating to work along- Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool I think the biggest challenge for the side surgeons and physicians who where a pathologist had removed or- NHS is dealing with a rapidly agewere real transplant experts – whose gans from children at post-mortem ing population – the current health whole careers had been dedicated to and kept them aside for future re- service infrastructure is 70 years old the medical care of transplant patients search use. The problem was he never and it’s struggling to keep up. People and surgical act of transplantation. actually did anything with them, so are living for far longer now, and this This is another amazing area of med- he had a huge collection of organs gives rise to a lot of complex care isicine, and of course there are huge issues in transplantation for society, in and tissue which he hadn’t been giv- sues. There’s a fascinating pilot study that we don’t have enough donors to en permission to store. The parents in Manchester which is trying to join help every patient whose life could be were obviously devastated, and this health and social care together to help became the driving force behind the people move more seamlessly from saved by a transplant. passing of the Human Tissue Act in hospitals to care centres, and to care So what’s the best way to tackle that? 2004, which covers all uses of hu- for people in the community more efman tissue, for research, anatomy fectively by providing preventative You might know that two years ago teaching, transplantation and so on. support. The current revolving door Wales changed the law so that people Rigorous interpretation of The Act system puts so much strain on paare presumed to have consented to be meant that explicit permission need- tients, on families and on staff. organ donors should they die under ed to be sought for every conceivable That said, it’s important to rememthe right circumstances. Of course use of tissue donated for research. It ber that while it’s easy to feel ground people are able to opt out, and they actually seemed that the pendulum down by the system, there’s still gosometimes do . It’s really too soon might have swung too far in the other ing to be that magic moment where to say whether this has made a significant difference to the number of direction as a result. In other words, it’s just you and the patient, and they transplants that have taken place, but the barriers to good public health pop- can’t take that away from you. When recently Teresa May announced that ulation research have got higher and you’re in the clinic and the doors are England would be looking into that higher over the last 20 years, to the closed, and whatever’s going on outpossibility as well. But there are sev- point where I think the administrative side in the hospital is shut out for a eral things that can be done now, even burden actually puts people off con- moment, you get to enjoy just being if we don’t follow Wales in creating ducting important studies. Of course with your patient. That’s what makes an opt-out system. One is obvious- patient autonomy should be absolute- it worthwhile. ly for more people to join the organ ly respected, but the recent introducdonor register, but also to make sure tion of a bit more common sense in that their family knows that this is what they want. The organ donation register doesn’t have the legal standFor more information on blood donation, or to find your nearest donaing of a living will, and so if there’s tion centre, visit the NHS Blood Donation website: a possibility of organ donation after a person dies their family still has to www.blood.co.uk give consent for this to happen. Consent is far more likely in cases where the family is already aware of their To join the organ donation register, visit relative’s wishes – currently there are www.organdonation.nhs.uk about 500 cases a year where the family override their loved one’s wishes and refuse consent. So if you join the Visit our website to read more from Lorna on the history of blood transregister, make sure your family know fusion, women in medical sciences, and the ethical quandaries of live you’ve done so. Are there other ethical challenges that have been thrown up in your work in these areas? The Hela case is very interesting. Henrietta Lax was a woman in the States in the 1950s who was treated
organ donation in the digital age.
Technically Brilliant Hollie Wells meets the women making tech happen.
Louise Chow, Lucy Cavendish Alumna and Marketing Science Scaled Solutions Lead at Facebook. Tell us a bit about your current role. It gave me some of the best experiences I’ve had professionally; after I came to Facebook about a year ago, which I really wondered what I would joining the Marketing Science team do next. And I realised, during this based in London. Marketing Science time, some of the moments I enjoyed includes a number of different func- the most whilst working with brands tional areas from consumer insights and agencies, were occasions of edto analytics to advertising research ucating and sharing knowledge on - in the simplest terms, it is market research and insights. The Facebook research but extends way beyond the opportunity came about to build globtraditional definition or perception al education programmes around adof what market research is (i.e. sur- vertising measurement, and I decided veys!). I am on a sub-team that looks it was time to try something new, at after education, which consists of a company that I knew once but has educating our sales teams and Face- changed so much since! book’s external partners, such as advertising and media agencies, about Why does your role matter? how we quantify impact of advertising on Facebook, which is the main My role - and the team - play an important role in helping the larger team revenue driver for the company. communicate our core message: to How did you get from Cambridge to help brands/companies that advertise Facebook? on Facebook measure impact better. This in turn helps them understand It’s a bit of a long story - during my how to make the most out of their intime as an MBA student at Judge vestment. I am on a all-female team Business School, I became interested at the moment, and many teams we in working for a tech company. Pre- partner with within Facebook are also MBA I worked in market research more female dominated. Perhaps it for several years and had tech com- is because of the functional area we panies as clients, so I was always work in - marketing and education fascinated by research in online ad- tend to be quite predominantly fevertising. During the MBA I had the male. This is definitely encouraging opportunity to work on a project for because we help to bring in different Google and later on focused on my perspectives and bring change to the job search in the tech industry. This organisation as a whole. was back in 2010, so the options were somewhat limited! I came across an What are the biggest challenges you MBA summer internship opportunity face at work? at Facebook and was offered the position after 6 rounds of interview. My Research and analytics is traditionexperience that summer convinced ally a very male-dominant indusme even more that this was the in- try. I remember at my previous job, dustry I’d love to stay in, and I again I was the first female hire and I was focused my full-time job search on often sitting in meetings where my tech industry. I eventually joined team and the companies we partTwitter’s Advertising Research team nered with were all male. At the moand remained there for 4 and a half ment I am on an all-female team, years, leading consumer and adver- and there’s also a very good balance tising research projects globally. in Marketing Science. However,
this is only one small part of the tech industry as a whole. There are so many areas that are still male heavy, such as engineering, but things are changing - more women are picking up coding and programming, meaning in the future we will see more women entering technical fields within tech companies. Where do you go from here? What are you hoping to achieve in the next few years? There are a number of things I’d love to do - professional and personal. Professionally, I am quite happy at the moment and will most likely continue down the path of working in the tech industry for a while. Longer term, I’ve always toyed with the idea of starting my own business - ideally something related to travel or lifestyle - both of which I love. I’ve travelled a fair bit and hope to continue doing so. Ideally, taking a much longer break than 3 weeks!
Lynn Roberts, Head of Digital and Innovation Action for Children UK Tell us about your job?
We’re using rapid innovation processes, and - crucially - testing our assumptions with users throughout the project. In our research we heard that parents often go along to their local children’s centre for something fairly straightforward - getting out the house, meeting other people, some simple advice, but as they build relationships with our staff, some go on to disclose more serious needs or problems, which we can then help them with. We want to make sure people still have someone to turn to with issues like this, even if there isn’t a children’s centre nearby, so we’re testing this online solution to see if it can help.
I’m the head of digital & innovation at Action for Children, which is a UK children’s charity. My job is to lead the team who manage all our digital channels (the website, social media, email and online advertising) to maximise our reach, engagement and conversions (which means people donating money, signing up to be a foster carer, lending their voices to our campaigns etc). As of this month, I’ve also been tasked with building a team to design and build digital products for fundraising and service delivery. Sorry if that’s jargony. To paraphrase Tom Loosemore: my team and I use the culture, practices and technology are you proudest of having of the internet age to respond to chil- What achieved during your time at AFC? dren, young people, parents and our supporters’ needs and expectations. I’m really proud of the amazing team we’ve built. We’re pretty new (I’ve I ended up working in digital by be- been there the longest at 2.5 years) ing the youngest person in the office but everyone is a really well respectat a magazine job nearly 10 years ed in their role, and they’re a great ago, and therefore running the twitter account by default. Since then I’ve worked in three charities, in digital and now in innovation too. Innovation sounds exciting. Can you tell us a bit more? Funding for children’s services has been cut 50% in the past 5 years. That means that early intervention, which stops problems from escalating, gets defunded as local authorities can only afford to run crisis services. We’re working to raise awareness of this and campaign for change, to raise money to continue to support our beneficiaries in their communities and also to provide really cost-effective services. For our latest project the team is working on ways to support parents online. We’ve worked with lots of parents who use our children’s centres and nurseries, as well as those who don’t, to understand the support they need. We’re now building an online advice platform, which has lots of FAQs but also lets you speak to a Family Support Worker over online chat.
bunch of people to work with. Every single person in the digital team their role, and they’re a great bunch of people to work with. ’t be a bad way to spend 16 weeks! keeps the mission of the charity at the heart of what they do - which hasn’t always been the case everywhere I’ve worked - it’s really motivating and makes for great results, too. Finally, and words of wisdom or solidarity for Lucy women embarking on a career in the digital sector? Charity Digital is a brilliant field to work in, it’s really fast moving and full of opportunities. The gender split in the sector is actually pretty even across most of the digital disciplines, but there aren’t many female developers. If you’re thinking about what to do post-graduation, an intensive developer bootcamp like Founders & Coders wouldn’t be a bad way to spend 16 weeks!
Kirsty Styles, Head of Talent and Skills, Tech North. Tech North sounds like an amazing What’s so important about the work venture. How did you end up getting you’re doing? involved? The tech industry is going twice as fast After studying journalism at universi- as the rest of the economy and promises ty, and completing work placements at good, creative, flexible jobs in everyplaces like the Warrington Guardian, thing from data science to design. But RockFM and the BBC, I found myself most people still don’t know these jobs unemployed and right back where I’d exist - who even built the apps you use started living back at my mum’s house every day? - and even if they do, they in my northern hometown. Eventually, often doing think that they’re jobs for them. after many visits to the job centre and very bizarrely appearing in a TV show This matters because the kinds of peoabout youth unemployment, I got a ple that build and fund the products we break at an app development company use every day determine what gets built. in London. If it’s only well-off, white men, then I had no idea what an app development we’ll continue to see products and services that essentially replace your mum company was and felt I wasn’t going - taxi, laundry and dating apps. Google in the direction I’d intended, into polit- Maps still doesn’t have an option for usical journalism, but after a year doing ers with limited mobility, around one in comms about an industry I had known six people across the world, and that’s nothing about, I realised that mobile probably because it’s unlikely that anyphones were changing people’s lives one on the development team when the like never before. This was all very po- idea was conceived were facing this litical. I networked my ass off during kind of challenge. But think how transthis time and was eventually offered formative this service could have been my first journalism job writing about if there was. the tech industry: how companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon were Tell us about your latest project? coming for our souls. The project I’m most proud of creating Five years and four publications later, is called Northern Voices. In March this I decided to leave my job at the New year, we trained 28 women from the Statesman for a role at Tech North, northern tech industry for public speaklooking at why we had a ‘digital skills ing and media opportunities, then we gap’ - more jobs in tech than we have spent six months booking them in for people with the skills to do them - and gigs. The idea behind it was about making women of all ages and experiences how we might encourage northerners more visible within the industry, in orto consider the many opportunities der to make more people see that these there are in this growing industry. I had jobs might be for them, while trying to come full circle and was finally able to change the business culture that implies use the skills, knowledge and network that all-white, all-male panels are acI’d built to try to ensure people like me ceptable. They’re an awesome bunch didn’t have to head to London or settle and the WhatsApp group we created for crap jobs. to connect the women together, some of whom have never actually met, has become a real place of support when things get tough.
It’s clear this kind of intervention cannot work on its own - we’ve seen the women used as tokens on panels when event organisers realise they might get called out by the audience, and we’ve seen then asked only about diversity issues, rather than their expertise.But it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and has prompted a lot of soul searching within the northern tech community. Any words of wisdom for Lucy women embarking on a career in tech? I’ve been called aggressive, a self-promoter and pushy, to take just a few comments levelled at me in the past few months, and I don’t think this kind of criticism can be separated from my gender and my willingness to get stuck in and call stuff out. It can sometimes feel upsetting and exhausting to be that person, but I also get a lot of support from people for being brave enough to speak up, so I’d urge you to be brave. I, like you guys, have had incredible privileges that mean I get more of a chance to speak than many people, so you should always use those opportunities to speak up for what is right and give voice to people who might not yet be in the room. As I said to a guy I met in the pub in Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout who said he worked at Google, “have you ever thought about using your powers for good, rather than evil?”, to which he promptly replied, “I used to work for the Israeli military making the sight finders on their weapons more accurate”. Surround yourself with people who are doing good, but not just people who are the same as you. Oh, and try to have a laugh. That Google story is one I tell in my standup routine. Follow Kirsty on Twitter @kirstystyles1
The Limits of Solidarity When we ask women to bear the burden of fighting for gender parity, who are we really helping? Hollie Wells
have a friend who works for a large tech company. Let’s call her Betty.* I last spoke to her during that strange week when every other Facebook status update was appended with the hashtag #metoo, a nightmarish digital landscape I’d been trying to escape by planning some right-on intersectional feminist content for the magazine. I was fizzing with ideas and wild optimism about the future of the tech industry, which - following a round of interviews with some particularly powerful women - looked to me to be decidedly… female. We were a sisterhood, giving each other a hand up in a world full of dubiously-motivated men. I was feeling oddly positive.
ing their employees, including my friend, that the solution to the problem of persistent, massive inequality is for women to be helping women: supporting each other in developing their careers, being good role models, and making themselves visible and inspiring. But what does this achieve in practice?
Too often, it means that this enormous, challenging task is being tackled by a very small number of people, often to their own detriment. There’s the mentoring and career-building opportunities these people miss out on, because they’re already particof free labour contributed by womenin-tech groups, where the main bene“What do you think it ficiary is their large employer, running achieves, she asked, their equality and diversity function when the responsibility for the price of an M&S sponge. There’s the fact that these groups suffor reducing the gender fer from scope-creep, as any thorny or emotionally taxing gender issue is gap is placed on the passed to them to resolve. Meanwhile the men are oblivious, continuing with minority?” the work that they are contracted to do. Then - patiently, soberly - my friend After all, this is about women, right? put a question to me. What do you think it achieves, she asked, when the These working practices additionally responsibility for reducing the gender risk causing real damage, b Compagap is placed on the minority? Does nies are not necessarily tackling other it nurture, this kind of forced solidar- problems that face women, such as ity? Or does it simply replicate the sexual harassment. The tech induspatriarchal structures we’re expend- try is famous for using large numing so much energy fighting against? bers of contractors; contracting gives employers the agility to test people’s Momentarily deflated, I had to admit skills, putting every employee in a that I probably hadn’t given it much 3-month ejector seat. Job precarity thought. Women working high-pro- is closely tied to a culture of non-refile digital and tech jobs are increas- porting. And to add to the problem, ing in number and visibility. Surely women are always on the recruitment those of us not in the industry can frontline, where they encourage other be forgiven for assuming that great women that their companies are OK strides are being made towards gen- places to work. der parity? Surely there are meaningful, effective efforts being made in This creates an environment where traditionally male-dominated fields? women pressure other women. The women’s networks need The answer is yes, and no. The tech more (wo)manpower. They need to industry, like all STEMM fields, is share their burden, so they need all currently under a lot of pressure to women to play on their team. Beencourage gender equality. ‘Best cause women are shy about volunPractice’ guidelines for facilitating teering and don’t “lean in” enough, this include mentoring, women’s they need to be recruited. And, as my networks, and the normalisation of friend points out, the burden on womequality in print and external com- en becomes so great that it risks them munications. Hence the increase in erasing other minority groups. Opvisibility. Tech companies are tell portunities for people who present as
“What genderqueer person wants to ‘out’ themselves when their bosses are looking for the next diversity poster child?” female to express an identity outside of the gender binary are discouraged by their employers’ need to present inspiring, visible, traditional female role models. What genderqueer person wants to ‘out’ themselves when their bosses are looking for the next diversity poster child? Who would want to leave the dubious security of one-of-afew, to stand completely alone? My friend didn’t propose a solution to any of this. But that’s not her job. She already has one of those. I don’t think she was suggesting for a second that we stop celebrating the achievements of women in tech, but perhaps we should keep interrogating the trope of Sisterhood when we apply it to real-life jobs in the STEMM fields. Perhaps we need to question why we continue to allow the burden of emotional labour to fall on women, in professional as well as personal contexts. Although women can be guilty of perpetuating pervasive corporate cultures, we did not create patriarchy. It’s up to those who benefit from it most to step up, act better, and take some responsibility for creating the change we so urgently need. *name has been changed. Bonus points for anyone who recognises the ‘Friends’ reference.
LUCY VOICES From refugee to PhD: The Chronicle meets Rabia Nasimi Genevieve Riccoboni
abia Nasimi, already widely recognised for her work and achievements is now a very busy first year PhD student at Lucy Cavendish College. At 23, she already has well-defined interests within her chosen field of sociology and serves as the Chronicle’s BME (Black, Minority, Ethnic) Editor. On top of her academic and extracurricular achievements, she continues to support the work of the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA), a grassroots organization founded by her father in 2001 that facilitates the integration of Afghan refugees into British society. Rabia herself was an Afghan refugee to Britain, arriving at the age of five. This trajectory from refugee to Cambridge has attracted consistent media attention. A number of features have been written about Rabia, notably on her life story and future goals. Behind the pieces on Rabia’s work and refugee experience, however, is a person who is intellectually curious, dedicated, friendly, and focused. I had the privilege of interviewing Rabia to “fill in the gaps” and discuss the aspects of her life that have been less fleshed-out by mainstream reporting.
graduate of Goldsmiths and LSE, Rabia’s field of study is one that she believes is uniquely positioned to address contemporary issues. “Sociology is important as a field for understanding social problems and the complex structures in our world”, she said. “It is also quite interdisciplinary, so you are not tied down to a particular methodology or kind of topic”. Her current research broadly focuses on the Afghan identity, a topic she finds personally relevant and contextually interesting due to Afghanistan’s
Image courtesy of Rabia Nasimi For the full interview, see our website.
identities are profoundly important”, she says. “They’re specifically interesting in Afghanistan. I’m interested in how we construct identities through interactions and how those are sustained”. Rabia’s research was inspired by both personal experience and a desire to learn more about Afghanistan and Afghan people. Wherever possible, she says, she has related previous academic work to contemporary issues within Afghanistan surrounding the construction of identity, ethnicity, and nationality. This research augments her work outside the classroom with the ACAA, integrating Afghan refugees into British society by providing mentoring, education, support, language classes, and events.
om, and work with other academics interested in Afghanistan, and publish. She also says that both the sociology department and Lucy Cavendish have been very welcoming communities, and this has made her first few weeks of school positive and enjoyable.
In these same few weeks, features on Rabia have been written in a number of media outlets, from the Cambridge News to the BBC. The media attention has been very positive, noting her accomplishments and work in supporting refugee communities. But still there are gaps. She thinks people reading about her may assume she is fortunate to be receiving her education, and that she may not have experienced challenges beyond being a refugee. “Something that doesn’t come out is that it takes a lot of hard work for anyone to get abia has been involved in the to Cambridge”, she says. “Everyone ACAA’s work since its inception has a different journey to Cambridge. and has done everything from fund- Some people take gap years, fail modraising to project management. “Sup- ules, take on jobs in between years…”. porting refugees and enabling them to integrate is something we should see espite the warnings of famas societally valuable”, she argues. ily and friends, she does “We need to understand how cultur- comments sections, finding it importally foreign many people feel when ant “to see what the misconceptions they arrive in the UK. They speak are”. Many of the comments circle different languages, may practice a around assumptions of Rabia because different religion, have different tradi- of her refugee identity. She says a comtions… they should be able to get to mon perspective is that refugees are a the point of feeling confident about burden. In comments sections, this oftheir new home”. By providing com- ten comes out in statements assuming munity-based, grassroots services, the she is taking someone else’s place at ACAA fills this extremely important Cambridge, or receiving a free educagap. Rabia believes there is huge po- tion. “A lot of this stems from ignotential for the organization to expand, rance and lack of education on refugee perhaps through greater involvement matters”, she claims. “I want to underin the policy aspect of migration. stand why people say these things, but I think many don’t understand local In the short term, her goals for Cam- politics, why refugees are here, what bridge are a mix of academic and jobs they did at home, etc”. prac-tical. She wants to meet, learn fr“It is extremely important to share more stories of refugees making a positive difference, to combat these misconceptions”, she argues. And the positive support she has received has also been significant. Many refugees have messaged her on the Internet and asked for her advice and wisdom, because they consider her to be a person of authority. Similarly, many total strangers defend her on comments sections, arguing against trolls and those with negative or xenophobic responses to her story. “I’m proud that I’ve challenged some people’s perceptions of refugees and of what they can and can’t do. And I’m also proud of supporting others and helping them achieve”, she says, smiling.
OPINION Admissions only a small step Laura Carman
ecent policy changes at Medwards has made a lot of noise over the beginning of this academic year. Even so, I feel as a student at another women-only college I should add to that noise, and praise Medwards for their actions.
excluded, or intimidated by the appli-cation/admissions process. They should not be made to feel inferior, nor should they be expected to spend time and energy teaching others the importance of them being granted basic rights. The application process and admissions policies need to be For those of you who may be un- addressed, personalised, and accessiaware, this change was in relation to ble for everyone. the acceptance of trans students who before now had to have their gender Policy change is an important step in legally recognised as female when the right direction, but it isn’t the finapplying. Medwards now encourag- ish line. Not only as a women’s coles and accepts any self-identifying lege, a mature age student body, a part female student, whether or not they of the wider Cambridge community, hold a Gender Recognition Certifi- but as conscious, caring, human becate. ings, we need to ensure we are always taking steps to privilege the voices, I am pleased to see many of the arti- achievements and struggles of marcles online and in local student papers ginalised groups and check that we have applauded this change. This sup- are not ignorant to very real, structurport is vital to create change among al and societal barriers that we ourother institutions and drown out the selves may not have experienced, but loud voices of an ignorant few. It do very much exist within university/ is unacceptable to focus on tabloid college admissions processes, socicontroversy which denies minority eties, events, facilities, and so much groups basic human rights and dis- more. misses their achievements. At a panel held here at Lucy Cav last week included Aiden Greenall, a trans* student at Wolfson College and a classmate of mine at the Centre for Gender Studies; and Ali Hyde, member of Downing College, CUSU LGBT+ Trans Representative, and HSPS student. I am so thankful for their input at this event and their patience. It is hard enough for transgender students to apply to Cambridge, let alone volunteer their time to, in short, explain the validity of their identity to an audience of strangers. Changing the admissions policy at Lucy Cav, and every other college and institution ever, is vital! Transgender and non-binary students should not be
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” Desmond Tutu There is no humanity in debating this policy. Much like there is no compassion being shown in the current postal vote on same-sex marriage in Australia. I am a queer Australian, and I struggle with my happiness to be here in the UK, ignoring the politics happening at home, and my guilt over not being there to support my community and fight back against the vitriolic abuse being hurled at us.
This debate, this vote, helps no one. It only draws out the process of a marginalised group of people fighting for rights, and allows those who hate us to spread their abuse. Practical change, here and now, at Cambridge is the responsible thing to do. It is what I see as the only option. Practical policy change takes work, but it is work that must be done. I have since spoken to our Vice President, Isobel Maddison, about the logistics of policy change here at Lucy and I am hopeful we can begin work on this process with enthusiasm. Although the UK, unlike Australia, has legalised same-sex marriage, this is not the shining pot of gold at the end our queer rainbow. The LGBTQ+ community has many more battles to fight and I demand we march towards the battleground not alone, but surrounded by the support of our allies!
If anyone is distressed by this content or looking for trans resources, The Kite Trust is an incredible organisation here and in Cambridge and can be found online. There was a recent Australian Q&A program on SSM that featured only one member of the LGBTQ+ community on the panel. This debate only shows how harmful and dehumanizing the postal vote is to our lives. Laura Carman is the LCCSU LGBTQ+ Officer, and MPhil student at the Centre for Gender Studies. Note: I do not claim to speak on behalf of the transgender community or any trans* or non-binary individuals.
HEALTH & WELLBEING Boing! Building a resilience to take on the world Ruth Cocksedge & Georgina Hoy
It’s Friday. Two essays due in on Monday. Overdraft is accumulating. Boyfriend/ girlfriend has run off with your best mate. Chocolate is needed and fast, but you ate your emergency stash last night. Sound familiar? Feeling stressed, like there is just one thing too many, is often temporary. Usually, we find ourselves able to readjust once we are able to find a balance between our resources and the demands on us. The way we overcome problems is how we build our strength – our bounce-back-ability. Padesky and Mooney (2017) define resilience as the capacity we all have to process adversity, to bounce back to a positive frame of mind. If the balance tips too far and interferes with our wellbeing, we might need support from friends and family, or even professional help. The college nurse is there to offer help and advice, and signpost to other services that may be able to help.
Neurobiological research has shown our brains are malleable, that they have plasticity and can recover from trauma. The wiring in our brain correlates with our experiences. Babies are born with the vast majority of their neurons unconnected. They make neural connections very quickly, according to the sensory experiences of their environment. Synaptic pruning occurs when connections are not used, so that by the age of 2 the baby’s brain is hardwired. However, further periods of plasticity follow, particularly during adolescence. While trauma or difficulties challenge us, our brains enable us to respond to, and learn from, experiences. Coping with adversity also equips us with the capacity to face future challenges through our adaptive brains. Someone recovering from a stroke, for example, can learn how to walk again, using alternative neural connections. We have
tremendous capacity to recover, and to learn new ways of living. Sometimes, unpredictable changes in our environments, or cumulative stres-sors (exams!), challenge us to find ways of coping. Stress is an opportunity to develop strength to manage adversity and ameliorate distress. Psychologists have called this positive response to challenge “eustress”, the Greek prefix “eu” meaning good. Assuming stress is inevitable, looking at the upside, we can reframe challenge as opportunity. Stress helps us with optimal performance. Thinking about how the brain works, such as how we learn to do difficult things, gives us a way of thinking about how we build resilience. It’s about developing our inner bouncy ball. Resilience is our boing!
Meet the team:
your new SU Welfare Officers
Rebecka Nordenlöw, 22, BA English
I had read somewhere that you´re “supposed to” have learnt three things every day. I certainly didn´t reach that at my last job, but I´m happy to report that the student life as a fresher is compensating for this. And as a newly elected welfare officer week five is not a time to slack, but the start of a new learning opportunity. As much for my own sake as yours, then, I thought I´d take the chance to investigate my job description. One of the first things I looked up when researching the welfare role was what it has meant historically. It turns out the wellbeing of UK students has formally been on the agenda a long time, but organisations such as the National Union of Students focused mostly on housing and finance. While still important issues, welfare has come to mean much more than that in the recent decades. This is something the welfare team at Lucy certainly reflect. LGBTQ+, welfare and disability, international, BME ethnic) and women´s officer – we are a
diverse mix doing our best to represent the student body. And it is precisely for this reason I joined the Lucy SU in the first place. Now that I have had the chance to speak to people from other colleges I appreciate the range of activities at Lucy even more than before. While it seems to have been all about drinking at some colleges, I had some meme-worthy moments of “meanwhile at the mature college” such as the afternoon tea, Grantchester walking tour and morning snack. Making sure there continues to be activities for everyone is something I´m looking forward to contribute towards. Another thing close to my heart is making all university-wide welfare information and support easily accessible. So what better way than to round things off by pointing you to the team of professionals available to help all students with everything from exam related stress to concerns about finance or DoS/supervisor relationships – the Students´ Unions´ Advice Service.
Nat Abbott, 21, BA Education, Policy and International Development As soon as I arrived here at Lucy, I immediately felt part of a welcoming community. The SU have worked incredibly hard to create an
environment that feels safe and homely, and I knew from the outset that I wanted to be a part of this amazing team. Our predecessor, Tildy, has done a fantastic job in the past year and her legacy will continue in the popular yoga lessons that we will continue to provide. As a welfare team, we aim to work hard for all Lucians in the next year. I love to help people, and seeing the difference that our initiatives can and will have is wonderful. Being a welfare officer, there is a lot of behind the scenes work too. We will be liaising with the Senior Tutor, other members of the Lucy SU, CUSU, and the college and university as a whole to make sure that we provide the most accurate and up to date information and resources. This information will be collated on the welfare section of the student union website, (https://www.lucycavendishsu.org/how-can-we-help/), but the welfare team in general proud ourselves on our approachability and willingness to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch, we are here to help with your welfare needs!
As the first in our three-part series on women’s football, the Chronicle talks to Linnea Gradin about her newly acquired Cambridge Blue and the future of the game at Cambridge and beyond. Hi Linnea, and congratulations on Right, of course. But with that said, getting your Blue! we are making some progress. At the club I play for, the men’s team is in Thank you! Division 3 and the women’s team is in Division 1. When we got that proCan you start by telling us a bit motion two years ago, we basically about your career in football so far? demanded that we receive pay when we win games – which the men’s team I started playing when I was six years has been getting for a long time – and old, at home in Sweden. My mum they agreed. It’s not much, but now forced me to go to a taster session – we get money every time we win a I really didn’t want to go, she made game, plus money for boots and kit. me, I went, and I loved it. And I nev- They wash our kits now, too, like they er really left. I’ve played for the same do the men’s. Sadly I think my club is club my whole life. I come from fairly unique in doing this, but at least quite a small town, where football it’s a start. was just the main thing to do – for girls as well as boys. It’s something So what about here in Cambridge? I’ve really noticed about being in the What’s the atmosphere like for the UK – here it seems to be more of a women’s game here? “lads’ game”, and that stereotype is quite persistent, whereas back home I think it’s tricky for me to judge, havit was just never weird for girls to ing come from quite a professional play football. club environment to now representing the university at Varsity level. I You’re right about the “lad” part! think a lot of it here is to do with the Actually, women’s football has been prestige of playing for the university, having a bit of a renaissance in the and in that sense things do seem to be UK over the last five years or so, but moving forward. Last year we had a the game still attracts nowhere near joint Varsity team with the men for the the sort of attention that the men’s first time, which feels like a big step. game gets. What’s the situation in There were definitely some teething Sweden? problems – for all the talk about working towards total equality between the It’s interesting. Like I say, girls play- men’s and women’s teams I think there ing football is a lot more common in was a feeling from the women’s side Sweden, but of course growing up I that the men could have done more to would have boys saying to me “well, actually put that talk into action and obviously women’s football isn’t as really show support for the women’s good”, like it was a given, and that’s game. But this is definitely something such a deflating experience. You feel we’re working on. like you’re not getting the recognition, and you’re having to put in even How do you think we can push more effort than the guys. In Swedish for greater parity between the two women’s teams it’s pretty normal to games? play on the adult sides from the age of 15, and the risk of injury is much I think the college and Varsity teams higher when you’re playing against need to take more responsibility for older, more experienced players. evening things out. Two years ago That doesn’t tend to happen in men’s for example the men’s team went on football. They have the structures in a fully-funded trip to China, and the place to make sure the boys are play- women got nothing. I mean, I could ing in the correct age and experience understand, maybe, if it was to do groups. It just means girls have to with making money, but this isn’t prowork so much harder even to stay in fessional football. It’s not about how the game. much money the respective teams bring in, because there’s no money in And the pay gap’s still pretty enor- it! So why shouldn’t the university be mous, right? promoting the women’s game , equally?
So that’s one thing you’d really like to see change then – women’s football at Varsity level being promoted and given the same opportunities as the men’s game, in practice as well as in theory? Well, yes, but it’s such a tricky thing to change. It’s cultural, isn’t it? It’s a societal issue. If football is still seen as a “lad’s sport” this is always going to be a problem. But with that said I think a lot of the players on the men’s teams don’t want this to be an issue either, and they are keen to work with us to overcome these sorts of problems instead of perpetuating them. A lot of it is, I think, to do with the university culture as well – if all the clubs are being run by college “old boys”, things are going to be slow to change. But I’ve been speaking to the Varsity captain over the last few weeks about trying to organise a women’s tour, which would be an important first step. I’m hopeful. That’s great! And I imagine Lucy, as a women’s college, has an important role to play. Even as an historically sports-allergic person I feel like we have a really positive, inclusive attitude to sports here. Is that your experience? Definitely. I’m also sports rep this year for the SU, and it’s a real focus of mine to widen participation as much as we can. My long-term plan for sport at Lucy is to run a lot more taster sessions for things like yoga and kickboxing for those people who maybe don’t define themselves as ‘sporty’, to give everyone a chance to redefine what sport means for them. I also really want to focus on finding ways to involve students with limited mobility or other disabilities in sports, in whatever way works for them. This all sounds amazing. Thanks so much, and please let us know if you get the kickboxing up and running. We’ll be there with bells on.
Having learnt to row at Caius college and raced for the university in four Boat Races, Melissa Wilson travelled to Florida with the GB Team over the summer for the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Here she discusses how she started with the sport and where things are now…
Why did you decide to start rowing? I really wanted to take the chance to get outside and onto the water. I hadn’t done much sport at school – I am really uncoordinated! – so rowing appealed because I knew you were able to practice the same movement over and over again. I wanted to do something that would make me feel healthy and well in myself, and loved the idea of being on the Cam on beautiful, crisp wintry mornings. Once I got started I got a big buzz out of pushing myself, especially when it was done with and for the friends in my crew. How did you get into GB Rowing? It happened step by step over several years. After a year of novicing and rowing with Caius, I did the CUW Development Squad in the summer and decided to trial for the university club. It was a steep learning curve at first, but their coach Rob was always able to give really good advice and the team was full of other students who were really kind as I found my feet. The following year I trialed for the GB Under-23 team through the year and raced at the Under-23 World Championships that summer (I remember thinking, right up until the racing itself, that the selector was going to pull me out the crew and send me back to the UK!). The Cambridge set-up helped me throughout, allowing me to carry on training alongside the squad as I was trying to break into the GB Senior Team in 2016. It’s been wonderful to be able to come back to the team for these two years! What were the highlights of the year? In April our crew won the Boat Race, which was my fourth Blue Boat crew but first win. The women of that crew – and our cox Matthew and coach Rob – are people I will want to be friends with for life, so it was an amazing group of people to have that experience with. I can remember how excit ing it was just to train in that crew in the run-up to the race – some of the short pieces we did made me just want to carry on and on, which is rare when it’s hard
work! Ten days after the Boat Race, I raced the final GB Trials with my Cambridge crew-mate Holly and we came second. The result really helped us get selected to race the pair at the World Champs, which meant a summer of getting to train three times a day with my best friend. It couldn’t have been much better! What was it like out in Florida? Hot! And a huge amount of fun. Given our inexperience competing at that level, Holly and I went into the racing prepared that we might well be at the bottom of the event, so to come through the heat and rep into the A-Final was a huge result for us. We found it really inspiring to see other athletes at the top of their game, racing or just walking around the venue. It left us with a real sense of where we want to get to over the next few years. What encourages you to keep going when the training is tough? When I was starting out I used to always try and approach pieces without feeling too fearful – I’d just remind myself in the run-up that they only thing I needed to do was my best, not backing away when it was painful, and that was something it was completely within me to do. Now, I still hold on to that approach – “all it takes is all you’ve got” – but I also use a bank of memories I have from the past years, and ambi
tions I have for the future ones. On the long ergs I still break them down into five, ten, fifty, eighty or one hundred stroke chunks attached to a particular thing or person I want to push for. Most of the time I just work my way through our Boat Race crew, ten strokes at a time, then repeat! When you’re thinking about each individual crew-mate, you never want to feel like you’ve let them down, and the distance passes… Do you have any top tips for rowers through the winter training? The Cam is at its busiest this term, and I remember many mornings where it didn’t feel like we got very far at all! But soon there’ll races and training with the senior athletes, so don’t get too frustrated by the long waits – in the future you might miss the opportunity to sit and rest for those lengths of time! Lots of layers really helps, and “pogies” are rowing gloves that you can buy online for about £15, which make all the difference to frozen hands. For sessions on the rowing machine, maybe bring along a notebook and start noting down your average speed for the session – it will be encouraging to see how it gets better over the term. Most importantly though, I’d try to use the time to get to know the girls in your crew and the team. It made all the difference to me in my first years, and now, to have people around me that I really knew and liked as people.
A Place for Thinking and Re-Imagining: The 2017 Festival of Ideas Genevieve Riccoboni
his year’s Festival of Ideas brought topical panels to the Cambridge community, hinging around the topical theme of truth. This theme comes in context of a world marred by an onslaught of “fake news” and anti-intellectualism, one where the previously meaningless quip “posttruth” was Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 word of the year. The Festival examined politics in a variety of contexts, global and local, national and thematic, but all with attempts to locate the truths and untruths in prominent narratives and re-contextualize our current world. “Empire and Brexit,” a conversation between Tristram Hunt and Victor Malet, moderated by the Faculty of History’s Dr. Shruti Kapila, discussed the afterlife of British Empire and in what ways memories of empire do and do not operate in politics and public discourse. Going beyond the purely political implications of the theme, the panel examined topics as diverse as the rise of the Asia-Pacific region (in dialogue with the converse ‘decline’ of British power) and the legacy of empire in museums and collections. The linkage implicit in the panel’s title - that between imperial nostalgia and the “Britain first” rhetoric of the Brexit - was analyzed inconclusively. However, it is my belief that imperial nostalgia is more alive and well than we may care to admit, and its hangover is perhaps less explicitly political than cultural. Although it may be too much of a stretch to assume that a desire to regain British “greatness” (i.e., empire) actively played a role in people’s decisions to Brexit, stunts like Boris Johnson’s recitation of Kipling certainly provide fodder for this reading of political events. Regardless, nationalisms draw heavily on an imagined historical past, and it is easy to look for purely causal factors - such as rising dissatisfaction with EU bureaucracy - and therein ignore deeply-rooted beliefs about British exceptionalism, the effects of empire, and the way historical truth has been spun in popular circles.
The panel “Manufacturing a Clash of Civilizations” was a multidisciplinary assessment of Samuel Huntington’s famous thesis , and its use, in popular di-discussions about identity, migration, conflict, and belonging. The discussion began with a historical overview by Dr Andrew Preston, who reviewed Huntington’s most famous arguments and the major critiques of his sweeping cultural essentialism. More than half of the audience had no prior knowledge of Huntington’s work, which perhaps signifies a divergence between the British and American academies (Huntington is one of the most assigned authors in American colleges). The conversation then shifted to a discussion of localized instances of assimilation, connection, and cultural interaction. Julian Hargreaves refocused the panel to Muslim communities in places like Blackburn, which although residentially segregated, contain sites of interaction and community-building which he sees as having a positive assimilatory influence. Sara Silvestri closed out the panel with a four-pronged discussion of extremist groups and identity formation, arguing for a more complex understanding of the way extremist groups are formed and operate. Hargreaves noted in the Q&A that rather than seeing tolerance as an ideal end goal, societies should aim to promote inclusivity, and spaces of togetherness. This claim provides much food for thought. It is certainly more difficult to challenge xenophobia without having sites of interaction. What is needed is a more careful dissemination of the sociological literature into the public; broad identities that do exist can be the basis for global liberation movements and demands for a more intersectional world. Defining what identities are relevant and how is crucial work, particularly in a world that is always looking for a “civilizational” clash. Several events and exhibitions at the Festival focused on India, in part due to 2017 marking the 70th anniversary of independence from Great Britain and the Partition of India and Pakistan. The Centre of South Asian Studies hosted an exhibition at the Allison Richard Building at Sedgwick Site,
entitled “Freedom and Fragmentation: Images of Independence, Decolonisation, and Partition”. This exhibition displayed the collections of the Cen tre, largely photographs, many of which had never before been displayed. On October 23rd, the talk “Technology and Nationalism in India” was hosted at St. John’s College, combining multiple academic fields in an extremely informative discussion on the state of technology in India and its relationship to government, labour, cities, and regulation. Discursive topics ranging from “jugaad innovation” to social media regulation were analysed by the panel, which comprised of Jaideep Prabhu, Kavita Ramakrishnan, Surabhi Ranganathan and Bhaskar Vira. The panel was chaired by Shinjini Das. The talk presented a complex picture of modern India, and highlighted the complexity of discussing technology in a nation marked by severe inequality. Although the government of India has invested heavily in digital initiatives, positive effects of these projects often do not trickle down to the 250 million Indians who live in destitute poverty. One of the key takeaways from the panel is to be skeptical of those who claim that technology can solve all of our problems, and to not think that innovation is synonymous with universal progress. Rather, we must consider how to best address the specific needs of marginalized populations, and develop grassroots responses to issues. The reviewed panels all focused in one way or another on the dual themes of identity and truth, both topics of particular importance at this critical moment in time. The existing and changing dynamics of identity are crucial for us to understand, and to understand in contexts perhaps unfamiliar to us. Identity shapes our world, and shapes our truth. It also shapes the way we interact with wider truths. Events with multidisciplinary focuses like the Festival of Ideas enable us to engage with each other’s expertise, and form new spaces of discussion for the creation of potential solutions.
WHAT’S ON Arts
Watersprite Film Fesitval 23rd - 25th February
he Watersprite Film Festival is an international student film festival based in Cambridge. Now in its 9th year, it receives submissions from over forty countries all over the world. If I’m completely honest with myself, I originally applied to be part of the team because I knew it would look good on my CV. It would also give me a chance to meet industry professionals (our festival chair used to chair BAFTA, and in the past, speakers at our events have included Bill Nighy and Eddie Redmayne!). But once I got more involved, when we had our first events and I met some of the film makers and saw their films, I was hooked. It is incredible to meet someone especially flown in from Myanmar or Butan, and to watch their films which often are so high in quality - technically and creatively - that it’s hard to believe they are entirely made by students. It is a strange and exciting feeling to know that the people I’m talking to andtalking to and whose films I’m watching could go on to win a BAFTA or to visit the Cannes Film Festival (all of which has happened in the past). As part of the Awards Team, it
is my job to liaise closely with the film makers, and I get to see their films before anyone else. This year, we’ve had more submissions than ever before, and the range and sometimes obscurity of the countries has blown me away. The Festival will take place over the weekend of the 23rd to 25th of February 2018 in Cambridge, and it is completely free to attend the events, from film screenings to talks and discussions with industry professionals. The categories Watersprite awards are diverse, so the events will cover a broad range of interests, from original music score to animation, editing and cinematography. There should be something for everyone, and the atmosphere is, incred-ibly stimulating and welcoming. I would urge everyone only remotely interested in film to come to some of the events
New York Movie - Edward Hopper, 1939 and screenings, and maybe even apply to be part of the team behind the festival next year. So far already, I have found it a great opportunity, and being able to take part in events in secret clubs in the West End or helping to shape the Awards Ceremony Gala is extremely rewarding. It’s also a lot of fun to be a judge for the festival, an opportunity that comes every year and is very low time commitment. You can watch and judge the films from the comfort of your own room, or you can apply to take part in the live juries in London each year, with distinguished film critics and industry professionals! Watersprite Film Festival is definitely worthwhile getting involved with, and it’s all student-run!
LADS, LADS, LADS
Arts Editor Suzanne Girault catches up with Lucy’s new amateur dramatics society. How can people get involved?
or those of you who are in interested in performing: this is for you. You might have seen the event on Facebook last month, but Lucy Cavendish has a new “Lucy Cavendish Amateur Dramatic Society” – with a great name. This society is Julia and Aimee’s baby, which is why I asked her a few questions so as to learn more about it.
“We will expand on a committee, but without being part of the committee, or even a member of Lucy. Whilst the most important and executive roles in the committee must be filled by Lucy students, the rest is open to members from other colleges as well. While we of course want to provide an inclusive society and support women in drama, it is important to us not to be seen as a “women only” society - we want to go by quality, not by person or gender.”
Why did you decide to create the LADS ? “Julia is the one that came up with the idea in the first place, but we’re both involved in the drama scene and thought it would be a nice, low-pressure means for people to become involved at Coll ege level. Most other Colleges have a drama society, but Lucy didn’t. Julia and I also both felt that the Cambridge drama scene can be very exclusive andreluctant to put on more controversial and experimental productions.”
Aimee and Julia
What are your projects about? “We want LADS to be encouraging Lucians to get involved, and one project Julia is aiming for is a sort of open writing/rehearsal workshop where people can present and discuss their writing in an open and low-pressure environment, and where short scenes or improv scenarios can be staged.”
When is the next event? “There originally was a smoker earlier this term, which we sadly had to cancel because it clashed with other events, but hopefully we should have one later on this term and then get the society properly off the ground in Lent. It’s just that we’re all deep in work and setting up a new society is hard work.”
WHAT’S ON Politics
“Brexit does not mean Brexit”Dr Yiannis Kitromilides.
The Afterlives of Cybernetics: Tracing the Information Revolution from the 1960s to Big Data, hosted by CRASSH. President of Ghana, Cambridge Union
Stephen Hawking, Cambridge Union
Neoliberalism & History, or: How Should We Understand China? Hosted by CRASSH, with Prof. Michaell Puett
An Evening with Sarah Sands Lucy Cavendish College
“How Democracy Ends: Thinking the Unthinkable” Prof. David Runciman, Hosted by CSAR
“Striving for Citizenship: Struggles for Representation beyond Rights”, Dr. Gal Levy, Hosted by CRASSH
Love is a Mix Tape Rob Sheffield Shameera Lin
eteran music writer Rob Sheffield’s 2007 novel is nothing short of stunning. Although I am generally not a reader of memoirs, this intimate retelling of Sheffield’s relationship with his late wife Reneé has left a permanent mark on my mind. Love, loss, and revelations are inextricably bound together, a tapestry of emotions coming together intensely, with Sheffield’s mixtapes to his wife forming the basis of what feels like a layer of comfort to quell the darker aspects of the memoir. Each chapter is prefaced with a track listing one of the many mixtapes made by Sheffield for Reneé, with an explanation of its significance to follow. It becomes immediately evident that music played a pivotal role in their relationship: two music writers, merging together over their mutual love of Pavement. Sheffield, however, is extremely careful not to indulge in romanticised retrospection: Reneé, despite being the ideal partner, was not without faults – he does not gloss over the gritty details. Nonetheless, what truly wins one over is the realism of the story. These are two regular people with regular lives and an indie movie-worthy relationship, except it was all true.
There are also some intriguing social observations through a musical lens. I am particularly transfixed by the notion of the 1990s as the era of hipsters being allowed to roam free and wild in the open, a notion germane in the context of the grunge subculture. The resonance of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, even in current day, starts making more sense. Moreover, Sheffield’s use of mixtapes to craft a narrative is terribly effective. He goes on to explain just why mixtapes would work for his memoir, saying “every time I have a crush on a woman, I have the same fantasy: I imagine the two of us as a synth-pop duo.” His affection is crafted without hesitation, amplifying the tragic shock of Reneé’s untimely passing. Sheffield wears his heart on his sleeve – he does not refrain from discussing the brutal aftermath of her death, launching into a serious discussion on how he has managed to cope since. As he mentions in the beginning of the book, their story was unfinished at the time of writing (which comes as no surprise, considering how the memoir reads like a form
of catharsis). Agony and ecstasy are dished out in equal measure. Almost too intimate for public consumption, it becomes hard not to feel emotionally invested in their relationship. Love is a Mix Tape hits all the right spots if you’re looking for a raw, passionate read. The fantastic music referred to throughout, almost religiously, is an added perk.
A final resting place: a short memoir Ruth Cocksedge
“No, no. She can walk” My voice was shrill in the stuffy dayroom. The nurse took the battered metal wheelchair away. A Zimmer frame appeared in its place. I saw an old woman, bent and frail, thin crab-claw hands grasping for the handle. Shifting forward in her seat in rhythmic bursts, she got up steam to heave herself upright. On the other side of the room, Agnes sat in her plastic armchair, next to the battered piano. Her maroon Crimplene dress was up around her parted thighs. Her shrieks continued. No one came. We made our snails’ way down the reeking corridor, my old woman and me. She beat slow uneven time with her Zimmer. One beat as she moved the frame ahead a few inches, followed by a drumroll shuffle as she hauled her body after it. “Where do I go?” she said. “You remember, Mum. Your room’s down here on the left”. She nodded, breathing like an athlete. She recognised the toilet through the open door, and steered herself towards it. “I’d better go in here”. I followed, and witnessed her wrestle with her reluctant body to sit, stand, and rearrange her underwear. I helped her wash her hands. Her filthy fingernails pierced me with grief. As we started the homerun towards the armchair in her silent room, my thoughts turned to a conversation between her and Dad. As he got out his wheeled walking frame to go to church, she complained, “Oh you don’t need that. It makes you look like an old man.” At the time, Dad had barely recovered from a car accident. Family lore had it that he drove a car like a plane. It was rough justice then that this Flight Lieutenant’s final car journey ended in a dramatic rescue from his crumpled Volkswagen, his neck broken. The stiff surgical collar had only just been removed when I heard them bickering that day by their front door. Problems balancing had made him stop taking church services only a couple of months before. But he waved her away, and carried on to Morning Prayer. Up Sheep Street to St Peter’s Church, where now their ashes lie, just eight months later. Even at eighty-nine, he walked like a younger version of himself, pushing his new red vehicle as if he were fit and full of energy. Places to go, people to see, people to pray for. His curved frame pointing forward to his future resting place. Image courtesy of Rosalyn Frances
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