Fisher in the 21st Century

An academic conference to discuss the life, work and context of the statistician and geneticist Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher was held at on Thursday 21 April and Friday 22 April 2022.

The conference was held in a hybrid format, with Fellows, students and invited guests attending in person (due to limited capacity in the venue) and virtual attendance for other participants. Recordings of talks are available by clicking on the titles below.

Fisher (1890-1962) was sometime an undergraduate student, Fellow, and then President of Caius. He graduated in 1912 and worked at for 14 years from 1919-1933. He then held a chair in the and was from 1933-43. Fisher returned to Caius and Cambridge as Balfour Professor of Genetics in 1943. In 1957 he retired to Adelaide in Australia.

This academic meeting was held to examine the breadth and depth of Fisher’s work and how it is reflected in genetics and statistics today. It looked frankly at his controversial views on eugenics and his involvement in that movement. The relationship of Fisher’s interest in eugenics and his scientific research remains a matter of scholarly debate. The meeting was not to put Fisher on trial nor to discuss the future of a window which highlighted his academic work. The Fisher Window was removed from the College dining Hall in 2020. The window remains in the College archives.

Leading experts in genetics, statistics, the eugenics movement, and their histories were invited to present contributions on their own work with reference to Fisher or to speak purely on Fisher and his influence.


21 April

Jenny Bangham: “Blood, race and transfusion: Fisher’s work with the wartime Galton Serum Unit”*


22 April

Richard Durbin: “Population genetic variation, inferred and observed”*


*recording not available