Research Presentation Day 2020

Our annual Research Presentation Day, which provides a space for early career female academics to discuss their research, went digital this year. On the day we were joined by members of Graduate Women Scotland, the British Federation of Women Graduates, and Irish Federation of University Women, as well as members of the public.

Please see a list of presenters and the topics below.

In order of appearance on the day:

Dr Fran Lane (Science and Social Sciences Panel)
University: Institute for Astronomy, Royal Observatory, University of Edinburgh
Field: Theoretical Cosmology
Post: Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Title: Entering the golden age of observational cosmology: Modelling our Universe on a piece paper

In the future, new telescopes on Earth and in space will be launched allowing us to observe our Universe in more detail than ever before. Our current mathematical technique for predicting what we should see with these telescopes involves many assumptions and simplifications. Although this technique has served us well for decades and has matched observations, cracks are beginning to show on small scales (galaxy clusters etc.). As we enter this golden age of observational cosmology theoretical cosmologists, like myself, are racing to find a new method that will allow us to take full advantage of these exciting new telescopes.

Computer simulations are an alternative to mathematical techniques and are at the forefront of theoretical cosmology today. They have allowed us to model the small scales in our Universe, however, the increased accuracy of observations means we require very large simulations. These simulations can take months to run on large supercomputers and are therefore both cost and time expensive. They also do not allow us to test different theories of how objects (like galaxies) in our Universe formed easily as a new simulation must usually be run for each theory.

My work aims to combine mathematical techniques with the essence of computational techniques. My method the General Cosmological Trajectories Method (GCTM) can be thought of as performing a simulation on a piece of paper. I will show that it can be applied easily to a range of theories we aim to test in the future. The ultimate goal of this work is to produce mock observables that can be compared to data, which will hopefully shed light on some of Astronomy’s biggest mysteries.

Linda Nicholson (Science and Social Sciences Panel)
University: University of Dundee
Field: Clinical Nursing
Post: PhD/Postgraduate Researcher

Title: Understanding the lived experience of person-centred care for older people with dementia

Dementia is a rising global issue with an estimated 50 million people living with dementia, and the number is predicted to double every 20 years (WHO, 2019). There is similarly an ongoing rise in people living with dementia in Scotland, with currently over 90,000 people (Alzheimer Scotland, 2019). This number is also set to increase to 164,000 by 2036 (Public Health Information for Scotland, 2018), meaning that caring for people with dementia (PwD) imposes a significant burden on society, families and care services (WHO, 2019). Consequently, radical solutions are necessary. One key solution to providing optimal care for PwD and reducing care costs is by using the person-centred care (PCC) approach (McCormack and McCance, 2017). Hence, a key feature of this research considers aspects of PCC for PwD. Additionally, most research about PwD experiences of care has been done in hospitals and care homes and from the perspective of family members and formal carers. As current research to date fails to adequately capture PwD care experiences from their perspective, a central feature of this research is also to explore the formal care experiences of PwD that live at home.

Giving a voice to PwD in a positive way, by encouraging them to openly discuss their experiences of care may help identify the challenges and facilitators of providing PCC to PwD in a way that will allow HCPs to better meet their care needs. This is in line with the Scottish Government’s National Dementia Strategy 2017-2020, which focuses on improving the quality of care for PwD, reducing the cost of care and unnecessary hospital admissions for PwD.

Yarong Xie (Science and Social Sciences Panel)
University: School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, The University of Edinburgh
Field: Psychology
Post: PhD/Postgraduate Researcher

Title: Reporting Racism

Background: Amongst the existing socio-psychological studies, researchers’ preconceptions of racism remain prioritised over those of the participants, and little is known how racism is reported. This project investigates how people report racism in naturalistic settings (where the researcher is not involved in generating the data).

Methods: Broadcast interviews featuring interviewees who are targeted by racism were collected from YouTube. Guided by discursive psychology, the analyst scrutinised the interviewees’ descriptions of the racial encounters, and how these accounts were received and oriented to by the interviewers.

Findings: Several discursive patterns emerged: people being targeted and/or witnesses constructed an unexpectedness and contingency over what has happened; the focal incidents were minimally reanimated; and interviewers collaboratively constructed the interviewees’ reports as credible.

Implications: People’s accountability is treated to be at stake when they report racism. Reporting racism is not a soliloquy – it must be received and oriented to as a legitimate activity.

Élaina Gauthier-Mamaril (Poster)
University: University of Aberdeen
Field: Philosophy and Healthcare
Post: PhD/Postgraduate Researcher

Title: On shared decision-making in healthcare: A Spinozist relational theory

The National Health Service (NHS) boasts 30 years of healthcare policies that claim to redress a history of paternalism by respecting patients’ autonomous decisions. However, there still exists considerable confusion about how such policies can and should be enacted in practice, including institutional guidelines about shared decision-making, which is the process of reaching a medical decision that theoretically distributes the balance of power more evenly between doctors and patients by promoting collaboration. My research shows that the clash between desired collaborative outcomes and a specific kind of individualistic autonomy is the most important obstacle to obtaining a clear idea of what shared decision-making looks like in practice.

A philosophical perspective offers critical tools to examine the structure of ideas and the pragmatic consequences they produce. Specifically, in this case, the 17th Century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza presents an alternative model of individual autonomy that differs from our mainstream understanding of the concept. Because he views the world as relational, where individuals exist within complex relationships between each other with their physical and social environments, he depicts a relational kind of person that has a relational kind of autonomy. As a result, his framework allows us to redefine the very concept of “sharing” that is essential to the notion of shared decision-making.

In this presentation, I will briefly introduce Spinoza’s metaphysics or worldview in order to link it to the topic at hand: contemporary bioethics and healthcare politics. Then, I will offer reasons why a relational understanding of autonomy can help us overcome obstacles that make it difficult to put current healthcare policy into practice. Finally, I will close with some remarks about where my research is going next, specifically on the subject of redefining autonomy in relation to environments.

Annie Runkel (Poster)
University: University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design
Field: Contemporary Art Practice
Post: PhD/Postgraduate Researcher

Title: The Boredom Oracle

The Boredom Oracle is an interactive, digital artwork which is dedicated to the topic of boredom in digital environments. It was developed against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying lockdown measures in the UK. This period saw an increased reliance on digital media while also witnessing a surge in public concern about boredom. The project distils key research results on the nature and significance of boredom into playful, poetic text which can be explored via a simple website. Designed as a tongue-in-cheek advice service for internet users struggling with boredom, the Boredom Oracle not only offers pointers to addressing boredom, but also explores parallels between the social function of ancient divination practices and modern internet usage. The Boredom Oracle is part of an overarching practice-based research project on the epistemic value of art practice in the field of boredom research.

Tanya Jones (Arts and Humanities Panel)
University: Social Sciences (Law and Geography), University of Dundee
Field: The application of restorative justice principles to climate adaptation injustice
Post: PhD/Postgraduate Researcher

Title: Beyond proximity: the potential of global restorative climate justice

The communities most affected by climate change are often those which are least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and which have the fewest resources to adapt and respond. International negotiations, litigation and development aid all address some of these injustices, but there are huge shortfalls, and the situation is worsening. Climate change places all of us in relationship with one another, across the world, but conventional legal concepts are slow to catch up with this new reality. My research asks whether restorative justice, based on relationships, could help to respond to the needs of those most impacted by climate change, such as communities in the Peruvian Andes facing the reality of shrinking glaciers. Could restorative processes build relationships between countries, institutions and groups of people in the majority and minority worlds, so that together we can acknowledge climate injustice and urgently address its effects?

Alice Krzanich (Arts and Humanities Panel)
University: School of Law, University of Edinburgh
Field: Legal History
Post: PhD/Postgraduate Researcher

Title: Female domestic servants in early industrial Scotland: legal principles of the master-servant relationship as they applied to women in the period c 1790 – c 1850

This paper explores the author’s work to date on an untapped topic in Scotland’s legal history: historical master-servant law as it applied to female domestic servants in the period c 1790 – c 1850 in Scotland. During this period, many women worked as servants in the households of other people. The law regulated this work, providing the terms on which a woman could enter service; the obligations she owed to her employer; and the terms on which she could leave service. The author hopes to explore the way this law was influenced by the concepts of class and gender, both in substantive legal doctrine and in its application. This research is therefore an exercise in women’s legal history, a highly interdisciplinary field that draws upon social history, the study of law and gender, and women’s history to understand the historical relationship between women and the law.

Benedetta Piccio (Arts and Humanities Panel)
University: Business School, Edinburgh Napier University
Field: Events and Leadership Management, Feminist studies
Post: PhD/Postgraduate Researcher

Title: Women, Festival Leadership and Social Transformation: An International Comparison

This presentation focuses on a PhD project titled Women, Festival Leaders and Social Transformation: An international Comparison. The scope is to understand what issues women face when they hold leadership positions in festivals, explore the reasons behind and how to overcome them. Attention will be also given to culture and see if it affects women’s working conditions in the countries taken into consideration: Scotland, Spain, Italy and Australia.

The literature review has been focusing on three main areas, which are all very connected to the research objectives: leadership theories, (e.g.: Bechtoldt, Bannier & Rock, 2018), feminist movements and theories (e.g.: Scuzzarello, 2015), and the management of the arts and festivals (e.g.: Laing & Mair, 2015).

This research is an exploratory study and the planned methodology is qualitative underpinned by interpretivism (Beuving & De Vries 2014). Potential methods will be semi- structured interviews and with female leaders/festivals representatives, in addition to visual methods and focus groups (Jason, 2012).

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