St John's College News

  1. Rare ‘Naked Hanging Man Orchid’ reveals itself at St John’s College

    “It is the find of a lifetime”
    A protected orchid that looks like a naked man has caught gardeners by surprise in the grounds of St John’s College, Cambridge. The Orchis Simia is known as the ‘Naked Hanging Man Orchid’, and more commonly as the ‘Monkey Orchid’, because of its resemblance to a naked male or a monkey. The orchid is one of the rarest native orchids in the UK and delighted gardeners at St John’s College when a…read more
  2. Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert 2024

    World-renowned organist to perform at annual tribute concert
    The 18th annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert will be given by British conductor, organist and pianist Wayne Marshall OBE at 8pm in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, on Thursday 20 June 2024 and will also be livestreamed online. Mr Marshall, who is world-renowned for his musicianship and versatility on the podium and on the keyboard, will play an hour-long programme of organ works by Dupré,…read more
  3. The new ‘recipe for light-emitting molecules’ that rewrites a fundamental law of physics

    “This research has a huge implication for three technologies – organic solar cells, OLED display technology and bioimaging”
    Cambridge scientists have designed a molecule ‘recipe’ that could advance display and solar technology as we know it – from medical imaging equipment and smartphones to how sunlight is converted into electricity. For more than 50 years, the energy gap law has been a key theory to understand and model the non-radiative loss pathways in organic molecules. Scientists established that organic…read more
  4. Newell Classical Event 2024

    Poet Alice Oswald to give lecture celebrating the classical world
    The Newell Classical Event 2024 will present award-winning poet Alice Oswald in ‘Message from a Lost Play’, a lecture based on the fragments of the Psychostasia (‘weighing of souls') of  Aeschylus, the Ancient Greek dramatist.  The event, which celebrates the classical world, will take place at 7.15pm on Thursday 16 May at St John's College. All are very welcome. Alice…read more
  5. Tributes paid to late Law Fellow also known for his love of bicycles and photography

    “Malcolm was an outstanding scholar in his field – modest about his achievements – and a supportive and kind colleague”
    Professor Malcolm Alistair Clarke, an alumnus and Fellow of St John’s College who taught Law to generations of students, has died at the age of 81. Professor Clarke, Professor Emeritus of Commercial Contract Law, first came to St John’s as an undergraduate to study Law in 1961. After graduating, he began his academic career as a Research Fellow at Fitzwilliam College from 1966-1968. He spent…read more
  6. Professor Charles Swanton gives the Linacre Lecture 2024

    Air pollution and cancer link is explored in historic annual lecture
    The 2024 Linacre Lecture was given by Professor Charles Swanton, Deputy Clinical Director of The Francis Crick Institute, on Thursday 15 February in the Old Divinity School at St John's College. Professor Swanton’s lecture looks at his lab’s research into the links between air pollution and non-small cell lung cancer. Listen to the lecture below or follow this link. The annual Linacre…read more
  7. Music in College at St John’s – a statement

    Music in College at St John’s – a statement A comprehensive review of music in College was recently completed. After considering the recommendations of the review, the St John’s College Council made a unanimous decision to pursue a broader approach to other co-curricular opportunities in music for our nearly 1,000 students. This direction reflects our students’ feedback on their needs and…read more
  8. Buttery, Bar and Café scoop top design award

    “This award is fantastic external endorsement of the brilliant redevelopment, where we put sustainability and energy efficiency front and centre”
    The College’s Buttery, Bar and Café building project has won a prestigious engineering and sustainability prize in the Greater Cambridge Design and Construction Awards, beating nominees across all categories. The new social spaces, which opened in January 2023 after an 18-month construction programme, were announced as the winner of the David MacKay Award for Engineering and Sustainability at…read more
  9. Physiologist dies at the age of 85

    Fellow was former Head of MRC Neuroendocrine Development and Behaviour Group
    Dr John Bower Hutchison, an alumnus, Fellow and former College lecturer in Physiology at St John’s, has died. After taking a degree at the former University of Natal (now part of the University of KwaZulu-Natal) in South Africa from 1956-61, Dr Hutchison came to St John’s College in 1964 to study Zoology. He was a Fellow in Physiology at the College from 1967-70 and returned in 1975 after being…read more
  10. Early-career writers invited to apply for 2024-2025 Harper-Wood Award

    Funding up to £18,600 available for winning author or poet
    St John’s College, Cambridge is offering emerging authors and poets the chance to turn the pages of their career with the launch of this year’s Harper-Wood Creative Writing and Travel Award for English Poetry and Literature. Applications open on Wednesday 21 February 2024 for the award, which was established by the College in 1949 to inspire an undertaking of creative writing by making it…read more
  11. Impact of climate emergency on pregnant women explored thanks to £2m funding

    “Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the health impacts of extreme heat”
    A group of 700 pregnant women in The Gambia will be studied as part of a collaborative research project examining how high temperatures where they live affect them and their babies. One of the leaders of the four-year study is Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri, Professor in Fetal and Placental Physiology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St John’s College. The £2m Wellcome Trust grant will…read more
  12. Gunpowder, treason and plot: the 1,000-year history of traitors and faithfuls

    “The law of treason evolves over centuries and was used as a weapon of control and deterrent”
    From the Bible to smash-hit BBC television show The Traitors, being accused of betrayal is a sure-fire way to become notorious.   Everyone has heard of Judas, Guy Fawkes, and Anne Boleyn, not least because treason is the most serious crime that anyone can commit – under English law it is considered…read more
  13. Student vocalist makes it to Battle of the Bands final

    “It promises to be an electrifying night, showcasing the best of Cambridge's student talent”
    A singer from St John’s could win the chance to perform on the main stage at Cambridge Club Festival after making it through to the University’s Battle of the Bands competition final. Alice Markham, a second-year English undergraduate and Choral Scholar in The Choir of St John’s College, is the lead singer in soul and funk band Soft Crunchy Landing, which is among four student bands gearing up…read more
  14. ‘Outstanding’ students win Larmor Awards for studies and community work

    ‘Intellectual qualifications, moral conduct and practical activities’ recognised
    A powerlifter and a charity campaigner are among five graduates of St John’s to be honoured with 2023 Larmor Awards for their exceptional academic work and contributions to College life and beyond. The awards began in the 1940s to recognise ‘intellectual qualifications, moral conduct, or practical activities’ and are named after Sir Joseph Larmor, a 20th-century physicist and mathematician who…read more
  15. Air pollution and cancer link explored at 2024 Linacre Lecture

    Historic lecture to be delivered by Professor Charles Swanton of The Francis Crick Institute
    Professor Charles Swanton, Deputy Clinical Director at The Francis Crick Institute, will give the 2024 St John’s College Linacre Lecture. This year’s lecture will take place on Thursday 15 February at 5.30pm in the Main Lecture Theatre of the Old Divinity School. The Swanton Lab studies how cancers evolve in the body to spread and become resistant to therapy and finds new ways to treat…read more
  16. Ancient DNA reveals reason for high multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s rates in Europe

    “These results change our view of the causes of multiple sclerosis and have implications for the way it is treated”
    Researchers have created the world’s largest ancient human gene bank by analysing the bones and teeth of almost 5,000 humans who lived across western Europe and Asia up to 34,000 years ago. By sequencing ancient human DNA and comparing it to modern-day samples, the international team of experts mapped the historical spread of genes – and diseases – over time as populations migrated. The ‘…read more
  17. In case you missed it…. 12 tales from St John’s in 2023

    The year in review
    As we head into 2024, we look back at the past 12 months at St John's College. From the launch of our spectacular new Buttery, Café and Bar to a multitude of good news generated by our hard-working students, academics and staff, it's been another year to celebrate. Catch up with some of the stories you may have missed. January  Opening of new social spaces transforms 500-year-old tradition…read more
  18. Honorary Fellow who transformed the study of intellectual history dies at the age of 99

    Professor John G.A. Pocock was a renowned historian of political thought
    A ‘giant of the historical profession’ and Honorary Fellow of St John’s College has died three months before his 100th birthday. Professor John Greville Agard Pocock, Harry C. Black Emeritus Professor of History at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, was a historian of political thought and considered to be one of the most influential in his lifetime. His importance lay in his…read more
  19. Early career academic awarded prestigious Fellowship for her research into mental health risks of social media

    “Research urgently needs to move beyond the current conclusion that ‘it’s complicated’ to inform safeguards for adolescent mental health in the digital age”
    An academic from St John’s College has been named as a Future Leaders Fellow and will receive £1.9 million to boost her research into social media and teenage mental health. Dr Amy Orben is one of 75 new Future Leaders Fellows announced by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to support universities and businesses in developing their most talented early career researchers and innovators, and to…read more
  20. Why reading nursery rhymes and singing to babies may help them to learn language

    “We believe that speech rhythm information is the hidden glue underpinning the development of a well-functioning language system”
    Parents should speak to their babies using sing-song speech, like nursery rhymes, as soon as possible, say researchers. That’s because babies learn languages from rhythmic information, not phonetic information, in their first months. Phonetic information – the smallest sound elements of speech, typically represented by the alphabet – is considered by many linguists to be the foundation of…read more
  21. Prizes awarded to St John’s students for achieving outstanding results

    Accolades given to 11 current students and recent graduates of the College
    Eleven current and recently graduated students from St John's College have been awarded prizes for their excellent work and results across the University of Cambridge. Third-year undergraduate Luke Ashworth has received the Faculty of History Prize of £100 for outstanding performance in Part I of the Historical Tripos. Myra Koh, a second-year undergraduate, has won the Andrew Hall Prize for the…read more
  22. Academic wins French science prize for ‘outstanding’ work in stem cell research

    “This award reflects the essential contributions, insights, and support of my lab members past and present, as well as my many experimental collaborators”
    A Fellow from St John’s has been awarded a prestigious prize worth €20,000 by the French Academy of Sciences for his pioneering research into stem cells and disease. Professor Benjamin Simons has been presented with the 2023 Charles-Léopold Mayer Prize, which is given to researchers who have performed outstanding work in the biological sciences, and especially in the areas of cell or molecular…read more
  23. The Reverend Canon Dr Victoria Johnson appointed as Dean of Chapel at St John’s

    "I am looking forward to working with the world-class musicians at St John’s and creating a space for wonder, love and praise at the heart of College life"
    The Canon Precentor of York Minster has been named as the new Dean of Chapel at St John’s College. The Chapel of St John’s is one of the most recognisable buildings in Cambridge and is home to a lively, welcoming and inclusive community. Dr Johnson will oversee and manage the provision of services and the conduct of divine worship in the College Chapel, the activities of the choirs, and the…read more
  24. Numbers come up for students in Cambridge competition tackling misinformation

    “I am delighted to have had our work recognised as the winning concept”
    A Master’s student at St John’s has won the Cambridge Misinformation Hackathon with two friends - and the trio all did their undergraduate degrees at the same university in South Africa.  Josephine (Josie) Rey and her teammates Gregor Feierabend, from Trinity Hall, and Luca Powell, from Wolfson College, developed a method to address misleading numerical claims in the media for the…read more
  25. Ancient litter reveals history of ordinary people who lived during first Mediterranean ‘superpower’

    “One of the strengths of archaeology is its potential to reveal the lives not just of the people who wrote history but also the silent majority ‘beyond history’”
    The lives of farmers and shepherds who toiled on the land in Italy up to 8,000 years ago have been pieced together for the first time in a new book. The Etruscans ruled Etruria – now the western side of Italy between Rome and Florence – between the eighth and fourth centuries BC when their civilisation was absorbed by the Roman Empire, and their people were the first ‘superpower’ of the…read more