Abbott Scholar – Zak Lakota-Baldwin – Update
Reading at St. John’s College, Cambridge. A group of Glass Sellers visited Zak at Cambridge and had lunch in the Spring 2019
Having my third year of university brought to such an abrupt end has been rather strange, as I am sure you can imagine, but I am doing my best to stay focused and motivated all the same.
It has been a really interesting and enjoyable year, just as I’d hoped, and I’m very happy with my decision to specialise into History and Philosophy of Science. Topics have ranged from the ethics of public health interventions (now more pertinent than ever) and the nature of scientific objectivity to the history of science in East Asia and the relationship between science and communism. Earlier in the year I completed coursework essays on accountability for reasonableness and the problem of onco exceptionalism in the amendment of the Cancer Drugs Fund, and on the Cold War context and apocalyptic rhetoric of The Population Bomb, an influential early environmentalist text which highlighted the dangers of global overpopulation.
I am now back at home revising for my end of year exams, which will be taking place online at some point in early June. Fortunately, Cambridge has put in place a safety net policy, so I cannot be awarded a class lower than the First I received last year, which has alleviated a lot of the stress I might otherwise have felt. I am hoping I’ll still be able to do justice to all the work I’ve put in this year, despite the unfamiliar form of assessment and the strange circumstances in which we all find ourselves. As for next year, I have applied for an integrated masters in History and Philosophy of Science, which would allow me to continue into a fourth year of undergraduate studies and then receive both a BA and an MSci at the end of the year. I should find out in the next few weeks whether I have been accepted onto the course, so my fingers are crossed for good news.
At present, I am unsure of what might come after that, but I’m giving strong consideration to taking a PhD and pursuing an academic career. Now I’m feeling very engaged and excited by the possibilities within my subject, so this is a path that I’d be interested to pursue further. I’ve already discussed with one of my supervisors a potential idea for a dissertation next year on issues surrounding expertise, democracy and public accountability in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which would allow me to make a novel and (hopefully) valuable contribution to a burgeoning academic area in which there is much important work to be done.
Alongside my academic studies I have kept up my extracurricular interest in science communication – I am now the News Editor of BlueSci, Cambridge University’s oldest student-run science magazine. This is a committee position that I will hold for a year, working to put out a termly magazine in addition to a range of online content. Now more than ever, accurate, informative, and up-to-date science reporting has an essential role to play in tackling the challenges that face humanity.
As always, I am extremely grateful for all the support that the Glass Sellers have provided throughout my studies. In additional to the valuable financial assistance that I have received, I have been fortunate to meet some wonderful people and get to know a dynamic and forward-thinking community. It is important to stay connected in times like this, and it is good to know that I can count the Glass Sellers among my friends.