Latest news

Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholar

14 Oct 2019

Darwin is delighted to welcome our first Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholar, Jonathan So.  Jonathan is commencing PhD research on probabilistic representation learning in the Department of Engineering.  He joins us from University College London, having previously worked as a software developer.
The Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholarships are made available through the generosity of the David and Claudia Harding Foundation. They provide fully-funded scholarships for the most talented PhD students from the UK and around the world.

Dr Kiyoshi Nagai FRS

Kiyoshi Nagai

03 Oct 2019

The College is deeply saddened to announce the death of Emeritus Fellow Dr Kiyoshi Nagai, who died on 27 September 2019 after a short illness. 

Dr Nagai was a structural biologist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, who was known for his work on the mechanism of RNA splicing and structures of the spliceosome.

After studying at Osaka University, Dr Nagai moved in 1981 to the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, where he worked as a post-doc with Max Perutz (coincidentally, Max Perutz became an Honorary Fellow of Darwin in 1984) on overproduction of eukaryotic proteins in E. coli. Kiyoshi later became a group leader at the LMB and was joint head of the Division of Structural Studies from 2000 to 2010. He was elected as a Fellow of Darwin College in 1993, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2000.

The Master, Professor Mary Fowler, said: "We are enormously saddened by Kiyoshi's untimely death.   He was a great scientist and scholar, and one of the many distinguished researchers at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge who have been, and are, associated with Darwin College.  He will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this time."


Kiyoshi Nagai (1949 – 2019) - MRC LMB obituary
Dr Nagai's page at the Royal Society

Election of the next Master of Darwin College

Dr Mike Rands

01 Oct 2019

Darwin College is delighted to announce that Dr Michael Rands has been elected to succeed Professor Mary Fowler as Master from 1 October 2020.

Dr Rands is currently the Director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), a unique collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the internationally focused cluster of biodiversity conservation organisations based around Cambridge. He will take up the office of Master after the retirement of the current Master, Professor Mary Fowler on 30 September 2020.

After studying Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Dr Rands took a DPhil in Zoology at Wolfson College, Oxford (coincidentally Darwin’s “twin” College). An early career as a research ecologist followed, studying farmland biodiversity in the UK and developing innovative methodologies for increasing wildlife populations in agricultural ecosystems, some of which became enshrined in UK and EU policy.  In 1986 Dr Rands moved into international conservation, directing  a programme of multidisciplinary  projects in over 100 countries for the International Council for Bird Preservation, based at its headquarters in Cambridge. In 1996 he was appointed Chief Executive of BirdLife International, a global partnership of national conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats, and global biodiversity, working with communities towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. As the Director of CCI, Dr Rands heads an initiative which seeks to transform the global understanding and conservation of biodiversity through the integration of research, education, policy and practice . He is a Fellow in Management Practice at the Cambridge Judge Business School, and a Fellow Commoner at Magdalene College in Cambridge.

Dr Rands is broadly interested in interdisciplinary approaches to conserving the natural world; environmental governance and capacity development;  and innovative solutions to global challenges, especially environmental change and sustainability.

Commenting on his election, Dr Rands said: “I am delighted to have been elected as the next Master. I believe the College’s intellectually rich and vibrant international community - combined with its collaborative, informal and non-hierarchical ethos - make Darwin an exceptionally important and attractive part of the Cambridge collegiate community. I very much look forward to playing my part in its growth and development.”

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith, who chaired the search committee, said: “We are delighted that Mike Rands has agreed to be the next Master of Darwin College. These are important times for our Collegiate University as we look to the future. Mike’s appointment reflects his commitment to education and research at Cambridge and his dedication to tackling the global challenges that we face more widely. We look forward with enthusiasm to working with Mike as our new Master.”

October 2019

Professor Amrita Narlikar

23 Sep 2019

Professor Amrita Narlikar (@AmritaNarlikar), former Fellow of Darwin College from 2008-2015, has been re-appointed as President of GIGA, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies for a second term by the Board of Trustees. The Trustees acknowledged and appreciated the positive developments the GIGA has shown, under her leadership, as a world-recognised institution for research and advice in the area of international politics. Read more on

Willy Brown, 22 April 1945 - 1 August 2019

Prof Willy Brown

06 Aug 2019

William Arthur (Willy) Brown, 22 April 1945 - 1 August 2019

The College is deeply saddened to announce the unexpected death of Professor Willy Brown, much-loved Master of Darwin College 2000-2012, who was an expert in the field of Industrial Relations. 

As well as being a former Master of the College, Willy Brown was an Emeritus Fellow of Darwin since 2012 and also an Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College Cambridge, where he had been a Professorial Fellow 1985-2000.  He held the Montague Burton Professorship of Industrial Relations in the University for 27 years until his retirement in 2012. 

An Oxford graduate, he made his early career at the University of Warwick, and prior to moving to Cambridge was Director of their Industrial Relations Research Unit, which gained an international reputation for excellence and influence under his leadership.  Willy's achievements in the fields of industrial relations and labour economics were exceptional.  For many decades an eminent scholar in these areas, not only in the United Kingdom but also internationally, Willy was arguably one of the most influential academics of his generation in both research and policy formulation.

His seminal publications included Piecework Bargaining (1973), The Changing Contours of British Industrial Relations (1981), The Evolution of the Modern Workplace (2009) and The Emerging Industrial Relations of China (2017).  An Honorary Professor at Renmin University in Beijing, he was instrumental in bringing together international and Chinese scholars to examine developments in Chinese employment relations

Willy provided academic leadership through various senior administrative roles at Cambridge, including membership of the Council, and Chairing the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. President of the British Universities Industrial Relations Association 1986-1989, he was a member of the Executive of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association (formerly the International Industrial Relations Association) 1989-1995.  Government appointments included founding membership of the Low Pay Commission 1997-2007 and senior membership of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service Council and Panel of Arbitrators.

Appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002 for services to employment relations, Willy was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Sydney in 2015, in recognition of his contributions to industrial relations scholarship and policy in Australia and internationally.

Willy’s PhD students and research associates have offered the following tributes to him. 

“We are so lucky to have known him, but that only seems to make his sudden loss all the more difficult to comprehend.”

“Willy Brown’s greatest impact may have been through his personal connections and friendships.  He strived to make the world not only a better place but also a fairer one and in this respect he lived by example.  Willy was a truly magnificent person with a marvellous capacity to speak with anyone on equal terms.  He was so selfless, so humble, so generous, and so kind.  He was greatly loved and will be sorely missed.”

Professor Mary Fowler, the current Master of Darwin College, said: “Willy was a wonderful man: kind, a superb academic, a man of integrity.  We will miss him terribly.”

The College flag will fly again at half-mast on the day of Willy’s funeral (date to be confirmed).

Thanks to Mike Sheppard, Andy Fabian, and to Willy’s PhD students for providing material for this announcement.

Honorary Degree awarded to Jane Goodall

12 Jul 2019

Darwin College is very pleased to announce that the Governing Body has elected Jane Goodall DBE PhD (Hon) ScD to an Honorary Fellowship.  Her long study of chimpanzees in Tanzania revealed their social structures and use of tools.  The founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, a global wildlife and environment conservation organisation and the Roots and Shoots global youth programme, she is the Scientific Director of the Gombe Wildlife Research Institute in Tanzania, a United Nations Messenger of Peace and the recipient of many awards including the Kyoto Prize. Dr Goodall was awarded an Honorary Degree from the University of Cambridge in June 2019.  The Orator delivered these speeches when presenting the recipients to the Chancellor.

Gorillas found to live in 'complex' societies, suggesting deep roots of human social evolution

10 Jul 2019

Recent Darwin graduate Dr Robin Morrison is the lead author of a new study into the social structures of gorillas, which has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The study found that Gorillas have more complex social structures than previously thought, from lifetime bonds forged between distant relations, to "social tiers" with striking parallels to traditional human societies. The study used over six years of data from two research sites in the Republic of Congo, where scientists documented the social exchanges of hundreds of western lowland gorillas.

Robin Morrison, a biological anthropologist who recently completed her PhD at Darwin College, said "Studying the social lives of gorillas can be tricky.  Gorillas spend most of their time in dense forest, and it can take years for them to habituate to humans. Where forests open up into swampy clearings, gorillas gather to feed on the aquatic vegetation. Research teams set up monitoring platforms by these clearings and record the lives of gorillas from dawn to dusk over many years."

Full story (University of Cambridge website)
Study Proceedings of the Royal Society B
"Gorillas a party animals just like us" (the Times)
"Gorillas form lifetime bonds" (the Independent)


Cambridge scientists recognised by major European research organisation

19 Jun 2019

Researchers from the Cambridge Biomedical Campus have featured prominently in this year’s election to the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), including Professor Paul Lehner, Fellow of Darwin College.

Cambridge University has the highest number of new members of any institution within Europe. Five University of Cambridge researchers are among the 48 scientists from 17 countries elected. News item available here

Image credit: CDC/ Melissa Brower

Dr Miltos Allamanis, former Microsoft Research Fellow, winner of Distinguished Dissertation Award.

11 Jun 2019

The winner has been announced of the Distinguished Dissertation, a prestigious academic award, run jointly by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, in collaboration with the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC).

Dr Miltos Allamanis, University of Edinburgh, and former Microsoft Research Fellow at Darwin College won the competition for his PhD ‘Learning Natural Coding Conventions’.

Dr James Poskett, former Adrian Research Fellow (2015-2017), has recently published his first book, Materials of the Mind: Phrenology, Race, and the Global History of Science, 1815–1920 (University of Chicago Press).

07 Jun 2019

Dr James Poskett, former Adrian Research Fellow (2015-2017), has recently published his first book, Materials of the Mind: Phrenology, Race, and the Global History of Science, 1815–1920 (University of Chicago Press). The book was written during James’s time at Darwin, drawing on collections in Cambridge and beyond.

Materials of the Mind tells the story of the most popular mental science of the Victorian age. From American senators to Indian social reformers, this new mental science found supporters around the globe. This is a story of skulls from the Arctic, plaster casts from Haiti, books from Bengal, and letters from the Pacific.

Drawing on far-flung museum and archival collections, and addressing sources in six different languages, Materials of the Mind shows how the circulation of material culture underpinned the emergence of a new materialist philosophy of the mind, while also demonstrating how a global approach to history can help us reassess issues such as race, technology, and politics today.

Cambridge's Annual Canadian High Commissioner's Dinner

06 May 2019

Darwin College was pleased to host Cambridge’s Annual Canadian High Commissioner’s dinner. Honoured were the inaugural Canada-UK Postdoctoral Fellows (CUF) in Innovation and Entrepreneurship along with the Deputy High Commissioner, Sarah Fountain-Smith and former Ambassador to China, John McCallum. From left to right are Dr Saif Ahmad (CUF), Dr Nikki Weckman (CUF), Prof Jonathan Heeney Vice Master and Canada-UK Foundation Trustee, Dr Matais Acosta (CUF), Deputy High Commissioner Sarah Fountain-Smith, Karina Vold (CUF), John McCallum, and Professor Mary Fowler, Master of Darwin College. The event was organised by Connor MacDonald of the Cambridge Canadian Club and co-sponsored by the High Commission of Canada and the Canada-UK Foundation. Further details on the Canada-UK Postdoctoral Fellowships in Innovation and Entrepreneurship are available through

or by contacting the foundation

New environmental appointment at the University

25 Apr 2019

Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE, Fellow of Darwin College, has been appointed the first Director of the Cambridge Carbon Neutral Futures Initiative. Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor "This is a critical appointment. Emily is the ideal person to lead this initiative".

Professor Andrew Pitts is joint winner of the 2019 Alonzo Church Award and the 2019 LICS Test-of-Time awards

19 Apr 2019

Professor Andrew Pitts, Fellow of Darwin College, and Dr Jamie Gabbay (Heriot-Watt) have been selected for the 2019 Alonzo Church Award for their work on nominal techniques, begun when Jamie was a PhD student with Andrew in the Computer Laboratory in the late 1990s.

Professor Pitts has also been awarded the Lics Test-of-Time award with Professor Marcello Fiore.

Met Police could predict where London knife attacks will happen next, say researchers

17 Apr 2019

Professor Larry Sherman, Darwin College Emeritus Fellow, has co-authored the report which is published in the Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing. "If assault data forecasts that a neighbourhood is more likely to experience knife homicide, police commanders might consider everything from closer monitoring of school exclusions to localised use of stop-and-search," said study co-author Professor Larry Sherman.

Conservationists share ‘core aims’ but clash over ways forward

11 Apr 2019

Dr Chris Sandbrook, Fellow of Darwin College, 'Our study shows that conservation is a diverse movement, both in people and ideas'. Research reveals rifts within global movement – from economic approaches to protected areas – while confirming support for aims underpinning it. Report at

Professor Jane Francis on 'Climate change: Warning from 'Antarctica's last forests'

08 Apr 2019

An article from the BBC Science Correspondent on Professor Jane Francis work on climate change and Antarctic forests

Confused about cancer? Here’s what we really do know about its causes

05 Feb 2019

Darwin College member Jonathan R. Goodman discusses cancer research and evolutionary theory in a feature for the New Scientist, published on World Cancer Day 2019. 

Cancer is not a single disease and its causes are many and complex, but there are things we can do to reduce our risk – if only we could identify them. That isn’t easy when even the experts don’t always agree. So, what do we know – and don’t know – about the causes of cancer? And, when faced with mixed messages, how can we best judge the risks for ourselves?

Dr Christopher Johnson

05 Feb 2019

Dr Christopher Johnson, Honorary Fellow of Darwin College, died on 5 January 2019. Dr Johnson was the former Senior Bursar of St John's College who have released their tribute.

Games - the book on the 2016 Darwin College Lecture Series is published

18 Jan 2019

Games are ubiquitous in social and political life. Oftentimes the stakes are low - as in our everyday encounters with others - while at other times they are immeasurably high. This book, edited by Dr David Blagden and Professor Mark de Rond, has been published by Cambridge University Press. 

This edited volume presents a series of 8 essays, based on an 8-part lecture series, from such influential contributors as Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Dave Brailsford, A.C. Grayling and Nicola Padfield that address games as played out in such varied fields as sports, philosophy, law and warfare. It also contains the last-ever paper by the late Thomas Schelling, to whom the book is rightly dedicated.

The book can be purchased from Cambridge University Press or from Amazon

Darwin College Lecture Series book on Development published

17 Jan 2019

The book containing eight essays based on the 2015 lecture series Development, edited by Drs Torsten Krude and Sara T. Baker, has just been published by Cambridge University Press.

Copies of the book can be obtained at the Cambridge University bookshop or Amazon.  Information about the Darwin College Lecture Series, including videos of individual lectures is available here.

Sir Michael Atiyah 1929-2019

Michael Atiyah

14 Jan 2019

Darwin is sad to hear of the death of Honorary Fellow Sir Michael Atiyah, who has died aged 89.  

Sir Michael was an immensely distinguished mathematician, who served as Master of Trinity College Cambridge 1990-1997, and was President of the Royal Society 1990-1995. 

His work in mathematics resulted in him winning the Fields Medal (1966), the Copley medal (1998), and the Abel Prize (2004).  He was knighted in 1983 and was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1992.
He became an Honorary Fellow of Darwin College in 1992. 

Trinity College's tribute page

Dr Jennifer Schooling awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours List

02 Jan 2019

Dr Jennifer Mary Schooling, Fellow of Darwin College and Director of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction was awarded an OBE for Services to Engineering and to Digital Construction.

Dr Schooling has been the Director of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction since April 2013. CSIC focuses on how better data and information from a wide range of sensing systems can be used to improve our understanding of our infrastructure, leading to better design, construction and management practices. CSIC has strong collaborations with industry, developing and demonstrating innovations on real construction and infrastructure projects, and developing standards and guidance to enable implementation.

Dr Adrian Weller, David MacKay Newton Research Fellow

22 Nov 2018

Adrian Weller, the David MacKay Newton Research Fellow, is delighted to be following Sir David's example by joining the Board of the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) to help advise on how to ensure that data and AI technologies are used for the maximum benefit of society. Further details on CDEI

Professor Philip M J McNair

14 Nov 2018

 To mark his passing, the College flag is flying at half mast.
After a decade at Darwin College, Philip moved from Cambridge to Birmingham where he was the Serena Professor of Italian and served as Head of Department.

Ebola and Lassa fever targeted by new vaccine trial and improved surveillance

29 Oct 2018

Scientists hope that a new approach to vaccine development, combined with improved surveillance of potential future threats of outbreak, could help to massively reduce the impact of deadly diseases such as Ebola, Marburg and Lassa fever. "This has the potential to have an enormous positive impact on global public health"
Professor Jonathan Heeney, Vice-Master, Darwin College


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