St John's College News

  1. Johnian helping vaccines roll-out, opera singers and Royal curator receive Queen’s Birthday Honours

    “Throughout the pandemic we have seen countless examples of everyday heroes”
    Four alumni from St John’s have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for their extraordinary work in the arts and in shaping the UK’s Covid-19 vaccines strategy. The list of 1,129 people demonstrates the efforts made by individuals in all four nations of the United Kingdom during the pandemic. They include St John’s alumnus Oliver Excell, Project Manager on the Vaccine Task Force, who…read more
  2. Antiquity Prize awarded for study into Neanderthal cave skeleton

    ‘Most significant new Neanderthal remains for a generation’
    St John's Fellow Professor Graeme Barker is leading a team of archaeological scientists who have won the 2021 Antiquity Prize for their outstanding research into the remains of a Neanderthal unearthed in Iraqi Kurdistan. Professor Barker has been jointly awarded the annual prize for the paper New Neanderthal remains associated with the ‘flower burial’ at Shanidar Cave with colleagues Dr Emma…read more
  3. Ten years of ancient genome analysis has taught scientists ‘what it means to be human’

    “The last 10 years have shown us what it means to be human. We won’t ever see that depth of human experience on this planet again – people entered new areas with absolutely no idea of what was in front of them”
    A ball of 4,000-year-old hair frozen in time tangled around a whalebone comb led to the first ever reconstruction of an ancient human genome just over a decade ago. The hair, which was preserved in arctic permafrost in Greenland, was collected in the 1980s and stored at a museum in Denmark. It wasn’t until 2010 that evolutionary biologist Professor Eske Willerslev was able to use pioneering…read more
  4. Undergraduate wins Sports Personality of the Year after making a splash

    "Rebecca's positivity and bubbly personality is infectious and everyone smiles a little wider and laughs a little more whenever she is around"
    An ‘inspirational’ second-year at St John’s has been named University of Cambridge Sports Club Personality of the Year after helping to keep the women’s water polo team afloat through the pandemic. Undergraduate Rebecca ‘Becca’ Howitt has been described as ‘one of a kind’ by her team mates after she stepped up to the role of women’s water polo Captain and Social Secretary from being the youngest…read more
  5. St John’s awarded Platinum accolade for green initiatives

    “The award is a great credit to staff across all departments who have taken a lead on driving down our environmental impact”
    St John’s College has achieved the top environmental award in the University of Cambridge Green Challenge just a year after scooping Gold with its debut entry. The annual Green Impact awards, which are linked to a nationwide scheme, encourage everyone working or studying at the University to take action collectively to reduce their environmental impact and to implement a range of sustainable…read more
  6. Transforming Second Court for the 21st century

    "We wanted to create a modern, welcoming environment"
    This summer, St John’s will be undertaking the most significant building project since the Old Divinity School redevelopment – a new social area that will revolutionise Second Court. Louise Hanzlik talks to Domestic Bursar Helen Murley and Tim Waters, Head of College Buildings, about the new Community Hub. For more than 400 years Second Court has been at the centre of College life, soaking up…read more
  7. Scientists can predict which women will have serious pregnancy complications

    “This work provides new hope that a better understanding of the placenta will result in safer, healthier pregnancies for mothers and babies”
    Women who will develop potentially life-threatening disorders during pregnancy can be identified early when hormone levels in the placenta are tested, a new study has shown. Pregnancy disorders affect around one in ten pregnant women. Nearly all of the organ systems of the mother’s body need to alter their function during pregnancy so that the baby can grow. If the mother’s body cannot properly…read more
  8. National honour for St John’s scientist from Romania working at the forefront of green energy research

    "Our research may one day contribute towards a sustainable fuel economy"
    A Research Fellow from St John’s who has helped to develop artificial leaves to produce renewable energy has been recognised for representing Romanian academics overseas. Dr Virgil Andrei was named Student of the Year in the 2021 League of Romanian Students Abroad Gala for his pioneering research, and being a mentor and ambassador for Romanian expats. Announcing the winner from Bucharest via…read more
  9. Architectural historian elected as member of prestigious American Philosophical Society

    “This is a great honour, and I am proud to have joined such an illustrious body”
    The oldest learned society in the United States has named Professor Deborah Howard, Fellow of St John’s College, as one of its new members. The American Philosophical Society was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of America who helped draft the Declaration of Independence. It has played an important role in American cultural and intellectual life for more than 270…read more
  10. St John’s announces ground-breaking plan to offer free university places to country’s most disadvantaged students

    “Removing serious financial barriers for prospective students is a powerful signal that Cambridge really is for everyone”
    St John’s College has launched the UK’s most generous programme to fully-fund the education and living costs at Cambridge University for students from lower-income backgrounds. The Free Places financial support package will cover tuition fees, accommodation costs, and other day-to-day living expenses for up to 40 undergraduate students at a time. Eligible students will be able to access more…read more
  11. Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert 2021

    An hour-long programme of organ works will be livestreamed
    The fifteenth annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert will take place on Thursday 24 June 2021. The concert will be given by James O'Donnell FRCO HonRAM at 8pm in Christ Church Cathedral, and it will be streamed live online due to the pandemic; physical attendance is not possible. Mr O'Donnell will play an hour-long programme of organ works by Bach, Handel, de Grigny, Gibbons and Byrd.  Dr…read more
  12. 'Poems are play-spaces for a special mode of connection'

    "Something happens when a book is published and the contents start to exist in a fixed way, outside and away from the author"
    Dr Alex Wong, College Associate Lecturer and Director of Studies for English Literature, will see his second book of poetry, Shadow and Refrain, hit the shelves next week. The collection is a sequel to Poems Without Irony, which was published in 2017 and shortlisted for The Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize and The Roehampton Poetry Prize. It was also heralded as an ‘astoundingly well-crafted…read more
  13. Talented student wins speaker prize at UK-wide law conference

    “Being encouraged and aided in critically and thoughtfully engaging with ideas, rather than just learning them, has been incredibly rewarding”
    An ‘exceptional’ Law undergraduate at St John’s has won the title of Best Student Speaker at a new academic conference. Christopher Hose, a fourth-year BA Law student, won the award for what judges called ‘his ambitious presentation on good faith’ at the inaugural University College London (UCL) Private Law Conference. He was one of just five students from universities across the UK chosen to…read more
  14. St John’s researcher among ‘exceptional’ health scientists elected Fellow of prestigious Academy

    “The greatest health advances rely on the findings of many types of research, and on multidisciplinary teams and cross-sector and global collaboration”
    A cancer research pioneer from St John’s College who uses maths to better understand human biology has today been elected to The Academy of Medical Sciences Fellowship. Less than a week after becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society, Professor Benjamin Simons FRS FMedSci has been named as one of 50 leading biomedical and health scientists to be elected to the Fellowship of the prestigious Academy…read more
  15. Philosopher’s thumbs-down to social media ‘likes’ gets award thumbs-up from Royal Institute

    “Social media likes absolve us of the guilt of not responding to others’ posts but creates the bare minimum of human connection”
    The Royal Institute of Philosophy has awarded (jointly) its 2021 essay prize to a University of Cambridge researcher for the first philosophical analysis of ‘liking’ on social media. The essay, which focuses on Facebook, warns that ‘likes’ encourage communicative laziness while ‘like tallies’ fuel fake news, ‘gamify sociality’ and play to our psychological weaknesses. 'Please Like This Paper',…read more
  16. ‘This global emergency cannot be ignored’ – Master of St John’s reveals action plan to tackle climate crisis

    "There is no compromise where climate change is concerned - it is the defining issue of our time"
    St John’s has launched a series of ‘big and demanding’ climate crisis commitments to help the College reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The College’s bold manifesto has been launched by Heather Hancock, Master of St John’s, and will be embedded in every aspect of life at one of Cambridge’s largest Colleges. St John’s has also adopted a policy of divestment in all meaningful…read more
  17. Royal Society awards Fellowships to three pioneering St John’s scientists working for the benefit of humanity

    “The global pandemic has demonstrated the continuing importance of scientific thinking and collaboration across borders”
    The Royal Society has today elected seven outstanding Cambridge researchers to its 2021 Fellowship of eminent scientists – including three academics from St John’s. Professor Usha Goswami CBE FRS, Professor Richard Samworth FRS and Professor Benjamin Simons FRS are among 60 newly-elected Fellows and Foreign Members to join the world’s longest-running scientific academy. The three St John’s…read more
  18. St John's holds first subject-specific virtual Admissions Clinics

    “We hope prospective students will enjoy the chance to chat to our Directors of Studies”
    St John’s College is launching a new series of online Admissions Clinics for Year 12 students and other prospective undergraduates thinking about applying to Cambridge to study in 2022. The Admissions Clinics are subject-specific for the first time and will be running weekly from 13 May until 29 June. They will be followed by the Virtual July Open Days on 8 and 9 July when students coming to the…read more
  19. Engineer, scientists and #MeToo researcher among Gates Cambridge scholars aiming to change the world

    “Like their predecessors, this year’s cohort are extraordinarily impressive”
    Four ‘outstanding’ international postgraduates have been offered places at St John’s College in October, as part of the Gates Cambridge scholarship programme. St John’s alumni Emma Houiellebecq and Claudia Cornelissen, along with Clara Munger, are among 73 new scholars-elect who are due to make up the Gates Cambridge Class of 2021. A fourth postgraduate, Elizabeth Wiita, was named in February by…read more
  20. The Redboys smash fundraising target for Sam

    Members of the St John's rugby team bear-crawled backwards around the College rugby pitch 777 times
    The Redboys have raised nearly £7,000 for the Bone Cancer Research Trust in memory of St John’s grad and former rugby club captain Sam Fitzsimmons, who died last year aged 23. Over 21 days in March, members of the St John's rugby team bear-crawled backwards around the College rugby pitch 777 times – or the equivalent if they were away from Cambridge and taking part remotely – for Fitzy's Fund. …read more
  21. ‘Delight’ as two College Directors of Studies win teaching Prize

    “Winning a Pilkington Prize during such a challenging time is particularly meaningful”
    Two Fellows from St John’s have been awarded the coveted Pilkington Prize in recognition of their teaching excellence. Dr Hannah Joyce and Dr Edward Tipper are among 13 winners of this year’s prize, which is awarded annually by the University of Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning. They will each receive £1,000. Dr Joyce, who is Director of Studies in Engineering Part IB, College…read more
  22. Two St John’s Fellows among awardees of European funding for frontier research

    “We look forward to seeing what major insights and breakthroughs will spring from this investment and trust”
    A physicist and a statistician from St John’s College are among 209 leading researchers to win a share of €507 million in funding from the European Research Council ‘to follow their scientific instinct and dreams’. Professor Sir Richard Friend and Professor Richard Samworth, both Fellows of St John’s, have been awarded Advanced Grants of €2 million and €2.1 million respectively, beating tough…read more
  23. Maths Open Days sum up what it is like to study Mathematics at St John’s

    “We’ll be able to give a flavour of what makes St John’s such a special place”
    St John’s will be holding live online Maths Open Days for the first time to give prospective Mathematics students a taste of the course and College community. The interactive sessions will take place on the morning of the Faculty of Mathematics Open Days on 1 and 8 May for those considering applying for the Undergraduate Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge. Each St John’s open day starts at 11am…read more
  24. Fellow’s ‘landmark history’ of the lives of working mothers shortlisted for top writing Prize

    “It displays a deeply-felt respect for the subject’s significance”
    St John’s Fellow Dr Helen McCarthy has been shortlisted for the UK’s largest history writing prize for her critically acclaimed book about mothers in the workplace. Dr McCarthy, College Lecturer in Modern History and Reader in Modern and Contemporary British History, is one of just six authors shortlisted for the 2021 Wolfson History Prize for her book Double Lives: A History of Working…read more
  25. Stone Age black bears didn’t just defecate in the woods – they did it in a cave too

    "Analysis of DNA found in soil could have the potential to expand the narrative about everything from the evolution of species to developments in climate change"
    Scientists have sequenced ancient DNA from soil for the first time and the advance will transform what is known about everything from evolution to climate change. The findings have been described as the ‘moon landings’ of genomics because researchers will no longer have to rely on finding and testing fossils to determine genetic ancestry, links and discoveries – and it is thanks to Stone Age…read more