December 2015


'Solving for x-mas': how to make mathematical Christmas cards


Balliol maths lecturer Vicky Neale explains how to make Christmas cards out of geometrical designs, in a guest post on the Guardian website.  Vicky is the Whitehead Lecturer in Mathematics at Balliol.

Pathfinders celebrate two anniversaries


On Friday 27 November over 170 Pathfinders spanning 57 Pathfinder years celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Atlantic Crossing Trust established by Bill Coolidge (1924) and the 10th Anniversary of the William Westerman Pathfinders.  Matthew Westerman (1983), who is also a 1986 Pathfinder, his wife Siân, and son Theo, who permanently endowed the Pathfinder programme, were Balliol’s guests of honour.  Sir John Holmes’ (1969) treated Pathfinders and their guests to a wonderful account of his journey to the United States in 1973 followed by the adventurous tales of recent Pathfinders Alex Bartram (2011), 2014 Pathfinder, and Emily Mak (2010), 2013 Asia Pathfinder.  This event marked the first of two anniversary events celebrating the great tradition of Pathfinders at Balliol.  The second Anniversary Dinner will be held in conjunction with Balliol’s North American Reunion Dinner on Saturday 9 April at the Library of Congress in Washington DC and will again be hosted by Matthew Westerman with The Rt Hon the Lord Patten of Barnes (1962), 1965 Pathfinder, Chancellor of the University of Oxford as the guest speaker for the evening. More information about that event can be found here.

Meritorious Service Medal for Balliol Old Member


Grégoire Webber (2004) has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, in recognition of his leadership in establishing the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute, which provides free advocacy advice to counsel appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada.  Dr Webber is the Canada Research Chair in Public Law and Philosophy of Law at Queen's University (Canada) and Visiting Senior Fellow at the LSE Department of Law, where he was an Associate Professor until 2014.

AUDIO: The Master on Ada Lovelace


To tie in with the events in Oxford to celebrate the 200th birthday of computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, Professor Sir Drummond Bone, Byronist and Master of Balliol, has recorded a conversation about her. In an audio on the Oxford University website, he discusses why Ada Lovelace is remembered today and how unusual she was in her time. He says that although Ada’s mother encouraged her interest in mathematics, partly to stop her being interested in poetry like her father, the infamous Lord Byron, it is interesting that Ada talks about the ‘poetry of mathematics’ - she talks about the two not being in opposition and in some ways being the same thing; and he discusses the qualities or failings she had that were similar to her father’s. He also talks about his own work, and in particular his interest in irony.


VIDEO: Balliol lawyer discusses 'Parliament's Role in Voting on the Syrian Conflict'


In a video entitled ‘Parliament’s Role in Voting on the Syrian Conflict’ Dr Hayley Hooper (2008) and Dr Veronika Fikfak discuss six issues arising out of the recent statement of Prime Minister David Cameron to the House of Commons entitled ‘Prime Minister’s Response to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on the Extension of Offensive British Military Operations to Syria’.  The video is one of the ‘Law in Focus’ series, featuring academics from the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law.  Dr Hooper is currently a Fellow at Homerton College, Cambridge.  Her doctoral research at Balliol concerned the use of ‘closed’ or ‘secret’ evidence in the context of judicial review of counterterrorism powers, and its extension to civil procedure more broadly.

A-boat victory in Christ Church regatta


Many congratulations to the Balliol crew for winning the men’s final of the Christ Church Oliver Wyman Regatta on 28 November.  The men’s A boat ended up winning the whole competition, beating a strong Wolfson boat in the final.  The B boat beat New College in the fourth round, making them the only B crew in the quarter-finals, although they succumbed at that stage to the Wolfson boat that finished runners-up.  The women’s B boat lost their first race and then had a tough repecharge round against St Anne's A and narrowly lost.  The A boat won against St John’s A in their first round and advanced to round 3, where they raced Christ Church (who ended up coming 3rd overall!) and again narrowly lost. 

Cambridge Fellowship for Balliol DPhil student


Congratulations to Mireia Crispin Ortuzar (2011), who has been elected as a Title A Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge.  Mireia finished her DPhil in Particle Physics at Balliol earlier in 2015.  In 2014 she was awarded the Winton Prize by the Department of Physics for being ‘the most promising DPhil graduate student in Physics at Oxford, for work in the area of statistical analysis of data’.


If you would like us to mention in this section any significant work published this year or last, please contact Ginny Matthews.
Dr Sarah Longair (1998) has published a monograph, Cracks in the Dome: Fractured Histories of Empire in the Zanzibar Museum, 1897–1964, which is is the first serious investigation of the distinctive domed building of the Zanzibar Museum.  Through vivid narratives involving people, objects and exhibits, the book exposes the fractures, contradictions and tensions in creating and maintaining a colonial museum, and casts light on the conflicted character of the ‘colonial mission’ in eastern Africa.
Paul Williamson (1985) has written the libretto for the film of PANATHENAIA, released by the British Museum in June 2015.  PANATHENAIA, a cantata for orchestra, soloists and choir, is based on themes deriving from the Parthenon frieze.  It can be viewed online, along with an introductory lecture by British Museum curator Ian Jenkins, and a Q&A with Paul and the composer Thomas Hewitt Jones. 
Michael Sadgrove's (1968) Christ in a Choppie Box: Sermons from North East England is his latest publication and contains an edited collection of some of his finest and most thought-provoking sermons from his time in Durham.  In 2013 he has also published Landscapes of Faith: The Christian Heritage of the North East, which brings together the Christian history of the North East and its renowned natural scenery into a book that interprets the Christian heritage in a holistic way by 'reading' the churches, monasteries, Christian sites the light of both the regional history of Christianity and the landscapes that it shaped.


  • Drinks Reception at The Royal Society of Edinburgh - 22 January 2016. Kenneth Greig (1978) has kindly made this evening possible. Book online
  • Intercollegiate Golf Tournament - 15 April 2016 at Frilford Heath Golf Club. Those interested should email Chris Jelley (1962)
  • Greville Smith Society Lunch - 12 March 2016. Book online
  • Gaudy for the years 2000 - 2002 - 19 March 2016. Book online


  • Gaudy for the years 1978 – 1980 - 25 June 2016
  • Holywell Manor Festival - 23 April 2016. See more information
  • Master's Seminar in Rome, 'Britain and Ireland in Europe' - 17 May 2016. More details will be available soon.
  • North American Reunion and Pathfinders Anniversary Dinner - 9 May 2016, Washington DC. See more information


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