Principal's Blog: 25th September 2020

blogBowerscrop1Pandemic Precedent:
I have found that at Brasenose we usually have a precedent for what is happening now. I have thus checked out what went on here in the plague which struck the university between 1557 and 1563. It seems that all lectures were postponed at Brasenose at that time. In 1571 university lectures were again deferred from April to October and Thomas Blanchard the Principal and all but four fellows were given leave of absence. Six hundred people died of the plague in Oxford between before April 1572 and in 1577 the Oxford historian Anthony Wood wrote that “the Doctors and Heads of Houses all almost all, fled and not any college or Hall there was but had some taken by this infection”. Brasenose Lane (then known as St Mildred’s Lane) was regarded as especially pestilential and had to be closed. There is no record of zoom or MSTeams being used. Let us hope we get through this soon.

Women’s Network event:
Talking of zoom, I was thrilled to be the sole male on 16 September at the Brasenose Women’s Network event (besides George from the Development Office who had real work to do as the technical guru). We had great and varied contributions from Esme Ash a recent graduate who had been on Panorama and was now involved in a police response team TV programme; Lucy Fenton who runs the excellent Apple Tree pub in Clerkenwell which is an alternative lifestyle and LGTQ friendly pub; Kimberley Haughton who shared her experiences as a corporate lawyer through lockdown and her view that the new style of flexible working, imposed by the pandemic, could be of huge benefit for working women in the future; Jane Johnson a senior executive at the Telegraph who had a baby in lockdown and Jennifer Liston Smith who works with Bright Horizons and spoke about research in which she has been involved on work during the pandemic. It was a great evening ably chaired by Amanda Holland. We agreed that will not go back to the way we use to work. We were joined by alumnae in Johannesburg and Toronto.

Chris McKenna and Swiss Friends:
On 13 September our Fellow in Management Chris McKenna addressed the Swiss Friends of Oxford on his work on the development of penicillin which of course has echoes of the present race for a vaccine for coronavirus. Chris’ fascinating case study may be seen here

Many congratulations to Elspeth Garman one of our Kurti Senior Research Fellows who has been awarded the Suffrage Life Sciences Award to add to her massive collection of awards. I can do no better than to crib the tribute paid in the award:

“Professor Garman is a renowned molecular biophysicist who for the last two decades has travelled around the world teaching her pioneering crystal cryo-cooling techniques. Her work has enabled fellow scientists to determine the structures of countless proteins, which in turn has contributed to drug discovery and the understanding of mechanisms in the body, such as the regulation of glucose. Cryo-cooling involves cooling protein crystals to temperatures of around 100K (-173°C). This reduces the radiation damage to their structure from the probing X-ray beams used to help determine the protein’s structure. Indeed, the “Garman Limit” - the maximum dose of X-ray radiation that can be absorbed by the crystal, beyond which the results can be compromised - is named after her.”

Full details at here

I am delighted to recount the success of the Language Intervention programme pioneered by Charles Hulme our Golding Senior research fellow and Maggie Snowling. It is now being funded by the government for adoption in 4000 English primary schools.  This is a considerable achievement in terms of translating research into practice.

Congratulations to Lord Saye and Sele, Nat Fiennes, the long serving Brasenose Land Agent on his 100th birthday.

I have been reading Fake Law by The Secret Barrister (whoever he is she may be) and Governing Britain by my friend Philip Norton of the University of Hull.

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter for news from students and tutors, Schools Liaison and other interesting things