University’s Royal Praise

As one of the first Malaysian women to become a professor at Oxford University, Dr Masliza Mahmod has been praised by several significant figures in Malaysia. Malaysia’s Director-General of Health (Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah) praised Mahmod’s brilliance, saying: “She is indeed a brilliant cardiologist and despite difficulties and challenges, her perseverance and deep passion in clinical research made her an outstanding academic cardiologist.” Malaysia’s monarch, Abdullah of Pahang, congratulated Mahmod: she “has made the nation proud… His Majesty hopes that Dr Masliza’s achievements and perseverance will be a source of inspiration for all Malaysians.”

New Black History Prize

Oxford has set up a new £250 prize for the best Final Honours School thesis on Black History. It will be named after Barbara D. Savage, previously a visiting professor in American History at the University during the 2018-19 academic year. Savage welcomed the prize, saying “I am excited that the prize will encourage Oxford students to explore black history with the creativity and commitment I saw during my time there as Harmsworth Professor in 2018-2019. It honours the field in which I work and am humbled that it bears my name.” This prize comes as students from various subjects have called to diversify the curriculum and amplify the voices of marginalised groups.

In the Pink: Beyon-slay

All female Oxford a capella group In the Pink have released a Beyoncé medley, rehearsed and recorded remotely during lockdown. The group said: “We’re very much about girls empowering girls. We thought releasing a Beyoncé medley (arranged and produced by Priya Radhakrishnan) would be a great way to spread some joy and keep spirits high during lockdown! It’s lovely to know that our Beyoncé video put smiles on some faces as we’ve always had a blast getting to perform so many girl power anthems in one!”

New College Choir Lockdown Film

Singers from New College Choir have joined with Positive Note, a production company, in a new film – apart / together. The film features shots of deserted chapels as the choir sings Bach’s Letzte Stunde. Robert Quinney, the Director of the Choir, writes: “This is the point where authoritative national research is needed to enable informed decisions about the viability of choral singing – which contributes so much to the nation’s spiritual cultural life, and to the education of so many people.”

Giant David Attenborough Mural in Cowley

A huge mural of Sir David Attenborough has been painted in Cowley on the side of the East Oxford Games Hall by local artist Andrew Mani Manson, also known as The Big Orange M. Designed to honour the Cowley Road Carnival’s theme of ‘Mother Nature’ amidst its virtual celebrations, the documentary maker is depicted gazing at a brightly coloured butterfly resting on his finger. In the image’s corner, a quote from Attenborough is visible: “The future of humanity and indeed all life on earth now depends on us.”

Song Raises Funds for Covid Research

A new song – written by Alexander McCall Smith, the creator of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, and performed by Tenebrae – has been released to raise funds for Oxford’s Covid-19 research fund. Hands of Hope thanks key workers and scientists, while commemorating lost lives and referencing the gradual easing of lockdown. The song will be re-recorded professionally when UK guidelines allow for this – then a final version will be released for download. Helen McShane, Professor of Vaccinology, said: “The Hand of Hope team has made an incredibly moving and fitting tribute to the frontline medical staff working to save lives and the scientists who are working around the clock to understand COVID-19 and find equitable solutions.”

Modern Art Oxford to Reopen

Modern Art Oxford has announced that it will reopen on 11 August. Their exhibition Johanna Unzueta: Tools for Life has been extended. Online exhibitions have also been scheduled until early 2021, including Kiki Smith: I am a Wanderer and Lubaina Himid: Invisible Strategies.

Oxford Half Marathon in October

The Oxford Half Marathon will return on Sunday 11 October 2020. Restore, a local mental health charity, is currently looking for runners to participate. Basma El Doukhi, a Community Fundraiser, said “You may not recognise how much your actions impact others on a daily basis. You may think that what you do doesn’t make a difference or inspire others to do things with a greater impact… When others see you challenge yourself, they might follow your lead and start running, perhaps they’ll even join you in running the Oxford Half, or face a different fear or challenge in life. Be inspiring, create a difference, support a mental charity that is helping so many people affected by COVID-19, and run for Restore.” Last year, Restore set a personal record of 61 runners raising £14,800 between them.

First Rapid Electric Charger in Oxford

Also in local news, Oxford’s first 50kW rapid electric charger was installed in Cowley’s Marsh Road as part of the Electric Superhub Oxford (ESO) project, aiming to make Oxford a zero carbon city. ESO aims to save 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per year by 2021, rising to 25,000 tonnes per year by 2032. Tim Rose, ESO Programme Manager, Pivot Power explained: “These chargers, the vehicles that will use them and the information they deliver, will allow us to demonstrate how through research and real life actions, electric vehicles can form part of a smart, local energy system that accelerates Oxford’s journey to zero carbon and benefits the whole community.”