May Newsletter 2020

‘I’ve been thinking about the assumptions and pressures that, for writers and academics, are written in to our understanding of isolation. Does quarantine boost or hinder intellectual creativity?’ Professor in Russian and Film Studies Emma Widdis (e1998) considers the lessons we can learn from Russian literature in the latest in the series of Trinity reflections. Read.

Do read the other latest articles in our Reflections series, a selection of ruminations and recommendations by College members.

  • Professor Mickey Aldophson (e2016) – Cherry blossoms, impermanence and pandemics. Read.
  • Professor Simon Blackburn (1962) – Reflections on self-isolation. Read.
  • Professor Mike Cates (1979) – Reflections of a novice COVID-19 researcher. Read.
  • Professor Philip Hardie (e2006) – Comparisons ancient and modern. Read.
  • Professor Peter Sarris (e2000) – Pandemics ancient and modern. Read.
  • Professor Amartya Sen (1953) – A better world, post-pandemic? Read.

With the lockdown having postponed many recent events, Junior Research Fellow Dr Jessica Fintzen (e2016) initiated and is co-organising the first Cross Atlantic Representation Theory and Other Topics ONline (CARTOON) conference, from 29-31 May 2020, for mathematicians around the world. Dr Fintzen explains why events such as CARTOON are vital for the mathematics community, and reveals her unusual lockdown pastime. Read.

Human, Social and Political Sciences student George Rosenfeld (2017) is spearheading the May Week Mega Event, a first-of-its-kind event, inviting students and staff to showcase the talent and diversity of the Cambridge community. The event is designed to encourage students to celebrate the end of the academic year while making the world a better place. The line-up of performances and features will be livestreamed on Sunday 28 June 2020. Read.

Full points, not ‘nul points’, are awarded to Modern and Medieval Languages student Tom McGachie (2018), organiser of the very first Cambrovision competition, a Cambridge alternative to the Eurovision Song Contest. Read.

Don’t worry if you missed the Master’s Hay Festival Lecture ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ on Saturday 23 May, introduced by Magda Skipper, Editor of Nature. You can catch the lecture on the Hay Player (via subscription), along with other fascinating lectures and events from the Festival thinkers and writers. Watch.

Take a bow Simon Denyer (1984), Bureau Chief Japan and the Koreas, part of the team of Washington Post journalists who were awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for their ‘groundbreaking series’ of articles on climate change. Read.


Sadly, we have had to postpone this year’s Annual Gathering on Saturday 12 September for alumni who matriculated in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Emails have been sent to all alumni for whom we have an email address, advising of the postponement.

We know that it is disappointing news, and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. We are hoping to reschedule the events for similar dates in 2021 and we will keep everyone informed of the plans as they develop. If you have any questions, please contact the Alumni Events team by email at

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, the College Facebook page, and by checking our website. And if you want to get in touch, please email us.

Professor Gregory Hannon (e2016), Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, has been elected as a Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy Class of 2020. He joins 19 other leading researchers whose scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. Read.

Congratulations to Bee Wilson (1992), winner of the Fortnum & Mason Food Award 2020 in the Food Book of the Year category for The Way We Eat Now. You can watch the virtual awards ceremony online – jump in at 2 minutes 20 seconds if you want to head straight to Bee’s speech. View.

Read the illuminating London Review of Books article ‘How to block Spike’ on testing and tracing, immunity, and the epidemiological trolley problem of Covid-19 by Dr Rupert Beale (1996), scientist group leader at the Francis Crick Institute. Read.

Join the #TriniTea party! A daily lockdown ritual that we all share, wherever we are in the world, is the tea or coffee break. Each afternoon, the College is celebrating this small moment of pleasure by posting on our social media channels an image or two of the favourite mugs or cups of the College’s Fellows, alumni, staff and students during their coffee or tea breaks. Captions explain the significance of the mug and where the drinker is, plus a message for readers.

Thank you to recent alumni contributors who have shared their tea breaks with us. We would love to hear from more of you so please do contribute to #TriniTea – it would be great to see what you’re sipping from, and where in the world you are taking a break. It is up to you whether to include yourself in your ‘mugshot’. Read.

Thank you to psychologist Dr Shaifali Sandhya (1994) for her article Curating Your Story: The Clarion Call of the Coronavirus Pandemic,  which she kindly wrote to mark Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020), and was posted on Trinity Members Online (TMO).

TMO is an online platform, exclusively for Trinity alumni, where you can read the Master’s weekly emails to students, staff and Fellows; articles and posts from College members; search a directory of fellow alumni; send messages, or take part in e-networking and e-mentoring. Simply visit to log back in (if you’ve forgotten your password, please use the ‘Forgot Password?’ link). If you’re not yet one of our 2000 members, you can sign up by visiting the same page and following the joining instructions. We look forward to welcoming you to TMO!


If you have a recent or forthcoming book and you haven’t shared the details with us yet, please get in touch.

To mark Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary on 12 May 2020, the Library team wrote a special blog post dedicated to her life and work, sharing treasures held in the Crewe Collection in the Wren Library. Read.

Congratulations to engineering student Puria Radmard (2018), recipient of a Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Award 2020, in recognition of his exceptional achievement in social impact amongst University of Cambridge students. Read.

We want to hear from you! Do keep us up-to-date with your latest achievements and activities for our Global Alumni News pages in The Fountain and the Alumni Achievements section in the Annual Record. Please send your news, appointments, and publications to:

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Header photo: Five cygnets, learning how to play with each other. © The Master, May 2020.