Skip to main content

Session 8A-8C 14:00-15:30 // day one

8A - States and Citizens University of Warwick and Monash University South Africa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is perhaps one of the most influential world leaders of our time. As a result, she has often played a dominant role in many important international issues, but none more important than the current ‘Refugee Crisis’ between Syria and Europe. To date, Germany has accepted more refugees and asylum seekers than any of its European counterparts. This paper intends to provide motivation explaining why the refugee policies have been so asymptomatic using the author’s own model. The model was constructed after extensive qualitative research had been conducted and argues that State behaviour can be explained by analysing three key aspects: the personality of a leader, a state’s standing internationally and its history. The model determines that while all three factors played a role in formulating Germany’s policy, it is Merkel’s personality that dominates the decision-making process. Furthermore, the model also uncovers the growing rifts developing between the Member States of the European Union, thus threatening European integration and the global governance of international migration. It is clear that Germany as a nation and Europe as a continent have both entered periods of uncertainty. But, whether the German voters will realise the success of Merkel’s policies before the upcoming General Election and whether the European Union will undertake some much-needed introspection and dilution is subject to debate and destiny.

In June 2016, British voters decided to leave the European Union by a small majority. My research argues Brexit occurred because people were voting on issues regarding globalisation and in light of the global financial crisis – where the fault line of contemporary politics is between those which embrace globalisation and those who fear globalisation.

My research will demonstrate how a new voting pattern had developed beyond class voting, characterised by exclusivist identity politics, leading to new logics and producing a radically different social-human impact. The research demonstrates that the new voting pattern advanced on issues such as open vs. closed borders, tolerance, nationalism. Parties, who used to represent class identity, were split on the issue – for example, Labour couldn’t unite the young, metropolitan elite and the rural, white, working class vote. The research combines the study of nationalism and global economic integration and further concludes that the deconstruction of liberal democratic values arose because of fiscal austerity after the financial crisis. The fiscal austerity intensified the crisis in the most deprived areas and resulted in the Brexit vote.

The ‘Vote Leave’ campaign and traditional nationalism emerged against the phenomenon of global integration as the creation of a new horizontal culture excludes and marginalises vertically organised ones because of their appeal to cultural and national identity rather than mainly focusing on economic issues. The research will show a strong correlation between the demographics who embrace nationalist issues and are therefore simultaneously left behind by globalisation and the economic reforms.

Nation branding is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous term within and outside the academy. Commercial globalisation, with the intensification of competition it brings, has brought an era of soft power politics creating a perceived need for nations to ‘sell themselves’ to other nations, international business and consumers.

Since Anholt’s unveiling of the concept in 1996, various nations have adopted the techniques of commercial marketing – South Korea and China offer diverging examples. The former is understood as a success story and the latter a failure. This paper will move beyond a simply functionalist account of ‘how’ the two nations have pursued this aim and ‘why’ their policies have varied in success. Using a critical approach, it will seek to delineate the interrelation between cause and effect in the cases of the two nations, and more broadly within the phenomena of nation branding. It will find that a successful branding is a mutually constitutive process between the state-market-society, born out of the conditions and discourse within and between nations as much as from any policy platform. China’s failure and South Korea’s success can be found in the interaction between intent and substance, born from the causes and aims of their branding practice.

The wider impact of this research will be twofold. Firstly, it will contribute to the scholarly understanding of the phenomena of state commercialisation. Secondly, it will elucidate to a wider audience the conditionality placed upon nations in their attempts at nation branding, and to conceptualise the socio-political roots driving it forward.

In many ways, the European Union constitution follows Kant’s principles on perpetual peace: republicanism, civil rights and international rights, and cosmopolitanism. Initially, beyond the economic purpose, the EU was created to promote peace among nations. However, if peace was preserved, the EU today faces many criticisms, and has to deal with the rise of extremism, the euro crisis, the refugee crisis, …

The current model of the EU needs to be reformed. Basing our analysis on Kant’s theory of peace, we aks: how should we reform it? Should the EU head towards federalism, until becoming the ‘United States of Europe’, or should each individual country keep a high degree of sovereignty? Can cosmopolitanism ever overcome the problem of identity, which is already at the centre of many debates?

I assess every one of Kant’s principles, and transpose them in a contemporary context to analyse what answers they can give to these questions. My conclusions are that Kant’s theory of peace still holds today. Extreme federalism would not be a good solution both economically and politically, as it would induce an important loss of sovereignty that is crucial for many citizens in different European countries. A reinforced league of nations, similar to what Kant preconised, would suit Europe better. Morally speaking, cosmopolitanism will be a challenge, but it is an ideal that I defend and that I think is possible with a better construction of European identity.

8B - The Environment, Health and Well-Being University of Warwick, University of Leeds, and Baruch College, CUNY

The kinase foraging (FOR) is involved in modulating foraging behaviours across several insect species including Drosophila melanogaster and honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) Changes in FOR expression are associated with hormonally regulated behavioural changes in honeybees and several ant species. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation and sequencing, we found a putative enhancer at the FOR locus that is differentially bound by the ecdysone receptor (EcR) and the juvenile hormone receptor, methoprene-tolerant (Met) in the presence of a juvenile hormone mimic (JHM), methoprene, in D. melanogaster. The enhancer was tagged with LacZ and integrated into the genome on the 3rd chromosome using ATTP sites. Expression of LacZ was detected with X-gal staining in the morphogenetic furrow of the eye disc, increasing from blue gutted wandering 3rd instar larvae (W3L) until white prepupae (WPP). We tested the hormone sensitivity of this enhancer by comparing LacZ expression in methoprene- and control-treated eye discs. Methoprene-treated eye discs expressed higher levels of LacZ than control discs, indicating JHM sensitivity of the FOR enhancer region. The male WPP discs displayed overall higher levels of LacZ transcription when untreated, ethanol treated and methoprene treated than the female discs under the same conditions. Juvenile hormone sensitivity of the FOR enhancer region was confirmed by the changes in transcription, and results indicate that the enhancer regulates transcription in a temporal, spatial and sex-specific manner. The differences in LacZ expression incurred following methoprene treatment strongly supports FOR as a possible juvenile hormone target gene. Additionally, we mutated the EcR/USP binding motif in the enhancer and found that expression in the morphogenetic furrow decreased and expression in the optic lobes appeared, indicating that this enhancer is also regulated by EcR. We are currently testing enhancer expression in EcR knockdown animals using hs-EcR-RNAi.

Identifying urban microbes degrading atmospheric pollutants (environmental microbiology). Human health is significantly affected by air pollution, which contributes to approximately 40,000 premature deaths annually. Trees improve air quality in urban environments through the uptake of carbon dioxide and release of oxygen, as well as by acting as natural filters, trapping pollutants on the leaf surface. How microorganisms contribute to the uptake and detoxification of these pollutants on the leaf surface is not as well understood. The purpose of this project is to isolate and categorise a variety of bacteria sampled from the phyllosphere, capable of degrading the atmospheric pollutants para-nitrophenol (PNP) and carbon monoxide (CO); chemicals present in car exhaust fumes. These bacteria will be washed from woodland moss and soil samples, before being grown in liquid cultures, and identified through PCR analysis and genome sequencing.

This project could provide a better understanding of the potential of organisms naturally occurring in our ecosystem to reduce man-made pollution, i.e. para-nitrophenol and carbon monoxide. If successful, this information could be used to develop ways of utilising microorganisms to help reduce environmental pollution.

As the need for ‘clean’ energy increases, so too does the need to understand how potentially useful biological complexes transport energy from light for maximum efficiency. The exact path of electronic energy transport in the photosynthetic Fenna-Matthews-Olsen (FMO) complex is still speculated; there is reason to believe it occurs through a quantum ‘all pathways explored at once’ process. In this research, the complex was treated as a network of eight nodes (sites of electron excitation and energy transfer), with computational models for both the quantum and classical-quantum hybrid processes being constructed. These were used to investigate the efficiency of energy transfer through the molecule when nodes were systematically eliminated. The total energy over time was also investigated to see how quickly energy reaches the site at which it leaves the complex. Such work is currently largely theoretical, but it leads to a better understanding of the transport processes within the FMO complex and others like it. It could have later applications in improving light-harvesting and water-splitting processes, both of which are possible alternatives in the search for more sustainable energy sources.

Colonoscopy is routine practice for the diagnosis of colon cancer. In this procedure, the use of the dye indigo carmine enhances the contrast of the tissue surface, helping the clinician to identify possible cancerous irregularities, such as polyps. In my research, I aim to design and produce a device that will spray a controlled amount of the dye using a foot pedal controlled by the clinician, eliminating the need for this to be manually controlled. The device will spray a set volume of dye with a consistent pattern. I will calculate the distance and force required on the syringe plunger to produce a 1ml spray using an Intsron material testing machine and use these measurements to design the device. The spray produced from the device will be characterised using slow motion cameras and an image processing program. The device will be tested in a replica colon made by taking a cast from tissue and using this to create a mould from PDMS. This is a polymer that has hydrophilic surface properties, thus allowing us to study how the spray will perform in a similar environment to that which the procedure is performed. These results will be compared against sprays in current use which requires a nurse using a spray gun. I hope to prove that the spray from our device displays greater repeatability and consistency. I will demonstrate that use of our device will deliver more efficient colonoscopies and have the added benefit of requiring less nursing staff time.

8C - Women, Health & Parenthood University of Warwick and University of Sussex

This research explores the diminishing role, value and agency of women in reproductive decisions, linking contemporary politics with dystopian and utopian fiction, ultimately aiming to answer the question of whether a stark change in gender relations to reproduction and its control is possible, and will it free or oppress women? This will be achieved through a discussion structured in four themed parts, each based around a feminist analysis of certain key texts. Part One: ‘The Beginning’, explores the iconic works of Margret Atwood; Part Two: ‘Female Only Utopia’, explores The Power, Her Land and The Wayward Pines Trilogy; Part Three: ‘Apocalyptic Medical Visions’ explores such texts as Never Let Me Go and Brave New World. Lastly, Part Four: ‘Women’s Rights of Tomorrow’, explores To Room Nineteen and Woman on the Edge of Time. These fictional texts will be analysed with the aid of key critical texts varying in publication dates and locations to provide an intersectional viewpoint of women’s plight across the spectra of race, gender identification, sexuality and class. The subsequent discussion highlights such areas as the history of changes to reproductive thought and female bodily agency, along with the rising technological and political control of reproduction and the effects of such control upon women. From the discussion and analysis of these past texts concerning the future, it is hoped that this research will provide timely and crucial insights into the current and future position of women in having the freedom to make, and indeed the power to make, their own choices regarding reproduction. This research caught the eyes of the publishing team at The Left Book Club, who are now organising to publish a digestible version of the research findings for a public readership.


The Internet has become a readily accessible source of medical information for patients and healthcare professionals. However, despite the plethora of health-related information on the Internet, little is known about the quality of information on breast cancer. Ethics approval was sought to investigate patients’ and healthcare professionals’ perception of quality of online information on breast cancer treatment options and the dimensions of quality they consider important.

Methods was used to search for ‘breast cancer treatment options’ and 10 websites were carefully selected encompassing different typologies and qualities. A questionnaire was developed by the investigators requiring participants to score these websites against 11 health information quality criteria. We analysed the scores given to the different criteria as well as identified the most important and least important criteria for patients and healthcare professionals.


We received four completed questionnaires from healthcare professionals. Government, non-profit and health portals were given the highest average scores across the different criteria. Commercial websites, on the other hand, were given the lowest score by healthcare professionals and hence were considered as having poorer quality information. Overall healthcare professionals considered credibility, trustworthiness and accuracy of the websites as the most important criteria, whereas complementarity (supporting the doctor–patient relationship) of the information was not deemed as important.


To harness the power of the Internet as a source of information for patients, and enable them to navigate the myriad of information, healthcare professionals should evaluate websites. This will enable them to direct and signpost patients towards high-quality information.

The negative correlation between primary exports as a proportion of gross domestic product (Xp/GDP) and gross domestic product growth in the last three decades of the 20th century is a striking observation documented by Sachs and Warner (1997) as a natural resource curse, the notion that higher resource abundance causes lower economics. Mehlum et al. (2002) challenged this notion, arguing that the effect of resources on growth depends on a combination of Xp/GDP and the quality of the current institutions that utilise them. We build on their work to treat an identification problem (endogeneity) in the coefficient of Xp/GDP, which biases it downwards. In particular, foreign economic dependence determined by a country’s colonial history simultaneously increases primary exports and plummets growth. Using IV estimation, we exploit resource abundance measures such as gas reserves etc. to instrument for Xp/GDP; our results support that resource abundance has in fact a positive yet insignificant impact on growth in 1980–2000 using a cross-sectional dataset of averages. Also, we demonstrate statistically the channel through which we believe the bias on the coefficient appears and comment on heterogeneity. Our results are robust to a) choice of controls, b) different specifications c) data reported by different organisations and d) measures of primary exports and institutions. Having discussed the limitations of our analysis, we address the policy and research implications of our study including that countries which find natural resources shouldn’t consider the impact of natural resources on economic growth and that researchers need to establish causal relationships with unbiased estimators.

Over the past 18 years, most OECD countries have improved their family policies in the direction of gender equality. In the United Kingdom, parents can be eligible to take leave receiving most of their pay either individually or through ad hoc shared schemes.

This paper investigates the effect of paternity leave on fathers’ involvement with their child and mothers’ return to work after childbirth using British data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a five-wave panel study surveying around 18,819 children born into 18,553 families in 2000–2001. The aim is to evaluate the efficacy of paternity leave from a twofold perspective: firstly, by looking at fathers’ contribution in three caretaking activities nine months after childbirth, I will observe whether having taken a leave determines greater commitment; secondly, I will examine whether such paternal involvement might lead mothers to return to work, reducing the likelihood of occupational discrimination and maternal unemployment. Insights on the importance of the fathers’ commitment are largely provided by social policy and psychological literature: paternal involvement can encourage bonding since the early stages of children’s development and benefit children’s cognitive skills (O’Brien, 2005; Kotsadam and Finseraas, 2011; Huerta et al., 2013). However, considerably less attention has been given to whether paternity leave might also affect mothers’ decision to re-enter the work force, and how these two aspects might be linked.

Both parts involve the use of a series of multivariate regressions and Instrumental Variable (IV) models. The results for the first part confirmed previous findings (Tanaka and Waldfogel, 2007), highlighting a positive relationship between leave-taking and involvement in childcare-related activities. In the second part, fathers’ leave-taking was not statistically significant as a determinant for mothers’ return to the workplace. Therefore, these findings imply that other unexplored factors that are not related with the share of responsibilities in the household might affect mothers’ choices.