The College is committed to supporting research addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals at all levels of its public engagement and sharing of research.

Cambridge Zero Darwin College David MacKay Research Associates

The College has a close working relationship with Cambridge Zero, the University of Cambridge’s response to the climate crisis, with its Director Professor Emily Shuckburgh OBE also being a current Darwin Fellow. In 2021, Cambridge Zero, the Centre for Science and Policy, and Darwin College created the Cambridge Zero Darwin College David Mackay Research Associates, named in memory of Darwin College Smithson Research Fellow and author of Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air (2008), Sir David MacKay. Up to three postdoctoral researchers are appointed for one year to pursue research related to climate change. Three cohorts have so far been appointed.

In 2023, Dr Angie Burnett (2021-22) was appointed one of the founding Programme Directors at the UK’s new Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), focusing on future food security. Dr James Smith (2021-22) organised a Planetary Health Series, hosting the final workshop at Darwin, also in 2023.

In the autumn of 2022, the second cohort of David Mackay Research Associates each organised events for the Cambridge Zero Climate Change Festival, exploring ocean-based carbon dioxide removal, climate litigation, and passive cooling strategies in the UK’s built environment.

The 2023 David Mackay Research Associates are: 

  • Dr Catherine Waite, whose research focuses on land-use scenario modelling to identify management regimes and interventions to meet human and biodiversity needs.
  • Dr Jinying Xu, who aims to develop a standardised model for the digitalisation and automation of carbon data measurement and reporting to collect trustworthy data that facilitates informed carbon management decision-making in highway assets.

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A Living Lab

Darwin is a dynamic, research-intensive community, with a large population of PhD students, post-docs and Fellows, as well as an engaged staff who keep abreast of newest and best practices. Recent examples of this include: 

  • Bumble bee conservation a project to understand the density of bumble bee colonies within different floral landscapes, including Darwin.
  • Darwin Kitchens – Catering Manager Ivan Higney, has collaborated with academics to conduct experiments within the Darwin Kitchens for several years. This year, he has overseen investigations into mussels as an alternative source of protein and the impact of carbon footprint labels and subsidies on food choices.

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