Robinson College Newsletter - June 2022


May Week is in June, and it has been wonderful to enjoy the Bumps, May Week Concert and the May Ball, amongst many other celebratory events, in person at last after such a long pause. The social flurry of the past few weeks has been a huge pleasure, particularly for those students who have experienced the disruption and uncertainty of the pandemic years. June’s celebratory events were a fitting warm up to General Admission on 2 July, which drew the academic year to a close. Graduation is the culmination of many years of hard work, and we wish our graduands the very best for the bright futures that lie ahead. We look forward to seeing what they do next – we know it will be interesting, whatever their chosen paths. The extraordinary careers of just two of our alumni have been recognised with the award of a Tony and a MBE, and you can read more about Toby’s and Tom’s achievements below.

As we say goodbye to some of our students, our thoughts are with those who remain and those joining us for the first time in October. Our donors’ generosity had enabled us to press ahead with our plans to support students’ wellbeing and help build their resilience for life at Cambridge and beyond. The appointment of Robinson’s first Head of Welfare and Wellbeing is an important milestone in the creation of our Wellbeing programme and we are delighted to be introducing Karen Tate to Robinson’s wider community, and to those donors who are making her appointment sustainable.

I hope you enjoy reading more about this and other news below, and if they prompt a memory, do send us your own May Week story.

With very best wishes,

Sarah Westwood
Development Director and Fellow


May Ball is back and roaring

At last, the May Ball we had all been waiting for such a long time happened. The theme was Moulin Rouge, and it was a great night of music, fun, excellent food and just being together and celebrating life. Victor Ellwood was one of the highlights. He is an old student, (HSPS, 2018), who put on a great DJ set spanning music from Modjo to Diana Ross via Shapeshifters. The Headliner Kowala filled the marquee in the College Gardens completely with fantastic music. 17 June is a night to remember and will stay in memories of those who were there for a long, long time. As reported by Dr Chris Warner, Fellow, Robinson College. You can read about Robinson’s 2022 May Ball here in the article Freedom at last featuring some great shots from the event.

You can view a big selection of photographs from May Ball courtesy of  Ban Jaemin Photography on our Facebook page.

Head of Student Wellbeing and Welfare

On 27 June Robinson was very pleased to welcome Ms Karen Tate to the College. Karen joins us as Head of Student Wellbeing and Welfare, a newly created post made possible through the generosity of alumni and other supporters. Karen will be based in the new Robinson College Wellbeing Centre in Thorneycreek Cottage and you can learn a bit more about her and her role here. The plans for the Wellbeing Centre were revealed during the #BinsonGives giving day last month and you can view the designs for this centre in this Facebook post. You can also watch our College Nurse, Anne Considine, talking about the importance of welfare and wellbeing at Robinson here. We are still fundraising for this appeal to ensure that the strengthened programme of care directed at the wellbeing and mental health of our students is sustainable and will continue to provide the necessary support over the coming years. For more information on the appeal and how you can help, please see here.

The Chapel Choir on tour again

In the third week of June, the Chapel Choir embarked on a short tour of three local villages, all with fine churches and all within an hour's drive of Cambridge. They began in Fotheringhay, where the choir sang choral evensong a capella  in the beautiful perpendicular collegiate church, then (after a brief pilgrimage to the site of Fotheringhay Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots was executed) moved on to Cotterstock, near Oundle, for an evening concert. The next day they revisited the parish church at Cheveley, near Newmarket, where they had been giving concerts for many years. Both concerts featured music celebrating the Platinum Jubilee, as well as a variety of new works by female composers. The hosts provided copious refreshments and packed churches, and as Simon Brown, Director of Chapel Music, explained, “it was a pleasure to perform outside Robinson for the first time since 2019!”. As reported by Simon Brown. Simon is retiring from his post of the Director of Chapel Music after seven years of leading the choir from success to success. Thank you, Simon.

Photograph: Rev. Donald MacFadyen

An introduction to university life: a Robinsonian's return

On 21 June, Tom Moy (Music, 2014), Choral Fellow at Harrow School, brought a group of children from Grange Primary School and Norbury School to Robinson College for an introduction to university life and studies. This is part of Harrow School’s Shaftesbury Enterprise initiative, which aims to provide opportunities for children to learn and develop regardless of financial barriers. This visit to Cambridge was designed to broach the topic of university study in an approachable and friendly way. With help from current students, Dr Jeremy Thurlow (Fellow Director of Music, Robinson College) gave a presentation on music, focusing on introducing the children to the many different instruments that live in Robinson Chapel. Ruth Moss (School Liaison Officer) then explored higher education at university. The children enjoyed lunch in the Dining Hall before ending their day in King’s College Chapel. Many thanks must go to all the Robinson staff for their help in making this trip possible.

Fellow Professor Gabriele Kaminski leads the team analysing the relation between the intracellular temperature and the development of Alzheimer’s disease

Using tiny temperature sensors, the researchers in Professor Gabriele Kaminski Schierle’s research group, were analysing the changes in temperatures within human cells and investigating the possible link between temperature and the build-up of specific proteins that cause brain cells to die and to shrink. Inhibiting such temperature growth and stopping cells to overheat and ‘fry like eggs’ may open new ways for the Alzheimer’s disease diagnostics and even create a therapeutic for this disease. You can read more about this latest research and its findings here. Professor Kaminski Schierle is a Fellow of Robinson College in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.

Honorary Fellow and Astronomer Royal on the balance of the Universe

On BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time episode ‘The Death of Stars’,  Robinson College Honorary Fellow and Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, The Rt Hon The Lord Rees of Ludlow, discusses with Melvyn Bragg and other guests the ever-changing nature of the Universe. They talk about phenomena of neutron stars, supernovae and black holes and how new stars are created. You can listen to this programme here.

Photograph: Roger Harris, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


‘Otterly’ fabulous

Queer Street by Phoebe Deller (Classics, 2021) staged at Corpus Playroom made us laugh, made us think and made us proud. It was Phoebe’s full-length play, and the first one to be performed in a professional theatre. When asked for her comments, Phoebe explained, ‘I wrote this play for reasons other than myself too – I pitched it to the ADC as a play about LGBT themes where no-one gets hate crimed, dies of AIDS, or is kicked out by unsupportive parents. It is so important that queer people get silly trashy romcoms because so many of our love stories in the media end in tragedy.’ About the production itself Phoebe remarked, ‘I’ve loved doing QS. It’s changed my life. I love our cast and crew and I’m so proud of them – and I’m thrilled with the way the audience has responded.’ Congratulations to Phoebe and the crew. Photograph: Phoebe Deller.

Susan Sellers and her Firebird

Robinson Senior Member, Susan Sellers, has recently appeared on the Cambridge 105 radio programme Bookmark where she talked about her latest book Firebird: A Bloomsbury Love Story and the inspiration she derives for her writing from inspirational women and feminism. Firebird is a story of the controversial marriage between Lydia Lopokova and Maynard Keynes. You can listen to this radio broadcast here, and read more about Susan’s book and its origin on the College’s website here.



Congratulations to Tom Dyson on his MBE

Tom Dyson (Natural Sciences, Physical, 2003) has been awarded a MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022 for services to Paralympic Rowing. Tom is the Head of Olympic Paralympic Performance Delivery at Great Britain Rowing. He was instrumental in the impressive victories of the GB Para rowing at the 2016 Rio Paralympic games. You can read more about Tom and his work here.

SIX co-creator Toby Marlow wins a Tony Award

Toby Marlow (English, 2014) has become the first openly non-binary composer-lyricist to win a Tony Award for Best Original Score for SIX: The Musical together with Lucy Moss. Toby co-wrote the sensational musical story of the six wives of Henry VIII with Lucy (Gonville and Caius) in their final year at Cambridge. You can read more about their achievement here. Photograph: nt

Bin Brook Readership Survey

We are running a Bin Brook Readership Survey in which we ask you to share with us your opinions and suggestions on the College’s magazine contents. Please complete our short Readership Survey here. Thank you for your participation. The latest issue of Bin Brook is also available online. Please follow this link.



Robinson College Record poll

We are planning to switch to a digital only version of the Robinson College Record from this year, which will be accessible to our readers via the College website. There will be a limited number of paper copies of this annual available to those who wish to continue receiving it in a printed format. We are conducting a short poll which enables you to make such a choice. Please complete this short poll here. Thank you. The Robinson College Record first appeared in 1984 and has been published every year since, with the exception of 2004.


Save the date! - 24 September - Reunion Dinner
Robinson College is looking forward to welcoming those who matriculated in 1981, 1991, 2001, and 2011 to the September Reunion on Saturday, 24 September. Some of you will be celebrating 40 years since their matriculation. We encourage anyone from 1981 vintage to send us stories and memories of your time at Robinson. Please write to us by email at . Photographs are always welcome. When you send  your photographs, please let us know that you are happy for us to use them in College publications and promotions. Thank you. We cannot wait to read your recollections of Robinson and its people from ... some time ago.

2022 University of Cambridge Alumni Festival, Friday 23 - Sunday, 25 September

Be sure to add our email address to your address book so our emails get to your inbox:

You can update your contact details here.

The Robinson shop is open

If you feel nostalgic or just wish to treat yourself or your friend to an adorable teddy bear, a pair of cufflinks, or a pair of port glasses and a bottle of College port, please visit the Robinson College online shop. Browse the catalogue and take your pick. Enjoy!

With very best wishes from all at Robinson,

Sarah, Catherine, Helen and Norbert
Robinson College Development Office

The aerial photograph of Robinson College: credit Spotyphoto