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New Honorary Fellowships awarded

Tuesday 21 May 2024

St Catharine’s was delighted to celebrate the awarding of three new Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony on 20 May 2024. The Master and the Official and Professorial Fellows of St Catharine’s serve as trustees and are members of the College’s Governing Body, which may award Honorary Fellowships to individuals who have achieved at a very high level in their field. 

Sir John Benger (1979, English), Master of St Catharine’s, commented:

“I am delighted to have the honour of admitting Dame Maggie Aderin-Pocock, David Isaac CBE and Professor Bill Sutherland CBE as the newest Honorary Fellows of St Catharine’s and I look forward to them participating in College life in the years to come. All three of them have each achieved so much in their respective careers and yet continue to use their considerable expertise to serve wider society.”

Professor Bill Sutherland, Professor Katharine Dell, Dame Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Sir John Benger and David Isaac
Left-right: Professor Bill Sutherland, Professor Katharine Dell, Dame Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Sir John Benger and David Isaac

Dame Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE PhD

Dame Maggie is a space scientist who has worked in both industrial and academic environments, on missions including the James Webb Space Telescope and various satellites designed to monitor climate change. She is now the Chancellor of the University of Leicester and has honorary doctorates from over 10 UK universities. She is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and an ambassador for "Made by Dyslexia" and the "International Rescue Committee".

As a public speaker, Dame Maggie has given talks to over 500,000 people globally to share her love of space and encourage underrepresented groups to enter STEM. She is a Bafta-nominated television presenter and co-host of the world’s longest-running science programme “The Sky at Night”, and a prize-winning author. 

She said, “It is such privilege to be invited to be an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College. It feels like a wonderful match as we have so many goals and aspirations in common. I am truly looking forward to working with the Catz community in the future.”

Dr Jenni Gibbons (2016), Fellow of St Catharine’s and a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, welcomed the news by saying:

“It is a great pleasure to see the admission of Dame Maggie Aderin-Pocock as an Honorary Fellow. I have followed Dame Maggie’s career with interest through my time at Cambridge both as a student and as a Fellow of St Catharine's and from further afield now at NASA's Johnson Space Centre. She is an inspiring role model for anyone interested in space, or more broadly, science in general. To share this community with her is an honour. Ad Astra, Dame Maggie, and welcome.”

David Isaac CBE

After attending King Henry VIII Grammar School in Abergavenny, which became a comprehensive when he was in the third form, David went on to read Law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He undertook postgraduate studies in Socio-Legal studies at Wolfson College, Oxford, before qualifying as a solicitor. During his legal career, he specialised in advising clients on contract law matters and acted for HM Government and many FTSE 100 and 250 companies.

David was formerly the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Chair of Stonewall and Chair of the Modern Art Oxford gallery. He was also a director of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, the Human Dignity Trust, the Big Lottery and 14-18 NOW. He is currently Provost of Worcester College, Oxford, Chair of Governors at University of the Arts London, and a trustee of Cumberland Lodge.

He said, “It is a great honour to join St Catharine’s – an institution which embodies the values of excellence, research and collaboration which are equally vital to the work I lead on as Provost of Worcester College, Oxford. I look forward to renewing my connection with Cambridge, which gave me so many opportunities as a first-generation student, and to engaging with the vibrant community of scholars at Catz as all academic communities work together to address the challenges the world currently faces.”

Dr River Chen, Fellow and Chair of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Working Group at St Catharine’s, commented on David’s admission:

“David has an impressive track record of advancing equality, diversity and inclusion, and working with organisations to make a positive impact on communities across the UK. I am delighted that he is bringing such expertise and experience to St Catharine’s, where we strive to foster an environment where everyone can thrive and feel a sense of belonging with a culture that upholds excellence, diversity and equality of opportunity for all.”

Professor William Sutherland CBE MAE FRS

Professor Sutherland was formerly the Miriam Rothschild Chair of Conservation Biology at the University of Cambridge’s Zoology Department. He started as a birdwatcher and his main research interest has been in combining field observations of behaviour with theoretical models to predict the consequences of environmental change, such as changes in agricultural practice and climate change. His main current interests involve collaborating with policy makers to improve global conservation practice.

Professor Sutherland was also a Fellow of St Catharine’s for 15 years between 2008 and 2023. He most recently served as Environmental Fellow and chaired the Green Working Group, supporting students, staff and Fellows as they finalised the College’s roadmap for achieving net zero emissions by 2040, which was published in September 2023.

He said, “I am delighted to continue my link to St Catharine’s College. Going back to the 17th century, with alumni like John Ray and Adam Buddle, the College has shown interest in the environment. The wide range of excellent fellows and students makes Catz a very stimulating community to which to belong.”

Dr Noriko Amano-Patiño (2021), who succeeded Professor Sutherland as the College’s Environment Fellow and Chair of the Green Working Group, added:

“Bill played a pivotal role in shaping the College’s Environmental Strategy and our roadmap for achieving net zero emissions by 2040. His dedication to integrating conservation biology with practical environmental strategies has not only bolstered our commitment to sustainability but has also set a robust foundation for future initiatives. His support and visionary leadership have been instrumental in advancing our environmental objectives, making a lasting impact on our community. I am grateful for his contributions and am thrilled to see his efforts recognised with this well-deserved honour.”