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Newsletter of Darwin College February 2013

MASTERSHIP - A RETROSPECTIVE for building more rooms. Less noticeable has been the extent to which we have been able to increase accommodation for married couples and families, through the acquisition of flats locally and the conversion of the old Hat and Feathers pub. The extending and maintaining of our scattered and diverse buildings is an unending task, made the tougher by the need to deal with the unexpected, such as floods, asbestos, and eroding foundations.


y boast on retiring is that, over the twelve years of my Mastership, very little that matters for Darwin College has changed. It is true that the number of students has increased by a third. But academically things seem to be at least as strong as I found them. The lunchtime research talks by students and fellows sparkle as ever. The Lecture Series continues to provide publicly accessible but academically serious gems, to an audience which has actually increased colossally over the period as a result of iTunes and the like. Most important, our students seem to be as happy with the College as a community as ever. Their many clubs flourish, the competitive ones bumping

around the league tables as usual. Theirs is still the best graduate bar in Cambridge. Failures to complete degrees and youthful misdemeanours are interesting only for their rarity. And our students still have a statistically improbable propensity to marry each other.

Less obvious changes have brought challenges elsewhere. The financial basis of British higher education has been transformed and the College economy has had to respond. Fees have become a matter of national debate and the future of graduate fees remains uncertain. Whatever the future, we are becoming more dependent on the generosity of our alumni and other admirable benefactors. As in the world beyond the College, our staff have had to cope with increased monitoring and regulation, with changes to accounting standards, student records, immigration requirements, health and safety needs, housing regulations, employment legalities, and on and on. I am full of admiration for the good-natured way the College staff have coped with this incessant increase in the complexity of their work. I am also deeply relieved that we have created a new role of Domestic Bursar to help shoulder the burden.

The source of pride is that this has been during a period of substantial change. Most visibly, our estate has grown. Acquiring the converted eighteenth century brewery of The Malting House was a wonderful start, because it is such a fine and well-placed building. Completing possession of Newnham Terrace has been especially exciting because it has opened up our river bank and the scope

It was very hard handing over my beautiful office, with its incomparable view of the islands, to my successor. It has been such a wonderful place to work. And the team have been a delight to work with. I have no doubt that they will continue to nurture the community that our students deserve.

Willy Brown

Inside Happy Return to Darwin College


The Art of Engineering


May Ball


Lunchtime Seminars


From the Alumni Office


Book: Erasmus Darwin


The Boat Club


Darwin in Pictures


Research Fellows


The Olympics


North Korean Students in Cambridge


News from the DCSA


Laws of Moses Re-Examined


In Conversation With


Dates for the Diary


Architecture in Fashion


LIFE: Darwin College Lecture Series




o have taken over from Professor Willy Brown as the sixth Master of Darwin College is a great honour and a marvellous pleasure. Willy has guided the College calmly and with great success during years of change. He has kept intact what is special about ‘Darwin’ - the community spirit, cheerfulness and academic excellence. There has been a substantial increase in numbers but bricks and mortar have not been forgotten; he’s overseen major growth and improvements to the building stock whilst cherishing the beauty of the College. Darwin today is quite simply one of the world’s loveliest and best groves of academe. Darwin College was informal from the beginning. It was interdisciplinary and the Fellows shared a vision for the community. People talked to each other – an astrophysicist might be in a boat rowing behind a classicist or a theologian. What was so important to the founding Fellows and students is still true today. It’s a tribute to successive Masters and Fellows who have worked closely with the student body that this spirit has been maintained and enhanced over the decades. Darwin College remains a unique and special community in the University, and the evergrowing worldwide body of Darwinians is contributing in so many countries to a better world.


I first came to Darwin College in 1972 as a NERC-funded research student in the then Department of Geodesy and Geophysics, after a Maths degree at Girton. Darwin was a wonderful place then, as now, but much smaller. I spent my PhD tossing around in research ships on the North Atlantic and Mediterranean, and back in Cambridge trying to model seismic waves using the University’s mainframe computer. Time off was in the African bush where my husband, also a Darwinian, was mapping geology. I left Darwin in 1976 for the ETH Zurich on a Royal Society European Exchange Fellowship, moved back to Cambridge for three years with small children and thence to the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, before returning to the UK for a part-time academic post at Royal Holloway in the University of London. In all I have had 14 years of ‘career break’ with our three children – different responsibilities. Part-time became full time, I became Professor of Geophysics and chaired the Earth Sciences department for six years. Most recently I was Dean of Royal Holloway’s Science Faculty. My first weeks here have been very busy meeting people across the College and University, from students to the V-C. This year we welcome 273 new students. They have come from all round the world

and are studying the diversity of subjects that Cambridge has to offer. Over recent years in the student body of 700, roughly one third are on Masters programmes and two thirds working towards a PhD. They are from over 70 countries - 40% from the UK, 30% from the EU and 30% from the rest of the world. I am rapidly learning how the College operates within the ancient fabric of the University. At times the University feels like something out of Harry Potter or Tolkein, yet behind the mace-carrying Esquire Bedell, flexibility, cooperation and inventiveness are at work. Higher education and research funding in the UK are being pushed by rapid changes, but Cambridge rides the tide remarkably well. Then of course there’s moving in – the boxes of books and journals unpacked and organised in the lovely Master’s office in Newnham Grange (is my generation the last of those who still like to read science on paper?) The river flows full past the longest river frontage of all the colleges. A fine garden is developing. It’s quiet, a place to enjoy and to think. Colleges grow and change just as life does. In Darwin’s words, there is a grandeur in this view, and from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful are being evolved. Mary Fowler



very Tuesday and Thursday during term time, Fellows and students congregate in Darwin’s beautiful Richard King Room and, over lunch, are treated to a short talk by a Darwin member. These talks, given by current students, Fellows, visitors, researchers and the occasional external academic, provide a wonderful insight into the amazing breadth and quality of the scholarship being pursued at the College. This forum gives the opportunity for research to be presented in a broad context to a diverse, and yet, captive audience, helping develop ideas and cultivating interdisciplinary interaction and thought. Tuesdays delve into the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Last year the plethora of speakers allowed us to glimpse the many fascinating worlds, into which they pour their daily scholarly energies. Darwin students related the quest to preserve Khmer architecture in Cambodia; the perceptions of economics in the daily life of British Victorians, the meaning of parody in classic texts, and flows of migration from China to Africa, to name just a few of the topics on show. Meanwhile, Darwin Fellows gave us a chance to consider how current thought structures the academic approach taken in our disciplines – in this case, in archaeology, the role of consumers in the protection of labour standards, and the high-stress, high-stakes life of medical personnel in Afghanistan.

world while Will Webster awakened us to the troubles faced by radio-medicine in the next 50 years. Finally Arpat Ozgul talked us through why climate change causes sheep to shrink and marmots to grow. We are very pleased to thank all of those who have presented this year, as the lunchtime seminars are one of the true pleasures and hallmarks of Darwin’s collegiality and excellence. Please remember that the seminars are open to all members of the college including alumni. Talks start at 1pm and no reservation is needed, although the room can get quite crowded so come early! We are always looking for new speakers so if you wish to present your work please get in touch with the alumni office. Dr. Jessie Hohmann & Dr. Xinyi Liu (Arts coordinators) Sven Friedemann (Sciences coordinator)



boating equipment. The major focus at the moment is a new boat for the women’s team. After a bad capsize in February the women’s old boat was finally written off. Since then the team has been struggling to train for races, having to rely on a single men’s boat. In order to raise funds, the women’s team organized two fundraisers in 2012: a Darwin Bar May event (which some of you may have attended as it coincided with a DCS dinner!), and a May Bumps day fundraiser by the river. Through these, and the help of Darwin College, the DCBC has managed to raise half of the funds needed to purchase a second-hand women’s boat. The DCBC are now hoping to find companies and individual sponsors who will help fund the remaining half of the sum. The boat club, unlike most other colleges, currently does not have a corporate sponsor, so we would especially love to hear from you if your company would be interested in a partnership, although any donations to the fund are gratefully received!

owing is one of the greatest sporting traditions Cambridge University holds, a tradition that Darwin College is no exception in following. Since 1969 Darwin College Boat Club has existed as a fun community of rowers, coxes, and coaches, all working together to make college rowing as fun and engaging as possible.

The women’s team managed to bump three times during last year’s May Bumps, despite the lack of equipment. Imagine what we can do with a proper one! The men’s team also managed a triple overbump but that is another story…

The DCBC relies on sponsorships to provide the students with boats and

Women’s team captain, Iva Cek Men’s team captain, Daniel Houslay

With many thanks and warmest of regards,

The Thursday lectures focus their energy on the Sciences. Last academic year we saw a series of great talks from maths to medicine, from volcanoes in Antarctica to the asteroids which brought life to Earth. In Michaelmas the physical sciences were highlighted with a troika of talks focused on physical and philosophical concepts of emergence and how new phenomena arise from systems with many components. Our new Fellow Prof. Cowburn got involved, presenting us with the latest nano-technological devises. In Lent and Easter we moved into the territory of the Life Sciences. From research associate Stefan Gräf’s presentation on the formation and replication of DNA right through to Darwin Fellow Prof. Heeney’s research into viruses and human evolution. Ali Yetsen explained the promising perspectives for medical diagnostics in the developing


THE OLYMPICS The Olympic Bid


s I sat on the grass with my family in front of the 'big screen' by the Olympic Stadium during the second week of the London Olympic Games, I couldn't help but remember what this part of east London looked like the last time I'd inspected the 'Olympic' precinct. In May 2003, I was Head of Media at the British Olympic Association (BOA) and had been the lead communications specialist on the embryonic 'London 2012' project since its inception in late 1999. By late 1999, GB hockey goalkeeper David Luckes, who was training for the Sydney Olympic Games had completed his 180,000 word London 2012 feasibility study for the BOA. In October 1999, BOA Chairman Sir Craig Reedie and CEO Simon Clegg brought me into the loop and invited me to lead the PR charge to encourage the nation to think positively about a possible 2012 Olympic Bid from London. The campaign moved very slowly to begin with. While we had support from the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and the President, HRH The Princess Royal, the media and British public were very sceptical. The Millennium Dome project was mired in controversy, there was increasing speculation the Britain would 'give back' the right to host a World Athletics Championships at Pickett's Lock and British sport, which had performed poorly at the '96 Atlanta Olympic Games, was little more than a laughing stock on the international stage. British politicians largely thought we were having a laugh. We needed the support of the Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet and the signature and support of Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London. I was constantly rebuffed by senior British media executives who simply thought the whole project a waste of time. Only a handful of visionary sports-media specialists and editors saw the benefits of the vision we had for British sport. The team was small and it's fair to say that for those first four years, only a handful of us worked (largely part-time) on the project. We had a massive breakthrough in 2001 when we managed to get 20 minutes of Mayor Livingstone's time. He listened to us for five minutes then put his hand up and asked us to stop. "I have absolutely


no interest in sport but I can completely see the benefits that will flow to London if you bid. If you choose east London as the centerpiece for the Games, you'll have my full support." We were away. The NOC was supportive and now the London Mayor was on board. It took a further two - delicate and excruciating - years to bring the Prime Minister and his cabinet on Board. It would be fair to say that there were an array of very senior voices in government and Whitehall who were vehemently opposed to the bid for a variety of competing reasons. But the BOA, with a professional staff of around 30, held its nerve against this tidal-wave of negativity, and I wheeled out a cast of Olympic Champions to argue the case for a Bid. In May 2003, the British cabinet finally decided to support a London 2012 bid and the game was truly afoot. The next day, Sir Craig, David Luckes and I made a journey to Stratford to see for the first time the parcel of land that might form the centrepiece of the Games. We were ushered into a graffiti-sprayed lift and whisked to the top of an East London council flat. From the windy roof-top Luckes pointed at a series of cow fields, run-down factories and a winding, sorry looking river covered in thick rushes. "That." he said, "is where it's all going to happen." We stared at him. You really had to suspend belief to imagine that out of this sorry scene, an Olympic Games was possible.

our Olympic and Paralympic dream into such a successful reality. I'll always be able to look back with pride, knowing the small part I played during the first six years of the London project, which nearly didn't get off the ground at all. An important lesson is for us all to remember that we must never give up fighting for what we believe is right and that dreams - even the most unlikely - can and will come true. Philip Pope (M.Phil Polar Studies, Scott Polar Research Institute, 1996-7) Watching the flame hand over in Athens


went to Athens in May expecting a useful and enjoyable research trip to work at the British School at Athens, a research centre for scholarship on ancient and modern Greece. When I got there, I discovered that the Olympic flame was being handed over from the Greeks to London 2012 that week in the Panathinaiko stadium in Athens (built for the first modern Olympics in 1896). It seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so a number of us headed to the stadium to watch the ceremony.

From 2003 to mid-2005 I worked handin-glove with the London 2012 bid team, its leaders Seb Coe, Sir Keith Mills, Mike Lee and Jackie-Brock Doyle. We were an interesting team but against all odds we pulled off a famous victory against Paris, New York, Madrid and Moscow to land the 2012 Olympic Games. I sat next to Sir Bobby Charlton and David Beckham in the voting room in Singapore as IOC President Jacques Rogge opened his envelope and said one word: "London". Sir Bobby danced with joy, hugged me, cried on my jacket and said it was the proudest day of his life. I then began working through media interview requests with a very happy Princess Anne. Shortly afterwards, I emigrated to Australia with my Brisbane-born wife Bernadette and started work for the Australian cricket team. We now live in Melbourne, have two children aged 3 and 7-months and we were all lucky enough to witness and experience the London Games this year. It was a thrill to have been able to go to east London for one day and see how the LOCOG had turned

It was raining – Greece in May is normally hot and sunny. But that day, it was raining hard. The commentator joked that they wanted to make the British feel at home! In true British fashion, the die-hard spectators stood amidst the rivers of rain water pouring down the

Tanya with the torch and Darwin students on the bridge stadium’s marble seats. First arrived the Greek marching bands. Then the British London 2012 party including Seb Coe, Princess Anne, Boris Johnson and David Beckham. Then the Greek President. Then the flame arrived, carried into the stadium and paraded round by a number of well-known athletes. Despite the rain school choirs from UK and Greece sung, a Greek popstar sung the national anthem, and the flame was honoured with choreographed dances from the sacred ‘priests and priestesses’ of the flame who had overseen it being lit at the ancient sanctuary of Olympia a week or so before. It was handed to the Princess after stirring words of thanks from Seb Coe and taken for the night to the British Embassy in Athens, which hosted a party to celebrate. The next day Boris Johnson came to visit us at the British School to see the huge variety of work undertaken by British archaeologists and historians before dashing to the door to catch his flight: a specially flame-colour painted BA plane (Boris argued it was the colour of crème caramel) which safely conveyed the Olympic flame and the London 2012 team back to the UK. Michael Scott

Darwin Torchbearer


he 7th of July was a fantastic day that celebrated the values of the Olympics, those of Cambridge University and those of Darwin College. I was proud to be nominated as an Olympic torchbearer because of my passion to promote the values of global citizenship and inspire individuals to contribute actively to their communities. Moreover, I felt extremely honoured by being selected as a torchbearer because of my MPhil dissertation research on cosmopolitanism and globalisation, as well as my contributions to the Darwin community as the Darwin College Students’ Association’s Ambassador. After many months of building excitement about my role as an Olympic torchbearer, I could not believe that the day had finally arrived. I was excited to meet all of the other torchbearers for Cambridge and Newmarket, and our ride in the ‘Moment to Shine’ torchbearer bus was a lovely experience of listening to each torchbearer’s inspiring story. Many had also volunteered in and contributed to their communities in different capacities.

It was a fantastic feeling to see the Cambridge community’s support of the Olympic torch relay as the ‘Moment to Shine’ bus passed through the crowds in Newmarket and then through Cambridge as the bus let off each torchbearer for their own leg of the relay. When it was my turn, I was thrilled to see my family and friends amongst the crowds who cheered me on as I was passed the flame and then ran (perhaps a bit too quickly in my excitement!) down Mill Road. For me, it was amazing to arrive at my section of the relay as an individual, wearing my white and gold Olympic torchbearer tracksuit, and it was even more exhilarating to carry the Olympic flame and feel part of a brilliant, global community that was welcoming the Olympics to Cambridge and, more broadly, to the UK. I truly felt like a global citizen, and I was proud to promote the values of the Olympics and the goals of strengthening global connections between communities. Tanya Lubicz-Nawrocka (MPhil 2010-11),




y way of celebration of the centenary of his birth the Classics Faculty devoted the three-day Laurence Seminar on 29–31 May to the topic of Moses Finley (1912–1986) and his impact. The conference was organised by Professor Robin Osborne, our ex-Finley Research Fellow (and current editor of The Darwinian) Dr Michael Scott and current Finley Research Fellow, Dr Daniel Jew. That makes it all sound very cosy, but a number of participants came from far afield, including the United States, among them Professor Walter Scheidel (Moses and Mary Finley Research Fellow 1996–99), Europe and Israel. It is not to be expected that books published between 1951 and 1985 should be still regarded as le dernier mot, though papers and discussions provoked fruitful differences of opinion as to the original and the current status of a number of Finley’s books. The World of Odysseus (1954) was frequently and rightly mentioned, expert crede, as a book that had kindled in the young an abiding enthusiasm for ancient history, and according to Google is still regarded as a ‘valuable resource’. Other books have fared less well.

There was talk also of his exciting lectures, although for one particularly precocious schoolboy coming up in the mid-1970s they seemed to embody only ideas that Finley had long since published; talk also of Finley’s correspondence, sometimes combative, with scholars around the world, and a fascinating paper by Professor Mary Beard on his journalism and broadcasting career. At a drinks reception in the Old Library it was also possible to see a small exhibition of items from the College archives, selected by Dr Scott, comprising



arwin Architecture Dip Arch (9698) and MPhil (99) Julian Hakes was, until recently, associated with designing buildings and bridges from Moscow to LA, but this all changed when he made a splash in the fashion arena with his architectural ‘Mojito Shoe’. What started off as a side project, went viral overnight and stormed the fashion gates to become an award winning reality. After two years in development to refine the initial sketch, the Mojito Shoe hit the catwalk, and the shops, this summer accompanying collections of the Swedish fashion designer Ann Sofie Back Atelier and London designer Ada Zanditon at London Fashion Week. He received the award for “Best footwear designer of the year 2012” and under his recently launched fashion label “Julian Hakes London” he is currently shipping the new shoes to stores across the globe.The shoe is a continuous piece of inject moulded composite material, supporting the ball of the foot and the heel with the arch free.


photographs of Moses and Mary and copies of a few documents ranging from the serious (a letter from Albert Einstein) to the ridiculous (macaronic orations delivered in Darwin on the occasions of Moses’ knighthood and his retirement as Master, but this could scarcely compete with a showing of an interview with Moses by Keith Hopkins made for the Institute of Historical Research in 1985 proving that magnetism is an enduring force. Elisabeth Leedham-Green



arwin accepted me as a student in Cambridge, and gave me a home away from home during my PhD. It was the first time I was away from India, and in retrospect, I cannot think of a better college to have provided the kind of warm, mature, and non-hierarchical atmosphere that a graduate student like me needed. Before Cambridge I had completed a BE in Mechanical Engineering from University of Kolkata, and an ME in Mechanical Design from Indian Institute of Science (IISc). I had also worked as a design engineer in Hindustan Motors, the then largest car manufacturer in India. The trajectory of my career veered continuously from analysis to synthesis, and from specifics to the generic nature of engineering. For my PhD in Engineering I was selected for the coveted “Nehru Fellowship”. I entered the department in the eighties when curricular innovations made by Ken Wallace and others brought engineering design to the forefront to assume a central role, integrating the apparently disparate threads of engineering education. New modules simultaneously taught students the importance of thinking and making in design, alongside teamwork and marketing strategy. My PhD was mainly supervised by Dr Bligh, an outstanding engineer without boundaries, whose groundbreaking inventions spanned from sustainable

energy, biomedical devices, to highspeed yachts. My thesis was on developing a ‘creative’ synthesis program that could combine from a set of engineering “building blocks” to automatically generate an “exhaustive” set of alternative designs for a given mechanical function. The work opened up a new direction in the area of design synthesis, winning a major award in the UK Manufacturing Industry Achievement Awards competition. The EPSRC decided on a major push in UK based design research, from which the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre (EDC) was born. I led a major theme in the EDC for ten years before returning to India in 2001 as an Associate Professor in the newly established department at IISc – Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM). At CPDM, we initiated India’s first laboratory (IdeasLab), international conference (ICoRD), and PhD programme for engineering design research. IdeasLab’s three key research areas are: creativity, sustainability, and knowledge management. In creativity, we ask questions like: What constitutes engineering creativity? How can it be assessed and enhanced? With the Indian Space Agency ISRO, we started pioneering work on Biologically Inspired Design (BID), and developed the first computer program (Idea-Inspire) that offers relevant biological systems as

analogies for systematically inspiring engineering creativity; for instance, it inspires space engineers developing deployable solar antennas to learn from flowers on how to open their ‘petals’. Idea-Inspire could enhance manifold the ideation effectiveness of engineers. It is heartening that BID is becoming a major research theme around the world. Some of our core research is now utilised in organisations to strengthen their innovation competence, most notably in Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, Boeing and ISRO. In 2011 I was humbled to be elected to an Honorary Fellowship of the Institution of Engineering Designers (IED) – the only Institution in the UK under its Royal Charter representing engineering design. In its sixty seven year history, IED has given Honorary Fellowship’s to just over twenty individuals, and I feel privileged to have been the first person based outside the UK to receive this honour. I recently visited Cambridge. As I walked through the beautiful gardens of Darwin flanked by the Old Granary – my first “home” there - I remembered fondly the bitterly cold and wet October evening in 1987 when I first walked into the Porter’s lodge, recalling the great warmth and tenderness with which I was welcomed, and thought to myself, “Thank you, Darwin!” Professor Chakrabarti


FROM THE ALUMNI OFFICE change in College, as Matthew Edwards joined us as Fellow and Domestic Bursar. The appointment should allow Peter Brindle, our Bursar, to devote more time to Alumni and Development matters in the lead up to the College’s 50th Anniversary Year in 2014-15. And, of course, in October we matriculated the largest intake cohort yet - over 250 happy, excited ... maybe, a little apprehensive ... new students! Evaluation Survey Results and 50th Anniversary Thank you to everyone who completed our Darwin College Alumni/ae Evaluation Survey in the summer. Our headline results make interesting reading‌.. Just over 12% of those people contacted responded to the survey. 45% of respondents will always read the Darwinian newsletter and 28% the e-bulletin (if received!). 8% will rarely or never read the Darwinian and 15% the e-bulletin. The rest of you are somewhere in between! You also have views on what you would like the newsletter and e-bulletin to contain. 78.5% have an interest in reading profiles of prominent alumni/ae or Fellows of the College, 76.5% want to read about alumni events, a slightly smaller number (76%) have an interest in College developments and the history of the College and its members.

The Master with his retirement cake


rofessor Willy Brown, the 5th Master of Darwin College, retired from the Office on the last day of September 2012 and he left with a fond farewell and our very best wishes for the future. As, of course, is the nature of continuity in Cambridge, we immediately welcome the new Master, Professor Mary Fowler, who will soon be broadly involved in the life of the College, and intends especially to become involved with alumni/ae events and happenings.


We hope that many of you will meet her in person soon. Life in College was hectic over the summer, particularly in the lead up to the change of Master. Willy Brown had to painstakingly clear out his office and, after 12 years in post, had around 70 boxes of papers, books and journals to decant ... not taking into account all the recycling bags he filled! September saw a further major

We are beginning to expand the number and variety of events we offer alumni, and were very interested to hear your views on how you would like our events to progress. Overwhelmingly you would like events that are held in normally private, interesting and inaccessible places. This is closely followed by Reunion dinners, and College receptions and talks in your local area. For our 50th Anniversary Year in 2014 we are hoping to hold events in Cambridge, London and major cities around the world. Some of you have said that you can host or provide a venue for an event and we will be contacting you in early 2013 in order to discuss this further. Exciting times ahead!

Down House

We may also be taking forward the idea of an exhibition of ‘Darwin College at Fifty’ (both online and possibly as an exhibition) because of the enormous response to the idea. We will be offering 50th Anniversary memorabilia to alumni and friends with mugs, limited edition prints, ties, cuff links and key rings being the most popular with the respondents. Finally, 54% of you have said you will or are likely to buy our 50th Anniversary Book, which is currently being edited. To purchase it at a discounted rate and have your name in the book as a subscriber, please go to home/pId/171. Telephone Campaigns in Asia and Oceania Many thanks to all our Asia and Oceania based alumni/ae who gave time to speak to our student callers during our recent telethon. The feed back we have had from you and the student callers has been terrific. Thank you if you gave a donation, and a gentle reminder that if you promised a gift and haven’t yet sent it to us, you still have time, and your donation will go directly towards the education of Darwin students.

Darwin College Society (DCS) The Darwin College Society held some well attended events in 2012. On 9th June the Darwin College Society made a pilgrimage to Down House. Despite an eventful journey the day itself was enjoyed by all participants. The house and gardens were quite spectacular and the group kept coming across little aspects faithfully kept, which reminded them of the events chronicled about the family such as the mulberry tree, now very old and propped up somewhat. In amongst the gardens was Charles Darwin's greenhouse containing many of the species of plant that he studied and his small laboratory and at the end was the sandy path he walked every day to think. Quite delightful! Also in June, we enjoyed a French Baroque Concert by the Academy of Ancient Music. Less prosaically, in October we had a trip to Bury St. Edmunds to tour the Theatre Royal and Greene King Brewery, which was rounded off by a pint of Greene King’s Best. 2012 was an event filled year, and we look forward to 2013 when already the DCS have a ‘Cambridge Past’ Day

arranged for early March; for more events please see the Diary on the back page of this newsletter. If you think you will be in Cambridge when any of the events take place please do let us know and we will send you more details.

The Darwin College Alumni Team consists of: The Bursar and Development Director, Peter Brindle: Alumni Secretary, Sophia Smith: Development Assistant, Danielle Bradshaw: Bursar’s Secretary, Susan Vale: 9

DARWIN IN PICTURES Many of you keen on social media and photography may have seen our newly established Flickr page throughout 2012. On here you will find a range of photos connected to Darwin college life. This is one of the projects our newly elected photography Visiting Fellow Ihsan Aslam has taken on with a view to documenting Darwin in the lead up to our landmark 50th anniversary year. Some of his pictures will also be earmarked for the 50th anniversary publication that can be ordered from Ihsan is himself an alumnus of the college and is moonlighting for us on this project from his regular position as the University’s official photographer, code name: Sir Cam.




any of Cambridge’s diverse colleges all proudly boast of having a highly multicultural and international student body, enriched by different languages, cultures and perspectives. Few, however, may have played host to students from as isolated and famously demonised a state as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, more commonly known as North Korea). Amidst the noisy din of the more dominant political rhetoric that speaks of North Korea in terms of nuclear security, geopolitics and economics, the knowledge that North Korean students have been welcomed into one of the world’s most quintessentially ‘Western’ institutions, the University of Cambridge, may come as a surprise to some. Thanks to a prolonged and measured effort by the British government following the normalisation of diplomatic relations between London and Pyongyang in 2000, Darwin has been able to play host to the UK’s first ever North Korean scholars. Sent by Pyongyang and funded by the British government’s prestigious ‘Chevening Fellowship’, Darwin has found itself playing a very important role at the centre of a landmark piece of diplomacy between the UK and the otherwise isolated East Asian state. No other country seems to generate as many headlines in proportion to its size than North Korea. Often discussed in terms of security, economics or nuclearisation, stories of the more mundane aspects of life in North Korea tend to be ignored – a state of affairs that often gives rise to a lack of an internal perspective that could slow or, worse, hamper the ability of those on the ‘outside’ to engage with the ‘inside’ and defuse some of the more pressing issues that are of concern to the international community. Academic exchange and engagement, therefore, provides us with a rare and much sought-after opportunity to learn a bit about life in North Korea beyond the veil of either side’s media and, in return, contribute to and share an exchange of knowledge beyond an ideological boundary that at times can still feel very ‘Cold War’ in nature. During the year they spent as visiting fellows to Darwin, Drs Kim Kyong Min and Kim Ji Hyon, both natives of Pyongyang, played a pivotal role as honorary Darwinians. Together, we donned gowns at formals and crashed into tourists in punts. We spoke too loudly in the library and we swapped many an idea and anecdote over lunch in the dining hall – the de facto Silver Street speakeasy for the intellectual deconstruction of the ridiculous.

But 2012 was a landmark year for the DPRK. Not long after Drs Kim had become settled into their new lives as Cambridge scholars, the ground-shaking news from Pyongyang emerged that Kim Jong Il, known to North Koreans as the ‘Great Leader’, passed away, leaving his son Kim Jong Un to manage a leadership transition and oversee what was, for North Koreans, a difficult time. Such news naturally came as a shock to many yet, away from their friends and family (and with no direct line of communication outside of the DPRK embassy) Drs Kim displayed much professionalism and composure during a potentially turbulent period at home. Months later in April, the sombre mood of December’s news took on a more positive light as the DPRK celebrated the 100th birthday of its deceased founding president Kim Il Sung, an occasion that was lauded in North Korea as one of the most significant events in recent domestic history but gained much attention from the international community due to a controversial ‘celebratory’ launch of a satellite-carrying rocket. Throughout such an undulating year of ups and downs, Drs Kim remained focussed on the task at hand: to represent their country and gain a better and broader understanding of the Cambridge and, by extension, Western education systems. Dr Kim Ji Hyon audited courses on educational leadership and research methods and drew large crowds to the Faculty of Education in May by offering a detailed presentation on the intricacies of the North Korean education system, despite potential linguistic difficulties and limited access to primary data. Meanwhile, Dr Kim Kyong Min attended many lectures on international law, strategic management and negotiation at the Faculty of Law, and contributed to detailed discussion in a series of Cold War seminars at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Following the success of 2011/2012, the FCO and Darwin hope to be able to welcome more Chevening scholars from Pyongyang as diplomatic relations between our two states continue to grow. Such track-two diplomatic initiatives are hugely important in broadening our understanding of the DPRK and paving the way for the future stability of the Korean peninsula and the broader East Asian region. Although its role may be minor, Darwin has become a small yet significant part of a larger diplomatic puzzle that is hugely benefiting from the neutral, objective and nuanced opportunities that academic exchange can provide. James Pearson read for the M.Phil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Darwin in 2011/2012 and is editor of koreaBANG. com, a daily-updated blog that translates popular or trending articles from the South Korean news into English.


my day. What with his cakes? Yes, you’ve got it in one! Of course, all aspects of the job are good. I must admit that after a holiday I always look forward to coming back to work. Not many people can say that. Now we get onto the students…. How do you get on with them generally? We have a good rapport and banter etc, but there are always one or two who try to bend College policy. But when students leave we are inundated with presents, so we must be doing something right! Yours is the job to have then. What is the best bit of advice you could give a student when they arrive? Study hard, keep out of the bar (!) and make my life easy! Just keep your head down and if you have any problems come to see us, a problem shared etc. So, you perform an Agony Uncle role? Yes, you would be surprised; once they get to know us they come and have a chat and coffee.

IN CONVERSATION WITH... Head Porter, Derek Scott

We go behind the scenes at Darwin College in this the first in a rolling series of conversations with College staff. Good morning Mr Scott, could we start by asking what you did before you became Head Porter at Darwin College? Before joining Darwin I worked at St Edmunds and Lucy Cavendish as a Security Porter, prior to that I was at Sainsbury’s as a Section Manager. OK, no forces background then, that’s quite unusual isn’t it? Yes, it was definitely my St Edmunds experience that got me the job. When I first came here I was very part time – from 6pm until about midnight, but I lived a long drive from the College and I had to keep coming back because I was on-call. Some nights I was only getting four hours sleep!


That’s awful; I’m surprised you stuck it out. Yes, but we had a shift re-organisation, and things got easier. I’ve now been here just over nine years. The Porter’s Lodge is about to have some new staff so I know this is about the change, but what shift do you do and what is your usual routine? At the moment I do afternoon and evenings, but from October I will be on permanent days – 8am-4.30pm, Monday to Friday and alternate weekends. My main role is keeping on top of the keys, organising car-parking and liaising with other members of staff. I have to keep my staff in check, but (tongue firmly in cheek) I have no problems with the students they’re all good! We’ll get onto the students later shall we? What’s the best part of the job then? The occasional visit from Peter the Chef always makes

Most memorable student? Do you have one? Mine would be Tamas Bertenyi, when I first arrived I was told to look out for him, you would see him walking around in his bow tie. He was the first student I met, I was told he was a suave gentleman and I watched him in action in the hope of learning something. He has really stuck with me and we have a laugh whenever he comes back. What’s the strangest thing that has happened at work? I think the worst one was when I came face to face with an intruder at about 1.30 in the morning. I had just started working the night shift and I had a sense that something wasn’t right. I had checked the doors to the veranda in the reading room, and when I went back to double check the doors were open and there was an intruder looking at me. I went to call the police and saw him vault the back gate on CCTV. That gate is very high! Luckily, the police caught him within 10 minutes and he was sent to prison for other things he had done that same night. That was really nerve-racking. The other event I remember was a Research Associate who had gone to the May Ball, the following day we saw some legs in the long grass on the island and thought there was a dead body. But it was him; he had passed out the night before and had been left there. We called him the ‘Cabbage Patch Kid’ from then on. But, do you know, we got him up and he looked as fresh as a daisy! It was very funny, once we knew he was alive.

Are there as yet any unsolved mysteries that have occurred in College or do the Porters know all? I didn’t believe it when I first came here, but there is a story of a Darwin College ghost. No. yes, various people have heard it (including someone who was as deaf as a post). One night I was up in the main hall and heard someone calling my name, but there was no one there and everything was locked up. This College can be very creepy at night . Do we know who it is? No, but it does appear to manifest itself around the hall and kitchens. But that’s a newer part of the College? Ah, yes, but you never know what it was built over. What’s the difference in being a Porter in a Post Grad College rather than Under Grad? The under grads party harder, whereas the post grads have gone through the system and tend to be a little more grounded. There are a few nights here in the bar though? There are a few, when I first arrived the bar was open all night, and I would come in for my 7am shift and there would still be students in the bar giving it large! We eventually managed to rein them in to a more socialable 1.30am finish. The College is known as ‘Barwin’ to Cambridge students, the bar is famous and well known for the large range of whiskey’s it sells. Very often the bar hits capacity very early on in the evening and the Porters have to turn people away. Funniest thing you have ever seen on CCTV? I can’t possibly divulge that, but it has involved smoking illegal substances on the island and couples having a good time when they think no-one is looking. The camera’s cover a lot of the ground don’t they? Yes, we get a 360 degree view. Have you ever had to chase people out of the gardens at night time apart from your intruder? We have a few drunken people wander through and get lost and we escort them out.


Darwin College Lecture Series 2012


ife’ was the theme of the 2012 Darwin College Lecture Series, with a particular focus on the boundary between life with ‘non-life’. The organisers, the outgoing Master and Vice-Master, had decided to choose from the remarkable pool of local public speaking talent in Cambridge and nearby. Indeed, five of the speakers were local to the College itself. It proved a wonderful recipe in terms of lecture quality and capacity audiences. And, in terms of iTune downloads, with over 50,000 in the first six months. We started with the extraordinary history of the evolution of life. Michael Akam described how the comparison of genomes permits a deeper understanding of the emergence of complex organisms. Animal electricity was Frances Ashcroft’s subject. She explained how protein ion channels underlie the control systems of life, and the consequences of their developing defects. There is an analogy with electronic computers, which Chris Bishop developed in discussing artificial life. Dodging around some striking on-stage experiments, he discussed how the ability to reprogram living cells is leading to a new technology of synthetic biology. But death is as important to life as life itself. Ron Laskey explored this in describing the challenge every organism faces in balancing cell life with cell death, and the disaster that follows from that balance being lost, either way. Appropriately for the Olympic year, Michael Scott started his account of life in the ancient world with the original games. His fascinating story was about how successive generations of scholars have constantly reinterpreted classical life and, in so doing, have unwittingly told us as much about their own culture as about that of the ancients. It was ruins that intrigued Robert Macfarlane, who started with an enthralling account of how the city of Cambridge would degrade, year by year, if one day all people were to vanish. He explored the rich counterfactual ways in which literature and art have envisaged the ruins of living communities. We were jolted into reality with Mark de Rond’s vividly illustrated account of living in a military hospital in Afghanistan. It gave moving insights into the lives of the medical teams, struggling with casualties on the brink of death. The series ended, appropriately, with the afterlife. Clive Gamble gave us a deeply thought-provoking anthropological account of why conjecture about afterlives has been a defining feature of humanity. Willy Brown

Last one, many Porters at other Colleges wear imposing uniforms, we are much more informal here. Do you think a bowler hat would give you more authority with the students? No, I would look like ‘Home Pride Man’ with people picking me up and shaking me. Maybe a shirt and tie at certain events, but I think what makes Darwin is it is nice and casual and there is no ‘them and us’ as in some of the other College’s. You must have been talking to Peter the Chef I think, he’s forever trying to get us in a Porters uniform. Lovely, thank you so much for your time. You sound as though you have a happy time here at Darwin. Yes, it’s eventful and fun and generally I am very happy.




he Darwin College May Ball is the biggest event of the Darwin Calendar! For one night only, the entire college is completely transformed for the 350 guests attending this spectacular event. The evening begins with a champagne reception, followed by a rich mixture of entertainments and complimented by food and drink provided for the entire evening.

May Ball 2012 - Prohibition

The evening is organised and run by our very own Darwin students. For the entire academic year, a team of 15 students work with college staff to make the perfect night for all.

Anyone who was lucky enough to attend would have seen the college transformed. The Parlour became a Casino, the Common Room an underground jazz club and the Bar acted as our very own Speakeasy for the evening, including a fake pet shop as a cover (just in case the Prohibition Enforcers showed up...). Upstairs, the dining room became our back-alley music venue, complete with the New York Skyline. There were hog roasts, crêpes and possibly the nicest ice-cream you can find in Cambridge. We were very fortunate with the bands we were able to book this year, from the roaming brass band who greeted the guests on arrival, to the variety of different jazz and swing bands who played throughout the evening who helped bring our chosen theme to life.

The 2010 and 2011 May Ball Committees both donated £1,000 from the evenings’ profits to the East Anglia Children’s Hospice (EACH). EACH is a local charity that provides care and support for children with life-threatening injuries. We are immensely proud to say that Darwin engages with the local community in this way, and we hope that this continues for many years to come. Akin Ali


Last year’s May Ball worked around the theme of 1920’s Prohibition America and involved a team which started out as 15 students but grew to 19 by the end. Anybody who has been involved in any of the previous Darwin May Balls will appreciate the amount of time and effort which goes into making that one evening of fun and excitement a reality. Throughout the year bands were booked, food and drink were sourced, health and safety reports drafted, decorations built and many other things aside, but the team did a fantastic job and we were all very pleased with how the Ball turned out last June, even if we were still setting up 10 minutes after the doors opened...

I hope that anybody who attended the Ball enjoyed everything we had on offer. Although I can’t mention them all here I’m very grateful for all the help that came from the college staff. Without their assistance and co-operation the Ball would never have happened. Hope to see many of you in June for next year’s Ball! Jamie Williams


Sex, Science and Serendipity


ake a tour of the late eighteeth century English Enlightenment in the company of Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles, who (aside from his poetry and other scientific endeavours) was expounding theories of evolution years before the birth of his more famous grandson. Erasmus Darwin seemed an innocuous Midlands physician, a respectable stalwart of eighteenth-century society. But there was another side to him. Botanist, inventor, and popular poet, Darwin was internationally renowned for breathtakingly long poems explaining his theories about sex and science. Yet he became a target for the political classes, the victim of a sustained and vitriolic character assassination by London’s most savage satirists.


Dr Julie Fedor Darwin Research Fellows Julie Fedor and Matilda Mroz have collaborated on a joint research project examining the cultural memory of Soviet terror in

But for modern readers, he shines out as an impassioned Enlightenment reformer who championed the abolition of slavery, the education of women, and the optimistic ideals of the French Revolution. Patricia Fara was a Darwin Research Fellow 1993–97

culture and politics across the region. Darwin has provided a home for our collaboration, as well as generously supporting our research in other ways too over the past year. The college provided a venue and excellent catering and administrative support for our international workshop ‘Memory, Religion and Revolution’ in October.

Ana Belin I have been a Research Associate at the College since December 2010. In May 2011 I was offered a non-stipendiary Charles and Katherine Darwin Research Fellowship, which allowed me to get completely involved in the college life. However, in January 2012 I got a permanent position at the International Institute for Prehistoric Research in Cantabria (northern Spain) and so, after three years in Cambridge, I managed to come back to my country while keeping my research projects, which focus on the strategy of subsistence carried out by late Neanderthals and early modern humans in Eurasia. Despite my short stay at the College, I really enjoyed all of it, above all the company of the Fellows and the interesting activities it provides, such as salsa classes, lecture series and lunch seminars. I’m still missing it!

Intrigued, prize-winning historian Patricia Fara set out to investigate why Darwin had provoked such fierce intellectual and political reaction. Her research led her to discover a man who possessed, according to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘perhaps a greater range of knowledge than any other man in Europe.’ His evolutionary ideas influenced his grandson Charles, were banned by the Vatican, and scandalised his reactionary critics.

Vanessa De Souza I study computer models to answer some of the most basic questions about a material common to our everyday lives - glass. Window glass is a ubiquitous example, but glass is also a generic term for a solid with a disordered structure.

Eastern Europe. One of the fruits of this project, the book Remembering Katyn, was published in Polity Press in September 2012. Julie and Matilda are two of seven co-authors of this book, which was an experiment in collective scholarship in the humanities. The book explores the ways in which the memory of the notorious Katyn massacres have reverberated in

I am a theoretical chemist. However, my research is highly interdisciplinary. Since starting the fellowship at Darwin I have divided my time between the chemistry department in Cambridge and the physics department at the University of Granada in Spain. Whenever I am in Cambridge, I enjoy spending time at Darwin. My personal highlights are conversing with the interesting and highly-talented people that make up the student body at Darwin, and curry on Wednesdays.


NEWS FROM THE DCSA Alumni Events 2013 Saturday & Sunday 2nd–3rd Feb Venice Festival 2013 Saturday 2nd March Darwin College Society - Cambridge Past Friday 15th March Darwin College Society Dinner Saturday 27th April Darwin College Society Spring Walk to Upwood Meadows and Lady Wood Friday 10th May Darwin College Society Dinner Friday 17th May Reunion Dinner - 1964-1975 and 19821994 Thursday 13th June Darwin College Society as special guests of the Academy of Ancient Music for a talk and concert ‘Handel in Italy’

Dear Editors,


he start of the academic year has brought many changes, with the inflow of many interesting new students starting or continuing their studies at Darwin and the inauguration of our new Master. It already has all the elements to become a great year for our student association with the Darwin-Wolfson sports day held in Cambridge this time as well as the many new societies being formed. The committee had a wonderful time organising Fresher’s week and hopes that all students have gotten the chance to feel at home in our college. Our admiral taught them the basic punting skills (and nobody fell into the Cam this year!) while our welfare team organised afternoon teas and games nights for people to get to know each other. The bar has proven to be known and loved all over the world and the Bar committee managed to attract many

students with events such as International Beer and Wine tasting and a green bar night organised in conjunction with the green committee. The DCSA is also involved in the refurbishment of the TV room. It will be completely renovated and audiovisuals updated to increase the functionality of the room. The current ambassador has been very active in arranging multiple formal swaps with other colleges including St John’s. The punts have been stored for winter at the end of October, but will be back in the water around Easter if you are visiting Cambridge!

I was very sorry to read of the sad demise of the grand old copper beech tree that graced the Darwin gardens for so many years (The Darwinian, Spring 2012). My friends and I spent countless happy hours under its boughs, and indeed its impression on our student days was so strong that we donated a bench in its honour when we graduated. Even if the tree is fading away, we hope the bench survives to mark its influence, and will someday pay homage to an offspring of the great tree. Sincerely, Dr. Guy Newsham (Darwin, 1987-1990) Ottawa, Canada

With so many events and happenings I am sure that Michaelmas will be exciting and enjoyable – the committee wishes all Darwinians a great new academic year! Cherry Muijsson DCSA President

Editors: Michael Scott, Sophia Smith, Danielle Bradshaw The editors especially welcome short articles, pictures, artwork and news from our overseas alumni. Correspondence to:

To sign up for our new e-bulletin simply type in the link: http://eepurl. com/pLzBH or scan the QR code with your smart phone!

Profile for Darwin College, Cambridge

Darwinian Newsletter Spring 2013  

The Darwinian is the alumni newsletter for people who attended Darwin College, Cambridge.

Darwinian Newsletter Spring 2013  

The Darwinian is the alumni newsletter for people who attended Darwin College, Cambridge.

Profile for darwinian

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