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 Gonville & Caius College 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. Registration is now closed. However, registered participants can view talks 'on demand' for a short time period.

Fisher (1890-1962) was sometime an undergraduate student, Fellow, and then President of Caius. He graduated in 1912 and worked at Rothamsted Experimental Station for 14 years from 1919-1933. He then held a chair in the UCL Department of Eugenics and was Galton Professor of Eugenics and head of the Galton Laboratory, UCL 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 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 because of controversies about his particular activities in eugenics, public statements concerning race, and letter of support for a Nazi eugenicist. 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.