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St John's College News

  1. Books, babies and breastfeeding

    "I submitted the manuscript to the publishers just after 11pm on 30 April and I had my new baby daughter a few hours later"
    Dr Jodi Gardner, Director of Studies for Law at St John’s, had a remarkably busy time in lockdown. She finished two new books with three young daughters at home, taught classes online, and gave birth to her fourth child. As part of our series of pandemic stories from St John’s, she tells us how she did it. One of the best things about teaching at St John’s is the connection you have with your…read more
  2. Writer-in-residence nominated for £25,000 prize

    “We were unsettled, captivated and compelled. Poetry is the most resilient, potent, capacious and universal art we have”
    A book by Sasha Dugdale, St John’s College writer-in-residence, has been shortlisted for the most valuable prize in British poetry. Sasha is one of 10 poets in the running for this year’s £25,000 TS Eliot Prize for collections of poems that the judges said ‘unsettled, captivated and compelled’. Her book, Deformations, was published in July and features poems themed around the creation and…read more
  3. Molecular biologist honoured for PhD findings

    “His fundamental discovery is of broad importance and impact”
    An ‘exceptional’ young scientist has been given an international award for new discoveries he made in mammal cell biology while a postgraduate student at St John’s. Dr Patrick Chitwood is one of just six biologists worldwide to receive this year’s International Birnstiel Award for Doctoral Studies in the Molecular Life Sciences from the Research Institute of Molecular Biology (IMP) in Vienna, in…read more
  4. Dining room to Old Divinity School

    "When students turn up to start their courses, there is a sense of completion and fulfilment, because that's the real aim of the whole admissions process"
    In the second article in our series of pandemic stories from St John’s, Ross Agnew, Undergraduate Admissions Administrator, talks about starting a new job during lockdown, navigating the A-Level results crisis, and the unexpected silver linings for Cambridge Admissions. April was a strange time to begin a new job. I had just done my final weeks in the Cambridge Admissions Office, where I was…read more
  5. Library tiling inspired by work of Nobel Prize-winner Sir Roger Penrose

    All calculations must be done by hand, which would put off most people, but the tiles were invented purely for fun by Sir Roger
    'Ingenious' Professor Sir Roger Penrose, alumnus and Honorary Fellow of St John's, has just won a Nobel Prize for Physics for his research on the formation of black holes, but did you know that he also designed a mathematical tiling system? Known as Penrose tiling, it shows what is known as fivefold symmetry and an example of the tiling decorates the floor at the entrance to the Library at St…read more
  6. Room where D-Day landings were planned has lockdown refurbishment

    “The Normandy Invasion may seem a million miles from the sedate atmosphere of the Combination Room of St John's but for three days at the end of March 1944 the room played a very significant role in the preparations for the Landings”
    Army officials planned the D-Day landings in the Senior Combination Room at St John’s College – now 76 years later the oak floor of the historic room has been returned to its 17th century roots. The 93ft Senior Combination Room on the first floor of Second Court was a key location for planning the D-Day landings because its lengthy floor space was ideal for poring over maps. The D-Day combat…read more
  7. Members of St John’s recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

    The Queen’s Birthday Honours List recognises the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom
    A Fellow of St John’s has been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to scholarship. Professor Stefan Reif, who has been a Fellow of St John’s since 1988, has been named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list alongside four other members of St John’s including Honorary Fellow Professor Sheena Radford who was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (…read more
  8. Sky’s the limit for postgraduate tackling mountain hike to boost mental health support for young people

    “It will not only help an incredible charity to potentially save lives but will also show people with low self-esteem or self-doubt that they’re capable of much more than they give themselves credit for”
    A postgraduate student from St John’s plans to trek up Africa’s tallest mountain to raise £10,500 for a suicide prevention charity to inspire young people to take care of their mental health and wellbeing. Gav Topley is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of PAPYRUS, the national charity for the Prevention of Young Suicide, with Charlie Kerry-Pickering, his best friend from home in Nottinghamshire…read more
  9. Above and beyond

    “Our department is like a big wheel and each of us is a different spoke. If we were all the same that wheel won’t go round”
    In the first of a series of stories from St John’s, Porter Mark Nelligan tells us he has seen many changes over the years but nothing as challenging as the pandemic, which he had rather more experience of than most. At the forefront of College life, the Porters have been working round-the-clock to keep our community safe this unusual Michaelmas Term and, as Mark reveals, their welcome is as warm…read more
  10. Academic features in WWF film highlighting crucial role the finance sector can play in helping to save the planet

    “If we don’t improve our relationship with nature, it’s not just the financial system that’s in jeopardy but every other system to which we belong, including life itself”
    A leading economist and St John’s Fellow has joined forces with Sir David Attenborough to call for ‘urgent change’ to the finance sector to help tackle the climate emergency. Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, Professor Emeritus of Economics and head of the UK Treasury’s Economics of Biodiversity review, features in Our Planet: Too Big To Fail, along with Sir David, Greta Thunberg, environmental…read more
  11. Nobel prize in physics awarded to St John’s scientist for black hole formation work

    “For the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity”
    Three scientists have won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on blackhole formation and the discovery of a supermassive blackhole at the centre of our galaxy. Professor Sir Roger Penrose, alumnus and Honorary Fellow of St John’s, Professor Reinhard Genzel and Professor Andrea Ghez together scooped the 114th Nobel Prize in Physics today. The Nobel Prizes recognise and reward the…read more
  12. ‘Cambridge is for you’ – student message to applicants from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds

    “We want to share our knowledge and experiences to open up this world to as many people as possible”
    An undergraduate at St John’s has helped launch an initiative that aims to ‘change the face of Cambridge University’. Josh Adeyemi is a founding member of aim – a new student-led access project set-up to inspire students from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds to apply to Cambridge. It covers topics from misconceptions of Cambridge, to imposter syndrome and whether students get judged for…read more
  13. Heather Hancock, Master of St John's, gives her first video address to the College community

    "Crises come and crises go - and for more than 500 years, St John's College has shown that it always comes through. Coronavirus does not lessen my excitement or enthusiasm about our future"
    Heather Hancock was formally admitted as Master of St John's College on 1 October 2020. A group of 30 Fellows attended a small Admission ceremony in the College Chapel. Due to Covid-19 regulations, Heather is not be able to meet as many members of the College in person as she would have been able to do in normal times, so a video address to the community was recorded. In it, she says how she…read more
  14. Ex-slave Mary Prince was a ‘savvy narrator’ who used religion to convince the British public that black people were human beings

    “Mary Prince brought a distinctly female voice to the abolition debate at a time when women’s voices were completely obscured”
    When The History of Mary Prince, the first account of a black woman’s life in Britain, was published in 1831 it scandalised the British public, galvanised the anti-slavery movement and contributed to the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. But who was Mary Prince, slavery’s everywoman whose revelations about the reality of life as a female slave spoke for millions of silent women? And…read more
  15. ‘Truly exceptional’ evolutionary biologist receives prestigious grant

    The applications were narrowed down to the candidates with ‘truly exceptional project ideas and personalities’
    A scientist at St John’s has been awarded a Fellowship for outstanding postdoctoral researchers. Dr Joana Meier has been selected by The Branco Weiss Fellowship – Society in Science as one of nine ‘truly exceptional’ new Fellows after an extended global recruitment campaign. The Branco Weiss Fellowship Society in Science is a postdoc programme for scientists with a proven track record who are…read more
  16. A quartet of St John’s students take part in University Challenge

    "I felt pretty confident that we weren’t going to embarrass ourselves too much because we had done so much practice"
    A team of students from St John’s will go head-to-head with a team from the Royal Academy of Music in the new series of University Challenge. The 11th first-round match of the series will be screened on Monday, September 21 at 8.30pm on BBC Two. The episode sees the contestants battle it out in a bid to reach the second stage of the toughest quiz show on television. The St John’s team is made-…read more
  17. World’s largest ever DNA sequencing of Viking skeletons reveals they weren’t all Scandinavian

    “This study changes the perception of who a Viking actually was”
    Invaders, pirates, warriors – the history books taught us that Vikings were brutal predators who travelled by sea from Scandinavia to pillage and raid their way across Europe and beyond. Now cutting-edge DNA sequencing of more than 400 Viking skeletons from archaeological sites scattered across Europe and Greenland will rewrite the history books as it has shown: Skeletons from famous Viking…read more
  18. Pandemic spurs undergraduate brothers into launching price-busting PPE company

    “We hope to build transparency in this market and ensure that no-one is overpaying for PPE”
    Student brothers from St John’s College have founded a non-profit organisation offering high quality PPE at cost-price in the ongoing fight against Covid-19. Fifth-year medic Aman Mehan, 23, and his 20-year-old geography student brother Kavi, who finished his second year at St John’s last term, launched the Cost Price PPE website from their home in Manchester during lockdown in May.  The…read more
  19. Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert 2020

    The concert will be livestreamed this year
    The fourteenth annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert will take place on Tuesday 29 September 2020. The concert will be given by Margaret Phillips FRCO ARCM at 8pm in Christ Church Cathedral, and this year it will be streamed live online due to the pandemic; physical attendance is not possible. Ms Phillips will play an hour-long programme of organ works by Bach, Böhm, Frescobaldi, Marchand and…read more
  20. Virtual September Open Days offer a taste of College life for Year 12 students

    “It is never too early to start thinking about university”
    There’s no time like the present for Year 12 students to think about their University application, says the St John’s College Admissions team in the run-up to this month’s Cambridge Open Days. St John’s has combined its September Open Days and Taster Days to create a lively programme of online sessions designed for prospective applicants just entering their first year of sixth form. To get a…read more
  21. Undergraduate named as Millennium Fellow of United Nations

    “These 12 undergraduate leaders are demonstrating through scholarship and action how to meaningfully contribute to society with empathy, humility, and inclusion as guiding values”
    A St John’s undergraduate is one of 12 ‘extraordinary’ Cambridge students chosen for an international leadership programme that works towards United Nations goals.  Amy Bottomley has been awarded a Millennium Fellowship by United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and Millennium Campus Network (MCN), which is designed to help student leaders develop the skills and values they need to work in the…read more
  22. Britain’s first new opera since lockdown to be performed live to an audience

    "The characters capture the defiance and solidarity that we have all experienced during these strange times"
    The only new opera commissioned since lockdown features the work of three talented graduates of St John's and will be the first to be performed live onstage with an audience.  A Feast in the Time of Plague will be performed by Grange Park Opera on 13 September in The Theatre in the Woods at West Horsley Place estate, Surrey, to an invited audience. The opera was composed by award-winning…read more
  23. Talented St John’s student is finalist in Undergraduate of the Year Awards

    “Reaching the final is a huge achievement for the 120 or so student finalists, with over 4,500 entries from 140 different universities”
    A gifted mathematician at St John’s has reached the finals of a top student awards programme that brings together prominent employers and talented undergraduates. Mary Letey, who is about to enter the third year of her Mathematics degree, is a finalist in the ‘Future Chief Financial Officer’ (CFO) category of the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2020. Now in its 11th year, the awards…read more
  24. St John’s professor receives lifetime achievement award for career in educational research

    "The John Nisbet Fellowship particularly recognises those whose work has informed the improvement of policy and practice"
    The St John’s winner of the world’s largest education prize has been given a lifetime achievement award for her outstanding contribution to educational research. Professor Usha Goswami, who is a global leader in literacy research and was awarded with the $3.9 million Yidan Prize in March, has received the John Nisbet Fellowship from the British Educational Research Association (BERA). A…read more
  25. Undergraduate Admissions 2020 – statement

    St John’s College welcomes the announcement by Ofqual that the regrading algorithm is to be scrapped. All students who have already received confirmation of their offers will be admitted. We are delighted that we shall now also be able to admit all offer-holders whose Centre-Assessed Grades meet the conditions of their offers (and who still wish to come). As many students as possible will be…read more