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St John's College News

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. ‘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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. Cambridge academics given special engineering awards for transformative Covid-19 work

    “Engineering expertise and innovation has been central to the global fight to save lives and protect livelihoods”
    An ‘exceptional’ team of Cambridge engineers led by a St John’s academic has been specially honoured for its service during the Covid-19 crisis. Professor Duncan McFarlane, from the University Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), is the Covid response coordinator for a group of 37 colleagues and engineering students who together have been awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering President’s…read more
  15. End-of-the-world film release marks fresh start for student writer and director

    “I wanted to tell this epic story about death, religion, the apocalypse and the end of the world. But I wanted to do it in a comedic way, celebratory of life”
    A film about the apocalypse has sparked new beginnings for its student creator from St John’s following its release on streaming service Amazon Prime. Jasper Cresdee-Hyde, who has just finished his first year, made the feature-length Tales from the Apocalypse during his 2018-2019 gap year. The Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) student juggled filmmaking with waiting tables to earn…read more
  16. St John’s academic wins Royal Society award for outstanding work in computer science

    “The Royal Society’s medals and awards celebrate those researchers whose ground-breaking work has helped answer fundamental questions and advance our understanding of the world around us”
    A world-leading computer scientist from St John’s has been named the winner of a top award by the prestigious Royal Society. Professor Zoubin Ghahramani FRS, Professor of Information Engineering and a Fellow of St John’s, was awarded the Royal Society Milner Award and Lecture 2021 for his ‘fundamental contributions to probabilistic machine learning’. The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of…read more
  17. The Choir of St John’s College release world premiere recording of specially commissioned work by Michael Finnissy

    "This is extremely beautiful music - rich, deep, full of colours, emotions and allusions. The music requires time to marinade in the listener’s mind"
    An album of music inspired by the architecture of the iconic chapel at St John's College will be released by The Choir of St John's in August.  The world premiere recording of Michael Finnissy’s Pious Anthems & Voluntaries captures the composition of his nine-part cycle, which was commissioned by the Choir and written over a three-year period. Michael Finnissy is the Composer in Residence…read more
  18. Award for St John’s sustainability star

    “The College’s Gold award and this student leadership award reflect that St John’s is serious about sustainability and the climate emergency”
    A student environmentalist has jointly won an award in the University of Cambridge’s 2020 Green Impact programme. Jessica Tearney-Pearce scooped the special Student Leadership Award following praise for her ‘exceptional drive and enthusiasm’ in her nomination by Vicky Jeffries, the College’s Maintenance Payments and Utilities Co-ordinator. The pair organised the debut St John’s entry in the…read more
  19. Cromwell's 'final' portrait discovered in Henry VIII Bible reveals bid to influence the King

    "I’ve looked at the St John’s Great Bible title page very many times and I had no idea that those faces were pasted on later"
    Illustrations in a Tudor Bible were changed in the 16th century to win Henry VIII’s approval and boost the position of Thomas Cromwell, his right-hand man, according to new research. A copy of the Great Bible of 1539 from St John’s College, University of Cambridge, was analysed by a historian and a heritage scientist whose findings shed new light on Cromwell’s political manoeuvrings and…read more
  20. Vice-Master elected as a Fellow of the British Academy

    “I am greatly honoured, and genuinely humbled, to have been elected a Fellow”
    The Vice-Master of St John’s has been elected as a Fellow of the British Academy. Professor Tim Whitmarsh was appointed as Vice-Master of St John's in September 2019 and has led the College as the Covid-19 pandemic affected Cambridge and the rest of the world. The British Academy is the 'voice of the humanities and social sciences'. It is an independent fellowship of world-leading scholars and…read more
  21. Vikings had smallpox and may have helped spread the world’s deadliest virus

    “By sequencing the earliest-known strain of the killer virus, we have proved for the first time that smallpox existed during the Viking Age”
    Scientists have discovered extinct strains of smallpox in the teeth of Viking skeletons – proving for the first time that the killer disease plagued humanity for at least 1400 years. Smallpox spread from person to person via infectious droplets, killed around a third of sufferers and left another third permanently scarred or blind. Around 300 million people died from it in the 20th century alone…read more
  22. Earliest humans stayed at the Americas ‘oldest hotel’ in Mexican cave

    “Chiquihuite Cave is the first site that dates the arrival of people to the continent to around 30,000 years ago - 15,000 years earlier than previously thought”
    A cave in a remote part of Mexico was visited by humans around 30,000 years ago – 15,000 years earlier than people were previously thought to have reached the Americas. Painstaking excavations of Chiquihuite Cave, located in a mountainous area in northern Mexico controlled by drugs cartels, uncovered nearly 2000 stone tools from a small section of the high-altitude cave. Archaeological analysis…read more
  23. ‘I have come to admire poetry that is generous, wise, unafraid’

    “Poetry should be shared in schools – handed out like sweets or marbles”
    Sasha Dugdale, writer-in-residence at St John’s College, talks poetry, pizza and ‘Pitysad’, the final sequence in Deformations, her newly-published collection of poems. The last major poetry event at St John’s will remain long in Sasha Dugdale’s memory for more reasons than one. ‘Poetry Leap’ featured Cambridge poets Mina Gorji, James Womack, Bhanu Kapil, Maria Stepanova and Scottish poet Juana…read more
  24. Tributes paid to ‘unrelentingly kind’ former student who has died

    "We will be true to his values as we learn how to live without him"
    A ‘legendary’ former captain of St John’s Rugby Club has died from a rare cancer age 23. Sam Fitzsimmons died at home in Cheshire, surrounded by his family on 16 May 2020 - less than two years after he was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a cancer that affects bones, or the tissue around bones, in children and young people. His beloved family and friends have paid tribute to the St John’s graduate…read more
  25. University Challenge winner, diversity campaigner, and composer amongst winners of 2020 Larmor Awards

    The Larmor Awards recognise ‘intellectual qualifications, moral conduct, or practical activities’
    Eight exceptional St John’s students have been honoured with Larmor Awards – an annual prize begun in the 1940s to recognise ‘intellectual qualifications, moral conduct, or practical activities’. Named after Sir Joseph Larmor, the 20th-century physicist and mathematician who was both a student and Fellow at St John’s, the awards are usually presented in the Master’s Lodge on the morning of…read more