skip to content

Department of Sociology


Congratulations to Dr Lucy van de Wiel for being awarded prestigious Erasmus Research Prize.

Congratulations to Dr Lucy van de Wiel for being awarded the Erasmus Research Prize for her dissertation entitled Freezing Fertility: Oocyte Cryopreservation and the Gender Politics of Ageing.

The Erasmus Research Prize is an annual prize, awarded by the board of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation -- a cultural institution active in the fields of humanities, social sciences and the arts. The Foundation awards a maximum of five prizes of € 3,000 to young academic researchers in the humanities and social sciences, who have written a PhD dissertation of outstanding quality and is one of the most distinguished recognitions in Europe.

His Majesty the King of the Netherlands is Patron of the Foundation and the award ceremony will take place at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam on 11 May 2017.

Dr van de Wiel’s dissertation, situated at the intersection of cultural analysis, media studies, gender studies and science and technology studies, is a groundbreaking study of the wide-ranging implications of egg freezing or oocyte cryopreservation (OC), an increasingly popular fertility technology with global reach. By analysing cultural mediations of egg freezing in news media, regulations, documentaries, online platforms and medical imagery (images of frozen or fertilized eggs shown to potential parents or used to advertise the technology), the dissertation shows how the possibility of freezing eggs, which allows motherhood to be postponed, has profound consequences for the way in which female ageing is understood.

Dr van de Wiel received her PhD in 2015 at the University of Amsterdam, after pursuing postgraduate studies as a HSP and Fulbright grantee in the Rhetorics department at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr van de Wiel currently works as a Research Associate in the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc) at the Sociology department in Cambridge.

Her current research focuses on the interdisciplinary study of assisted reproductive technologies (including egg freezing) and their relation to contemporary conceptualisations of fertility and reproductive ageing. Dr van de Wiel is also developing a research project focused on time-lapse embryo imaging and the datafication of reproduction. She moreover leads the Life in Glass project, a major programme of outreach activities around IVF, funded by the Wellcome Trust.