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ReproSoc

Reproductive Sociology Research Group

Studying at Cambridge

 

Yvonne Frankfurth

Biography:

Yvonne is an ESRC-funded PhD student at the University of Cambridge, conducting her research as part of ReproSoc, an interdisciplinary research group at Cambridge concerned with the social and cultural implications of new reproductive technologies.
In her thesis, Yvonne explores the social and ethical aspects of the German prohibition of egg donation, specifically studying the journeys of German intended parents traveling abroad to have a child with the help of an egg donor.
Yvonne is interested in the social aspects of new technologies, policy-making and national identity.

Yvonne completed her undergraduate degree in Chinese Studies, and Politics, Psychology and Sociology (PPS) at the University of Cambridge 2009-2013. She finished among the top 5% of her class, graduating with a first-class BA Hons / MA Cantab.

She gained some professional work experience for two years after her undergraduate degree. Between 2013-2015, Yvonne was involved with the European projects Youth in Action (YIA) and Young European Federalists (JEF), after having previously completed a traineeship at the Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM) at the European Parliament, Brussels. She gained work and research experience at the BMW Herbert Quandt Foundation before she founded the online start-up platform SympatMe (www.sympat.me) in late 2014. Digitalising and translating immigration services, SympatMe has become a major source of support for an increasing number of immigrants settling in Germany every year.

After 2.5 years of professional work experience, Yvonne decided to continue her academic studies. She was awarded the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentship to pursue a fully-funded 4-year MPhil + PhD programme in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge from 2015 onwards.

In 2016, she graduated with a Distinction in her Master of Philosophy (MPhil). In her MPhil dissertation, Yvonne examined the public discourse around the Legalisation of Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) in Germany in 2011, also referred to as the debate on the ‘designer-baby technology’. To this end, she drew on explorative, in-depth interviews with German policy-makers, fertility clinicians and lawyers.

Following on from her MPhil, Yvonne has been a PhD candidate under the supervision of Professor Sarah Franklin (Deputy Chair) since 2016. Drawing on about 100 interviews with German fertility experts, policy-makers and reproductive travelers, she examines the social and ethical implications of the prohibition of egg donation in the German Embryo Protection Act, specifically with regard to the increasing number of reproductive travelers seeking an egg donor abroad. For more details about the specific research study, please visit the project website www.eispende.com. As the target group is German clinicians, practitioners and intended parents, this website is in German only.

In 2019 Yvonne received the competitive University of Cambridge ESRC Overseas Institutional Visit Award and the Monica Kornberg Memorial Fund to become a visiting PhD student in the Sociology Department at Yale University. During her academic stay, Yvonne was involved in relevant workshops, events and dinners with scholars from Science and Technology Studies (STS), Law and Social Anthropology, including Prof Sheila Jasanoff (Science and Technology Studies, Harvard University), Prof Daniel Markovitz (Law, Yale University) and Prof Marcia Inhorn (Social Anthropology, Yale University).

During her stay in the US, she was selected to act as a Youth Envoy to the 8th Economic and Social Research Council Forum at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, April 8-9, 2019, where she engaged with government representatives, policymakers and other stakeholders on the relevance of providing access to education about sexual and reproductive health.

Key Publications

Peer-reviewed articles and book chapters

Frankfurth, Y. (forthcoming, 2019). Navigating anonymity and openness: Germans travelling abroad for egg donation. In Beier, K., Brügge, C., Thorn, P., and Wiesemann, C. (eds.), Familienbildung mit Hilfe Dritter [Making Families with Assisted Reproductive Technologies]. Springer-Verlag (Medizin).

Frankfurth, Y. (2017). Mothers, Morality and Abortion: The Politics of Reproduction in the Formation of the German Nation. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 18(3), 51-65.
 

Under review

'Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) Help us Become Pregnant? - Selecting embryos with AI software in fertility treatment'. Publication as part of the project 'Automatic the Crowds' by the Cambridge Digital Humanities and the Alan Turing Institute, reviewed on September 1, 2019

Media

Babywunsch, Magazine, 2019 (forthcoming), Interview, 'Leaving the Nation to have a Child - Tracing the journeys of Germans who travel to Austria for egg donation'

ARD Plus-Minus, German Public Broadcasting, Interview, “Research Study on the German Prohibition of Egg Donation” (Eizellenspende, Beweggründe und Erfahrungen“), August 23, 2017.

Radio 1, Interview, German public broadcasting programme on Germany’s first fertility show, February 21, 2017.

Websites

Please visit the research website Repro-Travel (www.repro-travel.com) for more information on the PhD project.

To access more information about the study on the German prohibition of egg donation (Eizellspende), please visit www.eispende.com. The website is in German and primarily intended to recruit interviewees, such as German fertility clinicians, experts and intended parents. 

Engagements

Yvonne pursues her social engagement and interest in emerging technologies as founder of the German fertility platform, Es klappt nicht (www.es-klappt-nicht.de). From fertility tracking apps to finding an egg donor, she combines relevant research insights and personal interviews with experts and intended parents to shed light on women’s use of reproductive technologies in Germany.

Keen to learn more about the real-world applications of artificial intelligence, she is a volunteer at Re-Work, where she helps bring together AI-stakeholders from industry and academia to network, exchange knowledge and incite public debate on the use of new technologies (https://www.re-work.co/events/deep-learning-summit-london-2019).