St John's College News

  1. Starmaker: the astrophysicist telling stories through music

    “Astrid uses real science from my degree as it was important to me that it was as believable as possible”
    A science fiction musical co-written by astrophysicist Georgia Rawlins during the pandemic was abruptly cancelled when Covid-19 restrictions tightened shortly before it was due to be performed. This term Astrid finally made its stage debut at the ADC Theatre with a new cast and received rave reviews. Undergraduate Georgia talks science, telling stories through music, and ruining the nativity at…read more
  2. Always looking up

    “My favourite spot in College is looking through the big door frame of the Eagle gate. It is like a picture and I often walk more slowly or stop for just a moment”
    You might not know her name, but Norma Paterno-Lotto is a very familiar face in the Buttery – she is the cashier who asks if we really want to buy a bar of chocolate or would we prefer a nice tangerine instead?! Jo Tynan finds out more about the Argentinian catering assistant who has been known to shed a few tears when the students graduate. I met my husband in primary school at home in…read more
  3. Talented performers, sportspeople and ‘brilliant historian’ among winners in 2021 Larmor Awards

    Recommendations based on ‘intellectual qualifications, moral conduct and practical activities’
    Seven ‘outstanding’ St John’s students have been honoured in the prestigious Larmor Awards in recognition of their excellent academic results and contributions to College life. The prize, which began in the 1940s, is named after Sir Joseph Larmor, the 20th century physicist and mathematician who was both a student and Fellow at St John’s. He made breakthroughs in the understanding of electricity…read more
  4. From refugee to student: ‘How I came to St John’s is a miracle’

    “We would have been in danger if we had stayed in Iran”
    First-year undergraduate Amir Kadkhodaei has faced more challenges than most to achieve his dream of coming to Cambridge. He told Karen Clare about his journey to St John’s after fleeing the regime in Iran. Amir at St John's College. Credit: Nordin Ćatić. Three years ago Amir was an ordinary 16-year-old student in Tehran but when his family converted to Christianity, they were forced to leave…read more
  5. St John’s partners with new Mathematics School to increase diversity in subject

    “Mathematical skills are essential to 21st century life, and the Cambridge Mathematics School will be an exemplar of best practice in the subject”
    A new state-funded specialist sixth form in Cambridge will open in September 2023 with a focus on pioneering learning and increasing diversity in the field of maths. The Cambridge Mathematics School – developed in partnership with the University of Cambridge – will be based in Mill Road, Cambridge, and will welcome 16 to 19-year-old A-Level students from across the East of England. The aim is to…read more
  6. China’s problem war heroes

    “For most of their lives, the majority of KMT veterans who stayed in China, together with their family members suffered political stigmatisation, social discrimination, and severe economic difficulty.”
    As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) celebrates its 100th anniversary, new research gives voice to a long-suffering group of Second World War veterans and the volunteers determined to honour them. Red army veterans play a powerful role in Chinese state propaganda, all the more so in 2021, the CCP’s centenary year. By contrast, events to honour nationalist soldiers, who were the mainstay of China…read more
  7. Living descendant of Sitting Bull confirmed by analysis of DNA from the legendary leader’s hair

    “Genetic matches can be checked irrespective of whether an ancestor is on the father or mother’s side of the family”
    A man’s claim to be the great-grandson of legendary Native American leader Sitting Bull has been confirmed using DNA extracted from Sitting Bull’s scalp lock. This is the first time ancient DNA has been used to confirm a familial relationship between living and historical individuals. The confirmation was made possible using a new method to analyse family lineages using ancient DNA fragments,…read more
  8. Hinsley Memorial Lecture 2021

    The Hinsley Memorial Lecture will be given by Professor Patricia Clavin
    The 21st Hinsley Memorial Lecture will take place in person on Thursday 11 November and will be given by Professor Patricia Clavin FBA, Professor of International History at the University of Oxford. The lecture is entitled A History of Future Shocks: Turbulence in 20th-Century History and it will investigate the challenges of the inter-connected world by exploring the search for ‘sustainable…read more
  9. Poland honours St John’s Fellow and world expert on Chopin

    “The music of Chopin has a unique capacity to speak to listeners directly and individually, while uniting them in shared experience”
    A St John’s academic and world-renowned expert on the Polish composer and pianist Fryderyk Chopin has been awarded a medal of honour at a special ceremony in Warsaw. Professor John Rink received the Bene Merito, an honorary decoration of the Republic of Poland awarded by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for contributions to activities strengthening Poland’s position in the international…read more
  10. Humans did not cause woolly mammoths to go extinct – climate change did

    “Scientists have argued for 100 years about why mammoths went extinct – humans were blamed for hunting them to death”
    For five million years, woolly mammoths roamed the earth until they vanished for good nearly 4,000 years ago – and scientists have finally proved why. The hairy cousins of today’s elephants lived alongside early humans and were a regular staple of their diet – their skeletons were used to build shelters, harpoons were carved from their giant tusks, artwork featuring them is daubed on cave walls…read more
  11. Legal eagles walk together to help advice charities

    “Our amazing first years who showed up had only known each other for a week at the time, they really symbolise St John’s to me”
    Law students and Fellows from St John’s were part of a University team who put their best feet forward to support a justice charity helping people in need. It was the first time that the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law has participated in the Cambridge Legal Walk, part of a series of sponsored 10k events around the country that raise funds for The Access to Justice Foundation, which…read more
  12. Girls and women to sing as members of The Choir of St John’s

    “Extending membership to talented female singers creates an exceptional new musical opportunity for women and girls”
    St John’s College will continue its reputation for musical excellence by featuring male and female voices – both adults and children – in its world-renowned choir for the first time. Founded in the 1670s, The Choir of St John’s has a rich, warm and distinctive sound. Known internationally for its broadcasts, concert tours and more than 100 recordings, the choir is made up of around 20 choristers…read more
  13. ‘Mudcub’ sculptures continue College tradition of celebrating diversity

    “They express our desire to be an ally to students of any background - a supportive community of people from many cultures”
    A contemporary art installation that brings together the themes of diversity, inclusion, ecology and humanity has moved to St John’s College for the academic year. The ‘mudcubs … with the heart of a child’ exhibit features life-size bronze figures of children – along with two penguins  –  created by Nicola Ravenscroft, the award-winning British sculptor who was recently commissioned to create a…read more
  14. Queen Elizabeth I would tell Boris to tax the rich rather than cut universal credit

    “The evidence of history is that societies and economies fare much better with a strong welfare state and when you cut welfare to make savings, you damage society and the economy”
    A ‘compelling’ new book about how Covid-19 rocked the world argues that Elizabeth I would have supported the poor in the aftermath of the pandemic. The Tudor Monarch introduced the world’s first universal welfare state in 1601 – groundbreaking at the time – in response to repeated plague outbreaks and famines. The ‘Poor Laws’ required all of England’s 10,000 parishes to take responsibility for…read more
  15. Andrew Chamblin Memorial Lecture 2021

    From the possibility to the certainty of a supermassive black hole
    The fifteenth Andrew Chamblin Memorial Lecture, entitled From the Possibility to the Certainty of a Supermassive Black Hole, will be given by Professor Andrea Ghez, 2020 Nobel Laureate in Physics, from the United States. Professor Ghez, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), will talk about new developments in the study of supermassive black holes. Through the capture and…read more
  16. Academic to work with AstraZeneca on developing new and safer drugs

    “The more academics can help our industrial colleagues, the more impact we can have in producing improved medicines”
    A pharmacologist at St John’s has been awarded a prestigious Royal Society Industry Fellowship to work with AstraZeneca on developing life-changing medicines. The fellowship will enable Dr Graham Ladds to be seconded for four years to AstraZeneca, which was among the first in the world to produce a Covid-19 vaccine with scientists at the University of Oxford. Dr Ladds, who is a Fellow of St…read more
  17. St John’s author writes historical saga of Middle Eastern conflict

    “I thought I would write a novel because people can be drawn into the lives of the characters”
    A story based around the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which has preoccupied a St John’s Fellow since boyhood, has been published as a novel. A world-renowned expert in microwave energy, author and co-author of more than 200 academic publications, The Young Alexandrians is Dr A.C. (Ricky) Metaxas’s first work of fiction. He became aware of the Middle Eastern conflict while growing up in…read more
  18. PhD student to run London Marathon in memory of late Master

    “Pancreatic cancer is tough to diagnose, tough to treat, tough to research, and tough to survive. I want to do my bit to make sure that everyone affected by it gets the help they need”
    On Sunday morning, Ryan Geiser will pull on his trainers and head to Blackheath to take part in the London Marathon to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK. It may be the postgraduate student’s first ever marathon but it is now the 40th time the iconic race has taken place in the capital. The marathon will follow the usual 26.2 mile route from Blackheath to Pall Mall. Ryan joined the Centre for…read more
  19. Oldest College boat club in Cambridge welcomes former members back for special naming ceremony

    “The club is renowned for its strong and supportive community and its passion for excellence, sportsmanship and welfare”
    Rowers gathered at the Lady Margaret Boat Club to celebrate the launch of two new boats. A men’s eight was named after Professor Sir Christopher Dobson, scientist and late Master of St John’s College, and a women’s four was named after Dame Louise Makin, businesswoman and Honorary Fellow of the College. Around 50 former members of Lady Margaret Boat Club (LMBC) attended the ceremony, led by…read more
  20. Bride and groom who met at St John’s celebrate graduation together

    “We met at a freshers’ party in our first year. We are so pleased we both came to St John’s”
    Newlyweds Joshua Snyder and Hania Adamczyk met at St John’s College as undergraduates – and today walked down the ‘aisle’ together as graduands, a year after finishing their postgraduate studies. The pair were among a congregation of around 50 students to graduate or return to celebrate achieving their degrees in person from the University of Cambridge, some a year late due to the pandemic.…read more
  21. Choral work based on top mathematician’s battle with Covid-19 to be performed at Royal Festival Hall

    “It is a huge honour to take experiences from my brush with death and turn them into verse that captures the very human desire to have hope even in the darkest of days”
    A collection of diary entries written by nurses when a St John's Fellow was in a coma after being struck down by Covid have been transformed into a concert by an award-winning composer. Professor Peter Johnstone was kept alive by a ventilator after he caught Covid at the start of the pandemic. The 72-year-old is a tenor with The Bach Choir, one of the world’s leading choruses, and on 4 March…read more
  22. Research Fellow receives Royal Society funding to harness the power of quantum technology

    “The URF scheme honours high calibre early career scientists throughout the UK and Ireland”
    A physicist from St John’s College has been awarded a University Research Fellowship by The Royal Society to push the frontiers of quantum science. Dr Dorian Gangloff is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, working in the group of Professor Mete Atatüre, physicist and Fellow of St John’s. In October, Dr Gangloff will take up his Royal Society…read more
  23. Ancient Greek ‘pop culture’ discovery rewrites history of poetry and song

    “The diction is very simple, so this was clearly a democratising form of literature”
    New research into a little-known text written in ancient Greek shows that ‘stressed poetry’, the ancestor of all modern poetry and song, was already in use in the 2nd Century CE, 300 years earlier than previously thought. In its shortest version, the anonymous four-line poem reads “they say what they like; let them say it; I don’t care”. Other versions extend with “Go on, love me; it does you…read more
  24. Students awarded prizes for outstanding performances

    University and Faculty prizes 2020-2021
    Fourteen undergraduates from St John's College who achieved excellent results in the 2020-2021 academic year have been awarded University and Departmental prizes. Third year History student Radka Pallová was awarded several prizes. She received the Winifred Georgina Holgate-Pollard Memorial Prize for achieving outstanding results in the Historical Tripos Part II; the Gladstone Memorial Prize for…read more
  25. Student tours set to return to St John’s College during September Open Days

    “We have worked hard during the past 18 months to move all our Admissions events and open days online, but there really is nothing like an in-person experience”
    It has been nearly two years since St John’s students have been able to show prospective applicants around the College’s stunning grounds - but now in-person tours are coming back. The College’s last open days tours took place in September 2019 due to the pandemic. Across the Collegiate University, this year's September Open Days are for students in Years 12 and 13 and equivalent and mature…read more