Pudding Seminars 2021-22

Pudding Seminars take place on a Friday and are an excellent opportunity to unite two of life’s great things: new research, and pudding!

Pudding Seminars are led by members of the College (undergraduates, postgraduates, Senior Members and staff), who give a brief 20 minute talk on their current research, followed by informal discussion.

Pudding Seminars in Easter Term 2022 will be held in hybrid format, and will take place on the following dates. Please note that we will be in new rooms this term as follows:

29th April – Barbara White Room

6th May – Sidgwick Hall

13th May – Sidgwick Hall

20th May – Sidgwick Hall

Seminars start promptly at 1.15pm and end by 1.50pm. Tea, coffee and cake are available from 1pm.

If you are interested in giving a pudding seminar, would like further details about the series or a zoom link to join a seminar online, please contact Jessica Sklair (js222@cam.ac.uk) or Hana D’Souza (hd425@cam.ac.uk).

29th April 2022: Ricarda Beckmann (SCR) - The mystery of the first supermassive black holes

In the very early universe, not too long after the first stars were born and when galaxies were still forming, we already see evidence for the very first supermassive black holes. Surprisingly, these black holes were already as massive as the biggest ones we find in the Universe today, and by their very existence challenge our understanding of how massive black holes form and evolve. In this talk, I will explore what we do know about these fascinating objects, how we think they came to be and why they are so important for the galaxies we see around us today.

Ricarda Beckmann is a computational astrophysicist who uses powerful computer simulations to study the evolution of black holes across cosmic time.

6th May 2022: Sam Lucy (SCR) – How to analyse a cemetery – exploring early medieval identity and burial practice

How do archaeologists take the material excavated from the ground and work out what it all means? Using the example of current research on a large 6th– and 7th-century AD cemetery at Burnham Market in North Norfolk, this pudding seminar will discuss how teams of field archaeologists, material culture specialists and academics work together to analyse sites and tell stories about the past.

As well as being Admissions Tutor at Newnham and Director of Admissions for the Cambridge Colleges, Sam Lucy has been analysing early medieval cemeteries for 30 years, is the author of The Anglo-Saxon Way of Death (2000) and has published a series of major excavations throughout East Anglia.

13th May 2022: Carol Atack (SCR) - Ai Weiwei’s ‘The Liberty of Doubt’ between past and present

In his Kettle’s Yard exhibition ‘The Liberty of Doubt’, Ai Weiwei includes a selection of plates from a series titled ‘Odyssey’, in which he represented the experiences of refugees in the modern Mediterranean using imagery from ancient artistic cultures, incorporated into the historical visual language of blue-and-white china, itself a mobile type of decorative art. I explore how the evocation of Homer’s Odyssey might offer insights into the artist’s work and practice, and also consider how the Odyssey’s themes of exile and the longing for return home are further exemplified in Ai’s choice of historic (and fake) Chinese artefacts to display at Kettle’s Yard.

Carol Atack is a fellow of Newnham College, a director of studies in Classics and an assistant tutor. The main focus of her research is classical Greek political thought; she is currently writing a book on the temporality of Plato’s dialogues, and her previous monograph ‘The Discourse of Kingship in Classical Greece’ explores the role of monarchy in the political imaginary of classical Athens. In her work for the ‘Anachronism and Antiquity’ project, and the book of the same name, she explored the history of historical consciousness and its presence in visual art.

20th May 2022: Anna Schroeder (PRA) – Longer green times, lower emissions? How changes in traffic signal timings affect air pollution

Vehicle emissions have large adverse effects on population health and global warming. Junctions in particular are pollution hotspots mainly caused by vehicle acceleration. Unfortunately, these are also the locations where pedestrians spend the most time idling. So, can we reduce emissions and air pollution by making some simple changes to traffic signal timings?

In this talk I will explore the impact of changes in traffic signal timings on vehicle behaviour, emissions, air pollution and pedestrian exposure at a junction in London. This field study was conducted as part of the MAGIC (Managing Air in Greener Inner Cities) project.

Anna Schroeder is a Research Associate at the MRC Epidemiology Unit and is looking at how transport affects population health. She holds a PhD in Mathematics and has several years’ experience working in the transportation sector both within consultancy and academia.