Postdocs 3 Slide Talks

The third of our series of 3 Slide Talks featured the works of three Clare Hall Fellows. Kick starting the night was our Research Fellow from the Department of History, Dr Carolyn Cobbold, on the history of food and the role of science and scientists in the creation and regulation of food products and ingredients. We learned about the influence of chemists and the evolution of food colouring throughout various European countries and the US and what to look out for in modern day ingredient lists. This fascinating talk fuelled a lively discussion on how food regulations today operate and how it may change after Brexit.

Proceeding from this talk, we heard from our second Research Fellow and currently the NSERC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Kiyoko Gotanda from the Department of Zoology. Kiyoko spoke about how human influences on evolution have caused animals, such as Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos, to adapt and permanently change their feeding and predator response behaviours. Not only do finches have a preference for ‘human food’ over their usual seeds and nuts from the wild (as compared across islands of varying levels of human urbanisation), finches’ flight response to non-native predators that are brought about by humans (e.g. cats and rats) has led to long-term changes even after the extinction of non-native predators. We learned that such residual ‘flight’ response expends additional energy and has been thought to be non-optimal in the survival of species.

Our final speaker, Dr Keri Wong, currently the Betty Behrens Research Fellow at Clare Hall from the Department of Psychology, discussed the lack of assessment tools for identifying children at-risk for mental health issues and how the latest mobile virtual reality (VR) gear that, has mainly been used in the gaming industry, may actually provide an affordable and adaptable method for early mental health detection and intervention. The immersive realistic moment-to-moment environment that VR provides can enable researchers to conduct experiments to carefully test whether children’s suspicions are unfounded, to identify environmental causes for children’s suspicions, and to tweak the environment such that individuals can learn to cope with the situation through repeated exposure.

Our speakers stayed behind for questions and discussions well into the evening over pizza and drinks. The organisers truly appreciate the enthusiasm and insights that the speakers shared and look forward to our next 3 Slide Talk on the 2 March in the ALB, 5 pm to 8 pm.

If you are a Postdoctoral Researcher interested in presenting at a 3 Slide Talks, please get in touch with us.

Keri & Marianna
The Clare Hall Postdoc Committee

Pictured left to right - Dr Kiyoko Gotanda, Dr Carolyn Cobbold, and Dr Keri Wong