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Dr Lucy van de Wiel

Dr Lucy van de Wiel

Research Associate


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 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.

Dr Lucy van de Wiel on the Reproductive Sociology Research Group website