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Changing (In)Fertilities



Egg Freezing

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.


Datafication of Reproduction 

She is also developing a research project on the intersection of data technologies and reproductive technologies. It is currently 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. 

This project is also developed in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute, where she is a Turing Fellow


Public Engagement: Life in Glass

At ReproSoc, she moreover 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 by Gina Glover 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 van de Wiel received her PhD in 2015 at the University of Amsterdam and won the 2016 ASCA Award for best dissertation as well as the 2017 Erasmus Research Prize. 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 London Consortium, University of London.


Key publications: 

2019. In Press. "The Datafication of Reproduction: Time-lapse Embryo Imaging and the Commercialisation of IVF." Sociology of Health and Illness. Special Issue on "Digital Health."

2018. “Prenatal Imaging: Egg Freezing, Embryo Selection and the Visual Politics of Reproductive Time.” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 4(2): 1-35. 

2018. with Risa Cromer. “Remaking Reproduction Conference: A Review” Somatosphere 

2018. with Professor Joyce Harper, Dr Kylie Baldwin, Dr Lucy Van de Wiel and Professor Jacky Boivin. “Campaign for UK Parliament to extend the 10-year storage limit on egg freezing. Bionews.

2016. “Embryonic Entanglements: A Visual Analysis of Time-lapse Embryo Imaging.” Assisted Reproduction Across Borders: Feminist Perspectives on Normalizations, Disruptions and Transmissions. Eds. Merete Lie and Nina Lykke. New York and Oxon: Routledge.

2016. "Frozen Fertility" ["Bevroren Vruchtbaarheid"]. Dutch Journal for Gender Studies. 19 (2): 286-8.

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

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

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. doi: 10.2979/intjfemappbio.7.1.74

2007 Book Review: “The Laws of Love by Peter Goodrich.” Law, Culture and the Humanities. 3: 495-497. doi: 10.1177/17438721070030031002

ReproSoc, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge
Work Package 1: Extended (In)Fertilities
 Lucy  van de Wiel
Not available for consultancy