One year ago today we launched the Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR) and what a year it has been! The last twelve months have been rather packed-full of activity, so we thought what better excuse than our first birthday to share some of our achievements.
In our inaugural year as a Centre, we welcomed several new members and happily, some returning ones. Dr Katie Coveney joined us from Sussex University as full time Research Fellow to work on the EDNA project (more on that below). We were delighted to welcome two new full-time doctoral students, Victoria Crowdell and Sumaira Rashid, working on highly topical projects: respectively, IVF ‘add ons’, and in/fertilities and reproductive ageing in Pakistan. Dr Douglas Gray returned to CRR after spending some time working for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), re-joining DMU as Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science; and Dr Zaheera Essat re-joined as Lecturer in Midwifery, following time working in community practice. We are thrilled to see the disciplinary and methodological expertise of the team expand with these new and returning appointments.
In conjunction with the launch of the Centre last April, our ESRC-funded interdisciplinary ‘EDNA’ project (Egg donation in the UK, Belgium and Spain) formally kicked off and data collection is now well underway. The project team presented some preliminary findings at the British Sociological Association (BSA) Annual Medical Sociology Conference and the BSA Deconstructing Donation Conference last year and Katie has set up a dedicated project blog where you can read more about the research as it progresses.
In partnership with the national charity, Endometriosis UK, members of the team launched an important suite of materials designed to improve care and support for women with endometriosis and their partners. Based on our previous ESRC-funded research, these materials included an educational intervention designed for delivery at support group sessions and two films, one describing the condition and another exploring the impact it has on intimate relationships. Following the launch, Nicky appeared on BBC Radio Four ‘Woman’s Hour’ to raise awareness of the issue and the new resources available.
Several Centre members have taken up invitations to speak this year, both at home and abroad. Centre Director, Prof Nicky Hudson, was invited by the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology to speak on culture, language and ethnicity in infertility care. Dr Cathy Herbrand delivered a lecture at the ‘Techno-Rep’ seminar series in Paris at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences. Wendy Norton was an invited speaker at the National Women’s Health Nursing Congress in Turkey, and Caroline Law delivered an invited seminar at the ESRC Centre for Population Change in Southampton. Despite technically being retired, Prof Lorraine Culley still managed to squeeze in two keynote addresses at the Fertility Society of Australia Annual Conference where she discussed our work on egg freezing and endometriosis.
This year has also been busy for our doctoral students. Dr Christina Weis passed her viva in November with her thesis ‘Reproductive migrations: surrogacy workers and stratified reproduction in St Petersberg’ and Paris Connolly began a new role as a part-time FGM community outreach worker at Coventry Haven Women’s Aid. In September, Kriss Fearon and Sasha Loyal presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology where they shared details of their respective work on Turner Syndrome and reproductive timing in British South Asian communities. Sasha also continued the CRR winning streak at the DMU Annual PhD Poster Competition for research students securing 4th prize for her poster which asked: ‘When is the right time to have a child?’.
In January, we launched this blog – expertly edited and curated by Dr Kylie Baldwin. Our work has also been published in a range of places, including three papers in the Sociology of Health and Illness, covering work on mitochondrial donation, egg freezing, and male infertility. We have received coverage in national newspapers, radio programmes, and online news outlets. Centre members have also presented on their work at a number of international conferences in Denmark, Canada, Portugal and Iraq on topics such as birth and labour, reproductive citizenship and egg donation.
We’ve been lucky to host some fantastic speakers at our monthly seminar series, including Dr Petra Nordqvist, University of Manchester, Dr Damian Riggs, Flinders University, Prof Liz Peel, Loughborough University, and Jessica Hepburn, author of ‘The Pursuit of Motherhood’. In addition to our packed seminar series (more information about which you can find here), we have also hosted several BSA events including the annual Human Reproduction Study Group Conference (the next one is coming up in May– not to be missed). Kylie and Katie also recently joined the organising committee for the BSA Medical Sociology Conference and are currently undertaking preparations for the 50th Anniversary event, which will be held at Glasgow Caledonian University between 12th-14th September 2018.
In January, eleven members of the Centre attended a productive writing retreat in the Peak District efficiently organised by Caroline and Zara with help from the Centre for Learning and Study Support and Library and Learning Services. Over two and a half days, we progressed several journal articles and book projects, as well as PhD chapters and theses. During breaks from writing we enjoyed yoga sessions, led by our resident yogi, Christina, and stunning walks in the snowy countryside navigated by hiking enthusiast Kylie. We would thoroughly recommend a writing retreat to other groups of academics and researchers and we couldn’t fault the lovely staff, accommodation, and space provided to us by The Nightingale Centre. We are maintaining our writing momentum with our CRR writing group chaired by Dr Helene Mitchell, and we are already planning another trip.
We are looking forward to another busy year ahead and already have some pleasing things to celebrate. We are delighted to announce that former CRR PhD student, Christina, will join the Centre as Research Assistant from this May – covering for Jessica Turner who is currently on maternity leave. We are also very happy to see Dr Esmée Hanna join us from Leeds Beckett University as VC2020 Lecturer. As well as continuing to develop her work on men and in/fertility, Esmée will be teaching on the ‘Health, Wellbeing and Society’ degree programme in the School of Allied Health. A good friend of the CRR after coming to us as a visiting researcher in 2016, Esmée is looking forward to working with Nicky, Cathy and others on their new project on Klinefelter Syndrome.
All in all, we have enjoyed a wonderful first year as a Centre and look forward to progressing new projects, collaborations, and public engagement plans in the coming 12 months. We are always happy to welcome contact with friends new and old, so please do follow our activities on twitter: @CRRDMU, by joining our mailing list via firstname.lastname@example.org, subscribing to this blog, or maybe even consider joining us for a visit in-person.
With warm wishes,
The CRR team