Current BII Research

Current BII research projects include:

ComFLab - Enabling a high end container cleanroom through computational fluid dynamics

Professional science facilities are rarely found outside conventional research institutions. However, their availability may greatly help the generation and dissemination of science and technology in our societies. At the core of ComFLab is the design of an open, high-end biochemistry laboratory in a shipping container. The project uses advanced numerical methods in computational fluid dynamics to optimise air circulation in the container and maximise control of contaminant dispersion. This is a fundamental requirement in the realisation of the first, open, low ISO class biochemistry container laboratory and a step forward towards a more flexible way of doing science.

The Ukrainian crisis in context: a bottom up approach 

This is a two-day conference bringing together multidisciplinary researchers working on Ukraine. The country has been in the headlines since 2013 due to political upheaval and the ongoing armed conflict. Given the geo-political significance of events, research tends to focus on issues of Ukraine’s sovereignty, nation building and democratisation. The conference aims to refine our understanding of Ukraine’s economic and social challenges by analysing them from the perspectives and experiences of Ukrainian citizens. To provide attendees with a more nuanced understanding of the country, the conference will offer expert panel discussions, postgraduate research presentations, working group discussions, and poster sessions.

Variation and Change in Emoji Usage: A Computational Approach to Dynamic Semiotic Systems

Language is mostly being studied in two separate fields, traditional linguistics on the one hand and computational linguistics on the other. Our project will address the chasm between these lines of research by investigating how semiotic systems change if new items are added. Specifically, we will use machine learning to analyse semantic dynamics in emoji usage. Apart from the study, we want to establish a broader basis for co-operation between linguists and computer scientists by conducting a workshop on computational approaches to language change. We hope that the project will inspire future work bridging the gap between sciences and humanities.

Thinking with Jean-Luc Nancy

With his work spanning over dozens of books, hundreds of articles and numerous collaborations with artists, Jean-Luc Nancy is one of France’s most active living philosophers. His thinking addresses a broad range of issues: from politics and community, the arts and the body, to Christian theology and even theoretical cosmology. This project aims to take stock of Nancy’s work and influence in terms of specific contemporary challenges, whether these are intellectual, cultural or religious. To that end, we are gathering prominent scholars of his work, together with postgraduate students, artists and Nancy himself, for a three-day conference in Oxford

Labour in History & Economics: Migration, Markets, and the Work Environment

The transformation of work and concepts of labour, the movement of workers within and between countries, and changes in how people obtain work are significant trends in contemporary economies. While they may appear to be new developments, these processes have historical roots and precedents. With the increasing use of historical data in economics and the return of labour to the forefront of economic history, the time is ripe for discussion and collaboration between labour historians, economic historians, and labour economists. The Labour in History & Economics Conference will bring together scholars from these disciplines to share research, perspectives, and methodologies.

Civil Society Observatory

This project, which incorporates two disciplines (philosophy and history) from the humanities, and two disciplines (law and political science) from the social sciences, is a ground-breaking initiative, designed to exploit the intersection between these ‘sciences humaines’, providing a forum for applying these disciplinary approaches to contemporary developments in political and international affairs. It will sponsor conferences and lectures and offer opportunities for political stakeholders and decision-makers to interact with top-ranked researchers, enriching both the academic environment of the college and the university and providing links to and impact upon the policy-making world.


What can evolutionary methods teach textual and literary scholars?

When a text was copied by hand, it changed; and these changes lived on in subsequent copies; an author may innovate in a genre, and those innovations may prove popular and be widely reproduced. This is to some extent analogous to the changing characteristics of species over evolutionary time in biology. In this project, we will use so-called ‘phylogenetic comparative methods’ developed in evolutionary biology to study the change of these key literary ‘innovations’.This will not only help us to reconstruct the history of these innovations, but may also provideascinating insights into the factors behind this literary evolution.


Alliance: The Humanities & Existential Risk

“Alliance: The Humanities & Existential Risk” is a podcast series that explores what the Humanities can offer to the study and/or mitigation of existential risks. Existential risks are risks that could lead to human extinction or civilisational collapse, such as climate change, nuclear warfare and artificial intelligence-related disasters. The study of existential risk has become a major focus of academic institutions in the past several years. Unfortunately, study in this area has concentrated on contributions from the sciences and social sciences. The Humanities, however, have a lot to offer this field — we hope to demonstrate that.


Theme and amusement parks as a site of inter-disciplinary research into the construction of childhood leisure

Amusement parks and theme parks are usually dismissed as frivolous or children’s entertainment and, unlike films or art, have received scant academic interest. They are both a highly popular form of leisure but pose a challenge to scholars in how to analyse what is a multimedia experiential ephemeral phenomenon. This gestational project, drawing from multiple disciplines, seeks to establish possible methodologies for analysing theme parks, bringing together scholars from the UK, other parts of Europe and the United States to ultimately consider how the theme park acts as a site where certain constructions of childhood, and childhood ‘fun’, are created.


19th-Century Architectural Additions to Syriac Monasteries and Churches in Mardin Provine: A Photographic Documentary

The 19th century saw high levels of interaction between Western Orientalists and the Christian Syriac community of the Ottoman Empire, which today inhabits South-Eastern Turkey. This resulted in the creation of a new type of ecclesiastical architecture that persists to this day and shapes the Syriac way of life. Our project aims to document these hitherto understudied changes by producing architectural records and drawings while compiling a photographic documentary. Although preservation of memory is our primary objective, our project will also critically reflect on the role played by Western Orientalism in transforming the cultural landscape of the Christian community of Mardin, and the Ottoman Empire in general.  We will do so at a time when these communities’ way of life is under threat.