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Grace Field

PhD student

College: Trinity Hall

Supervisors: Hasok Chang and Jeremy Butterfield
Thesis topic: Building Black Holes: Analogue experiments and analogical reasoning

Research interests: analogical reasoning, analogue experimentation, philosophy of modelling, philosophy of measurement and simulation, philosophy of physics, philosophy of cosmology



Prior education 

MPhil with distinction in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, University of Cambridge (2019)

Honours BSc in Physics and Philosophy, University of Toronto (2018)



My PhD focuses on the role of analogy in modern science, especially in modern physics. Analogy has recently been brought into the limelight by the rise of analogue gravity, a controversial new field of physics that uses table-top ‘model black holes’ to probe the behaviour of astrophysical black holes.

But does it make sense to draw conclusions about astrophysical black holes, incredibly massive far-away features of spacetime, based on experiments that we run on models in a lab on Earth? And more generally, what does it ever mean to take one system to stand in for another? In my research, I am using analogue black hole experiments as a case study to draw specific conclusions about the first question, and general conclusions about the second. Both questions relate to issues in philosophy of simulation, philosophy of modelling, philosophy of Bayesian and inductive inference, and philosophy of cosmology.


Science communication, policy & outreach

I am interested in how history and philosophy of science perspectives can be used to enrich discourse in science writing, science policy, and science outreach. I contribute to the Varsity Science section, and I contribute and edit for Bluesci, Cambridge's science magazine. In 2019-2020, I co-organized an interdisciplinary panel session titled Rationality, Science and Equal Representation, which focused on the relationship between rationality and bias in both science and HPS. This year I am the Finance and Fundraising Lead for the Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange.



(University of Oxford, 2020) "Putting theory in its place: the relationship between universality arguments and empirical constraints" at The Oxford Philosophy of Physics Graduate Conference.

(Radboud University, 2019) "Putting theory in its place: the relationship between universality arguments and empirical constraints" at The Hanneke Janssen Memorial Prize Ceremony.

(University of Cambridge, 2019) "Analogue experiments: empirical evidence or an amusing feat of engineering?" at The Cambridge-LMU Meeting on Black Hole Physics.

(University of Geneva, 2019) "Analogue experiments: empirical evidence or an amusing feat of engineering?" at The Epistemology of Analogue Simulation Workshop.

(ETH Zurich, 2019) Poster presentation "Interpretations of quantum mechanics and the quantum tunnelling time controversy" at Solstice of Foundations Summer School.

(University of Toronto, 2017) Poster presentation "Reflectionless Tunnelling for Bose-Einstein Condensates" at The Conference on Quantum Information and Quantum Control VII.


Publications (Including science writing)

2020. "Review: How is the Scientific Method Doing? – Sabine Hossenfelder". Bluesci Magazine 48 (May): 2.

2020. "More valuable than oil: data and the individual"Varsity (January).

2019. "Seeing the universe through sound". Varsity (March).

2019. "Analogue gravity: empirical evidence or an amusing feat of engineering?". Varsity (February). 


Grants & awards

(2019-2023) Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholarship – University of Cambridge

(2019) Hanneke Janssen Memorial Prize – Radboud University  

(2019) Rausing Prize for highest performance in dissertation component of HPSM MPhil – University of Cambridge

(2019) Best Talk award at the Murray Edwards College Graduate Symposium – Murray Edwards College, Cambridge

(2018-2019) Stephan Körner Scholarship – Murray Edwards College, Cambridge