Image of A speaker at the Graduate Conference 2024

Celebrating research at Jesus College

This year, for the first time, our postgraduate students combined their annual Graduate Conference with the alumni Postgraduate Reunion. All members of the College community who matriculated as a postgraduate at Jesus were invited. Throughout the day, there was the opportunity to hear from our postgraduates on their current research as well as from two keynote speakers and our careers panel.

Keynote speakers
Dr Siddharth Soni, Lecturer in Literature and Digital Culture at the University of Southampton gave a lecture on Simulated Intimacies. Dr Soni considered the multiple ways in which (digital) simulation of intimacy is proposed as an antidote to loneliness, whether this is animatronic robots that produce intelligible sounds, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy apps like Woebot, or full-fledged artificial companions like Replika, that are based on foundational language models. What form of a computational therapeutic this is, and what ‘form’ of the human does it project on all of us? Using a wide array of scholarship in literature, psychology and philosophy of mind and cognition, as well as discourse surrounding two germane moments, a) responses to Joseph Weizenbaum’s 1966 ‘chatter bot’ ELIZA and b) those to Ishiguro’s artificial friend ‘Klara’ in the 2021 novel Klara and the Sun (2021), Dr Soni examined the politics of ‘simulated’ intimacy.

Our second keynote speaker, Dr Jonnie Penn is Associate Teaching Professor of AI Ethics and Society at the University of Cambridge. His lecture was entitled On ‘Frontier AI’ and Racial Capitalism. Coined in 1955, the term ‘AI’ has since been used to reference three entirely different schools of thought on how to manufacture cognition in non-biological material. By this view, the history of AI can be understood as a history of failure. Around these failures, however, the modern world has changed in ways that allowed new possibilities for the field: new data sources, sensors, labour norms, and expectations from surveillance and racialization. This talk connects milestones in ‘AI’ to longer histories of statecraft, the computer industry, the global finance industry and empire. These complex histories provide rich evidence with which to calibrate speculation about AI and AI Ethics in the decades ahead.

Routes into Academic Careers
Our Careers team hosted a ‘Routes into Academic Careers’ Panel Discussion chaired by Professor Stuart Clark, Fellow and Director of Studies in Natural Sciences and current chair of the Sciences Junior Research Fellowship competition, the panel covered a broad range of academic disciplines and academic roles across Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University. Panelists included Dr Mollie Arbuthnot, Junior Research Fellow in History and Russian Studies, Jesus College; Dr Paula Keller, Director of Studies in Philosophy, Jesus College; Dr Svetlana Menkin, Royal Society Research Fellow, Department of Chemistry; Dr Maria Duarte Rosa, Senior Lecturer Practitioner in Computer and Information Science, Anglia Ruskin University; and Dr Susan Walker, Associate Professor of Contraception, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Anglia Ruskin University.

The conference concluded with a prize giving ceremony for the best presentations and poster sessions, as voted by the attendees on the day. The winners were:

Oral presentations:
Jeanne Lefévère-Laoide (2022) - Role of non-muscle myosin in peripheral actin network remodelling at mitotic exit
Albert Van Wijngaarden (2023) - Our last hope to stop the or a neocolonialist distraction?: Geoengineering research in the Polar Regions between conflicting considerations of urgency and justice 
Mark Turner (2017) - Direct thermal management for lithium-ion batteries

Poster prize winners:
Sara Crozier (2022) - Life of volcanic crystals revealed by variations in Fe isotopes
Alex Gower (2022) - Early theoretical results in the operational mechanism of oscillator ising machines
Shrey Shah (2020) - Crunching the numbers of in vivo bite forces: evaluating the safety of post-surgical dietary advice

A drinks reception in the Master's Lodge followed by Dinner in Upper Hall rounded off the day.

A copy of the full programme can be found here.