News in Brief

Black achievement

The Students' Union "Little Black Book" has been awarded one of the top prizes in the 7th Annual British Diversity Awards 2001.

The handbook, which offers advice on welfare, religion and problems which black students might face, has already been has been hailed as a ‘milestone’ and is being used by the Department for Education and Employment as part of its national race relations initiative and its strategy to promote multiculturalism in the curriculum.

The "Little Black Book" was the only student-led initiative to be nominated and editor and Students' Union President, Pav Akhtar, was at the ceremony to collect the award.

"We are delighted with this award, both in recognition of our achievements here at Cambridge but for black students across the UK," he said. "The handbook is an effective starting point for building confidence to deal with race and racial issues in a pro-active manner.

"By distributing the handbook to students, academics, administrators and prospective students, we are working to raise awareness, sensitivity and understanding, and promoting mutual learning.

Other universities and the National Union of Students are now planning to produce their own handbooks.

Pav Akhtar, Students' Union President and editor of the Little Black Book

Science Week shapes up

Five star lecturers are lined up to make Cambridge University’s National Science Week 2002 a huge success.

Throughout the week Cambridge scientists will be talking about today’s hot scientific topics, from volcanoes to genetics. A highlight of the week will be a debate on pollution, on Monday 18 March, chaired by the BBC’s Pallab Ghosh. And Dr Adam Hart-Davies, presenter of the What the Victorians Did For Us series, will be launching the popular Science on Saturday programme on 16 March. For more information, or if you would like to volunteer, contact the National Science Week office, on (7)66766.

In Memory of David Crighton

A concert played in memory of one of the University’s best-loved figures is now being sold as a CD to raise funds for students.

Professor David Crighton, Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and Master of Jesus College, died in April 2000. Two Funds were then set up: the David Crighton Music Fund, to support young musicians and the David Crighton Fund, set up to support research students in fluid mechanics, the scientific field Professor Crighton specialised in. The first concert in support of the funds was played in May 2001.

Including pieces by Haydn, Schubert and Dvorak, the concert reflected not only Professor Crighton’s love of music, but also themes of creativity, leadership and optimism felt to be synonymous with his name.

Professor Crighton’s wife, Johanna, said: "Music, in many genres, was always something special for David. This concert celebrated his life, along with the lives of three great composers that resonate with David’s in different ways"

Proceeds from CD sales will be split between the two funds.

Copies of the CD are available from the CUP bookshop, in Trinity Street.

Sun Shines on Maths

Questions such as what are sunspots, what happens during a total eclipse, and how big and hot is the Sun, were answered by Dr Helen Mason, of the Department of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics, in a special children’s lecture.

More than 60 children from schools across Cambridgeshire turned up to hear the lecture, which was aimed at primary school level.

The event was part of the Nicky Shaw Public Understanding of Mathematics lecture series, run by the University’s highly successful Millennium Mathematics Project. Other lectures this term have included "The Disputed Garment Problem: the mathematics of bargaining and arbitration", by Professor Richard Weber, head of the Statistics Laboratory, and "Gravity: The Most Important Force in the Universe", by Lisa Wright, of the Institute of Astronomy.

The next lecture in the series, "The Marriage Theorem", will be given by Dr Imre Leader on 11 December, and is aimed at older pupils and the general public. Admission to all lectures is free, but by ticket only. For information contact, ring (7)66839, or visit the Website:

Commemorating Cambridge Stars

There has been increased interest around the country in commemorating famous people by placing wall plaques on buildings associated with the great and the good.

If anyone in the University, or associated with it, would like to suggest that a plaque be put up on one of the University buildings to commemorate somebody famous who had a close association with the University, and with a particular building, please contact the Director of EM (tel: 337806; e-mail

Welcoming Gates Scholars

William H Gates Sr, co-chair and CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited Cambridge to meet the first generation of Gates Cambridge Scholars.

The scholarship programme, one of the largest ever established for university education, saw 151 of the brightest young people in the world join the University. The students have come from 51 countries to pursue study across the whole field of knowledge: arts, sciences, humanities, social sciences, technology and medicine.

Establishing a trust worth US$210 million, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation set up a scheme that will run in perpetuity and enable gifted graduate students to study at Cambridge.

Students from every country in the world outside the UK are eligible to apply for scholarships; the scholarships cover all costs, including tuition, maintenance and travel.

The Gates Cambridge Scholars have been selected on grounds of academic ability and leadership potential. The programme is being built up over the next three years and, eventually, it is expected that at any one time there will be more than 250 Gates Cambridge Scholars in residence.

Solid base for research

A new building just opened on the West Cambridge site will give architects and engineers vital information about whether or not they are planning to build on shaky ground.

Knowing how ground might change form during an earthquake, whether it will collapse if a tunnel is built through it, or whether innovative foundation solutions are appropriate, is crucial in planning major civil engineering projects.

This area of science, called Geotechnical Engineering, involves studying the behaviour of soils and rocks under certain conditions, and then applying that knowledge to civil engineering design and construction.

The new Centre for Geotechnical Process and Construction Modelling, on the University of Cambridge’s West Cambridge site, designed by Annand and Mustoe, will allow engineers to carry out extensive geotechnical research both on planned industrial projects and at purely theoretical levels.

Professor Robert Mair, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at Cambridge, is Head of the Geotechnical Research Group.

Professor Robert Mair, Mark Whitby President of the institution of Civil Engineers and Vice-Chancellor Sir Alec Broers

"The Geotechnical Research Group at Cambridge is one of the biggest and most prestigious of its kind in the world," he said. "This new Centre will put us in an excellent position to investigate, explain and solve many vital problems facing engineers."

First CMI summit

Government, industry and academic leaders from both sides of the Atlantic attended a summit at Cambridge, hosted by the Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI).

The summit reviewed the progress of CMI, the unique partnership between Cambridge University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). CMI was launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November 1999 with the goal of enhancing the contribution that research and teaching makes to economic success.

The summit was hosted by the National Competitiveness Network (NCN), a CMI programme which draws together UK universities, business and government agencies interested in competitiveness, productivity and entrepreneurship.

Professor Sir Alec Broers, Vice-Chancellor, said:

"CMI and its partners are setting out to solve some of the most important science and technology-based challenges that lie ahead and translate the findings into business innovation. The support which we have received from the Government and the private sector is now proving its worth, and I have no doubt that the partnership with MIT will in time prove to be of enormous benefit to UK science and commerce, and to the health of our economy."

Caught knapping

Fred Flintstone made living in the Stone Age look very comfortable – but of course in real life, things weren’t quite that easy.

Visitors to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology were offered the chance to find out how tricky life in the Stone Age really was when John Lord, one of Britain’s top flint knappers, gave a demonstration of the techniques involved in working with flint.

Over 200 people visited the museum during the day and there was also the opportunity to see and handle some genuine Stone Age artefacts.

The event coincided with a meeting of Cambridge’s Young Archaeologists Club. The club, which is for youngsters aged between nine and 16, meets monthly. Anyone interested in finding out more about joining the club should contact Kate Sutton, or Sarah-Jane Harknett on 01223 353415.

Flint Knapper John Lord

CAPSA Report

The University published two reports on 2 November 2001 about the University’s online commitment accounting software system (CAPSA) and its implementation. Points raised in the reports were the subject of a Discussion on 27 November 2001.

Data Protection

The new Data Protection Act is now in force and it applies to all individuals

within the University.

The Data Protection Act 1998 sets out rules for processing personal information, and it applies to some paper records as well as those held on computer. The Act gives individuals certain rights, and also imposes obligations on those who record and use personal information to be open about how information is used and to follow eight data protection principles.

Further information is available at the Data Protection Office website at

This has information for staff and students, including advice on research and alumni relations. There are also links to the ‘JISC Data Protection Code of Practice and Higher Education and Further Education’ which provides guidance to the HE and FE sectors on issues of specific relevance to their day-to-day operations and is a guide to best practice in this area, and to the Lancaster University Data Protection Project.

For more information e-mail the Data Protection Office at

Teaching Research

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences has launched a new interdisciplinary course in research methods for postgraduate students.

The Course Director is Professor Bob Bennett of the Department of Geography, who has recently chaired the British Academy Review of Graduate Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The course, which began this term, is open to graduates from nine different departments, heralding further co-operation between different disciplines in the social sciences.

Further impetus towards interdisciplinary work comes in the shape of the School’s new library at Mill Lane, which brings together a number of collections previously held in separate locations. The new library was officially opened by the Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Hugh Mellor on Tuesday 6 November.

Major journal comes to Cambridge

The editorship of Regional Studies, a leading multi-disciplinary International journal for the study of regional economic development, is coming to Cambridge University.

The Cambridge-based editorial board beat fierce competition to host the journal here. The board will comprise Professor Ron Martin and Dr Mia Gray from the Department of Geography, Dr Peter Tyler, Dr John McCombie and Dr Bernie Fingleton from the Department of Land Economy, and Dr Mike Kitson from the Judge Insititute of Management. The Cambridge team will also be joined by Professor Amy Glasmeier, from Penn State University In America, and Professor Bjorn Asheim, from the Universities of Oslo and Copenhagen.

Summing up the Future of Building

Design and Technology students from local Sixth Form Colleges accepted the invitation of Estate Management & Building Service to take part in National Construction Week 2001.

On Monday 15 October the students were shown around the new Centre for Mathematical Science on Clarkson Road; one of the University’s most prestigious building projects. After the tour, they were given the chance to speak to professionals involved in the building project, gaining an insight into the possible career opportunities within the industry.

Representatives from many of the different construction disciplines were on hand to offer advice to the youngsters; including Edward Cullinen of Edward Cullinen Associates, architects for the project.

National Construction Week aims to promote a positive image of the industry to young people and encourage them
to think about joining construction when they leave school. It is estimated that 370,000 people need to be recruited over the next five years in the UK to fill the skills gap.

Sixth Formers during National Construction Week

Vet School Milestone

The University’s Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine has celebrated the fifth anniversary of one of its most important chairs.

The Marks & Spencer Chair of Farm Animal Health, Food Science and Food Safety, was inaugurated in 1996, and coincided with a major expansion of the Veterinary School’s research profile in microbiology.

Professor Duncan Maskell has been the Marks and Spencer Professor since his election in 1996. He has built
an impressive team of post-doctoral scientists and PhD students, supported by substantial research grant funding, who are applying state-of-the-art technologies to address the fundamental biology of a range of bacterial pathogens and their interactions with host tissues.

Professor Maskell said: "We have a substantial amount of excellent basic research into how bacteria cause disease going on here, and none of it would have happened without the endowment of the Chair in 1996. Marks and Spencer have never tried to set the agenda for our research and have always respected our academic freedom, and this has allowed us to develop our research in fruitful and innovative ways. I am proud of my research team and delighted that we are working so well with M&S."

History repeats itself

A new publishing project at Cambridge University Press will make classic history titles available to a whole new generation of readers.

Using state-of-the-art digital printing techniques, Cambridge University Press will be publishing in paperback a large range of titles that would previously have been available only in hardback. They will also be able to revive titles that are now out of print.

Richard Fisher, Director of the Humanities and Social Sciences Group, said:

"This is the first time a programme like this has been undertaken and it is a wonderfully flexible resource. Many of these books have fallen out of print because demand is not high enough for them to be sustained using traditional printing methods. But using digital printing, we can produce small numbers of a large range of books very cost-effectively."

Richard Fisher Director of the Humanities and Social Sciences Group

The programme, while still in an experimental phase, is open-ended. If it is successful, it will quickly make hundreds of paperback editions available and could also extend beyond history to other subject areas. For full details of books published to date, visit the Cambridge University Press website at:

Chinese Visit

A very high-level Chinese delegation headed by Professor Jian Song, President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering visited the Department of Engineering in October. Professor Song was previously Minister of Science and Technology and a Deputy Premier. The delegation included the current Minister, Dr Xu Guanhua, and Cambridge alumnus Dr Zhang Yanzhong, President of the China Aviation Industry Corporation. These and other members of the 20-strong delegation had just spent two days attending the UK-China forum, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

The delegates were given a tour of the Engineering Department and a talk on Cambridge’s mechanisms for collaborative research with industry. Some of the delegates then met with the Vice Chancellor and with Sir John Boyd, Master of Churchill College. Later Professor Song, a respected control theorist, gave a talk on ‘Optimal representation and visualization of multivariate data and functions in low-dimensional spaces’.

E-Science Centre to benefit cancer diagnosis

The Cambridge eScience Centre, set up to promote eScience research in the region, has adopted a new project set
up to Improve patient care in the West Anglia Cancer Network and the University Department of Radiology.

The eScience Centre was established earlier this year in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. It is run by Dr Andy Parker, of the Cavendish Laboratory, and funded by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The centre offers access to major supercomputer facilities and offers to fund projects that require access to very large data collections and that help develop the Grid, which is the next generation of the Internet. Among the first project to be selected is a tele-medicine project run by Frances Harper, lead manager of the West Anglia Cancer Network and Martin Graves, principal clinical scientist in the Department of Radiology (University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital).

The three-year project, at Addenbrooke’s, Bedford, West Suffolk and Peterborough hospitals, will support applications for the development of
high specification remote clinical meetings involving the transfer of medical images.

Faculty of Divinity

Margaret Hodge, Minister for Lifelong Learning, visited Cambridge to meet a group of students at the Faculty of Divinity. Among the issues discussed were tuition fees, and student loans.

Margaret Hodge, Minister for Lifelong Learning, visited Cambridge to meet a group of students at the Faculty of Divinity