skip to content

Postdocs of Cambridge Society



Welcome to the first in a new series of PdOC blog posts focussing on the affiliations postdoc researchers have with Cambridge Colleges. The aim is to find out from postdocs with existing affiliations a little more about why they joined a College, what benefits they gain and the kind of educational, sporting and social activities that are on offer.


Following the news that Clare Hall College is offering up to 200 Affiliated Postdoctoral Memberships, we decided to start here by asking an existing Postdoctoral Affiliate of the College, Dr Matthias Benoit, about his experience of being a member of Clare Hall.

The History:

  • Founded in 1966 by Clare College, Clare Hall was initially founded to essentially be a satellite campus of Clare College for University teaching officers whose principal focus was research; visiting academics who would stay in Cambridge for between six months and a year; and graduate students. In 1984, Clare Hall became a fully independent College with its own statutes and its own governing body.
  • Today, Clare Hall has around twenty Official Fellows, twenty Research Fellows, thirteen Professorial Fellows, forty Visiting Fellows, as well as one hundred and eighty graduate students. More information on the history of the College, from which this text has been adapted, is here.

The Buildings:

  • Located in West Cambridge, on the corner of Grange Road and Herschel Road, the main building was designed by Architect Ralph Erskine and opened in 1969. This building houses the dining hall, coffee lounge, reading room, meeting room and bar.
  • The West Court, obtained by Clare Hall College in 1996, was once the Cambridge residence of Lord Rothschild. The West Court now houses meeting rooms, studies, apartments, study bedrooms, a gym, an indoor swimming pool and a very attractive garden. More information on the facilities and buildings can be found here.

The Experience:

We asked Clare Hall College Postdoctoral Affiliate, Dr Matthias Benoit, his thoughts on membership of the College:


Dr Matthias Benoit (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Sainsbury Laboratory)


I am working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Sainsbury Laboratory, studying the impact of the non-coding fraction of the genome on the biology of crop plants. I've been an Affiliated Postdoctoral member of Clare Hall since January 2016.

Why did you initially choose Clare Hall?

I've heard that Clare Hall has the best food of all Cambridge! More seriously, I've been attracted by Clare Hall because of its very strong graduate and postdoc community, that gives a different atmosphere to the college.

What do you like most about being at Clare Hall?

Clare Hall is a very small and intimate college. You know almost everyone around and the contact between the members is facilitated by such a "relaxed" atmosphere. The community is extremely active in terms of culture and sports, as well as in terms of cooperation between the different members.

What events/activities do you attend at Clare Hall?

I am involved in the Clare Hall Squash Club and I am rowing for the Clare Hall Boat Club. The atmosphere in the teams is fantastic and it's a great opportunity as a postdoc to benefit from such nice facilities. I also regularly attend formal dinners (held every Wednesday), which are always great to meet new and old members of the college.

The interactions between graduates, PhD's and postdocs are strong, also because of the relatively high number of people. It is also great to share some nice moments with the academic staff. Also, our porters are great!

Would you consider that being at Clare Hall has helped in your professional development?

The spectrum of competences is so broad at Clare Hall that it does facilitate your professional development. Beside those people who are studying & working in the same field as you, the input and ideas from people outside your field is also great and very valuable.


More information on the research focus of Clare Hall College can be found here.

Main text: Paul Bennett, adapted from text on the Clare Hall College website

Photos and image credits: Clare Hall College, Wikipedia (Creative Commons licence), Matthias Benoit