Christ's College Alumni

                                                        E-newsletter Summer 2020

Welcome to the summer issue of the e-newsletter

Message from the Master

The Master


I hope that you and your loved ones are well and remaining in robust spirits.


In March, I sent a message to alumni with news about how the pandemic had affected our College community. After several months of Lockdown around the world, I wanted to provide an update on life at Christ’s and our plans for the future.


All Directors of Studies and supervisors have been working flat-out in delivering excellent digital teaching. The Tutors have been energetically dealing with the very substantial pastoral needs of our students, and the JCR and MCR Committees have been truly remarkably inventive in their digital programmes for the students, which have been widely praised and appreciated.


We will be marking the achievements of all those completing their undergraduate courses this summer with a virtual celebration. It’s not the final undergraduate term that anyone would have wanted, but we are proud of the way our students have dealt with the difficulties they have faced, and we will be celebrating with them in person once that is possible.


As was expected, gradual opening-up is a much more complicated process than the swift lock-down that we, other colleges, and the University underwent at the end of last Term. We are constantly reviewing our plans for opening (with social distancing in place) once it is possible to do so. As Master, I have been encouraged also by the collaboration across the Collegiate University, with a Heads of House Forum which is proving invaluable for the sharing of our COVID-related concerns, and ideas for addressing them. We are particularly fortunate to have among us Sally Davies, who was Chief Medical Officer for England from 2010 until she became Master of Trinity in Michaelmas Term this academic year.


As you may have seen, the University recently published a statement saying that all lectures across the University would be on-line for the entire 2020-21 academic year. Misleading coverage of this precipitated considerable concern in a number of constituencies. To begin to counter this, on Friday May 22 all Heads of House issued a statement in a letter to The Times.


The Senior Tutor and I wrote to all our undergraduates to reassure them that “at Christ’s, we intend to be open and are hoping to see you all back on site in October (unless we are prevented by Government restrictions) and for Freshers’ Week to take place, in an appropriately socially-distanced fashion if this is necessary...we are planning to get back to normal as quickly as possible, and believe us that we are pushing hard to achieve that!”


As for our offer-holders, our Admissions team have been doing a sterling job, contacting them all to ascertain the level of teaching and support they are receiving from their school or college, and providing additional support where appropriate and necessary. Our access initiatives have moved on-line, and Women in Maths is now a series of weekly sessions which enable us to engage with prospective students over a longer period than the one-off residential would have done – so perhaps an upside and a model for the future. One of our alumni is generously providing support for those offer holders who are required to take the STEP exam in maths, and our mentoring scheme has been expanded.


In addition to ensuring that the College can continue to deliver its core activities, many members of our community are involved in initiatives across the world to address the pandemic. You can read about some of them in this e-newsletter, but do follow our social media channels for regular updates.


I want to record here how proud I am of the remarkable way in which the alumni, staff, students, and Fellows of College have responded to the difficult circumstances associated with the pandemic. Every day I see evidence confirming the fortitude, perseverance and very strong sense of mutual support that is present across the College community.  As we continue to navigate these uncertain and unsettling times, we hold on to the reassuring prospect of one day being able to enjoy, in person again, membership of the warm and vibrant life-long community that Christ's represents.


Finally, I want to address a matter of very great importance. It is easy to state the aspirational values of our community - mutual respect and support, tolerance, and inclusivity. We pride ourselves on the College's past and present diversity and harmony. So, we must all address how deeply shocked Black and other BAME members of our community, as well as those who love and support them, have been by the killing of George Floyd, and how vital are the debates this appalling incident has rightly fuelled. The scourge of racism continues to infect societies around the world, including our own. To meet the challenge, as an institution and as individuals within it, we must examine all we do to ensure it comprehensively reflects our aspirations of a fully inclusive community where all can flourish free from racism, intolerance, anxiety, and fear.


With hope and warm good wishes


Jane Stapleton, Master

Lockdown News

In the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been regularly reporting on our social media platforms the wonderful efforts by the global Christ’s community in fighting the virus. These stories have ranged from start-up charity ventures, aimed at helping independent businesses to survive, to doctors working on the front line caring for patients. Here are just a few of those we’ve featured.




Professor Girolami
An exciting project was launched in May, directed by Professor Mark Girolami (Fellow), pictured. and involving two of our Christ's Engineering students, Andrew Wang (m. 2018) and Mihai Ilas (m. 2018). Project Odysseus is providing mathematical modelling and statistical analysis for data to be used in the fight against COVID-19, particularly in relation to transport and air quality. 
Current student Jack Neill (m. 2016) has been working on an inspiring project called Be A Local Hero; a community initiative aimed at supporting independent businesses during these extraordinary times. Their mission is to help these independents survive the lockdown and thrive in our communities for years to come. It is a free platform that allows businesses to easily sell vouchers to their local community, to help with cash flow during the lockdown. These vouchers can then be redeemed by the customers when the businesses re-open – to ensure that they can re-open! They are not making any money from this venture, they just hope to give a little back to those independent stores that make our towns and cities all over the UK so great! 



Tian Zhao


Tian Zhao (m. 2003), pictured, is one of the Cardiology doctors at both Norwich and Addenbrooke's Hospitals who is treating COVID-19 patients on the frontline. Tian was also recently awarded a British Heart Foundation research grant to look at how, in some patients, COVID-19 affects the heart, and why in these patients the prognosis is worse. By understanding the mechanism underlying this COVID-19 induced heart damage, it is hoped that specific treatments for this group of vulnerable patients can be developed.


Dr Charlotte Houldcroft (Postdoctoral Research Associate) is a virus evolution researcher, and she is volunteering for COG-UK, a national initiative to sequence the genetics of COVID-19 in order to provide data that can help map its spread and detect mutations. Her work has been featured in a video produced by the University. 



Please do keep us up to date with any news of this nature that you would like to share with us; we would love to hear from you.



We’ve had a number of awards and prizes to congratulate our Fellows and alumni on lately.

Natalie Haynes

Natalie Haynes (m. 1993), pictured, has been shortlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction for her book A Thousand Ships. Natalie is also in the running for a Listeners' Choice Award from the British Podcast Awards for her Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics series which is broadcast on Radio 4. 


Page Nyame-Satterthwaite (m. 2014) was recently named the youngest ever winner of the Dame Helen Alexander ‘NED (non-executive director) to Watch’ Award for her work at the National Children's Bureau, a charity which aims to influence policies that impact young people.

Professor Simon Tavaré

The College is delighted to announce the election of Professor Simon Tavaré FRS FMedSci to an Honorary Fellowship. Professor Tavaré, pictured, was a Fellow of the College from January 2004 until he left Cambridge in the autumn of 2019 to join the Department of Systems Biology at the University of Columbia. You can read more here.


Jane Rogoyska (m. 1983) was longlisted for the 2020 Desmond Elliott Prize for her debut novel, Kozlowski, described as "a novel about loss, memory and guilt, written in sparse and elegant prose". 

Well done to all! 



As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately our in-person our events programme has been cancelled until further notice. We will keep you up-to-date with future plans.


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