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Sociology Research


Dr Lucy van de Wiel is a Research Associate at the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc), University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the social and cultural analysis of assisted reproductive technologies like egg freezing, time-lapse embryo selection and cross-border reproductive care. At ReproSoc, she also leads the Life in Glass project, a major programme of outreach activities funded by the Wellcome Trust. It is comprised of a number of exciting cultural projects, including an animated film festival, a new exhibition of original art work and a series of specially-commissioned ‘technique’ films that give an inside look in the IVF clinic. These cultural events invite a broad range of audiences to link the technical history of IVF with questions of seeing and knowing life as it is enclosed in, and observed through, glass.

Lucy received her PhD in 2015 at the University of Amsterdam. She pursued postgraduate studies as a HSP and Fulbright grantee in Rhetorics at the University of California, Berkeley, holds a Research MA in Cultural Analysis (cum laude) from the University of Amsterdam and an MA in Film Curating (with distinction) from the London Film School and University of London. She has been a visiting researcher at the Science Museum in London and has worked in university administration at departmental, faculty, university, national (KNAW: Royal Netherlands Society for Arts and Sciences, NVAO, NWO) and international levels (IAU: International Association for Universities, UNESCO) in Amsterdam, The Hague, Paris and Berkeley.

Research Interests

Lucy van de Wiel's research focuses on the interdisciplinary study of assisted reproductive technologies and their relation to contemporary conceptualisations and practices of ageing. This relation is at the heart of her current research project on egg freezing, titled Freezing Fertility: Oocyte Cryopreservation and the Gender Politics of Ageing. This study critically examines the controversial introduction of oocyte cryopreservation in the early 21st century and argues that the widespread concern with whether and why women should freeze their eggs is indicative of a contemporary rethinking and politicisation of what it means to age. With close analyses of visual and textual mediations of this technology—including documentaries, news coverage, informed consent forms and cellular imagery—she theorises the changing relations between reproductivity and ageing that emerge with the advent of oocyte cryopreservation. She is also developing a research project focused on time-lapse embryo imaging, a new embryo selection method that involves the production of videos of embryo development in IVF procedures. Since its 2013 introduction in the UK, time-lapse embryo imaging has attracted national media attention and has been promoted by major UK fertility clinics as an alternative, and superior, form of embryo selection in IVF. This research project centres on the representation and instrumentalisation of embryonic ageing that emerges with this new reproductive technology, which is currently being widely implemented, and is changing the face of IVF.



SOC2: Social Theory

Key Publications - Book Chapters

van de Wiel, L., 2016. “Embryonic Entanglements: A Visual Analysis of Time-lapse Embryo Imaging.” (forthcoming). Assisted Reproduction Across Borders: Feminist Perspectives on Normalizations, Disruptions and Transmissions. Eds. Merete Lie and Nina Lykke. Routledge. 

Key Publications - Journal Articles

van de Wiel, L., 2015 “Freezing in Anticipation: Eggs for Later.” Women’s Studies International Forum. 53 (November-December): 119-128. 

van de Wiel, L., 2014 “For Whom the Clock Ticks: Reproductive Ageing and Egg Freezing in Dutch and British News Media.” Studies in the Maternal. 6 (1). 

van de Wiel, L., 2014 “The Time of the Change: Menopause’s Medicalization and the Gender Politics of Aging.” International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics. 7 (1): 74-98. 

Grants and Projects

Franklin, S. (PI) and van de Wiel, L., (CI) ‘Life in Glass’: a programme of public engagement. Wellcome Trust Provision Award (2015-2018): £222,999.00

van de Wiel, L., ASCA PhD Fellowship, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam, 2011-2015, 0.8 fte salaried contract. 

van de Wiel, L., U21 Award, Celebrating Ageing Research, €1.250 HSP Huygens Talent Grant, Nuffic, 2010-2011, €26.100. 

van de Wiel, L., VSB Grant, VSB Fund, 2010, €3.500. 

van de Wiel, L., Leonardo da Vinci Grant, European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme, 2008, €5.385. 

van de Wiel, L., Fulbright Scholarship, The Fulbright Program, 2006-2007, €10.000. 

van de Wiel, L., HSP Huygens Talent Grant, Nuffic, 2006-2007, €23.785. 

van de Wiel, L., AUV Grant, University of Amsterdam, 2006-2007, €550.

Research Groups & Affiliations

Job Title:
Research Associate, Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc)