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Volume 6 Issue 1 | Michaelmas Term 2016


IN THIS ISSUE 2 3 4-5 6-9 10 11 12-13

A Note from the Editors A Message from the Presidents Predicting Human Behaviour with Online Data Summer and Michaelmas Term Events Thesis Pitch Challenge Q & A with Suzy Minett, Clarendon Fund Noticeboard

A NOTE FROM THE EDITORS A warm welcome to you if this is your first time reading the Clarendon Chronicle. Whether you’re a fresher or a returning scholar, we hope Michaelmas Term delivered on the promise of the clean slate of a new academic year. In this issue we get to know Suzy Minett, our new administrator of the Clarendon Fund. We also bring you a feature about big data, the topic of our Clarendon Lecture this term, written by Eileen Coughlan who we’re pleased to announce is the incoming editor-in-chief of the Chronicle in 2017. You’ll find photos and memories of Clarendon events from over the Summer and during Michaelmas Term and a return of our Thesis Pitch and Noticeboard sections. We’d like to encourage our alumni to get in touch with news of your appointments and achievements to share with the Clarendon community via the Chronicle noticeboard. Finally, a huge thanks to Donna Henderson who is co-editor of this issue and long-time designer of the Chronicle for her great work over many issues. We wish you all the best as you leave the Chronicle to finalise your dissertation. To everyone, best wishes for the new year. Your Clarendon Chronicle editorial team, Christine Gallagher and Donna Henderson

Cover photo by Cosima Gillhammer


THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE | Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association

A Message from the Presidents Dear Scholars, Whether or not it was your first Michaelmas term in Oxford, we hope all of you had an excellent start of the academic year! This term was definitely a highlight for us. We were particularly excited to welcome this year’s incoming scholars which began during the activities of the Clarendon Freshers’ Week. Freshers and returning scholars met and mingled on top the Radcliffe Observatory, in the Sheldonian and the St. Aldate’s Tavern, aboard a boat on the Thames, and among the shadows of Oxford’s haunted places. We were excited to see such a great turn-out and many new faces during freshers’ week and hope it has laid the groundwork for lasting friendships. Michaelmas has continued to be an exciting term with high attendance at all of our events including our popular formal hall dinners which sold out in record times. We had excellent dinners at Jesus College and Magdalen as well as our first ever black tie formal, held at Christ Church College, to celebrate the end of the year. Groups of scholars visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratfordupon-Avon, and took part in tours of the botanical gardens, the Bodleian and Campion Hall in Oxford. A highlight of our term card was the Clarendon Lecture with Professor Suzy Moat from the Data Science Lab at the Business School in Warwick. Suzy demonstrated to a full lecture theatre at Oxford University Press how computational analysis of online data can advance many fields of research, from economics to public health. We also held our annual general meeting at which we elected the Clarendon Scholars’ Council 2017. The new, enthusiastic council will be headed by incoming president Amy Kao and incoming vice president Victoria Ma. We congratulate all new council members and look forward to a new and exciting year for the Clarendon community! With the incoming of the new council in Hilary, this will be our last presidents’ message for the Chronicle. We have both had an excellent time on the council and felt that our entire council consistently went above and beyond to make 2016 one of the best yet. Thank you to everyone who has contributed, helped, and attended throughout the year. Best wishes, Christine Moore (pictured right) 2016 President of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association Alice Schwarze (pictured left) 2016 Vice President of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association

Volume 6 Issue 1 | Michaelmas Term 2016


Predicting Human Behaviour with Online Data For the Clarendon Lecture this term, Dr. Suzy Moat discussed her research investigating how data generated by everyday use of the Internet can help measure and predict how humans behave. Here Eileen Coughlan gives an overview of Dr. Moat’s work and considers some of the issues around the collection and use of “big data”.


very week seems to bring new horror stories about passwords being leaked or hacked and how people’s data could be used by nefarious forces, whether governments or profit-making companies. Dr. Suzy Moat, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, offers hope that “big data” could help us understand more about people and may even save lives. She has used data from social networking sites and online games to tackle questions as diverse as how scenery affects health, how Wikipedia activity can predict stock market movements, and how GDP relates to whether countries are “forward-thinking”. Another of Dr. Moat’s projects investigated how crowd size is measured. Anyone who’s been to a major protest will have heard complaints (and probably complained themselves) about how estimates of the attendance vary widely between different sources, with organisers’ estimates often far higher than those given by police or mainstream media. Dr. Moat and her colleagues successfully used mobile phone data to estimate crowd size, checking it against ticket sales in a football stadium. Given the stories about how police at the Standing Rock protests allegedly used Facebook information to obtain the identity of protesters, there is something unsettling about this. However, Dr. Moat suggests data on crowd size could be useful to prevent crowd disasters by giving information to rescuers in the event of a disaster and helping to improve planning for such emergencies. While she praised efforts being made “we cannot have too much data and in some parts of government to exploit big data and co-operate with research centres to should not be doing science slowly improve decision-making, Dr. Moat argues if it is avoidable” that training in social sciences has failed to produce researchers with the computational skills necessary to engage with these big data sets. What can we as graduate students do to improve our coding skills? Well, there are many websites, such as CodeAcademy, where you can learn basic programmes like Python or R in 13 hours or so. Dr. Moat and her colleague Tobias Preis also run an open online course for those new to coding, which can be found at Research using big data may even be more accurate than more traditional methods, since there is less pressure for researchers to show positive results. Dr. Moat suggests that in traditional research the rate of false discovery is high because so much time has been invested in the project that researchers feel they have to have something to show for it. She says research with big data using computational methods is much


THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE | Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association

faster and it is easier to find out whether correlations are random. She argues that we cannot have too much data and should not be doing science slowly if it is avoidable. Some may feel uneasy about the exploitation of data that people aren’t necessarily aware they are giving away. Dr. Moat emphasises that her research is more like economic forecasts or reports on unemployment rates than the kind of surveillance we fear. She says it is about “developing better measurements and predictions of human behaviour at a societal level rather than monitoring individuals”. During the Clarendon Lecture, Dr. Moat pointed out that there is a large disparity between what people say they want to happen with their data and what they actually do with it. Many of us say we are happy for our data to be used to help the well-being of society or public health, or for research, but not to allow people to make money. In reality, we are much more likely to hand over data to profit-making companies than to researchers or projects benefiting public well-being. Stories like the Facebook experiment, where people’s newsfeeds were manipulated without their consent in order to observe the effect this would have on their emotions alarm us but only temporarily. The convenience and addictive nature of social media seems to outweigh the risk of our data being misused. Dr. Moat says the data she uses “is generated by our use of technology that has clear benefits for us – for example, mobile phones that make it easier to talk to our friends or colleagues, or search engines that help us make better decisions by opening up a world of information to us”. However, she stresses the importance of understanding what data we leave behind on those services so that we can accurately weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of engaging with such services. Dr. Moat’s work has been featured by many media outlets, understandably given its relevance in an increasingly digital age, and she emphasises the importance of public engagement even for those whose research may not be as obviously newsworthy. She points out that public engagement benefits the researcher as well as the audience, since the researcher is likely to be presented with unexpected perspectives on a subject that might have become overly familiar after years of working on it. Dr. Moat shared this advice for students who want to start engaging more with the public: “Make the most of any opportunity you have to talk to others about your work, not only in person but via online services such as Twitter. There’s a reason you’re excited about your research, or you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t!) be doing it – so how can you explain that reason to someone else? There’s an excellent community of researchers on Twitter, and looking at the wide variety of work they all do might provide you with some inspiration for how you can talk about your work.”

Eileen Coughlan

Bio note: Dr. Suzy Moat is Associate Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School where she codirects the Data Science Lab. She has also acted as an advisor to government and public bodies on the predictive capabilities of big data. Dr. Moat’s work on predicting and measuring human behaviour using online data is informed by her studies of Computer Science at UCL and Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Moat was our guest speaker for the Clarendon Lecture on Thursday, 17th November 2016 at the Oxford University Press.

Volume 6 Issue 1 | Michaelmas Term 2016



THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE | Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association

Summer and Michaelmas Term Events


his year, the council organised a number of events for scholars who stay in Oxford over the the Summer. We went punting, visited Bletchley Park, and our musicians performed at a music open-mic night at the Harcourt Arms. This was followed by another jam-packed term of events beginning with Freshers’ Week. Scholars mingled in the Sheldonian Theatre and on a sunny afternoon boat cruise. The Oxford ghost tour was another popular experience. During term, we hosted events to introduce Clarendon Scholars to accessible and affordable cultural experiences and to encourage them to explore others on their own. The calendar included a tour of the Oxford Botanical Garden, a day trip to Exhibition Road in London, and an evening at the Royal Shakespeare Company. There were two diversity events this term. The first was an African culture evening with dancing under the rhythm of drum beating, African style. The second was an engaging discussion about the struggle for racial equality in the U.S. prompted by a showing of the documentary ‘’13TH’’ directed by Ava DuVernay. Tickets for our Clarendon formal dinners were much coveted this term. The first of the year was at Magdalen College followed by a celebration at Magdalen’s Liquid Lounge. Jesus College hosted a lovely meal for sixty Clarendon Scholars for the second formal dinner of term. The final formal hall was a special black tie dinner at Christchurch’s McKenna room. Other highlights of Michaelmas were our Clarendon Lecture with guest speaker Dr. Suzy Moat from the Data Science Lab and the Clarendon reception at the Blavatnik School of Government. There was something for everyone this term from a pub quiz to a tour of Campion Hall and our Clarendon Lightning Talks.

Photos courtesy of Pete Mandeville, Christine Gallagher, Julia Hamilton, and Karen Walker

Volume 6 Issue 1 | Michaelmas Term 2016



THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE | Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association

Volume 6 Issue 1 | Michaelmas Term 2016


Thesis Pitch Challenge The Thesis Pitch Challenge is a way for Clarendons to share with each other what they are working on as simply as possible. This issue we feature two scholars, Petr Budrin and Lance J. Millar.

Petr Budrin (first year DPhil at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Literature)


he importance of Laurence Sterne’s (1713-1768) influence on Russian culture, spanning more than two hundred years, is still understudied and underestimated. In the 1920s, thanks to Viktor Shklovskii’s provocative articles and public lectures, Sterne was triumphantly proclaimed as an “utmost revolutionary of form”. Sterne was a humorist, a clergyman, but not in any way a political writer. He did not create utopian theories of social order and, moreover, never called for popular uprisings. However, the theme of freedom and unfreedom is one of the most important in his books; it is found not only in the content of his writings, but in their form. From this point of view, Sterne, who made the machinery of art an object of aesthetic reflexion undoubtedly was a forerunner of modernist art. During the first decade of its existence the Soviet state sympathized with revolutionary avant-garde. However, by the end of the 1920s the suppression of independent creative associations was started, and “formalism” in art was banned. Although during this time Sterne moved from the rank of avant-garde leaders to the list of the 18th century classics of Sentimentalism, the interest in him was still alive. In my thesis I would like to explore how the reception of Sterne was reflected in the intellectual culture of the 1920s and the 1930s. For my analysis I will use the archival materials which I discovered in Moscow and St. Petersburg. These include manuscripts of translations, unpublished articles and illustrations, along with the personal correspondence of Sterne scholars.

Lance J. Millar (fourth year DPhil in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics)


eonatal hypoxia ischaemia, also known as oxygen deprivation at birth, is the most common cause of death and disability in newborn humans. Survival is often associated with persistent motor, sensory and cognitive impairment. However, only one therapeutic intervention is licensed for use in developed countries: hypothermia. We are currently investigating neuroserpin, a brain-specific enzyme, heavily secreted by the brain around birth. It has been selected for its pedigree as a treatment in adult stroke, but few adult stroke treatments have been studied in the newborn brain due to the unique physiology of the newborn brain. In our mouse and rat experimental models, a major artery supplying the postnatal brain is ligated, followed by immersion in custom-made hypoxic gas containing half the oxygen of sea-level air to replicate the symptoms of oxygen deprivation at birth. This robust model has revealed increased expression of neuroserpin following hypoxic injury. Is neuroserpin protective in this neonatal model as it is in adult stroke? Preliminary results show that artificial neuroserpin can protect isolated neurons grown in culture. Transgenic mice which do not express any functional neuroserpin could hold the key to explaining the action of this protein in a global condition which urgently needs reliable medical interventions. Could neuroserpin offer hope for a non-invasive therapy for oxygen deprivation at birth? How could neuroserpin inspire other potential treatments for this condition, and what is the most productive approach to studying this disorder in future? To take part in the Thesis Pitch Challenge, simply explain your thesis or research in less than 250 words and send your submission to


THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE | Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association

Welcome Suzy Minett, our new Clarendon Fund Administrator In the Trinity issue of the Chronicle we farewelled Karen Walker and now it is our pleasure to welcome Suzy Minett to the Clarendon community in her role as Clarendon Fund Administrator. What were you doing prior to becoming the Clarendon Fund Administrator? I was working as Acting Grants Manager at the National Churches Trust, a not-for-profit organisation that provides grants to places of worship across the UK for heritage restoration and community facilities projects. Before that I studied for a BA in Spanish and History of Art and an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies, both at UCL. Where was home before you came to Oxford? Before moving to Oxford I studied and lived in London for about nine years (though I lived in Madrid for one year during that period too!). London is the place that has come closest to the feeling of “home” – I’ve lived in such diverse places as Hampshire (in the south east of England), Spain, France and Singapore so defining “home” has always been a little tricky! What are your favourite things to do when you’re not administering the fund? Oxford has turned me into a much more active person so I spend a lot of my time running, cycling and taking long walks in and around Oxford. I also enjoy yoga and football (the latter is a brand new hobby for me!). I love painting, pottery and visiting art galleries/museums too. Travel is a huge passion for me and I spend a lot of time planning my next trip. Where do you like to take guests from out of town who are visiting Oxford for the first time? Many of my friends live in cities so when they visit I tend to take them to more natural spots in and around Oxford, like walking in Port Meadow or punting along the Cherwell (generally with a pub/picnic stop along the way). Otherwise I like to take guests on a tour around some of the Colleges as these are not places they would usually get to see. I also take visitors to the Pitt Rivers because there are so many wonderful objects in their collection. Is there anything which has surprised you about the Clarendon Fund Administrator role? I’ve been most surprised by how truly international and diverse the Clarendon Scholar community is. I love that my role involves communicating with and meeting Scholars from all over the world studying such a variety of subjects. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by how many Scholars I get to meet as part of my role - not many administrative roles at the University involve meeting students in person or joining in with Scholar activities and events therefore I feel lucky to have this opportunity.

Volume 6 Issue 1 | Michaelmas Term 2016


NOTICEBOARD Godofredo Ramizo Jr. DPR and Journal of Australian Political Economy Godofredo (DPhil in Information Communication and the Social Sciences, Oxford Internet Institute) had two articles published in peer reviewed journals. ‘From Schism to Synthesis: The Off-Centre Radical-Reformist Role of Development Management’ in the Development Policy Review (DPR). Some say that aid and development programmes work, some vehemently refute their usefulness. Amidst this ideological and theoretical schism, the article proposes a synthesis which enables concrete and productive reforms in development management. ‘Industrial Policy: A Survey of Institutional Challenges’ in the Journal of Australian Political Economy. Why do some countries successfully industrialise while others do not? This paper looks at institutions and state-society relations to present a thematic analysis of factors impeding successful industrial policies.

Nana Liu Physical Review A and MIT Technology Review Nana (DPhil Atomic and Laser Physics), in her final year, published a journal article and her work was also featured in a popular publication. `Power of one qumode for quantum computation’ in the journal Physical Review A Identifies a crucial resource that can make quantum computers much more powerful than classical computers. ‘Squeezed light and quantum clockspeeds’ in MIT Technology Review


THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE | Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association

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Cosima Gillhammer Iridescent Photography Cosima (DPhil in Medieval English) contributed our beautiful cover photo this issue. You can see more of Cosima’s photographs of Oxford and her wider portfolio at her Iridescent Photography website.

Volume 6 Issue 1 | Michaelmas Term 2016


Clarendon Scholars’ Association 2016 Volume 4 Issue 1 – Michaelmas Term 2014 14

Clarendon Chronicle Michaelmas Term 2016  

Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars' Association, University of Oxford

Clarendon Chronicle Michaelmas Term 2016  

Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars' Association, University of Oxford