Latest news

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

The Vice-Chancellor talks about Brexit

24 Oct 2018


The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, has today released a video in which he discusses the University’s concerns relating to the UK’s departure from the European Union and outlines the University’s position on the mobility of students and staff, and the importance of research collaboration with European partners.

In the video, Professor Toope reassures staff and students that the University is “not just passively waiting for Brexit to happen” but, through detailed scenario planning, political engagement, and a strong focus on international partnerships, is actively working to ensure that Cambridge is able to bring its “fullest contribution to society, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.”

The University’s dedicated Brexit webpages can be found here:

On this site, you can find FAQs on issues such as fees and funding, key University contacts, as well as the latest Brexit analysis from Cambridge experts. These pages are regularly refreshed as new information emerges. 


The Science of Hallucinations

19 Oct 2018

Darwin College Team win First Round Contest on 'University Challenge'

14 Aug 2018


Many congratulations to the Darwin College 'University Challenge' Team who won their first round match against SOAS, University of London on Monday 13th August. This is the first time that Darwin College has entered a team into the contest, and they performed brilliantly. The team consisted of Stuart MacPherson, Christopher Davis, Jason Golfinos (Captain) and Guy Mulley.  The final score was Darwin 260, SOAS 90.

Good luck in the next round. Go Darwin!

If you missed the programme you can catch up here.

Professor Martin Jones elected a Fellow of the British Academy

26 Jul 2018

Darwin College is delighted to announce that Vice-Master Professor Martin Jones has been elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in recognition of his work in the field of archaeobotany.  Professor Jones is one of six Cambridge academics elected as Fellows of the British Academy in 2018

Professor Jones is the George Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological Science in Cambridge, and his work covers bio-archaeology and early agriculture, including the spread of crops across the ancient world. Commenting on his election, Professor Jones said: "It is a real privilege to join the Academy at a time when the humanities and social sciences have more to offer society than ever before."  

Martin joins a number of other Fellows and Honorary Fellows of Darwin College who are also Fellows of the British Academy: Geoffrey Lloyd (Ancient Philosophy & Science, former Master), Karalyn Patterson (Neuroscience), and Amartya Sen (Economics & Philosophy, Honorary Fellow). 

Full list of new British Academy Fellows

Darwin student wins prestigious Cambridge-McKinsey Risk Prize

22 Jun 2018

Ann Sofie Cloots has been awarded the prestigious Cambridge-McKinsey Risk Prize at the Cambridge Risk Centre's annual Risk Summit in London for her research on the risks associated with the acceptance and use of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology.  Ann Sofie is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, working on the legal theory of the company and the economic and behavioural assumptions behind it. She studied law at KULeuven (Belgium), NYU and Columbia, focusing on public international law. She qualified as a lawyer in Brussels, where she worked for Cleary Gottlieb and Skadden Arps in the corporate and competition law departments. Her current research interests include the legal and societal implications of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, law & economics and behavioural economics.

Darwin hosts Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier

Prof Charpentier (right) with the Master, Prof Mary Fowler

21 Jun 2018

On Wednesday 20 June, Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, by the University of Cambridge.  Following the ceremony in the Senate House, it was Darwin College's honour to host Professor Charpentier to dinner in College. 

Microbiologist and geneticist Emmanuelle Charpentier was educated in Paris at the Pierre and Marie Curie University and the Institut Pasteur, where she completed her doctorate. Director of the Department of Regulation in Infection Biology at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Founding and Acting Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin and a Honorary Professor at Humboldt University, her early career was made in the United States. Returning to Europe and to Vienna in 2002, she later moved to Sweden and Umeå University, before coming to Germany to the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig and Hannover Medical School. A world-leader in the understanding of regulatory mechanisms underlying infection and immunity, the pioneering work of Professor Charpentier and her team on the deciphering of bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 immune mechanism, and its development into a genome editing tool together with Jennifer Doudna’s lab is acclaimed as one of the outstanding advances of our time in biology and medicine. Winner among a series of prestigious prizes of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Leibniz Prize and the Carus Medal, a Canada Gairdner Award and the Japan Prize (both with Jennifer Doudna) and a BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (with Doudna and Francisco M. Mojica), in 2016 Professor Charpentier was appointed a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.


Close menu
Site navigation mobile menu