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Merton College paintings can now be viewed online on the Your Paintings website. Merton is one of 3,217 venues and institutions from across the UK to participate in this joint project organized by the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) and the BBC. Most paintings in the college are hung in rooms not open to the public, but they can now be seen and are searchable online. Included is the portrait of Warden Edward Reynolds (1599-1676, Warden of Merton 1660-1661) that was donated to the college last year by Mrs Dinah Reynolds.
Merton's Paul Kaufman was among the winners of this year's Salters Graduate Prizes, awarded to exceptional final-year undergraduates at UK universities who are capable of occupying leading positions in the chemical and allied industries in the future. To win the £1,000 prize, Paul had to discuss the state of the UK chemical industry, and present his ideas on how developments in chemical research could help the industry overcome current and future challenges.
“Every year a handful of new recordings stands head and shoulders above the flood of discs of music for the Christmas season. This is one such release for 2012.” - MusicWeb International, October 2012
Advent at Merton has been attracting excellent reviews since its release on the Delphian label in October. Described by Gramaphone magazine as the best of the Oxbridge CDs released this Christmas, it makes the perfect Christmas gift. The CD contrasts music from the renaissance period with seven recently commissioned pieces by John Tavener, Gabriel Jackson, Matthew Martin, Cecilia McDowall, Eriks Ešenvalds, Rihards Dubra and Howard Skempton. These settings of the Advent Antiphons form part of the Merton Choirbook, a new collection of music being written to celebrate the College’s 750th anniversary in 2014.
This is the choir’s second release on Delphian; In the Beginning, their debut CD, was greeted with acclaim and was a Critics’ Choice in Gramophone magazine. Over the last few months, the choir has broadcast on BBC Radio 3, given concerts in London and Edinburgh and recorded Cecilia McDowall’s Shipping Forecast. The choir recently appeared at the Cadogan Hall as part of the Choral@Cadogan concert series.
Researchers at the Clarendon Laboratory (with Mertonian, Mike Lee, leading the study) have developed a novel low-cost solar cell based on abundant, solution-processable, low-purity materials that could rival conventional high-cost solar technologies.
The new technology, termed the meso-superstructured solar cell, has delivered a photo-conversion efficiency of 10.9% in its very first report. However, the efficiency isn't the exciting part, Lee says 'the tantalising prospect of this technology is in how it can be processed- the whole device can be made using rudimentary wet chemistry and, crucially, at low-temperatures. So, the potential to mass produce these solar cells by reel-to-reel printing, like a newspaper printing press, is very possible. The overriding aim is to supply abundant and clean energy at the fraction of the cost of traditional sources."
Mike and the team are grateful for support from the Simms Bursary granted by the College.
More details can be found here: Michael M. Lee et al., Science, 2012, DOI: 10.1126/science.1228604.
Photography courtesy of Andrew Hey and Henry Snaith.
The College’s annual telethon campaign drew to a close on Thursday 27th September, with a record breaking total of over £184,000 pledged by our alumni and friends. A matching gift of £150,000 from an alumnus has brought our total to over £334,000 – bolstering our provisions for current and future students at Merton College.
A stellar team of 12 student callers (whose profiles are still available for viewing on the website) worked tirelessly for over a fortnight to reach some 553 Mertonians from around the world. Students and alumni have exchanged stories and memories of their time at Merton and the experience has been valuable to all involved.
Student caller, Jonathan Carver, commented: “It was wonderful to hear about people's experiences at Merton - from celebrating the 700th anniversary to Air Squadron Aerobatics! The incredible breadth of career paths and life choices taken by Mertonians has left me excited for the future and appreciative of the significant cornerstone that Merton is in the lives of all those who come here."
We would like to express our most sincere thanks to everyone who helped us achieve this incredible result.
If you were not contacted by our students but would like to make a contribution towards the College, you can do so online.
Discover how the Annual Fund supports current and future students.
For more details about Sustaining Excellence, please see our Campaign pages.
We are delighted to announce that, thanks to the generosity of Mertonians and friends of Merton worldwide, more than £20.4 million has now been raised towards the 750th Anniversary Campaign target of £30 million.
Since the start of the Campaign in 2007, 39.7% of Mertonians have made a donation to the College. Between August 2011 and July 2012, more than 1,350 Mertonians made a gift, meaning that our annual participation rate climbed from 19.5% in 2010-11 to 24% in 2011-12. Donations to the Annual Fund exceeded £820,000. This is wonderful news and demonstrates the remarkable breadth of alumni support, which is essential in enabling Merton to remain a centre of academic excellence in a world-class university. We are enormously grateful to all our donors.
The Sustaining Excellence Campaign aims to secure Merton’s academic standards, increase student support, and preserve Merton’s architectural heritage for the next phase of the College’s history. Our current priorities include endowing key fellowships and significantly building our Student Support Fund for the new undergraduate bursaries, jointly funded by the Colleges and the University. More information on the new student funding arrangements and the support available for undergraduates can be found on the University of Oxford website.
For more details about Sustaining Excellence, please see our Campaign pages.
Merton is delighted to announce that Charles Alexander will be our next Finance Bursar. He will commence his employment at Merton on the 1st September 2012. Mr Alexander, who was educated at Oxford and Harvard, has an excellent record working in strategy consulting and banking in London, India and Hong Kong.
He replaces Cliff Webb, who is retiring in November after 23 extremely successful years as Merton’s Finance Bursar.
Christopher Ramsey's group at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit have been dating relics of St John the Baptist from excavations made at an early mediaeval church in Bulgaria. The church is on the small island of Sveti Ivan. It is thought that the relics may have been sent as a gift from Constantinople in the fifth or early sixth century.
Many relics from the later middle-ages turn out to be contemporary with their reliquaries. However in this case the radiocarbon date, carried out on a bone from the right hand, gave a date from the first century AD. Furthermore DNA evidence suggest that the human bones were all from a single male individual, most likely from the Near East. So although there is not (and never could be) direct evidence that these relics really are from John the Baptist, the scientific evidence in this case certainly does not rule that out.
John the Baptist was popular as a patron saint in the mediaeval period both of groups such as the Knights Hospilallers, and of individual churches such as the parish church of St John on the site of which our College Chapel is built. The College Chapel is still dedicated to St Mary and St John in recognition of that earlier parish church.
Further information can be found on the University website.
Matthew Grimley, Mark Reynolds Fellow in History, will be appearing in a Channel 4 programme, Edward VIII: The Plot to Topple a King, at 9pm on Wednesday 9 May.
The film examines the pivotal role played by Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Gordon Lang, in forcing the Abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, because of the King’s intention to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson. It uses archive and diary material, some of it recently discovered, to build up a detailed picture of the events leading up to Edward’s sensational decision to abdicate.
Dr Grimley says: "The key role played by Cosmo Lang in the Abdication crisis demonstrates just how powerful the Church still was as an arbiter of public morality in 1930s Britain. In my next book, I’ll be charting the dramatic decline of this power in the years after the Second World War."
One of the leading actors of Royal Shakespeare Company, Jonathan Slinger, wil be speaking at the T S Eliot Theatre in an Oxford University Drama Society event on Sunday, 6th May, 2012 (Sunday 3rd week).
Jonathan has been involved with RSC since 2005, playing Puck, Richard II and Richard III and Macbeth. He is taking on two leading roles as Prospero (The Tempest) and Malvolio (The Twelfth Night) in the World Shakespeare Festival which is starting out in Stratford-upon-Avon this spring and is on till October 2012.
All aspiring actors, directors, theatre goers and other people interested in Shakespeare, acting and RSC are welcome to attend this talk and ask Jonathan for insights into his profession and RSC work.
Time: 3.00 pm-5.00 pm (talk and questions); 5.00 pm-5.30 pm (refreshments)
For more information, contact Yulia Savikovskaya
Former Warden, Professor Dame Jessica Rawson, has been elected to join one of America’s most prestigious honorary societies, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been elected as a Foreign Honorary Member for her work in Chinese art and archaeology.
The American Academy is a leading centre for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy studies of science and technology policy, global security, social policy and American institutions, the humanities, and education.
Professor Rawson said: "The election to the Academy is a very great honour and I am happy that research on China past and present is receiving much attention around the world".
Hopes for a vaccine against malaria have grown after a team of Oxford University scientists, led by Merton’s own Dr Simon Draper, appear to have made a crucial breakthrough. The team have conducted successful animal trials and are now ready to manufacture clinical grade vaccine, in order to progress this work to human volunteers in clinical trials.
The initial success is down to the discovery of a critical route malaria parasites take when entering blood cells. The new vaccine exploits this pathway, creating antibodies that neutralise the many different malaria strains.
Dr Draper says: "Vaccines against malaria are notoriously difficult to develop because the parasite covers itself in proteins (the targets of a vaccine) that are highly variable and diverse. The exciting and surprising result here is that we have identified a protein that is not only highly vulnerable, but is one that doesn’t show this diversity, making it a particularly good target for a vaccine to exploit. We are yet to find a strain of human malaria that this vaccine cannot stop in laboratory experiments. Our next step will be to seek funding to secure the development of clinical grade vaccine, so that we can hopefully begin clinical trials within the next two years."
Malaria is responsible for the deaths of just under a million people each year and, as yet, there is no available vaccine.
A new project, Vision for Science and Mathematics Education 5-19, has been launched by the Royal Society and is to be chaired by Sir Martin Taylor.
The purpose of the project is to produce a new evidence-based vision for the future of science and mathematics education in this country.
Sir Martin said: "Young people today recognise that science and mathematics lie at the heart of their future and are starting to flock to these advantageous and inspiring subjects. We must provide them with an exemplary education system that supports their ambition and nurtures the great minds of the future. The Royal Society’s new project aims to do just that."
The project has identified and will focus on five specific areas that are seen as essential components of a high-performing school and college science and mathematics education system: teachers and the wider workforce; leadership and ethos; infrastructure; skills, curriculum and assessment; and accountability.
As part of the project, members of the public are being asked to submit their views of these key areas via the Royal Society website.
The panel working with Sir Martin includes two previous Secretaries of State for Education, two scientist-media stars and a Nobel Prize-winning academic, alongside leading teachers and educationalists.
Could the England football team's qualification for the 2012 European Championships have an adverse effect on next summer's GCSE results?
That is the question that a team from Oxford and Bristol universities, including Fitzjames Research Fellow in the Economics of the Environment, Dr Robert Metcalfe, sought to answer. They analysed the results of 3.5 million pupils between 2002 and 2008, and the study revealed a significant dip in results each summer a major football tournament was played.
"Time spent watching and talking about football is clearly time not spent studying, so our findings give an indication of just how much student effort matters for achievement at GCSE," says Dr Metcalfe.
Their findings provide evidence to support the theory that students putting in effort up until the last minute of their exams were more likely to achieve higher grades.
Dr Metcalfe appeared on Channel 4 News to explain the study's findings. The footage can be viewed on the Channel 4 website.
A revolutionary new treatment for blindness is currently being assessed in a clinical trial led by Robert MacLaren, Lecturer in Human Anatomy and Bodley Fellow at Merton.
The treatment involves correcting a gene defect in a retinal degeneration known as choroideraemia, which was first described in 1872 and is prevalent worldwide. The disease starts in childhood and leads to total blindness, usually by the age of 40. Working with Professor Miguel Seabra from Imperial College London, Professor MacLaren developed a modified virus capable of infecting cells of the retina after being injected into the eye. The virus carries a replacement copy of the missing gene, which is designed to provide a permanent genetic correction and stop further degeneration. Jonathan Wyatt from Bristol was the first person in the world to undergo this new treatment at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust last week in a landmark operation covered by BBC News. Dan Lipinski, a third year Merton DPhil student, was also interviewed by the BBC about his gene therapy research.
Professor MacLaren said, "I was initially introduced to gene therapy during my DPhil studies at Merton over 15 years ago and I am absolutely delighted to see it now applied to eye diseases that were at the time considered incurable. We now have several eye specialists undertaking full time DPhil studies at Merton in order to develop new treatments for blindness which we aim to bring to clinical trial over the next five years."
The 2011 Merton telethon ended on Thursday 29th September and raised over £160,000. This success has been bolstered by a matching gift of £150,000 from one generous Mertonian.
A committed and enthusiastic team of twelve student callers spent two weeks calling Mertonians all around the world. During the campaign they managed to speak with some 564 Mertonians of whom 64% chose to make a gift to the College, leaving the callers with a strong sense of a Mertonian community far beyond Oxford and graduation.
Student caller, Jennifer de Beyer commented: "The Telethon was a chance to connect with our network of alumni. It was fascinating hearing alumni's memories of the College and the variety of career paths they have taken from a single starting degree was eye-opening and so many were gracious enough to share advice as well."
We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped to achieve such a wonderful result. If our callers didn’t manage to speak with you but you would still like to make a donation, you can do so online.
Read about how the Annual Fund supports current students.
If you are fascinated by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, you can now access information on the experiments in real-time via your Android smartphone.
Merton’s Dr Alan Barr is one of the developers of the new app called LHSee. The app allows you to view, via 3D graphics beamed to your phone, collisions occurring at the LHC at CERN. You could be there at the moment the Higgs Boson is discovered.
The app, which has been attracting attention in the national press, also allows the user to access interactive information about the experiments at CERN, including videos and animated tutorials.
Dr Barr says of the app: "I love the detail in the live displays. Iit’s amazing to see that you can pick out the different individual proton collisions."
"A worthy rival to the other mixed-voice Oxbridge ensembles that have flourished in recent times" The Sunday Times
The College Choir has released its debut CD on the Delphian label. Entitled In the beginning, Peter Phillips and Benjamin Nicholas direct the choir in music by Gombert, Palestrina, Weelkes, Holst, Copland, Lukaszewski, Whitacre and Jackson. This attractive programme shows the choir at its best, and the disc has already attracted very favourable reviews and has been played on BBC Radio 3.
To order the disc, please visit the OU Shop. The CD is also available from High Street music stores.