St John's College News

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. ‘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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. Working motherhood research earns St John’s academic a place on shortlist of world’s top thinkers

    “In the lockdown, all responsibility for children was thrown back to parents, and the burden was unequally shared – underlining the enduring power of the tropes McCarthy identifies”
    St John’s Fellow Dr Helen McCarthy has been named in a prestigious list of the world’s 50 top thinkers of 2020. Prospect magazine ‘salutes the scientists, philosophers and writers reshaping our times’ in ‘the world’s top 50 thinkers for the Covid-19 age’. The publication has been producing its ‘intellectual hit parade’ in varying formats since 2014 but this year’s list reflects what Editor Tom…read more
  9. ‘Incisively intelligent’ Fellow of St John’s dies aged 76

    ‘His loyal friendship, often extending over decades, enriched countless lives’
    Historian Dr Peter Linehan, known for his legendary hospitality and loyal friendship, died today. He is survived by his wife Christine and their three children, Gabriel, Frances and Samuel.  Born on 11 July 1943, Peter Linehan arrived in Cambridge in 1961 to study History as an undergraduate at St John’s College. He continued to postgraduate study and completed his PhD on ‘Reform and reaction:…read more
  10. College Library wins award for technology excellence

    “Users in College are receiving the best provision of library services"
    St John’s College Library contains thousands of historic books and manuscripts – and it has now been recognised for using technology to provide the best standards of service. The Technology Excellence in Libraries Award (TEiLA) has been granted to the College Library by Book Industry Communication (BIC), the UK book industry’s dedicated independent supply chain organisation. Sponsored by The…read more
  11. One in five Georgian Londoners had syphilis by their mid-30s, new study suggests

    "The majority of young adults living in London 250 years ago contracted an STI at some point in their lives"
    More than one-fifth of Londoners in the 18th century contracted the sexually transmitted disease syphilis by their 35th birthday, historians have calculated. The same study shows that Georgian Londoners were over twice as likely to be treated for the disease as people living in the much smaller city of Chester at the same time (c.1775), and about 25 times more likely than those living in parts…read more
  12. St John’s scientist is awarded lifetime honour for her pioneering research

    “The new Members have contributed to the success of research in the life sciences in Europe and around the world”
    Two Fellows of St John's have been awarded membership of the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in recognition of their remarkable scientific achievements.  Professor Uta Paszkowski was granted membership in recognition of her remarkable achievements in the life sciences, and Professor Eske Willerslev was honoured for his internationally renowned work in ancient genomics…read more
  13. Take a virtual tour of St John's College

    "Choosing a College is always hard, but it is even tougher during a pandemic when you can't visit in person"
    Thousands of prospective students usually flock to Cambridge during the summer to attend Open Days and academic taster sessions but the global pandemic has meant those events have been cancelled. But you can still get a taste of life at St John's by going on a virtual tour around College with Amy, one of our student ambassadors. read more
  14. Virtual concert featuring College members and alumni to be streamed on Facebook

    "I hope that watching the concert will bring you some pleasure at the end of a challenging term"
    Close harmony singing, atmospheric choral pieces and Big Band music will feature in an online concert on Friday 3 July. The May Concert usually takes place in Chapel at the end of Easter Term to bring the academic year to a close, but this year a virtual concert will be streamed instead to allow people to enjoy St John's music from their own homes. The St John’s Virtual College Concert will take…read more
  15. Discover life and study at St John's at our Virtual Open Days

    Get a real taste of what it’s like to be a first year student living and studying at our beautiful College
    Are you in Year 12 and thinking about applying to Cambridge? Join us for our Virtual Open Days this Thursday 2 July and Friday 3 July! Although the Cambridge Open Days have been cancelled so sadly you can’t visit us in person, you can still get a real taste of what it’s like to be a first year student living and studying at our beautiful College by joining us for our fun and informative virtual…read more
  16. ‘Outstanding’ Babylonian Noah book shortlisted for award

    The book opens up new perspectives on Babylonian and Assyrian literature
    A book by a Fellow of St John’s that revealed a 3,000-year-old example of ‘fake news’ was nominated for a scholarly publisher’s award. Ea’s Duplicity in the Gilgamesh Flood Story by Dr Martin Worthington was one of three titles shortlisted in the Outstanding Monograph – Humanities and Media Arts category in the Taylor & Francis 2019 Book and Digital Product Awards. Published by Routledge in…read more
  17. Professor and Reader promotions for senior St John’s academics

    All university promotions take effect from 1 October
    Six Fellows of St John’s have received academic promotions from the University of Cambridge. Two academics were promoted to Professorships, and four were promoted to Readerships.  Dr Michael De Volder, College Lecturer in Engineering at St John’s, has also been promoted to a Professorship. His research interests are nanoparticle manufacturing and assembly. Dr Kristian Franze, Director of…read more
  18. Finding my ‘inner red’

    “I would love for someone to read something I’ve written and feel like it was ok to be alive”
    To mark the publication of her second book, Red Gloves, poet and Library Projects Assistant Rebecca Watts tells us about why she started writing poetry, her love of landscape and how she accidentally followed Wordsworth from Cumbria to Cambridge. In normal life people don’t talk about poetry and they don’t think it is especially important – it is not in your life unless you make it be in your…read more
  19. ‘We will never forget you’ – Vice-Master tells Class of 2020

    "The road to a Cambridge degree is always challenging and you are the generation that got there in the midst of a global pandemic"
    Hundreds of students should be processing to the Senate House this week to graduate from the University of Cambridge. The global coronavirus pandemic has meant the usual general admission events have been cancelled, and students have been encouraged to graduate in absentia with the promise of a belated celebration at a later date. To mark what would have been the day the 2020 cohort of students…read more
  20. Student scientist spends lockdown finding best way to make effective homemade masks

    “Designing a face mask that optimises filtration and is easy to clean will be a great aid in ensuring as many people as possible are protected”
    Homemade masks should be made from high quality cotton with layers of other textiles underneath to slow the spread of Covid-19 – according to research by an undergraduate at St John’s.  Jago Strong-Wright, Natural Sciences student, has reviewed the efficacy of masks made from material people can find around the house, from vacuum cleaner bags to old lycra leggings and cotton bedsheets. His work…read more
  21. Florentine 'spy' uncovered as designer of historic German palace by St John's researcher

    “In a time before the rapid dissemination and easy accessibility of news, strategically placed individuals would have been highly valuable to rulers as a means of finding out what was happening abroad"
    A palace in Germany designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was designed by a Florentine architect thought to have been a secret informant for the Medici, a powerful Catholic Italian family – according to new research. The Weimar Residenzschloss was originally built at the end of the 10th century and until the 18th century it was the official residence of the Dukes who ruled Saxe-Weimar – a…read more
  22. Scientists use garden plants to make hydrogen – the world’s ‘most promising’ renewable fuel

    “This sunlight-driven process has the potential to be a low-cost and sustainable way to make hydrogen”
    Researchers have shown that hydrogen can be made using garden plants and river water leading to hopes the green energy source could be manufactured without using fossil fuels. Professor Erwin Reisner, Fellow of St John’s College, University of Cambridge, led a team of researchers who used plants collected from the College gardens and water from the River Cam to produce renewable hydrogen. The…read more
  23. Free menstrual cups offered to St John's students

    “"This project shows College's commitment to improving students’ quality of life and promoting environmentally friendly ways of living.”
    A project to provide free sustainable sanitary products to St John's students has been launched after it received financial backing from the College.  The new scheme aims to provide a sustainable alternative to single-use sanitary products that see 200,000 tonnes of waste go to landfill or end up in waterways every year in the UK alone. It also tries to tackle the issue of period poverty, which…read more
  24. Scientist says lessons learnt during coronavirus pandemic ‘must be applied to climate crisis’

    "Fundamental change is needed and we should not lose sight of that during the coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath"
    The academic in charge of co-ordinating St John’s College’s ambitious new plans to tackle climate change has said the world must not ignore the ‘potentially catastrophic’ threat on the horizon. The College, which is one of the largest Colleges of the University of Cambridge, has released a statement on the climate crisis acknowledging the emergency facing humanity and setting out a plan to…read more
  25. St John’s wins prestigious Gold environmental award

    “It’s very encouraging to see students, staff, and Fellows of St John’s recognising and responding to the climate crisis in diverse and dynamic ways”
    St John’s has scooped a Gold award in the Cambridge Green Challenge for the College’s debut entry. The University of Cambridge named St John’s College as one of the Gold winners of the annual Green Impact Awards. The awards encourage everyone working or studying at the University to take action to reduce their environmental impact and for Colleges, Departments and Faculties to implement a range…read more