Responding to Covid-19
Connecting with the Ancients
AD QUATTUOR CARDINES MUNDI
It Takes a Village
ST CROSS COLLEGE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
Editors Victoria Cox Ella Bedrock Contributors Shirley Morgan Eimear Ryan Design Laura Hart Contact Details The Development and Alumni Relations Office St Cross College 61 St Giles Oxford OX1 3LZ Tel: +44 (0)1865 278480 Email: email@example.com www.stx.ox.ac.uk Cover image: David Fisher Inside cover image: St Cross student Jasper Johnston, from his project 100 Days of Oxford. Find out more: www.instagram.com/ 100daysofOxford
Welcome from the Master Welcome to the 2021 edition of Crossword. Within these pages are stories that celebrate the brilliance of our St Cross community, a community that has pulled together during the last year of significant challenges for all of us. There are stories of excellence, perseverance, and collaboration. They have made me incredibly proud to head a College involved in world-leading research and I am delighted to share them with you.
Contents Responding to Covid-19 The Work of the St Cross Community
Alumni Spotlight Douglas Wigdor
Connecting with the Ancients An Interview with Liz Frood
New Frontiers Immersive Storytelling with Anthony Geffen
It Takes a Village An interview with Visiting Fellow Shadreck Chirikure
Five Minutes with Rana Mitter
Dates for Your Diary
RESPONDING TO COVID-19
the work of the St Cross Community COVID-19 has dominated headlines over the past 12 months, affecting the lives and activities of everyone across the globe. The pandemic has impacted the research and work of our Fellows, Members of Common Room, students, and alumni. Here is a round-up of how the pandemic has directed the life and work of some of our members.
Image © John Cairns
BY SHIRLEY MORGAN
ven for a doctor and academic with as distinguished and interesting a career as Professor Andrew Pollard, this year has been an extraordinary one. In a short interview squeezed in between a long list of media interviews, virtual international team meetings and clinical trial results analysis, Professor Pollard said: “It’s the most intense and difficult period of my life so far. I’ve never worked as hard as I have this year. It really has been seven days a week since February 2020.” Andrew Pollard is Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Fellow of St Cross College and Honorary Consultant Paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital, Oxford, UK. An expert in the design, development and clinical evaluation of vaccines, Professor Pollard led the clinical trials of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. The usual processes of developing a vaccine were made more difficult by the added logistics of working through national and international lockdowns. Training sessions and colleague meetings were conducted remotely and the global interest in the race for a viable vaccine brought the added pressure of media scrutiny at every stage.Yet, despite these unique challenges, the Oxford team’s vaccine regime was approved for use in the UK just before the third national lockdown and is playing a key part in the mass vaccination programme.
The Oxford vaccine (ChAdOx1 nCoV19) is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that has been genetically modified. Adenovirus vaccines have been researched and used for decades and, unlike some other COVID-19 vaccines, can be easily stored at domestic fridge temperature, allowing for mass rollout from existing medical facilities.
“So many branches of science are now ready to allow us to respond quickly”
Professor Pollard explained that technological advances and growing scientific knowledge of coronaviruses had facilitated the vaccine’s rapid development. “So many branches of science are now ready to allow us to respond quickly; as soon as the virus is identified it can be sequenced in a day and emailed around the world. In some ways we have been lucky that it is a coronavirus because we know which part is needed to make a vaccine. If it had been an unknown virus the whole process would have taken much longer.”
All usual processes of vaccine development were carried out – testing, manufacturing, ethics meetings, approval processes with regulators – in parallel with trials and while awaiting results. Delays, usually caused by bureaucratic processes or funding applications, were eliminated or reduced as far as possible, further smoothing the way for the vaccine to be created and tested on volunteers in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Oxford University’s collaboration with AstraZeneca has been crucial to the successful development of the vaccine and vital for its global manufacturing and distribution across the world. A key element of Oxford’s partnership with AstraZeneca is the joint commitment to provide the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the pandemic across the world, and in perpetuity to low- and middle-income countries. Although his work on the COVID vaccine has garnered so much global attention, Professor Pollard, while acknowledging the impact of his latest research, does not distinguish it from his achievements in less known or celebrated areas of his working life as a paediatrician and researcher. “This vaccine will have the biggest impact on the world but I’m a paediatrician and doctor first,” he said. “Times of interaction with children, those moments with a family, or some of the progress with other vaccines, are just as important to me.” 5
RESPONDING TO COVID-19 - THE WORK OF THE ST CROSS COMMUNITY
BOOSTING SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE IN A TIME OF COVID-19 SCEPTICISM
CATCHING UP WITH ST CROSS COLLEGE FELLOW, PROFESSOR ACHILLEFS KAPANIDIS
As the pandemic swept across the globe it was rapidly followed by a wave of misinformation about the causes and responses to the virus – ranging from conspiracy theories about 5G antennae causing symptoms to accusations that the vaccines alter human DNA.
How has the pandemic reshaped your research focus and what have been the most significant findings in your COVID-19-related research?
St Cross Fellow Professor Sibel Erduran is engaged in work to improve public understanding of how “scientists do science” and to help citizens of all ages navigate the competing claims they are bombarded with on social media. “Science and technology development is running very fast as we are living in what the sociologist H. Rosa calls ‘the society of acceleration’,” Professor Erduran said, drawing on research from the current FEDORA Project funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme. “Within the society of acceleration, educational systems often remain static, linear and rigid and are not able to keep up with the pace of change. As a result, a serious gap of knowledge and skills has been emerging from what the traditional educational organisations are forming and what the society requires.” One of Professor Erduran’s research interests is argumentation – the justification of claims with reasons and evidence – and how to embed this skill in students and teachers. She said: “If the public is not equipped with argumentation skills, they will be very easily influenced by misinformation. I think that social media, and particularly the deliberate propagation of inaccurate information, has made it really difficult for the public to understand what is a truthful and justified claim and what is not.”
We have been working on understanding the replication mechanisms of the influenza virus since 2012 and, more recently, we have been exploring ways to detect the virus rapidly. In November 2019, we published an article describing a method that uses calcium to bind small pieces of fluorescent DNA to enveloped virus particles and to fluorescently label them. This development allowed us to observe labelled viruses on a sensitive fluorescence microscope, and assess their morphology and size. Our assay is extremely fast and works well on respiratory viruses such as influenza and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) in clinical samples. When COVID-19 emerged in China, we reasoned that our assay should work with the new coronavirus, so obtained permission to continue working despite our Department closing. In collaboration with global partners we have introduced a new method for coronavirus detection based on applying machine learning to images of labelled viruses. How has the pandemic, and restrictions related to it, changed your way of working? During the first lockdown, part of my team was the only group still performing experimental work in the Physics Department in order to develop the rapid test for SARS-CoV-2; the rest of the group was performing computational work and pursuing writing projects at home. This was a challenging time, since I had to balance directing COVID-19 research, keeping my team engaged and upbeat, completing my examiner role, while also helping in the childcare for my toddler twins. Everything shifted online – I have attended a few online conferences and given many talks remotely. This is a new experience that – despite the obvious loss of the extensive social and scientific interactions – has several merits, including the lower cost and the absence of any travel. Working on our coronavirus efforts I have experienced more international collaboration. We had to work to much tighter timescales, enabled by new mechanisms that allowed us to maintain a fast pace (e.g. rolling grants, faster communication, lower administrative barriers); and we had to be much more inventive and practical.
RESPONDING TO COVID-19 - THE WORK OF THE ST CROSS COMMUNITY
THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWNS ON PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING – PANDEMIC STEERS GRADUATE RESEARCH
The three national lockdowns have dramatically shifted people’s living and working routines. With many people working, learning or furloughed at home and with gyms, leisure facilities and nonessential retail outlets closed, there have been huge changes in levels of physical activity and eating patterns.
For St Cross students Boon Lim (DPhil Synthetic Biology, 2017) and Andrew McMahon (DPhil Condensed Matter Physics, 2018) the pandemic has changed the focus of their research and pulled them into ground-breaking projects.
Prior to the first lockdown St Cross Fellow Stanley Ulijaszek, Professor of Human Ecology and a nutritional anthropologist, had already been working on a project involved with understanding obesity and physical activity behaviour through the environment of the home. “The project was in response to a policy-relevant need for understanding how the domestic sphere influences health and health behaviour,” said Professor Ulijaszek. “Then along came COVID-19, which made such research pressingly important, especially during the first lockdown. We wanted to determine what effects household isolation and social distancing would have on mental and physical health. The aim was to inform policy initiatives, based on sound evidence, of current and emerging patterns within household environments that would impact the health of the nation.” The research found that, under lockdown, dietary patterns suddenly shifted (for better or for worse) in response to reduced access to usual food suppliers. Physical activity levels also changed sharply, some increasing while others dramatically reducing their activity. There was also a stark rise in negative mental health, especially in suicidal tendencies and disordered eating. Related to this was increased binge eating and consumption of processed snacks and alcohol. Health outcomes were generally worse among those experiencing economic insecurity, and young people had the worst mental health outcomes, even after taking into account economic insecurity.
Boon Lim is part of a team of scientists that developed a rapid COVID-19 detection kit. The Oxsed RaViD Direct test is accurate (92%-100% sensitivity) and provides results in 15-30 minutes. The test was first introduced at Heathrow Airport. Boon said: “I was the first molecular biologist in the team, so I helped design and implement the method that we used for the diagnosis. I also lead the proof-of-concept research with colleagues from different departments and countries.” The team, led by Professor Zhanfeng Cui and Professor Wei Huang, has won one of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s President’s Special Awards for Pandemic Service. Meanwhile Andrew McMahon has been investigating the infection dynamics of the virus through mathematical modelling as well as using super resolution microscopy to study virus particle structure, supervised by Professor Achillefs Kapanidis (page 6). He said: “My planned area of research was the superresolution imaging of viruses focusing on filamentous forms of influenza, but I have ended up contributing to a new method for detecting coronaviruses.” Andrew is now looking at the size distribution and protein distribution of influenza using super-resolution microscopy. He plans to continue into academia in the crossover of medical physics, biological physics and virus research.
Professor Ulijaszek has recently submitted evidence to a House of Lords enquiry on post-COVID-19 futures, highlighting his research on expert systems and obesity in light of the pandemic. “Most of the things we observed were interrelated”, Professor Ulijaszek added. “We are continuing analysis and writing up for scientific publication, making sense of a complex set of relationships that influenced health and health behaviours during lockdown, beyond the immediately apparent.”
RESPONDING TO COVID-19 - THE WORK OF THE ST CROSS COMMUNITY
MOBILE APPS AND LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF COVID -19 St Cross College Fellow Professor Michael Parker was part of a team that published early research suggesting mobile apps could help significantly slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19. The study, published in Science, found that a ‘contact-tracing App which builds a memory of proximity contacts and immediately notifies contacts of positive cases can achieve epidemic control if used by enough people. By targeting recommendations to only those at risk, epidemics could be contained without need for mass quarantines (‘lockdowns’).’ Professor Parker, Director of the Wellcome Centre for Ethics & Humanities and a Member of the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said: “With transparent and inclusive ethical oversight to ensure genuine public trust, it is possible to both save lives and protect civil liberties. If widely installed by users across a country or regional bloc, a mobile app could even help to end the epidemic.” Meanwhile, Dr Betty Raman, St Cross Junior Research Fellow and Clinical Research Fellow at the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, has been leading the C-MORE study along with Professor Stefan Neubauer. The C-MORE (Capturing the MultiORgan Effects of COVID-19) study aims to understand the medium- and long-term effects
Professor Michael Parker
Dr Betty Raman
of COVID-19 on the organs and on individuals’ health more generally. Although the respiratory illness primarily affects the lungs, people have gone on to experience damage to the heart, brain, liver and kidney. Dr Raman said: “These findings underscore the need to further explore the physiological processes associated with COVID-19 and to develop a holistic, integrated model of clinical care for our patients after they have been discharged from hospital.”
CHILDREN AND COVID-19 INFECTIONS St Cross Member of Common Room, Dr Matthew Snape, is an Associate Professor in General Paediatrics and Vaccinology at the Oxford Vaccine Group, University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Council. As Chief Investigator on the ‘What’s the STORY’ study (Serum Testing of Representative Youngsters), Dr Snape has led a team looking at new ways to survey how well protected different groups are from infectious diseases. Initially set up in 2019 as a pilot scheme to evaluate the UK immunisation programme, ‘What’s the STORY’ has adapted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. New funding has allowed the project to expand and recruit 1200 additional children and teenagers from across England. The researchers have been taking blood samples from participants aged from birth to 25 years of age in order to look at antibody levels against important infectious diseases. 8
The study has been particularly interested in Group C meningococcus, diphtheria and, now, COVID-19. Once the samples have been assessed, researchers will be able to understand whether any changes need to be made to the UK vaccine schedule and will also have a clearer idea of the number of UK COVID-19 infections. Dr Snape said: “With this study we will systematically study the proportion of children and teenagers with immunity against this virus during the course of the pandemic. This information is vital to informing public policy about how to best manage this devastating outbreak.” In addition to this work, in February 2021 Dr Snape became the Chief Investigator of the first trial to explore alternating different COVID-19 vaccines. Researchers will evaluate four different combinations of prime (initial) and booster (followup) vaccinations. Dr Snape said: “If we do show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably in the same schedule this will greatly increase the flexibility of vaccine delivery, and could provide clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains.”
RESPONDING TO COVID-19 - THE WORK OF THE ST CROSS COMMUNITY
COVID-19 MOVES ART ONLINE TO A WIDER AUDIENCE As curator of Northern European Art at the Ashmolean Museum, An Van Camp masterminded The Young Rembrandt Exhibition, which showcased works from the Ashmolean’s collection as well as from museums around the world. Just two weeks after opening, the exhibition was forced to shut, as museums closed their doors. Remarkably, An and her team took the exhibition online, doubling expected audience numbers and enabling virtual visits from around the world.
What challenges did you have to overcome to move the Young Rembrandt exhibition online? Because of the government’s sudden announcement, there was no time to record additional videos in the exhibition galleries. Initially we planned to re-edit existing video that had been recorded and envisaged as three-minute teasers for the exhibition. However, given the circumstances, I wanted to contribute something more personal that would resonate with the exceptionally unusual situation. Despite having no previous experience of filming or recording, I made a home video shot in my living room. Although daunting at first, it felt incredibly rewarding to share my passion for the young Rembrandt and to tell my story and insights into the exhibition with others across the world, all locked inside their own homes.
How has the pandemic, and the restrictions related to it, changed your way of working and have there been any unexpected positive changes caused by these restrictions?
and Europe were able to attend, and contribute during the panel discussions.
As a museum curator it is hard not to be able to engage with your collections, give gallery tours, teach with your objects, and show visitors around. However, once colleagues across the world started to adapt to working more digitally, a burst of online conferences, study days, and workshops emerged. At the Ashmolean, we organised an online study day on young Rembrandt’s works on paper in October, which attracted a much larger and more international audience than would have been possible if the study day had taken place in Oxford. Many museum curators, academics, researchers and the general public from the USA, Canada
COVID-19 has forced museums to rethink their approach to digital and has set in motion a new appetite for online content. During lockdowns, if we want to share our collections with audiences, the only way is through virtual exhibitions, blogs, and podcasts. For me, physical and virtual exhibitions would ideally go hand in hand. The Young Rembrandt exhibition is now closed, but we have a lasting legacy in the form of the virtual exhibition, which is fantastic.
Post-COVID, do you think you will continue to work on online as well as physical exhibitions?
You can access the Young Rembrandt Online at: www.ashmolean.org/ youngrembrandtonline
What has been the public response to the exhibition? The (physical) exhibition was very well received in its first two weeks with ticket and shop sales exceeding expectations. When we reopened in August, we weren’t sure if visitors would be keen to visit museums, given that we were still is the midst of a global pandemic. The response, however, was overwhelming. Almost 30,000 visitors were able to see the show in person, and the online exhibition has received 39,193 unique views to date; which means that we have, so to speak, more than doubled our visitor numbers. The videos, which were also released on social media and are still available on the Ashmolean YouTube channel, have been watched over 160,000 times. This includes 74,739 plays of the home-recorded introduction video.
An presenting the launch of the Young Rembrandt exhibition
DOUGLAS WIGDOR (MLitt Social Studies)
“I arrived in Oxford in October 1993. I had shipped a few large bags prior to my arrival, and unbeknown to me, these were in the Porter’s Lodge taking up a lot of space. As I walked through the front door and spoke, someone realised that I was the American who had pre-shipped the big bags. They said “American?” and I said, “Yes, how did you know?”, and he just walked away. So that was my first experience of St Cross!”
oday, Doug is a prominent employment lawyer in the USA and an influential figure in the #MeToo Movement. In 2003 he became a founding partner of his firm, Wigdor LLP. Their clients have included many of the women who came forward with allegations of sexual assault against men like Harvey Weinstein and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and organisations such as Fox News, Amazon, and Walmart. In December 2019, Doug returned to St Cross to launch the Professionals in Residence Programme. He ran workshops, discussion groups, and led public discussions on topics spanning the #MeToo Movement, the first impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, working with the media, and careers in Law. During his visit current students had the opportunity to meet and take advantage of his significant knowledge and expertise, whilst we took a few minutes to catch-up on life after St Cross. What was is like being a student at St Cross? “It was two years of really eye-opening learning and developing great friendships, which I still have today, and I met my wife at Oxford. We had our first date just after we arrived. I came back and told my friend it was great. She went back to her flatmate and said it was a dreadful evening, and that all I did was talk about myself! In any event, we met again at a Thanksgiving event in St Cross and we ended up getting married after we left.” “In my classes and tutorials I learned a lot, but I feel like I learned more from my experiences at Oxford. Playing basketball at Oxford was truly unique. My teammates were outstanding and our bus rides to various games would be academic debates. It was really interesting. We won the varsity match one year and the next year we won the British Championships, and I was the starting guard on both of those teams.”
Image © Stan Honda
Why employment law? “I started as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office in New York, but after a few years, knew I didn’t want to be a criminal defence lawyer, so I did a two-year clerkship with a federal judge. Employment litigation cases took up around 2530% of the civil docket, and so I began to become interested in discrimination and harassment cases.” “In one of my first cases I represented a 15-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. He had been hired to work at a pharmacy, greeting customers and handing them their prescriptions. On his first day at work, the pharmacist looked at him and said: You’re not working in the pharmacy. Someone must have made a mistake and he ended up getting fired.”
Douglas Wigdor has taken on many of America’s biggest companies
“We had a case under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I had to navigate dealing with a large multi-national employer, who notoriously didn’t settle cases, so we litigated the case for years. It was a challenge preparing a boy with cerebral palsy to be ready to be crossexamined, but we ended up winning. It was a rewarding experience, and it happened early on in my career as a civil lawyer. It vindicated my decision to do what I do, and probably shaped my career.”
back to my love of competitive sport) and obviously I want to vindicate my clients’ rights, but personally, I don’t ever want to lose either.”
“After the clerkship, I worked at a global law firm representing large corporations. I didn’t enjoy representing large companies, but it was a good experience. If I compare where I started my legal career to where I am now, I’m still representing victims who are up against large companies and powerful people, and who really have no other place to go.”
“Everyone has different means but we should all consider supporting the next generation. During my visit, I have seen the Douglas and Catherine Wigdor Room for the first time. I’m really humbled by it, because I never thought in 1993 that I’d be in a position to give back to St Cross, and to other universities and causes that my wife and I feel strongly about in the way that we have.”
“When you go against the likes of Harvey Weinstein or Goldman Sachs or Walmart, you are up against companies that have a lot of money and a lot of lawyers. I love the challenge (that comes
“And to current students, I’d say the time you’re at Oxford goes by really quick. Take it all in, live in the moment, and cherish the time you spend here. Because when you look back, you’ll miss it.”
Is there anything you’d like to say to members of College? “To fellow alumni, if you haven’t been back for a while, come and visit! Since the West Wing was completed, it’s really changed the whole feel of the College. It’s beautifully done, and to come back and spend time here is just wonderful.”
ST CROSS PROFESSIONALS IN RESIDENCE During his visit, Doug Wigdor launched the St Cross Professionals in Residence programme. This scheme aims to increase opportunities for College members to engage with distinguished professionals from a broad range of backgrounds, including entrepreneurs, financiers, and leaders of cultural and heritage organisations. The programme invites outstanding individuals to spend one or two weeks at St Cross, during which they will be expected to contribute significantly to the life of the College. Individuals visiting as Professionals in Residence may, or may not, have a prior relationship with St Cross. To optimise our search for the next Professional in Residence, we would like to hear from you. If you know someone who may have the credentials to be our next Professional in Residence, or if you would like more information about the programme, please get in touch with Annabelle Saunders at engagement. firstname.lastname@example.org 11
SCHOLARS SPOTLIGHT 12
In 2017, with the support of match-funding from the University of Oxford College Contribution Fund, we launched the St Cross 50:50 Campaign. Thanks to the support of alumni and friends across the globe, we reached our target of raising £100,000, and in October 2019 we welcomed our largest cohort of St Cross funded students for many years. Further match-funding and yet more generous support followed from you, enabling us to welcome even more scholars this academic year, including the first recipients of the St Cross Graduate Access Award. These awards are based on financial need, and provide support to students who have offers from the University and St Cross, but who do not have the financial means to take up their place. We all know that St Cross is a diverse and international community of scholars, so it will come as no surprise that our recent student scholarship winners come from across the globe.
St Cross Graduate Access Award
St Cross BAME Studentship in the Humanities
Master of Public Policy (2020)
MSt Global and Imperial History (2019)
From: Victoria, Canada
Jasper graduated from Harvard, where he studied negotiation, psychology, and sustainability – with a secondary focus on migration, ethnicity, and human rights. Throughout his studies, Jasper advised corporations, non-profits, and governments through roles with McKinsey & Company and the Harvard Undergraduate Consulting on Business and the Environment group. His work on intergroup relations has been published by the United Nations and World Economic Forum. When Jasper is not studying, he enjoys playing the piano, singing, running and is an avid photographer. Since arriving in Oxford, Jasper created a photo project called @100DaysOfOxford, starting on his first day out of selfisolation in September, spanning 100 days to December 31st 2020 (see inside front cover for more information). Jasper said: “The Graduate Access Award from St Cross helped make it possible to attend the University and for this I am incredibly grateful. I have absolutely loved my time so far at St Cross and the Blavatnik School of Government. In the years and decades ahead, I want to bring my distinct background to make a positive difference at the intersection of conflict resolution and public policy, with a strong desire to impact environmental governance as we collectively confront the critical threat of climate change.”
From: Berkshire, UK
Jack’s main interest is the history of the early modern Islamic world (c. 1400-1800) and prior to his MSt his research had focused on seeking to understand the process by which the Timurid dynasty of Central Asia adapted to the political climate of the Indian subcontinent, and became ‘Mughal’. During his postgraduate study, Jack investigated how Timurid paradigms of royal and imperial sovereignty were constructed. Jack’s interest in the early modern Islamic world was sparked during his undergraduate studies. In particular, he found it refreshing to study the time and spaces when European colonialism was not the dominant paradigm. As someone who has lived in Britain all their life, studying Mughal India and Timurid Central Asia has given Jack the opportunity to reconsider the global relevance of the history and culture within which his life so far has been enmeshed. Jack said: “I could not have afforded postgraduate study at Oxford without this scholarship. It offers me a level of financial security, which eliminates stresses and strains I might have otherwise faced. This studentship is crucial in my field of work, where there are so few people of colour. It helps lessen some of the institutional barriers individuals in the BAME community face in kick-starting a career in academia. Helping people like me access the highest level of training and teaching possible in the UK will help redirect and reshape conversations within academic institutions. I am where I am today thanks to the generosity of St Cross and the Humanities Division.” 13
St Cross Archaeology Graduate Scholarship
St Cross Robin and Nadine Wells Scholarship
DPhil Archaeological Science (2020)
MSc Clinical Embryology (2019)
Karolina is a bioarchaeologist specialising in isotopic analysis, to reconstruct people’s diet and mobility. Her archaeological work has focused on individual life histories, tracking changes in people’s health and interaction with the environment throughout their lives, from the early childhood to adulthood. As a part of her DPhil project, Karolina will combine multiple isotopic proxies with GIS-based spatial analysis to investigate Neolithic micro-regional connectivity in the Baikal region, Russia.
During an internship in a government-run hospital in her native India, Nadine observed that although infertility pervades all sections of Indian society, the treatment of the condition remains accessible only to the affluent. Medical resources in terms of both infrastructure and skills required for treatment are greatly lacking, and the most vulnerable in society are often the most exploited. In India, having a baby not only brings a women prestige and honour, but secures for her a place in her husband’s family.
As a former journalist, Karolina has experience in public outreach, radio reporting and documentary production. Her latest output was the 2019 photography exhibition “Rwanda: 25 Years of Peace”, commemorating the 1994 Tutsi genocide. Being an artist at heart, Karolina loves photography and creative writing and, of course, Oxford has a rich and passionate community with whom to share this work.
Struck by the impact infertility can have on a family, Nadine became interested in a career in Reproductive Medicine. Her research interests include the ethical issues surrounding IVF, as well as the advent of newer technologies in perinatal medicine, in particular the field of pre-implantation genetics.
Karolina said: “With so many fascinating research questions to answer, I have been granted an amazing opportunity to bring the love for investigating the human past to a doctoral level. Thanks to the St Cross Archaeology Graduate Scholarship I can fully commit to academic research and publications, supported by world-class experts. While my current research interests lie in archaeology, I hope to apply the analytical skills in a forensic setting, providing expertise in the investigation of war crimes.
Nadine said: “The Scholarship reduced the financial burden of study and it has helped reassure me that I deserved to be here. I was able to focus on the research opportunities and the extra-curricular activities that studying at Oxford offered.” Since graduating, Nadine has joined the NHS and continues to support families as she works in Paediatrics and Neonatology. She plans to pursue an Academic Clinical Fellowship in Clinical Genetics before returning to India.
To find out more about all of our scholars, please visit: https://www.stx.ox.ac.uk/st-cross-scholars
HOW CAN YOU HELP? St Cross is committed to continuing to support our students, but to do this, we need the support of our wider community. Each Graduate Access Award we offer is worth £10,000, and partnering with University schemes including the Clarendon Scheme and the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship programme, requires a similar College input. Thanks to the vision of a long-standing friend of St Cross, we have recently established an Endowed Scholarship Fund. We need to grow this fund, so that we are able to offer awards each and every year to our students. If you feel able to support us with our mission in any way, large or small, or would like to discuss naming an award, please get in touch with Victoria Cox, Head of Development & External Relations at email@example.com or +44 (0)1865 278467. You can also make a gift online to our Scholarship & Bursary Fund at: www.stx.ox.ac.uk/supporters
THANK YOU! We would like to thank all of our friends and supporters who are current or lifetime members of the 1965 Club – our way of recognising those who have chosen to give and support St Cross.
CURRENT 1965 CLUB MEMBERS – RECOGNISING THOSE THAT GAVE TO ST CROSS BETWEEN 1ST AUGUST 2019 - 31ST JULY 2020 ALUMNI DONORS BY MATRICULATION DECADE
Stephen Bass Simon Bonvoisin Edward Furgol Mary Lloyd Ed Macalister-Smith
Timothy Biggs Katarina Burnett Rebecca Golbert Sophia Handaka
Andrew Amend Neeraj Bhala Lydiah Bosire Rory Browne
Bronwen Everill and Jonathan Gorrie
Anastassia Loukina and Holger Witte
John McLaughlin Jasper Morgan Vladimir Mukanaev
Casper Gregers Bangert Danielle Lurie Paul Platzman Nigel Thomas
Kuotong Soo Mengbing Xi Weijun Xu
FELLOWS, MEMBERS OF COMMON ROOM, AND FRIENDS OF ST CROSS Jere Bacharach Peter Benton Malgorzata Bialokoz Smith Richard Briant Dennis Britton Richard Brook Capital Group Mary Chamberland Lanna Cheng Tonia Cope Bowley
Victoria Cox Alasdair Crawford Judith English Margret Frenz Helena Hamerow Tom Hassall Deborah Hennessy Susan Hockey Suzy Hodge Denise Holt Harold Jaffe
Patricia Jayne Wendy James Alan Jones John Kingman Crawford Kingsnorth Arlene Leenhouts Judith Ledger Alan Lowne Richard Makepeace Rahael Mateu de Ros Cerezo
Nicholas Mayhew Rana Mitter Charles Mould Frank Norman Dick & Cathy Repp Emilie Savage-Smith David Scrymgeour Derek Siveter Carole Souter Keith Suter
Mary Tregear* Marilyn Trim Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education Martin Vessey Peter Ward Jones Julia Wigg Jim Williamson Brian Woolnough *indicates deceased
THANKS ALSO TO OUR LIFETIME 1965 CLUB MEMBERS Glenda Abramson Antonio Alvarez & Catelijne Coopmans Jere Bacharach Peter Benton Jennifer Bonsell Richard Brett Richard Briant Dennis Britton Richard Brook Helen Brown James Busuttil Hung Cheng
Lanna Cheng Tonia Cope Bowley Alasdair Crawford James Dodd Ralf Donner Michael Durkin & Mary Morse Spencer Frasher Ed Furgol Anthony Geffen Andrew Goudie Derek Harrison Susan Hockey
Tony Hope Caroline HowardJones & Neil Kensit Harold Jaffe & Mary Chamberland Wendy James Mark Jones Alan Jones Humphrey Ko Mary Lloyd Peter Mackridge Bob McLatchie Charles Mould
John Moussouris Timothy Pound Rosemary & Anthony Preiskel Dick & Cathy Repp Donald Richards Emilie Savage-Smith Kate Scott Kuotong Soo Tom Soper Glenn Swafford Alan Taylor
Bernard Tinker Anne Vandenabeele Martin Vessey David Warrell Robin Wells Douglas Wigdor Sandro Wiggerich Jim Williamson Brian Woolnough Margaret & Malcolm Yee Fritz Zimmermann
We would also like to extend our thanks to donors who choose to remain anonymous and those who have pledged legacy gifts. 15
WITH THE ANCIENTS An interview with Liz Frood BY EIMEAR RYAN
lizabeth Frood still owns the textbook that first piqued her interest in Egyptology as a teenager. The St Cross Fellow became fascinated when a friend of her father’s, a professor of history at Auckland University, showed her a copy of Gardiner’s Egyptian Grammar. ‘I still have my original copy of it, it’s so battered, it’s falling apart,’ she says. ‘I remember the first time I opened it, glimpsing a complex grammar and all of these beautifully typescript hieroglyphs in an elegant cloth-bound tome. I remember thinking at that moment “I want to learn this language”.’ An Associate Professor of Egyptology, Dr Frood has graced our TV screens, presenting Tutankhamun in Colour, which aired last year. In it, Dr Frood guides us through newly colourised photographs from Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, in order to recreate the experience of the excavation. Watching it, I was struck by her emotional response to the colourised images. ‘My response is entirely genuine because I went into that documentary very sceptical about colourisation and whether it would actually bring anything new to the story,’ she says. ‘They deliberately held back the images from me to get that response, and so I was totally blown away by them.’ While Tutankhamun is not her regular beat – she specialises in the study of non-royals – she understands the appeal and grandeur of the pharaohs. ‘There’s something about that material that people still relate to and find very powerful. Of course, there’s the gold and the beauty of the objects, but also there’s something about his youth, and the whole story of the discovery that really hooks people in. I really hope that in ten years, I have undergraduates coming through who saw the documentary when they were at school and were inspired by it.’ Talking to Dr Frood, it is clear how much her research means to her, and how hard she has fought to come back to work after her illness. After contracting sepsis in 2015, she lost both of her legs below the knee, as well as much of the mobility in her hands. ‘When I started recovering from the initial phase of the illness and realised the damage that it had done, I remember being terrified that I would not be able to work again,’ she says. ‘My family and friends, those who Image (left) © Flavia Catena and Kintsugi
Images © Jane Wynyard
were with me in the hospital room, were communicating with my colleagues in College and in my department. They reassured me that I would be able to come back, that they would find a way to make it work, that there was voice-activated software, that I would still be able to write and perhaps find ways of going to Egypt. All of those conversations were absolutely crucial.’
‘I think things have moved as fast as the College could. I mean, there are still parts of the buildings that I can’t access, unless I’m on legs and feeling confident. I can’t really go upstairs to the main offices – they’re not wheelchair accessible and are too scary for me on legs. But in a place like Oxford you’re always going to hit these kinds of issues, given the design of the old buildings.’
Her son Emeran, now six, was just eleven months when she became ill. ‘I thought I’d lost the relationship with my son and lost my job, and finding the pathways back to both of those were fundamentally healing.’ She applauds the progress that has been made in making the College more accessible in recent years, which was a crucial element in her return to work. Carole Souter, the Master of the College, was very proactive in this process.
Accessibility is something that she has become very proactive about, not just in terms of her workplace but also in other aspects of everyday life, such as clothes. Last October, she featured in a fashion shoot hosted by the College for Kintsugi Clothing, an inclusive fashion brand founded by Emma McClelland.
‘Carole immediately began the process to have the ramped front entrance created, and we talked about how the side entrance could be automated so I wouldn’t have to fuss with cards to get in, because of my lack of hand function,’ says Dr Frood. ‘She was super responsive and we had such a great conversation. Her thinking extended beyond physical mobility – she was thinking about things like the environment of the Hall, where it can be very hard to hear, especially for people like me that have hearing impairment. She was also thinking about how to make the spaces more comfortable for people who are neurodiverse.
‘I love clothes,’ Dr Frood laughs. ‘I’ve always been interested in fashion. And of course, everything around that changed when I got sick. Just the mechanics of getting dressed can be a challenge. I have
Liz with graffiti. Image © Jane Wynyard
no hand function so I can’t do buttons or ordinary zips. Everything about how I dress had to change.’ In particular, she misses skinny jeans, which are impossible to wear with her prosthetic legs. But brands like McClelland’s make it possible to continue to express oneself through style. ‘I felt like I lost so much of myself through the illness. It went from my job and my relationship with my baby boy – which are profound and incredibly important – to something that felt kind of frivolous on the surface, which is clothes! But in the end, clothes are so much of how we present ourselves to the world, how much we define ourselves. Finding a designer who had actually thought about people like me and the challenges that we face in trying to dress well, or dress to communicate our identity a bit more – that was really amazing. I can’t wait to see her next line.’
New Frontiers – Immersive Storytelling with
ANTHONY GEFFEN BY SHIRLEY MORGAN
Image © Sam Barker
hen the way of life of the Munduruku, an indigenous Brazilian community, was threatened by government plans to build a dam, campaigners called on the skills of a UK film production company to help. Anthony Geffen, CEO and Creative Director of Atlantic Productions and St Cross College Fellow by Special Election, had his team fly out to Brazil to live and film with the Munduruku community for a month. They created a virtual reality film to capture life in the indigenous community – even reproducing the smells and heat electronically – which was played in special VR pods.Viewers in Brazil emerged from these sensory pods in tears, as did viewers in the UK who saw it at Glastonbury. Such was the experience of seeing the world through the eyes of the tribe. But then something even more incredible happened. “We eventually got the senior government officials responsible for building the dam to come and watch it too,” said Anthony. “They went through the same experience in the pods and when they came out they said, ‘we’ve 18
Image © Atlantic Productions
lived with the Munduruku, we can’t build this dam anymore’. To me this wasn’t a lobbying piece, it was an empathy piece.” Creating empathy and understanding alternative perspectives is just one of the many powers and potentials of Immersive Storytelling – combining virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology with the craft of filmmaking and storytelling to create interactive, explorable, digital worlds. Anthony is one of the world’s leading documentary filmmakers and producers. He leads the Atlantic Productions creative team and is a pioneer in VR. He is the first filmmaker to twice win the prestigious BAFTA award for Specialist Factual (2011, 2014) and the only producer to win three Emmys in a single year for a documentary. His work includes some of television’s most acclaimed productions: The documentary Munich: Mossad’s Revenge, the theatrical feature The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest, the landmark BBC series Inside the
Image © Atlantic Productions
Commons, The Promised Land about African American migration and Greeks: Crucible of Civilisation, and Anthony has worked on countless productions with David Attenborough including David Attenborough Meets President Obama and the Great Barrier Reef series. Anthony is future-focused and driven by a passion for the exciting possibilities of the medium. “This is a new medium which is really going to engage people on a one-to-one basis,” he said. “Its applications in education are massive. People learn in an immersive world four times faster than in the real world.You’re dealing with a world where you can use a much greater extent of your field of vision than normal television and film.” “As we move from the smartphone era to the immersive era, we are opening up a whole new storytelling world. In two to three years’ time you’ll be able to attach glasses to your phone that will allow you to be immersed in the world around you. Children will be able to explore the pyramids in their classroom.
You could bring sharks into your living room or a real-size space station into your home.You can see the potential of this emerging. It’s not interactive yet, but it will be.”
In China, the team have built a VR experience ‘Life Before Birth’ that allows you to walk into a woman’s body and experience the changes that occur during pregnancy.
Anthony’s team are working with Harvard Medical School, where they’re combining a VR headset with Artificial Intelligence to help support autistic people. The technology enables doctors to read the emotions of their patient to understand how they are seeing the world, and also helps people who have trouble reading human faces by engaging them with robotic faces and slowly introducing them to human faces and expressions.
“Shanghai doctors came to us because they wanted to help pregnant women in remote farm areas,” said Anthony. “The VR experience will be released in the next year or so and it will allow people, in a short space of time, to understand the cycle of pregnancy, which a lot don’t understand right now.”
As real-life environments, such as oil rigs, pyramids, and space stations, can be scanned and reproduced exactly within a digital environment, there are also huge training applications of this immersive medium. Seeing the world through other eyes has huge implications for deepening understanding, community cohesion and empathy. A recent project in France saw Anthony and his team creating an immersive experience which allows the viewer to become a bee, experiencing life in the beehive. Filmed using microscopic cameras and mixing footage with animated bees, the experience is being used to change people’s perceptions of bees and to understand the threats they are facing.
You could bring sharks into your living room or a real-size space station into your home.
Anthony has been a leading innovator in digital technology, working in partnership with leading companies to build content for new platforms including award-winning apps (Kingdom of Plants & NHM Alive). He said: “We are looking at ways to allow children to interact with things in education through an immersive medium.
For example, with scientists we have created a virtual dinosaur egg that children can access through their mobile device. It grows in the same way a dinosaur would, and the child has to feed and care for it. Eventually it gets too big for your house and you have to put it outside.” While in lockdown Anthony is currently caring for a dinosaur that hatched from a virtual egg in his home. “When new mediums come along, unless they are utilised properly, people lose interest.VR and AR are great mediums, and our sole aim is to take the storytelling we’ve learnt in other mediums to build out on the new technology and use them to reach a greater number of people.” Later this year Anthony will run workshops with St Cross College students exploring the possibilities of Immersive Storytelling. He is passionate to engage students from all disciplines so there is a deeper awareness of what the medium is capable of and how it could be utilised in a variety of fields. He added: “I don’t think technology and storytelling have always gone hand in hand. Technology for technology’s sake is useless, but to create great stories, there needs to be a collaboration between people that tell stories and the new technology. If this happens properly, the immersive world is going to have a huge impact.”
Inside the hive (below). Image © Atlantic Productions
IT TAKES A VILLAGE interview with Visiting Fellow Shadreck Chirikure BY EIMEAR RYAN Image © Michael Hammond
Professor Shadreck Chirikure joined St Cross in May 2019 as a Visiting Fellow. A professor at the University of Cape Town, he came to Oxford on a British Academy Global Professorship. His most recent book, Great Zimbabwe: Reclaiming a ‘Confiscated’ Past (Routledge, 2020), is an exploration of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Great Zimbabwe, capital of a prominent medieval state.
he renowned archaeologist insists, however, that he stumbled into his field ‘purely by accident.’ His career could have taken a very different path; as a child, he was captivated by a speaker from an insurance company who came to his school. ‘The way they explained it was very attractive to me, because they said that they work in an industry where if you are a farmer and you lose your cows, then they will give them back to you,’ he says, laughing. ‘If you have a failed harvest, they can also give you something in return. So from that day forward, when I was asked what I would like to do when I grew up, I would say “I want to work in the insurance industry.” Isn’t it cool that people lose cattle and then you give them back? That’s empowering!’ At university he studied for a BA, and his curriculum included archaeology. He excelled in the subject, winning scholarships and funding to do a PhD. The pull of finance was still there, though, and he even enrolled in business school. Eventually, he settled on becoming, in his words, ‘an archaeologist that understands finance and how the past can create opportunities for humans in the present and future.’
‘We know that southern Africa used to export food to the outside world. Now that is not happening – in some cases they are net importers of food. So the lesson that comes out strongly is that there is no substitute for production.’
‘I grew up in a village about 45 minutes from Great Zimbabwe that has these problems associated with dominant theories, in terms of the imposition of western thinking. So the question that I sought to pose was – what happens if I use my village experience to think about Great Zimbabwe?’
Through the imposition of some of these theories, through some of these narratives developing – you are confiscating the past from us.
The title of the book, he explains, was ‘a provocation in a way.Yes, I’m an archaeologist – I’m one of you guys, the academics, that’s fine – but I’m also still a villager. Through the imposition of some of these theories, through some of these narratives developing – you are confiscating the past from us.’
There is an interesting tension, he says, at work in his new book, Great Zimbabwe: Reclaiming a ‘Confiscated’ Past. In it, he writes from two perspectives of deep knowledge: as a villager from southern Zimbabwe, and as an academic.
It was a novel experience for him. ‘Ethnography is all about the other,’ he explains. ‘You know, “I’m Irish, so let me understand the Welsh or the English.” That’s the origins of anthropology and archaeology. So what happens when you write about the community that raised you, the community that brought you up? That’s what I wanted to explore in the book.’
It is an interest that has guided his archaeological work – for example, his exploration of Iron Age economies in Africa. Are there any learnings from those ancient economies that are applicable today? ‘Great Zimbabwe was all about production,’ he says, nodding. ‘It was about manufacturing, metal processing. It was about engineering those stone walls. How do you build them without an understanding of planning, or architectural concepts, and how forces interact and so on?
Great Zimbabwe UNESCO site
His research often reminds him of the extent to which we fail to learn from history, and yet how relevant it is. ‘We make the assumption that the past is gone and is lost from us. That it’s another country. But the people in the past were also grappling with the same issues that we are confronting today,’ he says. ‘If it is clear from the past that in places such as Great Zimbabwe, they were heavily invested in agriculture and were a major producer, isn’t there a lesson to learn from them? The context of the situation is different, but the principle is the same.’ Another important aspect of his work pertains to the repatriation of cultural objects and the decolonisation of museums, such as the British Museum and, closer to home, the Pitt Rivers Museum. ‘The debate around museums is twofold. Obviously, museums are modern spaces for exchanging knowledge, for learning and so on. But having said that, the way in which we think about museums – why don’t we present this information to the visitors? For example, to contextualize the collections and say “this was illicitly taken through plunder. This was stolen.” That’s the correct information, but you don’t find it.’ He adds that there’s a danger, too, in thinking of the ills of colonialism purely from a western perspective. ‘Some of these debates don’t have a meaningful global south involvement. African countries and African museums need to be involved with decolonisation, in producing their own narratives, coming up with versions for their own museums, talking about the good material they are holding. In some cases, the debate is so skewed that one might be forgiven for thinking that the objects in British museums represent the best in terms of African creative genius, and that there’s nothing more left on the continent.’ Yes, materials were stolen and must be returned but we must celebrate what is still on the continent. It is very beautiful. He has settled into St Cross well, and was pleased with how the College continued to function even through the disruption of the pandemic. ‘The
Shadreck at work at Great Zimbabwe
good thing about St Cross is that it is a network of people who care about each other and who share information. And much of the programming continued to go on. One of the things that I follow closely is the Insakas, through the Oxford Africa Initiative in partnership with St Cross. That and many other events were still going on virtually, so that was also a way of connecting.’ He also found it beneficial that lockdown made it necessary for everyone to pivot into the virtual world. ‘There is no excuse anymore to say, “well, I can’t organise a conference. I can’t organise a seminar.” Betraying my African bias – sometimes you cannot talk to people who are on the continent, because there are challenges with visas, or travel is too expensive. Those barriers were removed by the pandemic. COVID managed to achieve what perhaps we have failed to achieve – that is, make the people of the world talk to each other.’
different universities.’ He mentions various initiatives that led to him working with colleagues in art history at UCLA; with a practising blacksmith, Tom Joyce, in Santa Fe; and with the colleagues all over the world. ‘I’m very grateful for the wonderful experience that I get from different parts of the world – through interactions with colleagues, interactions with students, and almost everyone. There’s always an opportunity for me to learn.’
Still, he looks forward to the time when travel will be possible again, and he can engage in one of his favourite practices – community outreach. ‘My own work is very strong in terms of collaborations, because it reflects that cross-continental interaction with
Great Zimbabwe: Reclaiming a ‘Confiscated’ Past (Routledge, 2020)
Last year, two St Cross College fellows received recognition for their work when they were elected as Fellows of the British Academy. BY SHIRLEY MORGAN
rofessor Amy Bogaard, Head of the School of Archaeology, and Professor Rosalind (Polly) O’Hanlon, Professor of Indian History at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, were two of ten Oxford academics from the Humanities and Social Sciences to receive fellowship last year – the largest number from any institution. Each year the British Academy elects up to 52 outstanding UK-based scholars who have achieved distinction in any branch of the humanities and social sciences. Election is a mark of distinction, as only a very small number of scholars in any field are elected. Professor O’Hanlon’s work focuses on the early modern and colonial history of India. She also explores histories of empire, caste and gender, and the history, language and culture of the important Indian state of Maharashtra. Image (left): 10 Carlton House Terrace, British Academy
Rosalind (Polly) O’Hanlon
“In these most difficult days for scholars and researchers everywhere, it is wonderful to be able to celebrate this honour,” she said. “Having myself benefitted from the comprehensive support that the Academy offers to scholars at every stage of their careers, I am immensely grateful now for this opportunity to contribute to its work. The Academy already offers brilliant support for interdisciplinary projects. But for scholars of the post-colonial world in particular, the Academy’s developing programme of visiting fellowships and scholar exchanges gives us tremendous opportunities to build solid research links with colleagues in the countries that we study, colleagues who are in many cases also facing grave political as well as epidemiological challenges.” At the beginning of 2020 Professor O’Hanlon had travelled to Mumbai to undertake research as part of a planned 23
year-long sabbatical which included opportunities for research, invitations to speak at international conferences and overseas universities and attendance at several conferences. However, the pandemic posed challenges, but also some benefits. She said: “Not being able to go to the library without elaborate advance planning was a challenge! Nonetheless, the staff at the Bodleian have been wonderful, particularly in securing electronic copies for materials needed for teaching. The benefits – as so many others have found – were being able to run online seminar series and conferences with academic colleagues in every part of the world. This was always possible, of course, but it took the pandemic to get us all familiar with the technology and to show us how easy it actually was.” Professor Bogaard is Professor of Neolithic and Bronze Age Archaeology.
Four St Cross Fellows had Professorships conferred upon them in the 2020 Recognition of Distinction Exercise. The exercise confers the title of Professor upon individuals engaged in academic or senior research roles who have an excellent and internationally recognised ongoing research record with a significant influence on their field, an outstanding teaching record, and significant involvement in University and/or College life.
Her research interests centre on the nature of early farming practices in Europe and western Asia and their social implications for Neolithic and Bronze Age people. Recently she has been involved in ‘Feeding Anglo-Saxon England’, conducting archaeobotanical investigations at Neolithic-Bronze Age sites in Turkey, Greece and central Europe and exploring the dynamics and causes of prehistoric land use change. She said: “I am honoured and delighted to join the British Academy fellowship. It is an exciting opportunity to support and promote excellent, inclusive research.”
“I am honoured and delighted to join the British Academy fellowship. It is an exciting opportunity to support and promote excellent, inclusive research.”
Professor Bogaard and Professor O’Hanlon join a growing list of St Cross Fellows and Emeritus Fellows, including Professors Rana Mitter, Dawn Chatty, Hermione Lee, and Diarmaid MacCulloch, who are already Fellows of the British Academy.
MEET THE NEW PROFESSORS:
HELEN JOHNSON Professor of Ocean and Climate Science
MIKE CHARLES Professor of Environmental Archaeology
JOEL SHAPIRO Professor of Financial Economics
INGE DANIELS Professor of Anthropology
Helen Johnson, Professor of Ocean and Climate Science Professor Johnson works to improve the understanding of ocean circulation and the role it plays in the climate system, using fluid dynamics theory, simple and state-of-the-art numerical models and ocean observations. She has a particular interest in the dynamics of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. In February 2019 she co-authored a new international study that found that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, a deep-ocean process that plays a key role in regulating Earth’s climate, is primarily driven by cooling waters west of Europe. Contrary to the prevailing scientific view that most of the overturning and variability occurs in the Labrador Sea off Canada, the study shows that most of this occurs in regions between Greenland and Scotland. Of their findings, Professor Johnson said: “Changes in the rate of overturning affect the transfer of heat to high latitudes and can impact on Arctic sea ice.”
Mike Charles, Professor of Environmental Archaeology Professor Charles’ research explores the farming societies of western Asia and Europe from 15,000 BC, and the origins and spread of agriculture and plant domestication. His research interests also include archaeobotany, palynology, plant functional ecology, and enthnoarchaeology. He is currently involved in the FeedSax project, along with two other St Cross fellows, Professor Helena Hamerow and Professor Amy Bogaard. FeedSax (Feeding Anglo-Saxon England) is an ERC-funded research project led by Professor Hamerow, that is looking at developments of cereal farming in early medieval England. Using new methods of analysing bioarchaeological data, such as preserved medieval seeds, animal bones and pollen, the project will examine how this revolution in medieval farming sustained the growth of towns and markets, fuelling wealth inequality and the rise of lordship.
The FeedSax team
Joel Shapiro, Professor of Financial Economics Professor Shapiro’s main area of expertise is the regulation and governance of financial institutions. He has conducted research on credit ratings, banking regulation, corporate governance, executive compensation, LIBOR, ESG, and conflicts of interest in retail finance. His latest and ongoing research explores environmental, social, and governance (often referred to as ESG) issues in finance. He is currently working on two projects related to this: The first examines whether shareholders steer CEOs towards certain positions (such as sustainability) or whether CEOs can steer shareholders towards such positions; the second examines whether private investors can compensate for reduced investment by a government in mitigating climate change. Professor Shapiro said: “I believe that the COVID-19 crisis has emphasised that ESG issues are more relevant than ever.”
Inge Daniels, Professor of Anthropology Professor Daniels focuses on the study of the material and visual culture, including gift exchange and economic anthropology, the commodification of religious forms, the material culture of luck, amateur photographic practice, the anthropology of domestic space and the built environment, ethnography and exhibition display.
In March 2020 she won an AHRC Research Grant for ‘Disobedient Buildings’, a four-year project exploring how people living in ageing tower blocks, in the UK, Romania and Sweden, strive to create safe and comfortable homes. It also asks how ordinary citizens conceptualise and confront macro-level concepts, such as welfare, health and wellbeing on the ground within the context of widening inequalities and insecurities that seem to characterise contemporary urban life. The lockdowns and travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have placed elements of this project on hold but have also opened up creative use of anthropological methodology, such as ethnographic walks, and using the postal service to disseminate information gathering packs to participants. The packs included journaling questions, disposable cameras, postcards, and neighbourhood maps for participants to engage with. Professor Daniels said: “This has been a revelation. We have used oldfashioned methods and developed relationships of trust with people that couldn’t have developed in the same way over digital technology. We have discovered that these ‘old’ methods make things more accessible for different types of people and opened the project up to those who don’t have Wi-Fi or the devices required to interact through technology.”
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT As the world contended with the impact of COVID-19 and the College shifted through various iterations of lockdowns and restrictions, St Cross students have continued with their work, research and modified social lives, despite the difficult challenges presented by the pandemic. Sharinee Jagtiani (DPhil International Relations, 2015) and alumna Dr Marina Pérez de Arcos (DPhil International Relations, 2012) are founders of Global Thinkers of the International, a group that convenes to explore internationalist thought from significant scholars whose work has been silenced due to language, regional, and gender biases and discrimination. Last year, the group was recognised by being short-listed for a Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Award. To mark the centenary of women being permitted to matriculate at Oxford, a special event was organised, and the invited speaker Professor Cecelia Lynch of UC Irvine presented on the career of Dr Merze Tate, the first African American woman to graduate from Oxford. Sharinee Jagtiani (L) and Dr Marina Pérez de Arcos (R) with Professor Cecelia Lynch
Willem Bonnaffé (NERC DTP Environmental Research, 2017), Arnab Ghosh (DPhil Engineering Science, 2017) and Dylan Barratt (DPhil Engineering Science, 2017) were part of the winning team at the 2020 “AI Impact Weekend” held at the Oxford Foundry. ‘Team Cinderella’ competed over the course of the weekend to develop AI and Machine Learning solutions to climate change, and proposed using AI to optimise shipping schedules based on weather conditions, with the aim of minimising fuel consumption and emissions. They developed a prototyped code and business plan. Entries were judged on the basis of the quality and feasibility of the technical solutions, business viability, and consideration of societal impact. Team Cinderella were chosen as the winning team out of 140 students. Dylan and Willem have since taken the project, now named Cinderella Smart Ports, into the fold of the start-up incubator Oxford University Innovation (OUI), where they will continue to develop it to address the challenges of the global shipping industry.
Willem Bonaffe and Dylan Barrat
Arnab also presented a different project, ‘Interactive Sketch and Fill’ at the Engineering section of the 2020 STEM for BRITAIN event in Parliament on 9 March 2020. Arnab Ghosh
If you missed it, the Wolfson-St Cross Boat Club celebrated 50 years on the river in 2019. The W1 crew marked this in spectacular style, becoming Head of the River for the very first time. As is tradition for the winning crew, a wooden shell was quickly borrowed from another Club, and was ready and waiting for the new champions as they reached dry land. This was paraded through the city, and after a few logistical challenges, into the Blackwell Quad! Sadly, there has been little activity on the river over the past 12 months, and only time will tell when W1 will defend their title.
LOCKDOWN ACTIVITIES When the UK was plunged into its first lockdown in spring 2020, the SRC team, led by President Teele Palumaa (DPhil Clinical Neurosciences, 2016) and Vice-President Chloé Agar (DPhil History, 2018) didn’t let this get in their way. Throughout the term students enjoyed virtual quizzes, yoga sessions, film screenings, online crafting sessions, and even a multi-room virtual bop! As the new academic year dawned the College adapted Freshers’ Week activities, offering a mix of socially-distanced in-person events as well as online gatherings, particularly for the many students who had to self-isolate after travelling to the UK. Our catering team led one of the most popular events – an online baking competition! The Time to Chat project launched in April 2020 to help overcome isolation. This project linked current students with Emeritus Fellows for weekly phone conversations. Enjoyed by all involved, several pairings have continued their conversations over the year, and have supported one another with various projects. In November 2020, as the UK entered its second lockdown and students were only just getting to know one another, we set up a walking buddy scheme, which matched students each week who could then meet and go for a distanced walk as part of their permitted daily exercise. Thanks to support from the KT Soo bursary students were also able to enjoy a hot drink and piece of cake whilst out and about. The College has continued to offer numerous online events open to the full College community, including students. Sessions ranging from Study Skills to Mindfulness have been organised, along with lectures, including an outstanding Nobel Prize-winning panel as part of the HAPP series of events, and family-friendly activities featuring a magician for Halloween.
ST CROSS COMMUNITY BURSARIES Thanks to generous support from St Cross Member of Common Room, David Scrymgeour, the College has been delighted to launch a Community Bursary programme. This scheme provides financial awards to students who can demonstrate outstanding achievements and commitment to supporting their own personal development, leadership skills, and entrepreneurial spirit. Successful applicants must show their ability to excel in areas such as sport, community engagement, the performing arts and leadership or university societies or community organisations. To meet and find out more about our Community Bursary Scholars visit: www.stx.ox.ac.uk/community-bursary-scholars-2020.
ST CROSS CAREERS PROGRAMME Over the last 12 months St Cross students have benefitted from an expanded Careers programme. Thanks to the generosity of alumni, MCRs, and friends of the College, we now have a wide range of careers mentors. This year our online programme of sessions have seen global panels come together and offer unrivalled support and guidance to our students. To find out more visit: www.stx.ox.ac.uk/careers. If you would like to volunteer or find out more about being a Career Mentor please contact Annabelle Saunders, Alumni Engagement Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image © Jonathan Self
Over the years, legacy gifts have made a transformative difference to the St Cross community. They are always tinged with sadness, as they mark the loss of a valued member of our College, but the difference such gifts make to our students and the wider College is substantial. Deciding how to manage your bequest is never easy, and we would always encourage anyone who is thinking of remembering St Cross in this way to get in touch. At St Cross, we invite all those who have informed us that they intend to leave a gift to St Cross in their Will to become members of the Audrey Blackman Society.
udrey was a remarkable woman. Born in London in 1907, she spent her early life with her parents, sculptor Hilda Seligman and chemical engineer Richard Seligman. In the inter-war period, Hilda regularly entertained and accommodated Mahatma Ghandi and Emperor Haile Selassie at the family home, so Audrey grew up socialising and moving in circles that perhaps were rather unusual. She followed in her mother’s footsteps, pursuing her interest in Art and Sculpture. At first, while studying at Goldsmiths, Audrey worked in bronze (with two heads being exhibited at the Royal Academy), but later moved to work with terracotta and stoneware, before creating her own unique method of producing rolled porcelain figurines – some of which are on display in St Cross today, and which were shown at her first solo exhibition in London in 1950. Audrey exhibited far and wide - from Melbourne and Tokyo to Delhi and Prague, with her works being held in collections around the world too. Audrey married Geoffrey Blackman, a Professor of Rural Economy at St John’s College, Oxford, and they lived together first on Hinksey Hill then settling on Boars Hill, Oxford. Audrey
was a life-long learner and wanted to be involved in collegiate life. As she was not able to do so fully as a Fellow’s wife at St John’s, St Cross invited Audrey to become a Member of Common Room in her own right. Over the years, Audrey became ever more involved in the life of St Cross, enjoying lunches, dinners, and lectures as we all do.
When Audrey sadly died in 1990 St Cross was a significant beneficiary of her estate. Although Audrey and Geoffrey had no children of their own, their family was large, but Audrey chose to leave her house, a portfolio of shares, extensive watercolour collection, and many of her own pieces of work to the College. Today, each time you walk from the Common Room into the Hall, you pass through the Audrey Blackman gallery. This recognises Audrey’s contribution to the establishment of the South Wing, and the works of art adorning those walls are also thanks to her generosity. St Cross sold the Blackmans’
house on Boars Hill, releasing capital for the further development of the College estate, including centrally located student accommodation, and established a fund for the continued acquisition of new works of art. Today, Audrey’s relatives are actively involved in the life of the College. Alasdair Crawford, Audrey’s greatnephew, is a Member of Common Room, and his parents Jessica (Audrey’s niece) and Bob Crawford attend the annual Audrey Blackman Society lunch and other events. Alasdair says: “Thanks to great-aunt Audrey and the friendship and warmth of St Cross, I’ve got friends and connections that I could never have imagined. I had no link to Oxford, but over the years St Cross have welcomed me to the collegiate family, and I am so grateful for Audrey’s foresight in supporting this remarkable College.” Alasdair is now looking forward to introducing the next generation to St Cross. Associate Membership of the Audrey Blackman Society is extended to relatives and friends, and the College places great importance on ensuring they feel part of the College. In 2017, we learnt of the sad loss of Mary Juel-Jensen, wife of the late Founding Fellow, Bent Juel-Jensen. In their estate, a substantial gift was left
A Blackman 1985, Op 3, Children in front of animal statue
to St Cross, to support scholarships. In consultation with their daughter, the gift has enabled St Cross to support three fully-funded DPhil scholarships in partnership with the University of Oxford Clarendon Fund. This year, Katarzyna Chwalenia from Poland commenced her studies in Paediatrics, supported by this scholarship, and she plans to conduct research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Katarzyna says: “The Scholarship has enabled me to pursue my DPhil in the topic I’m most passionate about, at a world-class institution. Being an Oxford student comes with great opportunities. I want to take advantage of these to accelerate my research and create positive impact with my results.”
As you move around the College, the visible impact of legacy gifts is all around. The Caroline Miles Room in the South Wing, and numerous student bedrooms in the West Wing all bear the names of those who left bequests to St Cross to support the expansion of our estate and ongoing development of facilities. The legacies of Former Fellows Professor Lorna Casselton and Dr Hélène La Rue led to the establishment of scholarships and public lectures to continue the advancement of knowledge and research in their respective fields. St Cross friends and alumni continue to bequeath financial sums or gifts-in-kind to enhance the cultural and artistic life of the College, and with the establishment of the Endowed Scholarship Fund (see page 14) we hope that you may think about leaving a gift to St Cross, to support the students of tomorrow. Considering your legacy is never an easy task, but for a younger College like ours which has a relatively small endowment and big ambitions, your support can make a substantial difference. We appreciate that leaving a gift in your Will may be the greatest charitable donation that you will make, and that’s why we’d encourage anyone who is thinking about this to get in touch. There are tax benefits in choosing to gift some of your estate to charity, and although we are unable to offer any legal advice or guidance, we do wish to work with you to ensure that your wishes can be fulfilled. To Audrey Blackman Society members past, present and future, we thank you for your support, and the trust that you have in St Cross.
If you would like more information about leaving a gift in your Will to St Cross, or if you have made provision for the College but are not a member of the Audrey Blackman Society, please get in touch with Victoria Cox, Head of Development & External Relations at email@example.com or +44 (0)1865 278 467. Caernarfon Castle, John Varley (1778-1842). Part of the Blackman Collection of Watercolours
Five minutes with
BY EIMEAR RYAN
Rana Mitter OBE is a St Cross Fellow and Professor of History and Politics of Modern China. His most recent book is China’s Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism (Belknap Press, 2020). What was it like releasing a book in a pandemic year? In a strange way, it was both a plus and a minus. A lot of what makes releasing a book very enjoyable is going out on the road: literary festivals, seminars and so on. On the other hand, I’ve been incredibly honoured but also surprised by how many invitations have come in to talk about the book from all around the world, from the comfort of my own front room. In a strange way I’ve been able to have more conversations about the book than I might have done. Can you tell me about the intersection of pop culture and history in China’s Good War? In previous books, I have relied on the kind of sources that historians traditionally use: archives, public speeches of political leaders, and so on. This book is more experimental.Yes, there’s quite a lot about historians and what they say. But there’s also a lot in there about one of my other favourite subjects, which is really bad movies – films that are so bad they’re good. China has a lot of these and a lot of them are about World War II. Talking about the significance of that was something that I was glad to get into. What has been a comfort or distraction to you in this very strange time? I’ve found it very rewarding both to listen to podcasts and to make them. I’m a political junkie, and The Spectator’s Coffee House Shots and the New Statesman’s podcasts are two of the most lively, free-flowing and wide-ranging discussions of British politics out there. I’ve also had the great privilege, because of my role as a presenter for Radio 3, to read about and then discuss a whole variety of issues – everything from new discoveries on Neanderthal DNA to the life of Dostoevsky – that would not be part of my normal day-to-day workplace consumption. Are you working on any new projects? The pandemic hit just when I was very lucky to win a research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, to look at the post-war decade – how China became incorporated in international society while at the same time suffering a really vicious civil war. I am burying myself in the late 1940s and reading contemporary diaries and memoirs, and enjoying that very much. 30
Filming in China
In this very anxious time in history, what encourages you about the world today? One of the things that I have been doing in the pandemic is to continue to supervise students, doctoral students in particular. I think the level of ambition and positivity that they have, even during the most difficult time, has been really inspiring. They’ve had to rearrange in various ways, but they’re much more keen to talk about what they have been able to get on with. I’ve learned a lot from their attitude.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY Unless stated, all events below are in-person events and are subject to change, depending on the applicable COVID-19 guidelines. Please see our events page for further information and booking details: www.stx.ox.ac.uk/events.
2021 AFTERNOON TEA & PRIZEGIVING Wednesday 23 June, 15:00 – 17:00 St Cross College By invitation ANTHONY GEFFEN SCREENING: HISTORY OF THE EMIRATES (ONLINE) Thursday 1 July, 18:00 – 19:30 FAMILY AFTERNOON TEA
AUDREY BLACKMAN SOCIETY LUNCH & TALK Saturday 30 October, 12:00 – 16:00 St Cross College By invitation - for Audrey Blackman Society Members and their guests. The Audrey Blackman Society recognises our legacy pledgers. 1965 CLUB EVENT (ONLINE) Thursday 18 November, Time TBC
Saturday 18 September, 15:00 – 17:00 St Cross College PROFESSIONALS IN RESIDENCE ANTHONY GEFFEN
By invitation - for 1965 Club Members and their guests. The 1965 Club recognises our donors and supporters. WINTER DRINKS
Wednesday 29 September – Friday 1 October, various times St Cross College
Thursday 16 December, 18:00 – 22:00 Oxford & Cambridge Club
2022 1965 CLUB EVENING
Friday 18 February, 18:00 – 22:00 St Cross College
Friday 1 – Sunday 3 July, Times TBC St Cross College
By invitation - for 1965 Club Members and their guests. The 1965 Club recognises our donors and supporters. FRED’S LUNCH Saturday 12 March, 12:00 – 15:00 St Cross College
FAMILY AFTERNOON TEA (PART OF THE MEETING MINDS WEEKEND) Saturday 10 September, 15:00 – 17:00 St Cross College
ST CROSS COLLEGE 61 St Giles Oxford OX1 3LZ +44 (0)1865 278490 www.stx.ox.ac.uk
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