Latest news

Darwin Fellow Dame Jane Francis elected FRS

06 May 2021

Congratulations to Professor Dame Jane Francis, who has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society!

Professor Francis is Director of the Briitsh Antartic Survey, and has been a Fellow of Darwin College since 2013.  Her research covers palaeoclimatology and palaeobotany, specialising in the study of fossil plants, especially woods, and their use as tools for climate interpretation and information about past biodiversity.  Her career has encompassed positions at Bedford College, University of London; Adelaide University, Australia; and at the University of Leeds, where she became Professor of Palaeoclimatology in 2008, and was also Dean of the Faculty of Environment 2008-2013. 

Jane became Director of the British Antartic Survey in 2013 (the first woman to hold this post), and became a Fellow of Darwin College in the same year. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael & St George (DCMG) in 2017, and became Chancellor of the University of Leeds in 2018. 

Jane joins five other Fellows of Darwin College, six Emeritus Fellows of Darwin College, and twelve Honorary Fellows of Darwin College who hold the accolade of Fellowship of the Royal Society. 

The Master, Dr Mike Rands, said “I most warmly congratulate Professor Dame Jane Francis on her election as a Fellow of the Royal Society for her amazing contributions to our knowledge of the climate history of polar regions. She joins a growing number of distinguished Darwin Fellows recognised by the Royal Society for their pioneering scientific research”

External links:
Royal Society - announcement of new Fellows 2021
British Antartic Survey

Darwin College Vice-Masters

30 Apr 2021

Congrautulations to Dr Sara Baker, who joins Professor Fiona Karet as co-Vice-Master from 1 May 2021.  Professor Jonathan Heeney steps down as co-Vice-Master, although he continues to be a Fellow of Darwin; and Professor Fiona Karet continues as co-Vice-Master. 

The Master of Darwin College, Dr Mike Rands, said:

"I am delighted to congratulate Professor Fiona Karet on her re-election as a College Vice-Master and Dr Sara Baker on her election as a College Vice-Master from 1st May 2021. Sara brings invaluable knowledge and skills to this role from her research and teaching in the Faculty of Education in addition to her experience as a College Deputy Dean. I feel very fortunate to have such experienced, dedicated and supportive Vice-Masters and look forward to working with them both, as the College and the rest of this country gradually emerge from the current lockdown.

I would also like to express my enormous gratitude to Professor Jonathan Heeney for his contribution as a Vice-Master over the last two and a half years. Both he and Fiona have been most kind, generous and wise in helping me take up the Master’s reigns at Darwin, for which I am deeply grateful.  I know I speak for all Darwinians when I say how much we appreciate Jon’s commitment to the College and his extraordinary contribution to medical research, including the development of new vaccines to prevent pandemics caused by viruses such as Influenza and Coronaviruses."

Dr Sara Baker (Faculty of Education)
Professor Fiona Karet (Cambridge Institute for Medical Research)
Professor Jonathan Heeney (Department of Veterinary Medicine)

Dr Iain Morley

20 Apr 2021

Darwin College is greatly saddened to announce the death of Dr Iain Morley, who very sadly died of cancer in February 2021 at the age of 46.  He was a Research Fellow at Darwin from 2005-2008, during which period he co-organised the 2008 Darwin Lecture Series "Serendipity". 

Dr Morley specialised in Palaeolithic archaeology and evolutionary origins of music, ritual, and religious behaviour in humans. He was the author of The Prehistory of Music, and regularly spoke on the radio and contributed to television programmes. During his career, Iain excavated in Britain, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Libya, Italy and Greece.   Dr Morley joined Darwin as a Research Fellow from Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he completed his PhD in 2004. After his time at Darwin he moved to Oxford, where he held positions at Keble College, St Hugh's College, and at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.  

Article on the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography website
Article on St Hugh's College Website

Darwin College welcomes 4 new Gates Scholars

16 Apr 2021

Darwin is delighted to welcome four new Gates scholars.

Mary Devellis - MPhil in Health, Medicine, and Society
David Lee - PhD in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Blanca Piera Pi Sunyer - PhD in Psychology
Michael Salka - PhD in Architecture

The Gates Cambridge scholarship programme, which this year celebrates
its 20th anniversary, is the University of Cambridge’s leading
international postgraduate scholarship programme.

It was established through a US$210 million donation to the University
of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000; this
remains the largest single donation to a UK university. Since the first
class in 2001, Gates Cambridge has awarded over 2,000 scholarships to
scholars from 111 countries who represent more than 600 universities
globally and more than 80 academic departments at Cambridge.

More details about the Gates Cambridge programme are available here -

HRH Prince Philip

09 Apr 2021

The College is greatly saddened to hear of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, former Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, who died on 9th April 2021. The University of Cambridge flourished, and grew considerably, during his 35 years as Chancellor.

Prince Philip visited Darwin in his capacity as Chancellor on the occasion of a Darwin Lecture given in 1978. He was a particularly strong supporter of engineering, and a keen advocate for the establishment of the Regius Professorship in Engineering at Cambridge in 2011, a position first held by Darwin Fellow the late Professor Sir David MacKay.

Conservation was another of HRH’s special interests, and he often met with Cambridge students and researchers in this area. The University created the Prince Philip Professorship of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology to mark the 30th anniversary of his Chancellorship in 2007. Dr Michael Rands, Master of Darwin said: “I was so very sorry to hear of the death of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh. He was a passionate champion of nature conservation worldwide, deeply committed to higher education and research, and an outstanding Chancellor of this University. On behalf of the Darwin College community I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Royal family”.

Further tributes can be found on the University website 

New Honorary Fellow: Professor Amrita Narlikar

Amrita Narlikar

25 Mar 2021

Darwin College is delighted to announce the election of Professor Amrita Narlikar as an Honorary Fellow of the College.

Professor Amrita Narlikar is the President of the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg. She is also full Professor at the University of Hamburg, and non-resident Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Delhi.  Before moving to Hamburg, she was Reader in International Political Economy at Cambridge. She was also an Official Fellow of Darwin College from 2008-2015. She has intellectual roots in Balliol College, Oxford (where she was awarded her M.Phil. and D.Phil.), the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and St Stephen’s College, Delhi.

Prof. Narlikar’s research specialism lies in International Political Economy and International Relations, with a focus on international trade, multilateral negotiations, economic statecraft, and the global south. She has published extensively on different aspects of the politics and economics of the World Trade Organization, the rise of new powers, and the reform of multilateralism. She also maintains an academic and personal interest in ancient Sanskrit texts, particularly the Mahabharata.

We welcome her return to the College, now as our youngest Honorary Fellow!

Professor Narlikar's profile at GIGA

University statement on gender violence

17 Mar 2021

The University has released the following statement in light of recent

'Cambridge stands in solidarity with victims of gender violence. 
Harassment of any kind has no place in society and we remain committed
to leading change'.

Darwin College completely supports this statement and if you have been
affected by gender violence, or indeed any form of violent act, please
talk to one or more of your Graduate Tutor, the Deanery, the DCSA
Welfare Officers, the police - or follow this link to a variety of other

SHNH Stearn Essay Prize 2020 awarded to Amelia Urry

04 Feb 2021

Darwin College PhD student, Amelia Urry has been awarded the SHNH Stearn Essay Prize 2020 for her essay ‘Hearsay, Gossip, Misapprehension: Alfred Newton’s secondhand histories of extinction’. Amelia is a student in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and you can read more about her essay here

Darwin College Lecture Series 2021

19 Jan 2021

The Theme this year is 'Blood'.  Every year since 1986 Darwin College has organised a series of eight public lectures. Each lecture is presented to a general audience by a leading authority on his or her subject. This year is no exception, the Darwin College Lecture Series 2021 will be happening on-line.  ALL LECTURES WILL BE UPLOADED EVERY FRIDAY FROM 22nd JANUARY TO 12th MARCH TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

To be notified each time a lecture is uploaded to YouTube subscribe to our channel. Then to get notifications go to your profile picture (top right), click settings and then allow notifications. Plus, join our mailing list and receive a weekly email during the Lecture Series giving you a synopsis of the lecture and a link to the talk.


Dr Paul Ries

13 Nov 2020

Darwin College is sad to announce that Emeritus Fellow, Dr Paul Ries, died on Monday 9 November 2020 at his home.

Paul was elected as a Fellow in 1973, was College Secretary from 1977 – 1990, and was a University Lecturer in Scandinavian Studies.

Paul is survived by his widow, Charlotte. There will be a private funeral service for family members only, and it was Paul’s wish that no memorial service be held or tribute made.

Dr Michael Rands installed as Master

Dr Mike Rands

02 Oct 2020

Dr Michael Rands was installed as the seventh Master of Darwin College on 1 October 2020.

He was admitted as Master by Vice-Master Professor Fiona Karet, with Professor Jonathan Heeney (Vice-Master), John Dix (Bursar), Julian Evans (College Secretary), and Tim Milner (Deputy Praelector) in attendance. 

Dr Mike Rands installation
L-R: Prof John Heeney (Vice-Master), Dr Michael Rands (Master), Julian Evans (College Secretary), Prof Fiona Karet (Vice-Master), John Dix (Bursar), Tim Milner (Deputy Praelector).

Dr Mike Rands installation #2

Cambridge to lead national consortium examining immune response to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

29 Aug 2020

The study is one of three new UK-wide studies receiving a share of £8.4 million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The consortium is a collaboration led by Professor Wilhelm Schwaeble and Professor Jonathan Heeney (co-Vice-Master, Darwin College) at the University of Cambridge, and Dr Helen Baxendale at the Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Trust. Read more on the national effort by UK immunologists to understand immune responses to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, here.

Cambridge-developed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine receives £1.9million from UK government for clinical trial

26 Aug 2020

Congratulations to Professor Jon Heeney, co-Vice-Master of Darwin College, and his team at the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics, who have received funding for a collaboration between Cambridge spin-out company DIOSynVax (which is contributing an additional £400,000 to the trial), the University of Cambridge and the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust for a vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 which could begin clinical trials in the UK in late autumn or early next year. Read more on this story here.
The news is also receiving coverage by the media including Reuters.

College message on the explosion in Beirut

13 Aug 2020

College Council met this morning and agreed the following statement:

"The College expresses its deepest sorrow over the tragic destruction in Beirut, and sends profound sympathy to all affected, including current and former Darwin members, and to those who know and love that wonderful city and its people."

13 August 2020

The Life Scientific - Professor Andy Fabian on Black Holes

11 Aug 2020

Professor Andy Fabian, Emeritus Fellow and former Vice-Master of Darwin College is interviewed by Professor Jim Al-Khalili on BBC Radio 4's The Life Scientific. Listen to the programme here

Meet the volunteers behind the masks

31 Jul 2020

Dr Iosifina Foskolou, the Evelyn Trust Patrick Sissons Fellow at Darwin College, has been one of those volunteering with Covid-19 testing at Addenbrooke's. Read more about some of the scientist volunteers here

Cambridge research team working towards vaccine against COVID-19

23 Jul 2020

The race is on to find a vaccine against the new COVID-19 coronavirus. Professor Jonathan Heeney, co Vice-Master of Darwin College explains why a cautious approach is needed and how his team is using new technology developed for influenza and Ebola viruses to target the new infection. Read more about the research here. The Department of Veterinary Medicine was also featured on the BBC earlier this week and you can see Professor Heeney and members of his team in the item featured here at minute 11.27.

Richard King

30 Jun 2020

Richard Ashton King CBE 1929-2020

Darwin College is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Emeritus Fellow, Richard King, who died on 28 June. 

Richard had enjoyed a long and successful business career in Cambridge, including as Chair of Aveva Group, Founder and former Chairman of Xaar plc, and Chief Executive of Cambridge Electronic Industries. He was one of the key businessmen in the establishment of the Cambridge Cluster.  He had served as Chair of the Cambridgeshire Health Authority, and as Deputy Chair of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

He was appointed CBE in the 1991 New Year Honours.

Richard was elected a Fellow at Darwin in 1986, and he and his wife Anne have been part of the College family ever since. 

Professor Mary Fowler, the Master of Darwin, said: “Richard was a truly great friend to the College, and his advice and encouragement have enormously benefitted the College over many years.  We are also immensely grateful to him for his many benefactions, which have enabled the College to develop its estate and renew student accommodation.  He was also a generous and enthusiastic supporter of the Darwin College Lecture Series.  Our thoughts are with Richard’s family at this time.”

The flag will fly at half-mast on Tuesday 30 June.

Professor Hugh Mellor

22 Jun 2020

The College is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Professor Hugh Mellor, Fellow of Darwin College 1971-2005.

David Hugh Mellor was born in 1938, and studied Chemical Engineering at Pembroke College Cambridge, before studying at the University of Minnesota, where he took an M.Sc. in 1962, with a Minor in Philosophy supervised by Herbert Feigl. After working in ICI for a year, he returned to Pembroke to do a Ph.D. on the nature of chance, supervised by Mary Hesse. Hugh became a University Assistant Lecturer in Philosophy in 1965, a Lecturer in 1970, a Reader in Metaphysics in 1983 and the Professor of Philosophy from 1986 to 1999. He was a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 2000 to 2001.He was awarded an ScD in 1990, and an Honorary PhD from Lund University in 1997.

Professor Mellor was a Fellow of the British Academy from 1983 to 2008, President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science from 1985 to 1987, President of the Aristotelian Society from 1992 to 1993, and Chairman of the Analysis Trust from 2000 to 2008. He became an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2003.  In recent years he became a generous supporter of Darwin, funding studentships in philosophy - for which the College is profoundly grateful. 

The Master of Darwin College, Prof Mary Fowler, said: "I remember Hugh as a Fellow from my own time in Darwin as a PhD student in the 1970s. It was a real pleasure to reconnect with him over recent years.  He was a greatly-valued member of our community and will be sorely missed."

He had been receiving treatment for lymphoma, and he died on Sunday 21 June at Addenbrooke's hospital.   The College flag will fly at half-mast today. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Brain organoids with the potential to predict drug permeability

12 Jun 2020

Dr Laura Pellegrini, postdoctoral research associate of Darwin College,and member of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, is one of the authors of a paper on Human CNS barrier-forming organoids with cerebrospinal fluid production, published in Science, released 11 June 2020. The press release can be read here.

Message from the Vice-Chancellor:

11 Jun 2020

Darwin College fully endorses the following message from Vice-Chancellor, Steven J Toope:

"Like many members of our community – staff, students and alumni of all ethnicities and backgrounds – I have been deeply disturbed by recent events in the United States, and share a sense of outrage and frustration. The death of George Floyd – and its aftermath – has caused distress to us all, as it is yet another horrible incident in a continuing pattern.

I know that for black members of our community these events create heightened anger and anxiety. Although we are by no means perfect, universities stand for shared opportunity and a fundamental commitment to the creation of knowledge across all barriers of race, language, culture, and background. In the face of intolerance and historically entrenched racism, our community must strive to represent the alternative: openness to all with respectful engagement across our differences. We do not always live up to these aspirations.

But as we witness the social division and deep pain caused by abuse of power and racism, I hope that we will all stand shoulder to shoulder to say ‘Enough. This must change and we are committed to being part of that change.’

​If any student or member of staff has been affected by these events you may wish to seek advice from the University Counselling Service or from the Equality and Diversity Team."

Professor Andy Fabian awarded Kavli Prize

28 May 2020

Professor Andrew Fabian, Emeritus Fellow, former Vice-Master of Darwin College, from the Institute of Astronomy has been awarded the 2020 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics, one of the world's most prestigious science prizes. Professor Fabian is one of seven scientists from five countries honoured for breakthrough discoveries in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters today announced the 2020 Kavli Prize Laureates in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. This year’s Kavli Prize honours scientists whose research has transformed our understanding of the very big, the very small and the very complex. The laureates in each field will share $1million USD. Read more on Professor Fabian's award here

Joint statement about the academic year 2020/21 from the Heads of all 31 Cambridge Colleges

26 May 2020

A joint statement about the academic year 2020/21 from the Heads of all 31 Cambridge Colleges, including Darwin College's Master, Mary Fowler.

"As heads of Cambridge Colleges we have been concerned in recent days to see headlines around the world making the claim that Cambridge will be moving entirely online next year. These claims have caused unnecessary alarm to students and our wider community. We are a Collegiate University, and our strength is that so much student activity takes place in Colleges, from small-group teaching and pastoral care to music and sport.

We will always take the latest public health advice and clearly there will be challenges in providing all this in the next academic year. Online lectures will make a key contribution. But we are determined to do our best to bring the Colleges and the University back to life with intensive in-person learning in the traditional locations together with the widest possible range of activities.


Jane Stapleton, Master, Christ’s College; Athene Donald, Master, Churchill College; Anthony Grabiner, Master, Clare College; David Ibbetson, President, Clare Hall; Christopher Kelly, Master, Corpus Christi College; Mary Fowler, Master, Darwin College; Alan Bookbinder, Master, Downing College; Fiona Reynolds, Master, Emmanuel College; Sally Morgan, Master, Fitzwilliam College; Susan Smith, Mistress, Girton College; Pippa Rogerson, Master, Gonville & Caius College; Geoff Ward, Principal, Homerton College; Anthony Freeling, President, Hughes Hall; Sonita Alleyne, Master, Jesus College; Michael Proctor, Provost, King’s College; Madeleine Atkins, President, Lucy Cavendish College; Rowan Williams, Master, Magdalene College; Barbara Stocking, President, Murray Edwards College; Alison Rose, Principal, Newnham College; Chris Smith, Master, Pembroke College; Bridget Kendall, Master, Peterhouse; John Eatwell, President, Queens’ College; David Yates, Warden, Robinson College; Mark Welland, Master, St Catharine’s College; Catherine Arnold, Master, St Edmund’s College; Tim Whitmarsh, vice-Master, St John’s College; Roger Mosey, Master, Selwyn College; Richard Penty, Master, Sidney Sussex College; Sally Davies, Master, Trinity College; Daniel Tyler, acting vice-Master, Trinity Hall; Jane Clarke, President, Wolfson College; Michael Volland, Principal, Ridley Hall."

There is further information about the position across Cambridge on the university website:

Update on the 2020-21 Academic Year

21 May 2020

Darwin College supports the University’s decision to deliver large lectures online in 2020-21 to protect the health of all students and staff. It will have minimal impact on our postgraduate-only community, as postgraduate teaching is rarely conducted via large lectures. Postgraduate students are mostly taught, or conduct their research, in small groups and/or individually with their supervisors. This will continue, within the health regulations and guidelines for social distancing.

The University's latest statement on the 2020-21 academic year can be found via this link.

Cambridge University Graduates help Hospital Preparation for Pandemic

12 May 2020

Graduates from the University of Cambridge, including George Melman, Darwin College MPhil student, have been combining their skills with the latest simulation software to help Addenbrooke’s predict what resources – such as oxygen, ventilators and beds – it needs to get through the COVID crisis.

The group of students and researchers have been volunteering their time and knowledge to help the hospital make sure it has the right resources in place so it can deliver the best care for patients.

Volunteer George Melman (Darwin College), from the Institute for Manufacturing, explained: “We know the COVID curve has now flattened, but will definitely not go away in the foreseeable future. Further waves of hospital admissions can be expected but in unpredictable shapes and sizes. The team (including graduate student Kaya Dreesbeimdiek and researcher Ajith Parlikad) is making use of simulation software to account for different scenarios and large variability in parameters, such as the length of stay of a patient.”

The data-driven approach helps the hospital to make informed decisions about the equipment it will need to use operating theatres and intensive care units. It will also identify bottlenecks in resources and help the hospital prepare for non-COVID care, such as emergency surgery and elective surgery.

Dr Ewen Cameron, Executive Director of Improvement and Transformation at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, said: “We are extremely grateful to the graduates for assisting us. Identifying what resources the hospital needs can be challenging at the best of times and the unpredictability of COVID-19 has made that process even more difficult. Any help we can get to manage our resources efficiently and effectively to help us continue to provide the very best care for patients, is gratefully received.”


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