If you really want to get a sense of the wide range of subjects studied at Clare Hall, the best way is to ask the College members themselves about their specialisms.
Here our postgraduates share their current work, achievements to date and interests outside of academia.
Elena Christodoulou MPhil student in Innovation, Strategy and Organisation, Judge Business School
In the last nine months, I have studied for the MPhil in Innovation, Strategy, and Organisation at Judge Business School. This course offers a rigorous program which provides a solid basis and preparation for PhD studies. It provides a great balance between a breadth of topics in management and organisation research and a depth of knowledge in one’s research interests. My work focuses on what the role of a business should be in society. I am mostly concerned with how the private, public, and third sectors can contribute to the alleviation of societal problems. One frequent response to social issues is that of philanthropy.
Philanthropy is an intriguing phenomenon with a long history, and it is continuously increasing and widely practised around the world. My thesis explores how corporate philanthropy emerged, even though it was regarded with suspicion. It shows how a new category of philanthropy has emerged, paving the way for the institutionalization of the practice by corporations.
Having reached the end of my MPhil journey, I am currently a research assistant at the newly formed Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at Judge Business School. The Centre looks at how we can bring sustainable change and increase the impact of strategic philanthropy, with a focus on philanthropy within and from global growth markets. Together with other members of the Centre, I am exploring the impact of the current pandemic on foundations and beneficiaries. At present, we are working on an industry report to examine how the philanthropic community has responded to the crisis and whether their response will have long-term effects on the way philanthropy will be practised.
Animesh hails from India and is pursuing his PhD at the Department of Engineering. He is funded by Harding distinguished postgraduate scholarship.
He is currently studying one of the most intractable and persistent challenges in rocket and aircraft-engine development with a completely innovative approach: prediction and control of thermoacoustic instability by exploiting symmetries. Air transportation is anticipated to double over the next couple of decades, which calls for novel methods to cut back on up to 80% in oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and up to 50% in noise. The downside of making aircraft engine cleaner is that the lean flame burns unsteadily. In this complex multi-physical environment, the sound waves interact with the flame to generate violent thermoacoustic oscillations. During his PhD, Animesh will try to propose a new framework to predict thermoacoustic oscillations by grouping theory into software using tools of machine learning and artificial intelligence for optimal design to make aircraft engines cleaner and quieter. His research interest includes fluid dynamics, aircraft propulsion, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Animesh has previously worked on a joint project with Indian Space Research Organization and Indian Institute of Science on checking the possibility of making 'space bricks' using bacteria with in-situ resource utilization for extra-terrestrial settlements. Also, Animesh was awarded Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi gold medal for his academic achievements in his undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
Apart from research, he has a keen interest in eastern mindfulness spiritual practices and has been practising yoga and meditation for many years.
Tristan is currently pursuing a PhD in Biological Anthropology in close affiliation with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. He is a dual citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom and grew up predominately in San Jose, California. His undergraduate background from UC Santa Cruz is in physical anthropology, focusing on skeletal remains and human evolution, but he transitioned to ancient DNA during his MSc at the University of Tuebingen.
Tristan’s current PhD work follows on his previous research aiming to improve the material and economic efficiency of extracting genomic quantities of DNA from small quantities of ancient and historic hair. He hopes that combining these methodological improvements with the dramatic advances in medical genetics will enable historians and biographers to analyse the genomes of historical individuals from whom hair samples abound and to address particular questions in historical biography that genetics is well suited to answer. He is terming his subdiscipline ‘genobiography’.
Tristan’s favourite hobbies include woodworking, metalworking, car and motorcycle restoration and he has an active interest in history and archaeology, particularly the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War and both World Wars. He also enjoys playing a range of musical instruments including bagpipe, guitar, piano, violin and viola.
Eric Eisner is an MPhil student from the United States studying American history.
The subject of his master’s dissertation is the relationship between race and the religious test in North Carolina from 1776 through 1868. While the national government has never restricted the right to hold office on the basis of religion in America, at the state and local level, certain religious beliefs were often a prerequisite for public office before the Supreme Court ruled that the federal Constitution prevented state governments from imposing a religious test in 1961.
Although the religious test in North Carolina was never consistently applied in practice, North Carolina formally restricted the right to hold any position 'in the Civil Department within this State' to Protestants from 1776 until 1835, when the state amended its constitution to narrow the religious test to exclude only non-Christians. In 1868, in the aftermath of the American Civil War, North Carolina adopted a new constitution that barred only atheists from office on the grounds of religion.
Between American independence and the Civil War, North Carolina also, like several American states, gradually abolished the property requirement to vote and redefined political inclusion in racially exclusive terms. Whereas free black men with property had once had the right to vote, North Carolina restricted the franchise to white men in 1835. Several historians have recently argued that the regrounding of political inclusion on the basis of race and gender in the early nineteenth-century United States served both to end the property requirement and also to reduce the already meagre rights possessed by free blacks. I extend this interpretation further in my dissertation and argue that the primary force behind the diminishment of the religious test in North Carolina was a white male populism that simultaneously advocated the greater inclusion of white men in politics—by removing property requirements and abolishing religious tests—and the constriction of non-white political participation, by disenfranchising free black men.
Viviana is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography and a member of the Infrastructural Geographies Research Group. Her doctoral training is funded by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes). For her doctoral research, Viviana explores the territorial transformations of Cecil Rhodes’ project, Cape to Cairo, for a railway between the Cape Colony and Egypt from the 1890s. She analyses the socio-political impact of the South African Railways with emphasis on Cape Town by investigating how Rhodes’ infrastructure became a tool for territorial capture, as well as exploring the political vision of post-colonial planning. Viviana’s work examines, on the one hand, how the territorial governance of this large-scale infrastructure materialised and influenced geopolitical and socio-political relationships considering spatial and social justice. On the other hand, her project scrutinises to what extent the historiography of Rhodes’ infrastructure project in southern Africa can indicate why and how its vision and realisation are contradictory on the ground, as well as how the project is received in order to contribute to public policymaking in distorting African city imaginaries. Viviana hopes her findings will not only be relevant for intellectual advancement in urban geography, urban history and urban studies but will also provide useful insights to planners and policymakers engaged in infrastructure projects across Africa.
Before beginning her doctoral studies, Viviana earned her Master of Philosophy in Architecture and Urban Studies (2020) at Clare Hall whilst in the Department of Architecture and History of Art. For her distinguished dissertation entitled Government Railways in the 1900s. A Resource for Resistance she was awarded a second prize for the best-taught master’s dissertation by the Royal Geographical Society’s Planning and Environment Research Group.
Prior to Cambridge, Viviana worked in the Urban Studies Institute at the Universität Basel as a teaching and research assistant, and in architectural firms in Switzerland, Jordan, Germany, and the Netherlands. She earned her Diplom-Ingenieurin degree in architecture (2013) from the Leibniz Universität Hannover, and also studied Naples’ urban history at the Università Degli Studi di Napoli Federico II.
Viviana is an enthusiastic member of the Cambridge University Lawn Tennis Club.
Dr Roland Alexander
Roland has recently completed his doctorate in English and is currently supervising undergraduate students in a range of papers. His research focuses on late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century literature, especially fiction, with a particular interest in the intersection of philosophy, form and style.
Roland’s PhD dissertation focused on the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, under the supervision of Professor Adrian Poole. The dissertation examined the language of Stevenson’s fictional writing in light of his views on decision in life and literature. The study adopted a stylistic approach to Stevenson’s fiction, identifying an aesthetic patterning of language and character in Stevenson’s writing based on the author’s ideas about decision; and exploring the ways in which contemporary philosophical ideas on decision surpassed aesthetic mimesis in Stevenson’s later fiction. A digital humanities inspired analysis of Stevenson’s word usage added weight to the qualitative analysis of Stevenson’s language.
Roland has a combined Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Melbourne and was a solicitor for five years. He then studied for his Master of Arts by Research at the University of New South Wales Sydney, under the supervision of Professor Roslyn Jolly.
Roland has published On the rack: shame and imperialism in Robert Louis Stevensonʼs 'The Ebb-Tide', in Robert Louis Stevenson and the Great Affair: Movement, Memory and Modernity, ed. Richard J. Hill (London: Routledge, 2017); and is about to publish Robert Louis Stevenson, On Balance. He is currently preparing his dissertation for publication as a monograph.