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GirtOnline Roll of Alumni Weekend

Saturday 26 September 2020

Welcome to Girton College’s virtual Roll of Alumni Event. The programme features live and interactive events including (pre-recorded) talks, virtual tours, a concert and poetry readings. We hope you enjoy the programme this year!

The pre-recorded talks will be available to watch on this page on Saturday 26 September and if you have pre-registered for the Zoom sessions you will receive the login details by email.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on if you have any questions or wish to obtain the login details for one of the Zoom sessions.

We would also like to thank all our wonderful speakers and contributors for their help in putting together such a great day of events.

10.00 - Library Talk

Join Dr Gordon Barrett as he explores Dorothy Needham's evolving relationship with China during his pre-recorded talk entitled Dorothy Needham, China, and the "Needham Project".

One of the first women to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, Dorothy Needham has been best known for her research career specialising in muscle biochemistry. She was also passionately political and a keen internationalist, characteristics she shared with her husband, Joseph, but for which he has been most readily and publicly associated, especially when it comes to science in China. Yet, not only did Dr Needham spent the final years of the Second World War based in Chongqing, ‘Free China’s’ wartime capital, serving as co-director of the Sino-British Science Cooperation Office and promoting international scientific cooperation, she also later returned to China for visits in 1964 and 1972. Focusing on material from collections held by the Needham Research Institute and Girton College, Cambridge, this talk will explore Dorothy Needham’s evolving relationship with China as well as consider her own interests in and perspectives on science in China.

Dr Gordon Barrett is currently serving as Departmental Lecturer in Modern Chinese History and Politics at the University of Oxford. His research focuses on the politics of science and medicine in the twentieth century, with particular interest in Sino-British scientific relations, and has been published in the Journal of Cold War History, Modern Asian Studies, and most recently in Sachse and Kraft (eds.), Science, Peace and Communism: The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs in the Early Cold War Decades (Brill, 2020).

Dorothy Needham, China, and the "Needham Project"

11.00 - Lawrence Room Talk

During her pre-recorded lecture, Dr Augusta McMahon will describe the Mesopotamian ‘eye idols’ in the Girton College Lawrence Room collection and their relevance to the world’s earliest evidence for urbanism.

The Girton College Eye-Idols and the origins of Urbanism and Mesopotamia

12.00 - Artist in Residence Studio Tour

For his video studio tour, Luke Burton (Girton College Artist in Residence 2019-20) will discuss the work he has made whilst being at Girton. He will be looking at material processes, and how the work relates to Girton as site, institution and community.

AiR Studio Tour with Luke Burton

14.00 - Gardens Talk

What do archives teach us about the past natural history? What is the future use of today's citizen science? In his live talk, Stewart Rosell (Natural Sciences, 2017) will draw upon what he has learnt while studying at Girton College to answer these questions. The session will conclude with live Q&A.

What do archives teach us about the past natural history? What is the future use of today’s citizen science? In his talk, Stewart will draw upon what he has learnt while studying at Girton College to answer these questions. We will use historic wildlife records, some of which are from Girton students and held in the college archives, as a window into both the past and the future. These show recent changes in our local fauna, and also how we can use modern natural history records to communicate our observations to future generations. For Stewart this is the most exciting aspect of recording natural history. While the observations we make today are likely be used to study ecology in the future, we don’t know who will use them or how our wildlife will have changed!

In his time in Cambridge, Stewart has learnt new ways of applying his interest in natural history. Before starting university, he focussed on individual projects in which the main output was the data. Through the university community, he has been able to expand on this to use the surveys for community projects and teaching. This has proved invaluable for maintaining the long-term sustainability of these surveys and maximising their social impact. In addition, using historic records from the college archives, he gained insights into the recent history of wildlife in the local area, and the possible future of the surveys he has started.

A recording of the Zoom session will be uploaded here in due course.

Girton College Gardens and Grounds

16.00 - People's Portraits Event

“For some people, a name is just throwaway: call me what you will. For others, a name marks a site of struggle. To recall a name enacts an invocation. It brings someone or something back to the present. For the few among us who doubt the significance of the power of recall, we will notice it, once it has gone.". 

In his brief talk entitled Take My NameDr David Dibosa (Law, 1986) asks about the role that art can play. 

A Recording of the Zoom session including Dr David Dibosa's talk will be available here in due course. 

This year’s reception will also mark the donation of 92 years, by artist Tim Benson PROI NEAC RP, to the unique collection of People’s Portraits.

Time Benson Studio Tour and Portrait Unveiling

Revd Dr Malcolm Guite - Life Fellow of Girton College, published poet and former Chaplain at Girton - wrote a poem about how the People's Portraits were coping with lockdown due to Covid-19 and were rallied by our foundress Emily Davis. Thanks to Jeremy West who filmed this reading.

Portraits of Moonlight by Malcolm Guite

17.30 - A Guitar Recital

Kevin Loh (Music, 2019), one of the leading classical guitarists of his generation, will perform this year at our annual music event. The concert will be pre-recorded.

The programme will include Albeniz’s Sevilla, Op.47 No. 3, with works and arrangements of works by J. S. Bach, Schubert, Takemitsu and Duke Ellington.

Kevin Loh's guitar recital

18.30 - A virtual drinks reception and Q&A with the Mistress

The Mistress invites you to end the day with a virtual drinks reception where she will be available to give you an update and answer any questions you may have regarding the College, its plans and the current situation.

To join this event please email for the Zoom login details.  


Celebrating Poetry at Girton

10th Anniversary of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize

We are delighted to launch the 10th Anniversary of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize Anthology which features poems from eminent Girton poets, past and present, as well as a winning poem from all the prizewinners to date from this prestigious national prize plus a new poem from each, and more. The anthology is available to pre-order now from the Girton shop with expected delivery early October 2020!

Visit our YouTube playlist to hear readings from this special anthology and to listen to members of the Girton Poetry Society, today's representatives of the long tradition of poets and poetry associated with Girton, who read some poems newly written during the 'lockdown' period.

front cover of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize Anthology

A Virtual Garden Walk

A stroll round the gardens, in the company of the Mistress and Deputy Head Gardener, Mr Richard Hewitt. In the background there is a well-known 18th century folk-song, arranged for Queen Victoria’s Consort by Alan Gout. If you want to learn more about Girton’s biodiversity, visit the Cambridge Green Challenge website:

Garden Walk 2020

Lawrence Room Video

In this short film, Dr Dorothy Thompson FBA, a Life Fellow of Girton College who specializes in Hellenistic Egypt, introduces one of our treasures among many: Hermione, a portrait mummy of the first century AD. We will hear about her life and times, and how she came to Girton.

Open Cambridge 2020