St John's College News

  1. St John’s students scoop University accolades for outstanding academic performance

    End-of-year prizes awarded for exceptional results in exams and dissertations
    Sixteen current and recently graduated students from St John’s College have been awarded University and Departmental Prizes for achieving exceptional results in the 2021-2022 academic year. Mahin Vekaria, a third-year Economics student, received the Adam Smith Dissertation Prize from the Faculty of Economics. Fellow third-year Economics student Maxim Alexandroff Wilson was presented with the…read more
  2. Prehistoric roots of ‘cold sore’ virus traced through ancient herpes DNA

    “Something happened around 5,000 years ago that allowed one strain of herpes to overtake all others, possibly an increase in transmissions, which could have been linked to kissing”
    The first ancient herpes genomes to be sequenced suggest that the virus flourished in the Bronze Age due to migrations into Europe and possibly the emergence of kissing. Ancient genomes from the herpes virus that commonly causes lip sores – and currently infects some 3.7 billion people globally – have been uncovered and sequenced for the first time by an international team of scientists led by…read more
  3. Fast food diet before pregnancy can impact breast milk and baby’s health, say scientists

    “A diet with high sugar and high fat content could have consequences for the growth of the baby before birth, and health and wellbeing after birth”
    A diet high in sugar and fat such as burgers, fries and fizzy drinks can negatively affect a new mother’s breast milk and baby’s health even before the child is conceived. The new study using lab mice has found that even relatively short-term consumption of a fast food diet impacts women’s health, reducing their ability to produce nutritional breast milk after giving birth. This can affect the…read more
  4. Graduates invited to apply for Research Fellowships 2023

    Opportunity to carry out independent research in a stimulating and supportive academic environment
    St John’s College invites applications for up to four Research Fellowships, tenable for up to four years from 1 October 2023. The Fellowships offer an opportunity to carry out independent research in a stimulating and supportive academic environment.  Applications will be accepted from any graduate of a university within or outside the United Kingdom. Successful candidates are normally…read more
  5. ‘Coming to St John’s was like walking into a fairytale’ – the women who made history as our first female students

    “We’d seen a bit of the world, so it was easy to cope with being one of the few women in such a large male College”
    From Lady Margaret Beaufort’s financial bequest, which enabled the foundation of St John’s College in 1511, to the appointment of the first female Master in 2020, women have played a crucial role in shaping the College community we know and love today. In 1980, Fellows of the College voted to admit women to St John’s as students and Fellows – a move which was heralded as the ‘most profound…read more
  6. Student discovers secret pandemic letter stashed under floorboard

    “I excavate things and then try and guess about the people that lived or left objects there. I suppose I did a bit of excavation in my own room”
    As a PhD researcher whose work straddles archaeology and anthropology, James Clark is used to digging up the past dating back two million years. But he never expected a loose floorboard in his student room at St John’s College to give up its own historical secrets – albeit from only two years earlier. James, who is in the second year of his postgraduate studies into stone tools of the…read more
  7. Lifetime honour for St John’s children’s cancer specialist

    “The new EMBO Members and Associate Members are exceptional scientists”
    A pioneering St John’s scientist has been awarded membership of the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in recognition of his outstanding work in the research and treatment of children’s brain tumours. Professor Richard Gilbertson, a paediatric oncology clinician scientist, is the Director of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre and a Fellow of St John’s College. His…read more
  8. Director of Music at St John’s appointed as Organist and Master of Choristers at Westminster Abbey

    “Andrew Nethsingha combines an unwavering commitment to musical excellence with a pioneering spirit”
    Andrew Nethsingha will lead the musical life of Westminster Abbey after he was named as the next Organist and Master of Choristers at one of the United Kingdom’s most notable religious buildings. Andrew, who has been Director of Music at St John’s College since 2007, will succeed James O’Donnell, who has been appointed as Professor in the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music.…read more
  9. Maternal gut bacteria promotes healthy development of the baby

    “This study, carried out in mice, identifies the maternal microbiome as a new player in the communication between mother, placenta and fetus”
    Researchers studying mice have found the first evidence of how a mother’s gut microbes can help in the development of the placenta, and the healthy growth of the baby. A new study has found that a species of gut bacteria, known to have beneficial effects for health in mice and humans, changes the mother’s body during pregnancy and affects the structure of the placenta and nutrient transport -…read more
  10. Postgraduates recognised for outstanding work in fields of Computer Science, Education and Physics

    Top national and university prizes for students from St John's
    Three researchers from St John’s have been awarded top academic prizes for excellence in their PhD studies. Yoàv Montacute, a second-year PhD student in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, has been awarded The Alan Turing Enrichment Award for the academic year 2022-2023. Basma Hajir, a fourth-year PhD candidate in Education and Conflict, has been awarded the 2022 Faculty of…read more
  11. New Acting Vice-Chancellor announced as Honorary Fellow at St John’s

    “He is an exceptionally able colleague and strong leader”
    Dr Anthony Freeling, the incoming Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, has been elected to an Honorary Fellowship at St John’s College. Dr Freeling, who is currently President of Hughes Hall, will take up his appointment as Acting Vice-Chancellor from 1 October 2022 on the departure of Professor Stephen J Toope. Dr Freeling first came to St John’s College in 1975, completing…read more
  12. The medical student who is a real high-flyer

    “I love the aerobatics, the adrenaline rush of going upside down and pulling 5G and the technical skill and concentration required at every landing”
    Meet final-year St John's student doctor Adil Lakha, who is an RAF Officer Cadet with Cambridge University Air Squadron. What brought you to St John’s? I’m from a working-class background in Lancashire. No-one in my family had been to university and I didn’t really consider Cambridge, but my chemistry teacher suggested I apply. So I did and managed to get in; six years later, here I am. I chose…read more
  13. Fit for a Queen

    “We walked through the small garden, and could not at first find our way, after which we discovered the right road, and walked along the beautiful avenues of lime-trees in the grounds of St. John's College, along the water and over the bridges”
    In 2022, Her Majesty The Queen has become the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee after 70 years on the throne. To mark the historic reign of Queen Elizabeth II, Jo Tynan looks at the Royal welcome St John’s has given to various members of the monarchy during the College’s first half a millennium. Queen Elizabeth II. Lady Margaret Beaufort, founder of St John’s, belonged to…read more
  14. From rap star to student

    “When I got to Cambridge, it felt like I got to shed the clothes of my old life, but I should have just been me”
    Ten years ago Niyi Adelakun, a successful rapper and DJ, left his music career behind to study at St John’s. Now doing a PhD in Education, he has rediscovered his voice and his place in the world. Karen Clare tuned in to find out more. Performing in front of 18,000 fans at a festival and hanging out with the likes of and Lady Gaga may sound like a dream come true but for Niyi the…read more
  15. St John’s economist joins 800-year-old tradition that has recognised some of the world’s foremost thinkers, leaders, and traders

    “If we care about our common future and the common future of our descendants, we should all in part be naturalists”
    Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta has received the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of his world-leading research which called for transformational change in our economic approach to nature. The St John’s academic was awarded the honour during one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence - becoming a Freeman of the City is believed to have been first bestowed in…read more
  16. Project on the ‘critical’ future of advanced computing in the UK headed up by St John’s academic

    “Advanced compute is fundamental to the UK’s national interest”
    A Government review into how the UK can use advanced computing to power technologies of the future is being led by Artificial Intelligence (AI) expert Professor Zoubin Ghahramani, a Fellow of St John's. The Future of Compute Review, which is part of the UK Government’s new Digital Strategy, was launched by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak at the start of London Tech Week on Monday 13 June…read more
  17. Athletes from St John’s in the running for University Sports Awards 2022

    The Sporting Moment award celebrates ‘those unforgettable moments that live long in the memory after graduation’
    A winning ice hockey goal and Boat Race victory are among the historic achievements that have propelled students from St John’s onto the University of Cambridge Sports Awards 2022 shortlist. The annual Sports Service awards, which began in 2019-2020, share and celebrate the success of the University sports clubs and those individuals within them and there are seven categories: Sporting Moment of…read more
  18. Tributes paid to Professor of Pathology who discovered that cells die

    “His work helped to open a new field of study with wide significance in biology and medicine, including particular relevance to cancer”
    Award-winning pathologist Professor Andrew Wyllie has died after a long illness. The father-of-three was part of a team of researchers at the University of Aberdeen who discovered ‘apoptosis’ – the process of cell death. Their seminal work has been credited with ‘opening a new field of study’. Andrew Wyllie graduated in medicine and science from Aberdeen University in 1975, he became a Fellow…read more
  19. St John’s awarded Platinum accolade for green initiatives

    “This award recognises the College's initiatives on the ground including improving biodiversity, managing waste appropriately, and sourcing food locally and responsibly”
    St John’s has achieved the highest environmental award in the University of Cambridge Green Challenge for the second year in a row. The annual Green Impact awards encourage everyone at the University to take action collectively to reduce their environmental impact and to implement a range of sustainable policies that lead to positive change. St John’s has been praised for achieving the Platinum…read more
  20. Winning student artists and photographers announced in College competition

    “The winning entries stood out for their original and memorable subject matter, fine compositions and technical excellence”
    The talented and creative winners of St John’s College Art and Photography Competition have been revealed. Entries of photos, paintings, prints, sculpture and film were all invited for the 2022 competition, which was open to all Junior Members of College in residence and closed at the end of April. All entries were made anonymous for the judging, which was carried out by a panel comprising…read more
  21. All in the bones

    “It revived many old memories, ghosts from a distant past”
    A student’s family ties to the discovery of Neanderthal remains more than half a century ago have added another layer to the research of two St John’s academics. Karen Clare began digging to find out more. When St John’s undergraduate Andrew Smith spoke to his grandfather, Philip, during a visit to Cambridge Department of Archaeology in April, the video call brought together three archaeologists…read more
  22. New artist’s impressions released of community hub

    Designs of new Buttery, Bar and Café are revealed
    The revamp of the south-west corner of Second Court to transform it into a contemporary social centre is continuing apace and new images showing the proposed transformation have been produced. The artist’s impressions show what the new Buttery, Bar and Café will look like once the building project is finished and the College’s 17th-century Second Court is restored as the social centre of the…read more
  23. Earth-abundant solar pixels found to produce hydrogen for weeks

    "Few solar fuel systems show stabilities which are compatible to real-world applications. With this work, we make a step forward towards establishing a circular fuel economy"
    Devices made of readily available oxide and carbon-based materials can produce clean hydrogen from water over weeks - according to new research.  The findings, co-led by Dr Virgil Andrei, a Research Fellow at St John's College, University of Cambridge, with academics at Imperial College London, could help overcome one of the key issues in solar fuel production, where current earth-abundant light…read more
  24. Top international prize for St John’s academic for his work fighting childhood cancers

    “I share this award with all my amazing colleagues and collaborators – including patients and their families – who work together to ensure cancer is no longer a leading cause of death among children across the world”
    A St John’s scientist whose pioneering research identified the origins of aggressive childhood brain tumours has been named The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering prize-winner for 2022. Professor Richard Gilbertson has been awarded The Society Prize, a prestigious recognition that is awarded annually to a researcher, physician, or team lead who has made a positive and lasting impact in the…read more
  25. 'Treasured' College members honoured by students at awards ceremony

    “The Student-Led Teaching Awards were created by Cambridge SU to celebrate outstanding teaching and staff support from across Cambridge University”
    A Fellow and a Library Assistant from St John’s College have both won awards from Cambridge University students for 'going the extra mile' to provide exceptional support that helps them 'realise their dreams'.  Dr Jodi Gardner and Rebecca Le Marchand were among nearly 400 academics and members of staff across the University and its Colleges nominated in the 2022 Student-Led Teaching Awards (…read more