Principal's Blog: 27th November 2020

blogBowerscrop1Testing & vaccine

We have at very short notice set up a testing regime to support the exit of students from Oxford starting from Monday 30 November as required by the Government. All students who leave Oxford during the student travel window will have the opportunity to take two lateral flow tests, with an interval of three days between tests. This is an amazing achievement in a short time and I congratulate all involved both in the University and in College under the leadership of William James. Oxford remains in Tier 2.

We are also thrilled by the success of the Oxford vaccine trial which this Times leader article accurately describes as ‘a genuinely world-beating British success story.’

It is excellent to report that William James’ lab did some of the tests to validate the immune responses in recipients. Let us all hope that this and other vaccines allow life and College to return to normal next year.

Sad news:
By contrast, it is with great sadness that I report the death of Olavio de Assuncao who passed away recently after a short illness. Originally from East Timor, Oly joined the Buttery in October 2008 as a Plate Room Assistant where he was a hardworking and dedicated member of the team, working closely with his brother and his cousin. It is so sad to lose a friend and colleague from our close College community and Oly will be greatly missed by so many of us. Those who knew him will remember with fondness his good sense of humour, wonderful smile, his pride in his family and his favourite woolly hat. Oly leaves a wife and young family in East Timor and our thoughts and prayers are with them and his extended family during this difficult time.

On 26 November Perla Maiolino delivered an excellent blurbs for the HCR about her work in robotics especially on robots with a sense of touch. She is attached go the Oxford Robotics Institute and is carrying out pioneering research including palpation diagnosis which she illustrated with brilliant slides. She was partnered with Azania Patel who is doing a MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies. She introduced us to her previous work on urban redevelopment in South Asia and its affective impact. Her talk was entitled "Rehoming Ghosts : Modernity in Mumbai".

BNC Women’s Network event:
On 25 November, the zoom chat was buzzing in the BNC Women’s Network event called Women in a “man’s world”. The event was a panel discussion between five alumnae about their comparative experiences of being women at Brasenose and in the workplace over the past five decades. They were Paula Carter (Chemistry, 1978); Sonia Blizzard (Oriental Studies, 1989); Namarda Thiranagama (History, 1996); Helen Summersgill (Physics, 2008) and Jasmine Ko (Economics & Management 2013).

As was to be expected there were many different views of Brasenose for women, often depending on when people were here. Some said that from the start of women being admitted “it quickly did not feel like man’s college”; others had less fond memories of how they were treated. Many felt that the college gave them self confidence. It was shocking to hear some of the stories of how alumnae had been dealt with in the professions after they had children.

It was a great event, well chaired by Sarah Jackson.

I was delighted that my old friend Rev Mark Hatcher gave a virtual sermon for us. He was a barrister and is now a vicar at the Temple Church. You can see it at
It was the first sermon I have heard with a theme of employment tribunals.

James Fletcher put on an excellent seasonal quiz with some very taxing questions on 26 November. My office entered as the Brazen Bowers Buccaneers, otherwise known as 3Bs. The winning team was captained by Henry Jestico; well done.

I have been reading Thomas Grant’s book about Old Bailey Court 1.

Keep safe and well.

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