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Feb 2011

Queen Mary Student

Queen Mary undergraduates get the VIP treatment Integrating work-based skills into the university experience is a hot topic at the moment, and one which Queen Mary is committed to through its Graduate Attributes Project. In addition to the subject specific knowledge students acquire through their university study, the Graduate Attributes Project is providing a framework to help equip our graduates with the necessary skills they need to gain employment. The new QM Careers Volunteer Internship Project (VIP) is one such initiative being piloted by Queen Mary. Students will work on a project, or series of mini-projects at a local charity, enabling them to develop key skills to better prepare them for the graduate job market. The students will be required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of work for their host charity, over a flexible time-frame, where they will acquire graduate work-based skills and competencies such as proactivity, decision-making, and project management. The internship host will mentor and supervise the student, keeping an eye on their progress and making sure the individual is undertaking real responsibility and not simply menial tasks.



Victoria Adrienne is the Work Experience Projects Manager leading on this initiative, on behalf of Queen Mary Careers. She says:

The Volunteer Internships aim to give students a much needed piece of work experience to add to their CV. Not only will students develop the requisite workbased skills they increasingly need for entering the tough graduate job market, the internships will also provide a tangible benefit to small charities in the local area.

Queen Mary Student: a newsletter for you


New Centre for Studies of Home There’s no place like home, particularly when it comes to cutting-edge research, as Queen Mary is proving with a new centre dedicated to its study, partnered by The Geffrye Museum. The Centre for Studies of Home, launched in February this year, aims to lead the field internationally, bringing together academics and museum curators with a shared interest and expertise in house and home, past and present. The Centre will be co-directed by Professor Alison Blunt and Dr Alastair Owens, of the School of Geography, and Eleanor John, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at the Geffrye, which

specialises in the history of English interiors. At present, some 15 academics at the College are studying the home from a range of disciplines including geography, history, English and psychology. Those experts include Professor Markman Ellis, from the School of English and Drama, who studies teatable culture in eighteenth-century England; Dr Alasdair King, of the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, who researches depictions of ‘home’ and ‘homeland’ in contemporary European cinema; and historian Amanda Vickery who specialises in English home life from the seventeenth century to the present.

“The Centre offers exciting opportunities to explore diverse themes such as interior design, the relationships between home, household and identity, and the diversity of home-making on a global scale,” explains Professor Blunt, who works on ideas about the city as home. “Within the first year, the Centre will stage a public seminar series, an annual lecture highlighting the fruits of our research and make a number of applications for collaborative doctoral studentships, research fellowships and research grants,” she adds.

PhD students at Queen Mary and Goldsmiths to benefit from Doctoral Training Centre Academics and students at Queen Mary and Goldsmiths, both University of London colleges, are celebrating after being awarded Doctoral Training Centre status. Over the next five years, 50 PhD students at the two universities will be fully-funded for their fees and living costs – 10 in each year – and this will be paid for by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Queen Mary Student: a newsletter for you


Principal reaches out to Queen Mary students To help students better understand the College’s current position, in the context of recent government legislation, the Principal held an open meeting specifically for Queen Mary students. More than 80 people attended the event, which took place on Monday 31 January at the Mile End campus. The Principal gave an outline of recent developments in Higher Education in England and explained how these will affect the College. Students then took the opportunity to pose a range of questions, relating to tuition fees, contact hours, employability, and resources on campus. During the session, the Principal highlighted his commitment to reducing costs and increasing our income through other streams. However, he emphasised that an increase in tuition fees, supported by student loans, was inevitable as we see the teaching grant from HEFCE reduce by approximately 80 per cent over four years. The Principal pointed out that in order to replace funding like for like, without taking into account expenditure and alternative income streams, the College would need to charge around £7,200 per year for tuition fees. He made clear, however, that this figure was not the agreed level of tuition fee at Queen

Mary, with discussions still ongoing on the subject within the College’s senior executive. He added: “The biggest question is can we make these changes while we maintain the very proud history Queen Mary has of taking students from a broad range of social and financial backgrounds. We are approaching this in a number of ways. The first is to cut our expenditure as low as possible, for example the costs of administration are being borne down very heavily at the moment; that reflects my conviction that there are in fact ways of improving the effectiveness of our administration and support services while saving money.” To illustrate this, he made reference to the IT Transformation Strategy, which aims to improve the student experience, and to make sure we don’t have duplication of activity throughout the College. However, despite the very challenging economic climate, the Principal drew attention to the good position the College is in, partly due to the effective running of our finances in recent years. He also reminded students of Queen Mary’s relatively strong standing: “In the last academic year our surplus was about 3 per cent turnover. In the context of universities this is a healthy position. The projection for the current year is

that the College will still be in surplus, not to the extent of 3 per cent, because we will take a hit in cuts and government funding, but we will have a very modest surplus of between 1 – 2 per cent. This is the hallmark of an organisation that is run well. Even more importantly is that the stature and reputation of Queen Mary has risen significantly over the last couple of years.” In addition, the Principal asked students to consider the value of their degree beyond the advantage of earning more after graduation. Instead he highlighted the extra benefits in terms of self development: “You have come to a good university, so the byproduct of this is you will find a good job, and you will earn more because of your Queen Mary degree. However, don’t imagine that the fundamental reason for being here is to earn more money – it is to be educated so that whatever you do in the future you get more out of it both emotionally and intellectually, and you will be able to make a better contribution to society.” To listen to a full recording of the Principal’s Open Meeting for Queen Mary students, please see the student portal.

Queen Mary Student: a newsletter for you

News David Willetts MP visits Centre of the Cell The Right Honourable David Willetts MP, the Minister for Universities and Science, visited the Centre of the Cell on Thursday 3 February.

recently opened its doors on Saturdays encouraging parents to bring their children, and the wider public to visit.

Located inside Queen Mary’s Blizard building in Whitechapel, Centre of the Cell is the first facility of its kind to be based within a working medical school research laboratory. Its powerful audiovisual displays; interactive games; hands-on virtual experiments, and high-power microscopes – all geared towards connecting science to everyday life – have earned it a cluster of accolades and awards since launching in September 2009. So far a huge hit with teachers and school children alike - having attracted over 18,000 visitors in its short history – the Centre has

David Willetts MP enjoyed a tour of the laboratories inside the Blizard Institute as well as being shown around the Centre of the Cell by its Director Professor Francis Balkwill OBE.

Junk the Jargon Athina-Myrto Chioni, a post-doctoral researcher at Barts Cancer Institute, has won first place in the ‘Junk the Jargon’ competition, receiving £500 in prize money. Queen Mary’s ‘Junk the Jargon’ contest challenges postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers to present their research in an easy-to-understand, jargon-free way in less than three minutes. Judging competitors in the final round were Director of the V&A Museum of Childhood Rhian Harris, Queen Mary’s Vice-Principal and art historian Professor Evelyn Welch, President of the Royal Historical Society Professor Colin Jones, and Nicola Horne, Senior local engagement manager for Cancer Research UK. Winner of the judges’ vote, Athina, was praised for presenting her research into breast cancer in an engaging and creative way. Athina and two assistants used a model of a cell, clothes pegs and a frisbee to explain how research

in their lab has challenged the conventional way of thinking about cancer. Jamie Upton, a PhD student at the Centre for Cutaneous Research in the Blizard Institute for Cell and Molecular Sciences, was awarded second place and £250 for his presentation relating to hair follicle biology, and trying to work out the factors which control baldness, which he delivered entirely in rhyming couplets. In third place was Marie-Aimee Brajeux, receiving £100 for her interesting talk about ASBOs and the peculiar legal mechanism they represent. The audience vote went to first year PhD student in the Barts Cancer Institute, Alex Papple, for his use of exciting props to explain his research into ways to improve the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs, with reduced patient side effects and increased patient life expectancy. If you would like to know more about Junk the Jargon you can contact Dr Jo Cordy

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “The UK is one of the best places in the world for science and innovation, and to make the most of this we need to foster a new generation of researchers. That’s why it’s so important to have great facilities that give people the opportunity to engage with science from a young age.”

Queen Mary Student: a newsletter for you


Careers events The Careers Department at Queen Mary has a website full of events that may be of interest to you. These include events attended by industry experts, so that you can gain an insight into a particular career. In addition there are a range of workshops to help you hone your employability skills. More information can be found at

Money Matters Worried about money? Struggling to pay for things that you need? Overdraft almost at it’s’ limit? Have you answered yes to any of these? Experienced Welfare Advisers at the Advice and Counselling Service are here to help. Do you know what you spend? The first step to successfully managing your money is to do a personal budget. This just means writing down all of your spending and all of your income. Our leaflet ‘Planning your budget and cutting costs’ contains a budget planner and step by step instructions to make it easy for you to complete. If you get stuck, our Welfare Advisers are here to help. Is there other money you can apply for? We often see students who are struggling financially, but who aren’t

getting all of the money they are entitled to. Sometimes this is because Student Finance has made a mistake, or because the rules about grants and bursaries are hard to understand. There may also be hardship funding that you can apply for. Our Welfare Advisers can check all of this for you, help you to apply for other money you are eligible for and help you think through other possible options. Are you spending more money than you need to? You may be able to reduce your spending just by taking advantage of discounts and promotions, shopping in different stores or switching the company that provides your mobile phone or electricity – we have lots of money saving tips in our leaflet ‘Planning your budget and cutting costs’.

You might also be able to save money by identifying unnecessary spending – our Welfare Advisers can help you with this. How to get more help The Advice and Counselling Service website has a wide range of guidance leaflets and information which you may find helpful: If you would like a confidential appointment with one of our Welfare Advisers to talk about your individual situation, you can either turn up to a drop-in session, every afternoon from Mondays to Fridays during term time (arrive between 1.30 and 3pm, first come first served), or contact us to book an appointment by: • emailing us via our website • calling us on 020 7882 8717 • visiting our Reception on the ground floor of the Geography building, Mile End

Queen Mary Student: a newsletter for you


Put your thinking C'App on Queen Mary phone App competition now open All current Queen Mary students and staff are invited to put their thinking caps on and take part in our exciting phone App competition created by the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science. We are looking for the most original and appealing App idea which can demonstrate clear commercial potential. Up to six of the best applicants will take part in a half-day boot camp on the afternoon of March 22 to refine their business plan with the help of our team of experts. The finalists will then pitch their final proposal to a Den of friendly Dragons on the morning of March 25. The two most appealing, original and commercially-focused App ideas, selected by our judges, will be developed into commercial products by our partners and cosponsors Always on Message. The winners will be rewarded a percentage of the income from sales of their Apps. Your idea could make you money. Let your creativity go wild and get a chance to see your phone App idea commercialised and used by thousands of consumers. Think music, gaming, health, travel, children, design, cooking, sport, money - the only limit is your imagination! Log on to for more information about the competition and to complete and submit the online entry form for your phone App idea. You have until 5.00 pm March 11 2011 to submit your entry. Good luck!

Autumn Fest springs into 2011 Following the cancellation of Autumn Fest last term (due to snow), Student and Campus Services will host Spring Fest on Saturday 5 March. There will be fairground rides and attractions – including the dodgems, plus music, hot food and drinks. Wristbands will cost £5 (purchase on the day), and will include unlimited use of rides and attractions, and a meal voucher for use in Ground. For more information please look out for posters and emails, and check the student events Facebook page (

The Residential Services and Support Survey 2010 The Residential Services and Support Survey 2010/11 was completed by over 600 residents and showed positive feedback, especially with regards to safety and security in the halls, as well as information on fire safety issues, and the friendliness and helpfulness of staff. 95 per cent of students who completed the survey would recommend Queen Mary accommodation. Areas for further improvement included heating, attitude of cleaners, response times to maintenance requests and noise levels. SCS would like to thank those who took part in the survey your contributions are greatly appreciated and will enable us to continually develop our services.

Queen Mary Student: a newsletter for you


Queen Mary Students in Semi-Finals of the IBM Universities Business Challenge A team of five students from the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) recently qualified for the semi-finals of the IBM Universities Business Challenge, taking place on Wednesday 2 March 2011. The IBM Universities Business Challenge is the premier undergraduate business competition in the UK. This competition, which has been running for the past 11 years

and is open to all UK universities, is a unique opportunity for students to improve their knowledge of the business world and get their CV in the hands of a range of high profile companies including IBM, RBS, Citi Bank, Procter & Gamble. Teams from all over the country take part in this Challenge every year, including students of Imperial College London, Bristol University and the University of York.

Considering a Master’s or PhD next year? The College has recently announced two financial packages to assist students who are interested in postgraduate study and want to continue at Queen Mary Master’s Bursary Any home and EU final-year undergraduate who takes a master’s at Queen Mary in 2011-12 will be entitled to a £1,000 discount on the cost of their course; this discount will be deducted automatically when students pay their fees. The scheme applies to all full-time and part-time home and EU students who are not already holding any other scholarship offer. To see a full list of master’s programmes in your academic area, please visit: coursefinder/index.html or book a place at the next College Postgraduate Open Evening on the 20 April: pgopenevening/index.html

To get more detailed information about opportunities at master’s level, please ask for the contact details of the Director of Graduate Studies in the relevant academic School. PhD Studentships Current Queen Mary students are encouraged to apply for one of the 40 College studentships that have been announced recently. These are for home, EU or overseas students who want to do a PhD starting in 2011. The awards last for three years and include tuition fees and a stipend of over £15,000 a year. These studentships are competition based as we are looking to develop the next generation of worldclass researchers at Queen Mary. For more information, please visit the postgraduate funding section on the website of the academic School you are considering applying to.

Queen Mary Student: a newsletter for you

Research Brief Groundbreaking findings from your top research-led university…

Screening adults for hypothyroidism could improve quality of life Researchers from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine have shown that screening adults for hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is worthwhile and would improve people’s quality of life. Their findings conclude that screening women over the age of 50 and men over 65 for hypothyroidism could significantly improve the quality of life of 100,000 people in the UK. Hypothyroidism arises from an underactive thyroid. The disease is often overlooked because the typical symptoms – lethargy, tiredness, weight gain, forgetfulness – are non-specific and often considered a natural consequence of ageing. Blood levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) are raised when the thyroid is underactive so research was undertaken to establish whether this could be a useful screening test for undiagnosed hypothyroidism.

New findings show vitamin D accelerates recovery from TB

A pill a day could keep heart attacks and strokes at bay A groundbreaking trial of a one-stop-pill to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people over 50 is being launched at Queen Mary. The pill, which contains components to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, could play a key role in reducing the population’s incidence of heart attacks and strokes, according to researchers at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine. People aged over 50 are being invited to participate in the trial where they would take a placebo for 12 weeks and the polypill for 12 weeks without knowing which one hey are taking in each 12-week period (otherwise known as a randomised cross-over trial).

New research findings which show that vitamin D can speed up antibiotic treatment of tuberculosis (TB) have been revealed by scientists from the Centre for Health Sciences. In a trial led by Dr Adrian Martineau – and funded by the British Lung Foundation - 146 patients with drug-sensitive TB were recruited from 10 National Health Service Trusts in London and randomly and evenly assigned to receive either four oral doses of 2.5mg of vitamin D, or a placebo. All participants received standard antibiotic treatment for their condition.

Queen Mary Student: a newsletter for you

Research Brief Groundbreaking findings from your top research-led university…

Answers to black hole evolution beyond the horizon?

Dr Thomas Bäckdahl and Dr Juan A. Valiente Kroon from the School of Mathematical Sciences have now provided a rigorous way of determining the evolutionary stage of a black hole by analysing the region outside where matter cannot escape - the event horizon. The researchers have developed a method based on properties of the Kerr solution, a timeindependent solution to the equations of General Relativity. The Kerr solution is one of the few exact solutions to the equations of General Relativity, and describes a rotating, stationary (time-independent) black hole. It is also proposed that it describes the final evolutionary stage of any dynamical (time-dependent) black hole.

Queen Mary to lead with £4.7million cancer project

Why folic acid may prevent a first heart attack . . . but not a second

Queen Mary is to lead a £4.7million Policy Research Unit dedicated to research on cancer screening, symptom awareness and early diagnosis. The funding is provided over 5 years by the Department of Health’s Policy Research Programme.

A perplexing medical paradox now has an explanation according to research led by Dr David Wald at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine. The paradox is that taking folic acid, a B vitamin, lowers homocysteine in the blood which, epidemiological evidence indicates, should lower the risk of heart attack, but clinical trials of folic acid have not shown the expected benefit.

The Unit will be led by Professor Stephen Duffy from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, and deputy director Professor Jane Wardle of University College London. The Unit’s aim is to undertake research to underpin earlier diagnosis of cancers, so enabling more successful treatment and ensuring better survival rates.

The explanation is surprisingly simple; lowering homocysteine prevents platelets sticking, which stops blood clot, something aspirin also does. So if people in the trials were already taking aspirin there would be no extra benefit in lowering homocysteine with folic acid. Aspirin was in fact widely used by participants in the trials because they were mainly conducted in patients who had already had a heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases.

10,000 Hepatitis C patients could hold the key to better treatment Researchers from the School of Medicine and Dentistry will be leading the London arm of a £2 million project to establish a database of 10,000 patients infected with hepatitis C. The team, led by Professor Graham Foster, will be part of a UK-wide network of researchers aiming to find new ways to tackle the deadly infection. The Medical Research Foundation, an independent registered charity established by the Medical Research Council, is funding the project. While there has been considerable progress in the scientific understanding of hepatitis C in recent years, it is currently extremely difficult to track the spread of the virus and to understand the biological roots of the illness. The new initiative will create HCV Research UK - a consortium of clinicians, academics and healthcare professionals, which aims to promote UK-wide research into the infection.

Queen Mary Student: a newsletter for you

International Students Winner of the i-graduate survey announced The winner of the I-pad prize draw for the i-graduate survey was Moona Haverinen. Once again we will be offering a Queen Mary student the chance to win an I-pad, and i-graduate will offer one student the chance to win £1,000 in the next survey, due to be emailed in April 2011. The i-graduate survey is vital to the College, helping us to gain an insight into student opinions. The results have led to improvements in the library re-design, I.T. services, and visa advice, but there is always more to be done. If you want to let the College know how you feel about things at Queen Mary, please participate in the i-graduate survey

HOST welcome international students into their homes

International students experience Scotland

HOST is a voluntary organisation, a nation-wide group of UK residents who welcome international students to their homes for a weekend visit. By taking part in a HOST visit you are not only given the opportunity of visiting other parts of the UK, but also your host family will make you a part of their own way of life, for a weekend. There is no better way to find out more about the real life of this country – sharing meals together, eating homecooked food, chatting, asking questions and cultural exchange. You will see life in a private home and in a local community; you will make new friends; and be an ambassador for your own country. HOST visits are free, and Queen Mary covers the administration fee. The only costs would be the cost of return travel to the home of your HOST family. If you are interested in applying please click on the following link:

ISH social and cultural centre International Students House (ISH) is a social and cultural centre in London. Queen Mary pays the membership for our students, saving you £20. ISH is near Regents Park, a beautiful royal park in central London. The nearest tube station is Great Portland Street. ISH offers free karaoke (Thursdays), jazz sessions (one Monday a month), a Pub Quiz every Tuesday, and a disco every Friday. They also offer educational events such as language classes and lectures. For information about events and activities at ISH, including information about the ISH Travel Club, please visit the following website

At the end of January 2011, a group of Queen Mary students embarked on a 400 mile journey to visit a place that is said to have a climate as harsh as the Arctic Circle – Scotland! 45 students attended, and of these, 44 were international students. They spent the first day and evening exploring the historic and beautiful city of Edinburgh, with our very traditional Scottish tour guide – complete with kilt and bagpipes. On Saturday there was another 400 mile round trip – a coach tour to the rugged landscape of the Scottish Highlands. After a boat ride on the infamous Loch Ness, the students returned to Edinburgh to enjoy the city nightlife. On Sunday there was time for last minute attraction visits, souvenir shopping, or Scottish delicacy samplings before they started their journey back to London. To see photos from the trip, or to keep up to date on any other upcoming trips or tours, join the Queen Mary Student Events Facebook Page.