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Robert Ssempijja appointed the 2024 Cavendish Arts Science Fellow

Photo Credit: Franke Jacob

We are delighted to announce Ugandan contemporary artist, dancer and researcher, Robert Ssempijja, as the third Cavendish Arts Science Fellow at Girton College, following selection from a wide-reaching and international Open Call.

Ssempijja will be in residence in Cambridge from January-September 2024, exchanging ideas with physicists at the Cavendish Laboratory and Fellows across multiple disciplines at Girton College.

Ssempijja was selected from an international open call, for his compelling 'regenerative art practice' that moves away from exploitative relationships at every level, making a bridge between the distorted past and the digital present through his creations.

Ssempijja has worked with choreographers, dance companies and festivals across three continents, combining Ugandan traditional dance, breakdance and contemporary dance to develop new aesthetics and art forms.

His work draws on connections at a sensual and sensory level to explore the things that spoken language cannot always explain, and that are too difficult to talk about out loud. He explores the past, present and future in order to re-imagine traditional narratives, and aims to share experiences to take viewers on journeys of self-discovery while confronting decolonial questions about the nature of home and belonging. Ssempijja uses movement to delve deep into the secrets hidden within our bodies, seeking to access new realms of information through the use of time, space and body. His work looks to reshape rhythms, redefining how we see ourselves, our community and our world. 

The Mistress of Girton College, Dr Elisabeth Kendall, commented:

“We are very excited to welcome Robert Ssempijja to Girton. Our College has a proud history of breaking new ground, making new connections and acting as a catalyst for change. Ssempijja’s unique approach to expressing past, present and future fits perfectly with our trailblazing ethos.”

Cavendish Arts Science is an initiative of the University of Cambridge, Cavendish Laboratory for Physics. The programme enables encounters between art and science that explore the world, our humanity, and our place in the world. Artists and scientists are encouraged to collaborate to re-imagine ways of exploring material and immaterial universes, question traditional centring of voices, and collectively imagine new possibilities. 

The Cavendish Arts Science Fellowship is made possible through a partnership with Girton College, Cambridge (UK) and with the innovatory vision and generous support of Dr Una Ryan. It supports artists to engage with physicists at the Cavendish Laboratory and other disciplines, allowing them time to experiment and transform their creative practice. Artists are selected with creative practices that challenge familiar ways of knowing and thinking, especially through working in communities that are not privileged in the mainstream.

We look forward to welcoming Ssempijja to Cambridge and supporting the conversations that emerge from his encounters.   

For more information on Ssempijja, please visit

Photo Credit: Franke Jacob

Information for Editors:

About The Cavendish Laboratory (Department of Physics), University of Cambridge (UK)

The Cavendish Laboratory (Department of Physics) has an extraordinary history of discovery and innovation in Physics since its opening in 1874. It has a distinguished history of contribution to science. Thirty-three Nobel prize winners have worked for considerable periods within the Laboratory, and the Cavendish is associated with many notable discoveries. Research in the Cavendish has been instrumental in our understanding of the physical world, from creating theories of electromagnetism and discovering the electron, to splitting the nucleus and developing x ray crystallography to see inside the atom.

Today, fundamental questions addressed by research in the laboratory range from understanding space and the origin of the universe, to exploring time, matter and energy in all its forms and at every scale, from the very large to the inconceivably small. A new era is beginning for Physics at Cambridge, with construction work underway for a new state-of-the-art and purpose-built centre for world-leading research, the Ray Dolby Centre. The new building represents a renaissance in the way we carry out physics, fostering the spirit of adventure and innovation in the Cavendish tradition, but adapted to the new needs of frontier research.

For more information visit:

About Girton College, University of Cambridge (UK)

Girton College, University of Cambridge, was founded in 1869 as the first UK residential institution for the higher education of women. It was the first women’s college to become co-educational over 40 years ago, and with an almost 50:50 gender balance, the College remains committed to the founding principle of inclusive excellence.

Girton has always set the pace on matters of equality and inclusion and continues to prioritise widening participation, alongside academic achievement and all-round personal development for students and staff alike. 

Girton is one of the larger colleges at the University of Cambridge, admitting undergraduates and postgraduates in almost every subject. There are currently around 550 undergraduates, 420 postgraduates, 138 Fellows and 29 Honorary Fellows.

For more information visit: 


Suchitra Sebastian, Cavendish Arts Science Director

Natasha Freedman, Creative Producer:
Cavendish Arts Science, University of Cambridge, JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE