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The Girton Garden Party

Jazz band performing

The College was thrilled to welcome over 150 donors and supports for The Girton Garden Party on Sunday 30 June. This is a special occasion to thank alumni and supporters for their generous support, whether financial or in other ways, and to celebrate the impact that their support has made to improving the life of our College and our students.

During the event we heard from two current postgraduate students who shared a flavour of their work. Our first speaker was Jack Naish.

Student in old College library

Jack came to Girton in 2023 to study Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence with the Department of Engineering. Jack's research interests lie at the intersection of aviation, robotics, and artificial intelligence. His thesis aims to teach large, distributed swarms of flying robots how to perform complex aerial manoeuvres using a technique called Reinforcement Learning. Originally from New Zealand, Jack holds a BScHons in Computer Science/AI from Victoria University of Wellington and a private pilot licence from Canterbury Aero Club.

How Learning to Fly led me to Cambridge.

Jack's journey to Cambridge started when he first sat down in the cockpit of an aircraft. As the ultimate classroom, lessons learned in the sky have given him the skills necessary to plan missions effectively, be that the next flight or a complex research project. In his talk, Jack’s goal is to feed forward some of the tools pilots use to tackle problems, conveying how this operational mindset can apply to academic research.

Our second speaker was Crystal Fu. Crystal also joined Girton in 2023 to Student on a mountain during a field tripundertake an MPhil in Holocene Climates  at the Department of Geography. She is partially funded by the Chan and Mok Scholarship. Crystal is researching sea ice dynamics in the past to improve their representation in models and refine future climate projections. Previously, she completed a BSc in Geology at Imperial College London. When not studying, Crystal is usually outdoors looking for cool rocks and/or cute cats.

Towards quantitative reconstruction of Arctic sea ice during the Holocene

Sea ice plays multiple important roles in the climate system, affecting global ocean circulation, air-sea gas and heat exchanges, and planetary reflectivity, with impacts extending far beyond the polar regions. Rapid sea ice loss in the Arctic has been documented over the last few decades, yet our understanding of long-term sea ice variability and its feedbacks remains limited by a lack of quantitative reconstructions of sea ice cover. The sea ice proxy IP₂₅, produced by microorganisms and preserved in marine sediments, shows potential for such reconstructions.

This project aims to calibrate this biomarker (i.e. establish its quantitative relationship with sea ice) by compiling measurements of its concentration in surface sediments and analysing them with the satellite sea ice record. We consider how the relationship varies over space and time, and explore the sensitivity of IP₂₅ to other environmental factors. The new calibration model will enable reconstructions of Arctic sea ice cover during the Holocene (the last ~12 thousand years) with quantified uncertainties, providing the polar proxy constraints currently missing in climate model simulations and predictions.

Our final speaker of the day was Dr James Riley, Fellow of English Literature. James Riley is the Muriel Bradbrook Official Fellow of English at Girton College, focusing on modern and contemporary literature, popular film and 1960s culture. He is the author of The Bad Trip: Dark Omens, New Worlds and the End of the Sixties. James also makes films and performs spoken word poetry.

Cover image of the book Well BeingsWell Beings: How the seventies lost its mind and taught us to find ourselves

James Riley’s latest publication Well Beings delves deep into the mind of the seventies – its popular culture, its radical philosophies, its approach to health and its sense of social crisis. It tells the story of what was sought, what was found and how these explorations helped the 'Me Decade' find itself. In so doing, it questions what good health means today and reveals what the seventies can teach us about the strange art of being well. 

During the day we were accompanied by the ebullient sound of The Tim Boniface Jazz Band. Led by Girton Chaplain Rev’d Dr Tim Boniface on sax, this delightful ensemble features Australian jazz vocal sensation Tara Minton on vocals. An internationally renowned harpist and vocalist now based in London, Tara Minton’s work is characterised by a unique mix of elegance and fiery creativity. With a string of celebrated albums and collaborations, including for the BBCs Burt Bacharach tribute broadcast live from Ronnie Scott’s, Tara possesses a “tonal and timbral range that embraces a panoply of the unexpected” (UK Jazz News).

Tara and Tim were joined by jazz and funk guitarist Phil Stevenson and double bassist Chris Diamand.

Feel free to get in touch with the Development Office ( if you have any questions relating to the College, our news, developments, and future plans. 

Event images

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The Girton Garden Party 2024