LONDON’S GLOBAL UNIVERSITY
UCL PEOPLE | 2011
Contents Welcome to the 2011 issue of UCL People magazine. People is published once a year. Alumni Benefits card holders receive UCL Connect magazine in the autumn. Sign up to receive your copy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Current news 04 The latest news from UCL
Hitting the headlines 14 Recent UCL media coverage
Holding court 06 Sporting champion Daniel Grant reveals a whole new ball game
Online news 26
Daniel Grant by Matt Clayton
A guided tour of the new alumni webpages
UCL People is produced for UCL alumni by the university’s Alumni Relations and Communications teams Art direction
Special, studiospecial.com Production
Fiona Davidson Design
Recent news 30 A summary of the last year
The whole world’s in our heads 32 Taking a peek inside Beau Lotto’s ‘living lab’
Rory Morrison Main photography
Matt Clayton and John Carey Features
Rachel Lister, Robin Parker and Fiona Davidson
UCL Alumni Relations Gower Street London WC1E 6BT UK +44 (0)20 3108 3833 email@example.com www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni www.facebook.com/uclconnect Twitter: @UCLAlumni
Professor Malcolm Grant UCL President & Provost
Opinion 13 Jack Ashby on the future of university museums
Fertile ground 16
Routes to success 22
UCL’s long and fruitful relationship with China
How UCL is supporting enterprising students
The college we knew… 38
School of thought 46
UCL alumni recall studying during wartime
Showcasing the creative spirit of UCL’s Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment
Campus Q&A 29
Provost’s Circle 56
Public events 62
Professor Faith Wigzell reveals her most embarrassing UCL moment
The UCL people making an all-round difference
Lectures, debates, exhibitions and more – find out what’s on at UCL
Cover stories 44
Alumni Reunions 58
Parting shot 65
Publications from the UCL community
Recent and forthcoming
Tug-of-war contest 1956
Benefits and services 60 Discounts, offers and services available to alumni
Departmental events 54 Stay in touch with your subject
UCL’s President & Provost highlights some of the key developments in university life over the past year. The past year has seen the UK become an exceptionally challenging environment for higher education. However, it has also been a year of many exciting developments, and of wonderful achievements from across the UCL community, and I wanted to share some of our successes, and some of the challenges we have faced, and will continue to face together in future years. In October, UCL signed an agreement to become the first UK university to establish a campus in Qatar, focusing on Arab and Islamic archaeology and museum studies. From its opening, UCL-Q will conduct research of relevance to the Gulf and to the Arab world more broadly, with professional courses starting in spring 2011, and two masters programmes starting in 2012. Combined with major institutional partnerships cemented with Kazakhstan and China during the past year, UCL continues to live up to its moniker of London’s global university. Our growing global alumni community is of vital importance to UCL’s future development and the thoughts of everyone at UCL are with those alumni who in recent months have seen turmoil due to political change and unrest as well as devastating natural disasters. UCL has continued in its commitment to maximise the impact of its research, which includes developing infrastructures which support UCL researchers to work across disciplines and bring their research to bear on public life, from the development of new medicines and business ideas, through to evidence-based policy development. 2010 saw the launch of UCL’s first public policy strategy, building on the role played by many of our academics in formulating policy with governments nationally and internationally.
A number of successful UCL enterprises have bloomed in the period, including Endomagnetics, a medical imaging company sprung from UCL research, and Mapping for Change, a social enterprise that will support sustainable communities through online mapping. As leading UK universities seek to strengthen their position, developing strong relationships with business will become increasingly important, for UCL students as well as for staff. To thrive in today’s job market, our graduates need to be enterprising, to be adept at turning what they have learned through study to the benefit of business and society alike. I hope you will enjoy and be inspired by the feature on student entrepreneurship that you will find in this issue of People. Equally important to UCL’s position as we move forwards is the support of our alumni and friends. It is vital that the UCL community grow closer to ensure that we support our institution’s great strengths. On this theme, I am delighted to the share the news of the appointment of Lori Manders as UCL’s new Director of Development & Alumni Relations. Lori has come to UCL from the role of Director of Development & External Affairs at the University of Aberdeen, leading there the university’s largest fundraising campaign. Lori will be working to strengthen the connections that UCL has with our alumni and friends, and to develop philanthropic support for the university at this crucial time. Every reader of this magazine will be aware of the unprecedented changes to the funding of higher education that were confirmed in 2010. These changes will influence the future direction of the university, but I am determined that in the coming year we set out an ambitious strategy that is not only financially viable but that builds on the academic excellence and rigour of the institution.
UCL-Q A new learning landscape IN Qatar
We are entering a wholly new era, and, as with all universities, we must put ourselves in the place of parents and students who are facing high costs and an uncertain future. In response to these changes, UCL must drive out all unnecessary cost in its processes, while ensuring that we invest in the highest quality teaching and student support. It is crucial that the student experience is excellent across all areas of university life. A major estates planning project, the Bloomsbury Masterplan, is currently being developed in order to transform the UCL campus and meet the needs of future generations of students and staff.
UCL is the first British university to open a campus in Doha, Qatar. UCL-Q will see approximately 150 students a year undertaking a range of research programmes and masters degrees in archaeology, conservation and museum studies. Find out more at: www.ucl.ac.uk/global/sa-me
We are faced by many uncertainties. UCL is operating in an environment of global competition with limited resources. Changes in UK policy will continue to pose major challenges for this institution. We have to make our own way, and it will be in a world where there will be the highest premium to quality, every bit as much in teaching as in research. More than ever before, UCL will need to be consistently excellent and rigorous in order to survive and flourish.
Professor Malcolm Grant President & Provost of UCL
UCL News current news from UCL
UCL is launching a new flagship BASc Arts and Sciences degree for entry in September 2012.
Arts and Sciences programme launch
This new type of interdisciplinary undergraduate programme reflects demand from both students and employers for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary qualifications. Students will be able to pursue an arts and a science specialism, alongside a core programme that explores the ways in which different branches of knowledge interrelate. It will be structured around four pathways: Cultures,
UCL space scientists are involved in two out of four missions that the European Space Agency has selected to compete for a launch opportunity at the start of the 2020s.
UCL space missions get the go-ahead
EChO – the Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory – will search for signs of life on planets orbiting stars near our sun. Led by Dr Giovanna Tinetti (UCL Physics & Astronomy) and supported by more than 150 European astronomers, the mission will use a 1.2 metre telescope designed to carry out spectroscopy of the atmospheres of extra solar planets, from giant gas planets (similar to Jupiter in our own solar system) to terrestrial planets in the habitable zone of some stars. The second mission, LOFT – the Large Observatory for X-ray Timing – will study the fast-moving, high-energy environments that surround black holes, neutron stars and pulsars, which can produce sudden and rapid bursts of X-rays. Dr Silvia Zane and
Societies, Health & Environment, and Sciences & Engineering. Students will select a major and a minor pathway and choose their optional modules accordingly. Each pathway will act as a ‘container’ for the optional modules, and provides structure for students’ progression.
Find out more www.ucl.ac.uk/prospectivestudents/undergraduate-study/ degrees/basc
Dr Roberto Mignani (UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory) will be strongly involved with the science team. LOFT will carry the Large Area Detector and the Wide Field Monitor, to be operated in parallel. An MSSL engineering group will be key in developing the design of the on-board electronics, including payload data handling units, instrument control units, flight digital electronics and power supply units. MSSL also lent technical support in the spacecraft design and in the construction of the microchannel plate detectors of the Large Area Detector, the main instrument on board.
Find out more www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/ 1103/11030201
Working more than 11 hours a day increases your risk of heart disease by 67 per cent, compared with those working a standard seven to eight hours a day, according to a new UCL study.
Working long hours ‘bad for your heart’
The authors suggest that information on working hours could be useful to GPs when calculating a patient’s risk of heart disease, alongside other health measures such as blood pressure, diabetes and smoking habits. The research, led by Professor Mika Kivimäki (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) and funded by the Medical Research Council, used data from the Whitehall II study,
Image: Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands
As demand for physical and suitable space around the Bloomsbury campus intensifies year on year, UCL has initiated a comprehensive review of how existing space can be best allocated.
A masterplan for Bloomsbury
The main objectives are ensuring that the campus is fit for purpose; efficiently and effectively supports the academic mission; is productively used; and is environmentally sustainable. A survey on space utilisation in the Bloomsbury campus was conducted last year, which will now inform a masterplan for the Bloomsbury campus. This work commenced in June 2010 with the appointment of the masterplan team led by the architectural practice Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. The brief for the masterplan includes: efficient use of space, functionality and location
which has followed the health and wellbeing of over 10,000 civil service workers since 1985. The researchers collected information on heart risk factors, such as age, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking habits, and diabetes. They also asked participants how many hours they worked (daytime and work brought home) on an average weekday.
Find out more www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/ 1104/11040501
of uses; movement and circulation; environmental sustainability; public engagement and accessibility; identity, heritage and integrity with the locality; and the quality of the student experience. The development of a strategic masterplan is a substantial undertaking, which will establish a long-term and flexible framework for the estate. The study is expected to be completed by Easter 2011 and will form the centrepiece of a new estate strategy planned for publication during the second half of 2011.
Find out more www.ucl.ac.uk/masterplan 04|05
Holding court It’s 6.35pm on a court in Spain and it looks like it’s over. As the cameras swirl to keep pace with a match that’s gone to two straight sets for the home side, the clock starts to race. The call for time-out comes but there’s something amiss – the loser is beaming. Meet Daniel Grant – the face of a new sport.
Walk into the UCL Union on any day of the week and you’d be hard pushed to make out which UCL student is also a sporting champion. Apart from a slight intensity around the brow, Daniel Grant (UCL Human Sciences 2003) is more zen-like than zealous – a presence that’s so far served him well. “One of the best – or worst – criticisms I’ve had from opponents is that I’m too happy – but I know it makes my game nosedive when I get tense. To be good at any sport you’ve got to be loose to hit your best shots. The angry players’ eyes are wide, they don’t smile and everything’s very contained. But I like being happy; I find I play best when I smile and when I’m on court I’m enjoying what I’m doing.” However, behind Grant’s soft demeanour lies a wealth of ambition and a relentless crusade in the name of his sport. It’s almost as if the energy which bounds from the ball mid-match has surreptitiously implanted itself within the very fabric of his being, and Grant’s intention is clear:
to be world champion and to bring handball to the Olympics, whilst penetrating the playgrounds and parks of every town and city. So what exactly is the sport that Grant is championing? Not to be confused with team handball, of which there’s currently an Olympic variant, one-wall handball is played by hitting a small ball against a wall with the hands. Although the sport is still relatively unknown in the UK, it’s popular in many other countries across the world, with a well-established handball tradition in the Americas, Australia, Ireland and across mainland Europe. “There’s two areas that I’m focused on now: I’ve got my elite sportsmanship – my dream is to win the World Championships, that’s my personal goal – but then there’s also the growth of one-wall handball in this country and I’ve been a big part of that in the last few years.”
Other than being the current European handball champion, Grant is also on England Handball’s board of directors, as well as acting as its website designer, media officer, and schools coach. In fact, it appears that Grant has almost single-handedly taken his love of a somewhat covert club game and set himself the task of opening it up to a nation that knew very little about it. And, even without the financial backing that widespread awareness brings, he’s still keen to impress the UK team’s talent indelibly upon the international sporting circuit.
Rules of the game 1 One-wall handball is played by two (singles) or four (doubles) players. 2 The first side to score 21 points wins a set. 3 The first side to win two sets wins the match. 4 Only one hand, at any one time, may be used to strike the ball. 5 Only the serving side may score points. 6 Once the ball is in play, players alternate hits by striking the ball either before or after the first floor bounce. In doubles, either partner can hit the ball. The ball must hit the wall first, land in the court and rebound into the playing zone. When a side fails to make a legal return, an “out” or point is scored.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its simplicity, whacking a ball against a wall has an incredibly long lineage. In the UK, a sport called Fives (sometimes known as Eton or Rugby Fives) was developed in the 19th century and has since been played in schools up and down the country. However, versions of the game have existed for centuries and Grant says that UCL’s very own Petrie Museum even contains evidence of the earliest version of the sport etched into Egyptian tombs: “The name Fives is an old English term relating to the five digits of the hand. It is actually one of the oldest games ever recorded, but the problem is there’s a huge stigma associated with it in the UK because today it is seen as a typically public school sport. That’s because it’s the public schools that have the Fives courts, and they’re not cheap.” Grant played Fives at one such school, an all-boys independent in Northwood with 55 acres devoted entirely to sport. He went on to found a Fives club at UCL that is still going strong and he won the university championships for the club this year. Just as he was wrapping up his first UCL degree in Human Sciences he discovered that handball, the standardised and professional version, had been introduced. “Every country has a version of hitting a ball against a wall, but the international standardised version of one-wall handball didn’t exist in the UK until 2007. That’s how we got the UK one-wall handball team and the sport started here.”
“A lot of our work at England Handball is focused on schools because sports start with the kids.”
So has Grant now fallen out with Fives? “I still play both games. I dabble in Fives – it’s fundamentally the better game, a bit like playing squash on steroids – but I don’t think you could develop it in the same way. In terms of international scope, one-wall handball is the future because it’s so accessible and so simple. It’s just a ball and a wall, that’s it. “Handball is a satisfying game in the sense that you can really swing matches with clever tactics. At the Federation Cup, this big world-ranking event in Italy a couple of months ago, we got through to the quarter finals and I was playing this guy from Belgium and he got off to a storming start. He got about six-nil up on me; in handball you can score points very quickly – often in less than five minutes. So I thought about the tactics and I could see how he was moving and then I just adjusted my game and he didn’t win another point – I beat him 15 to six – so you can really turn things around very quickly. A lot of it’s about killing the shot. In handball you’ve got into get the mindset of going for everything at 100 per cent.” The Federation Cup has a special significance for Grant. Essentially the Davis Cup of handball, it was within this championship two years ago that the England handball team rose from bottom in the world to fifth. “Not bad considering we’d been training on non-regulation courts marked out with masking tape!” What differentiates the sport from other more conventional racket sports is the way the game is played. Unlike tennis and squash, Grant tells me, you can’t really afford to play defensively. This is evident when you watch the game. At full pelt, it has a furious pace, which apparently “makes you ache in a really good way” but it’s obviously not for the faint-hearted. When I ask him what separates the champion from the amateur he talks of sacrifice, of a social life that inevitably suffers, and of friends’ weddings clashing with international matches.
“Tournaments always take priority. Once you go international, you’re playing for your country and you feel really proud; it’s a huge privilege. I’ve given a lot up over the last few years to do this, it’s money and it’s time. I see my friends as much as I can around the sport and I’ve made a ton of friends doing it, living all around the world. I can go to New York now and feel at home, it’s really great to build that kind of network. The benefits definitely outweigh the sacrifices.” Grant’s timing for bringing the sport into UK schools in the last few years is impeccable. With the Olympics looming and London in the sporting limelight, the need for a legacy of sport has never been greater, and for the inner-city schools increasingly challenged to find the space and funding for more recognised sports, handball could be the next big thing. “At the moment the money goes into the sports that we’re good at in Olympic terms, things like cycling and rowing. The minority sports tend not to get a lot of money but we still need to find ways to get people playing. A lot of our work at England Handball is focused on schools, because sports start with the kids. Basically we looked at the inner-city schools who don’t have much real estate or money, so they can’t really play that much football or rugby unless they travel miles.” The England Handball team has now got over 2,000 children playing the game and three schools have built their own regulation courts. Grant believes handball is the perfect start-up sport for the inner city. “It’s great for all round coordination and tackling the ever-growing problem of childhood obesity.” He’s very aware however that its growth relies on the success of the international team raising its profile and showcasing the sport. The priority for the team now is to raise awareness and secure long-term investment and sponsorship to take handball to the next level. “What we’re doing in the UK is based on the New York model. They’ve played versions of the game in the States for hundreds of years; you can even see them playing it during the Depression. About 20 years ago a guy founded the Inner City Handball Association. They found that people gathered around the basketball courts 08|09
â€œThe priority for the team now is to raise awareness and hopefully secure long-term investment to take handball to the next level.â€?
and that it brought gangs together in a positive way – if people are playing sport they’re not on the streets – so it worked really well there. There’s now over two and a half thousand courts across the city and that’s just New York; around the States it’s massive, you can’t really go in a park without seeing a handball court.” But Grant’s enthusiasm doesn’t stop with sport. Already embarking on a second degree in medicine, which he’s set to complete in 2015, he is also a keen screenwriter and film director, and between degrees he’s managed to concertina some work as a graphic designer and copywriter – all while being headhunted during the Cannes film festival as a producer. “Between my second and third year of Human Sciences I made a film called Dark Night, which was a B-movie horror that I’d funded by winning the UCL Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, a business competition at UCL. “I am passionate about the creative side of film, I love to write, I like having the idea and I want to follow that through to completion to see it on the screen. “There’s no real conflict between film and handball because as a sportsman you’re only at your peak for a few years – but I want to look back and say I was there at the beginning of the sport. I did Human Sciences – which was a brilliant course – because it covered a lot of different things. Then I had three years out and did the movies. I think a lot of people find it very weird that I did so much of the arts, then science, then sport but I’ll never be a master of anything; I like being a jack-of-all trades. My only major challenge is trying to fund my handball training and my medical degree at the same time!”
What about sport in education? “I think everything became about stats with the last government and sport was taken out of the equation. I think sports and the arts might not be quantifiable but they really add character and help you to develop confidence. You can tell when you meet people that the sporty ones tend to have an element of drive and competitiveness and they’ll find a way to get the results; whereas the arts people can give you new spins on everything.” This coming from Grant who has so many dimensions that you almost expect him to spin. A character who can’t stand still on the court or off, last month he joined forces with his old school Merchant Taylors’ to launch the UK Handball Centre of Excellence. Providing the first set of regulation handball courts in the UK, the centre will be the training ground for the England international team. It will also be used by the school’s pupils during PE sessions and as part of an outreach programme serving underprivileged schools in the local area. “I put together a proposal and managed to persuade them to build the courts. We’re set to host the Junior European Championships there in 2013 and I’m very proud of this – it’s a big step towards a successful future. Making handball the future rests with the kids and the more we get them playing the more potential there is for the game.” Something tells me Grant will achieve his vision. It really does seem, with this sport at least, that where there’s a wall there’s a way. RACHEL LISTER
Find out more Go to: www.englandhandball.co.uk To bring handball to a school near you, contact Daniel at: firstname.lastname@example.org To watch Daniel in action go to: www.englandhandball.co.uk 10|11
A moving museum Rare specimens gain A New Home
The UCL Grant Museum of Zoology reopened in the Rockefeller Building on University Street, allowing some of the rarest extinct animal specimens in the world to be displayed for the first time. Find out more: www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoology
Opinion Jack Ashby Learning & Access Manager, UCL Grant Museum of Zoology
2011 is a very big year for the UCL Grant Museum of Zoology, where I work, as we relocated the collection to a larger space with better public and student access. This has been no small undertaking. While our collection is relatively small – around 68,000 specimens – it covers the breadth of global diversity better than any similarly sized collection I know.
“Museums are more than a collection of objects. It’s what you do with them that counts.”
Due to its age (the museum was founded in 1827 along with the university, to support teaching), the museum contains specimens from animals that have since become extinct, like the thylacine or Tasmanian tiger, and one of only seven quagga skeletons in the world (the quagga was a type of zebra). With the evolution of the university and its disciplines, the museum has moved several times. Our last home in the Darwin Building enabled us during the ’90s to become a public museum. We had great success in engaging different audiences in our work and became a major gateway for the public to access the university. Building on this success, we now have an even more public shop front in the Rockefeller Building, on the corner of Gower and University streets.
Find out more www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoology
At a first glance at our wooden cases, packed with skeletons and jars of pickled specimens, someone might ask why a modern university like UCL might foreground something with such an undeniably Victorian atmosphere. Museums, of course, are more than a collection of objects. It’s what you do with them that counts. The Grant, like all of UCL’s museums, is well
used in teaching and research. Serving the UCL community is our primary function, and we have changed with the times and teaching technologies – resources are now available on UCL’s virtual learning environment, as well as “live” hands-on object-based learning. Our new home is big enough for us to run many more classes in the museum itself. Beyond teaching, we see our role as providing accessible avenues for the public to engage in the university’s disciplines. The new Grant Museum venue allows us to experiment with ways to make that happen. As well as continuing to develop our thriving natural history events programme – one of London’s biggest – we want to give our audiences unprecedented opportunities to engage in the museum’s work, and in issues unresolved in the life sciences. Thanks to the generous donations of UCL’s alumni and friends to the university, we have developed groundbreaking iPad technologies that encourage our visitors to question how museums are run and what they feel about scientific issues. Throughout the displays visitors will be challenged to respond to questions posed on iPads, such as “Should animal and human remains be treated differently in museums?” and “What makes an animal British?” Through such programmes we want to investigate the role of museums and science in society. Our animals may be old, but we think these are very modern concepts.
Hitting the headlines recent UCL media coverage
A number of UCL experts commented on the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, including Professor Peter Sammonds and Professor Bill McGuire (UCL Earth Sciences), who warned: “The sheer scale and extent of big tsunamis are sufficient to make even the most optimistic hazard scientist or emergency manager stop and think. Are some natural phenomena too big to plan for or cope with?”
Top: The proposed UKCMRI building Bottom: Look at your body to ease pain
The coalition government pledged their support for a world-leading medical research institute at St Pancras in London. The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) is founded by four of the world’s leading research organisations: UCL, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK. Camden Council also granted planning permission for the building in December 2010.
Children born to mothers who drink lightly during pregnancy – defined as one to two units per week or per occasion – are not at increased risk of behavioural difficulties or cognitive deficits compared with children of abstinent mothers. Dr Yvonne Kelly, UCL Epidemiology & Public Health, said: “For some behavioural and cognitive outcomes, children born to light drinkers were less likely to have problems compared to children of abstinent mothers.”
An independent review was held of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s time at UCL, following his arrest in the US under suspicion of attempting to bomb an aircraft in December 2009. Responding to the findings, Sir Stephen Wall, Chair of UCL Council, said: “We welcome the central conclusion that there is no evidence to suggest that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was radicalised while studying at UCL.”
A study carried out by UCL for the British pilots’ union, Balpa, has found that one in five pilots suffers fatigue in the cockpit on a weekly basis. The study by UCL sent questionnaires to pilots working for a major British airline, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they were suffering from significant fatigue. One in five reported their abilities were compromised in flight more than once a week.
Simply looking at your body reduces pain, according to UCL research. Professor Patrick Haggard (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) explained: “When a child goes to the doctor for a blood test, we tell them it will hurt less if they don’t look at the needle. Our results suggest that they should look at their arm, but they should try to avoid seeing the needle, if that is possible!”
Professor Philippe Sands (UCL Laws) commented extensively on the Chilcot Inquiry into the invasion of Iraq, specifically its legal credibility and the testimony of former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Speaking to the Guardian, he said: “The overriding purpose of the Iraq inquiry announced by Gordon Brown … is to restore public confidence in governmental decision-making. To achieve this, it needs to be conducted by independent individuals who reflect a range of views necessary to address the issues in a politically balanced way.”
Top: How Ikea makes us spend more Bottom: Indoor temperature affects weight
Increases in indoor temperatures in the UK, US and other developed countries during the winter months may be contributing to rises in obesity according to UCL research. “Increased time spent indoors, widespread access to central heating and air conditioning, and increased expectations of thermal comfort all contribute to restricting the range of temperatures we experience in daily life. This could have an impact on energy balance and ultimately have an impact on body weight and obesity,” said lead author Dr Fiona Johnson (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health).
Professor Alan Penn (UCL Bartlett) explained in a recent UCL Lunch Hour Lecture how the confusing layout of IKEA encourages customers to spend more. One result of Ikea’s rat-maze design is that 60 per cent of the things people buy there are not on their original shopping list. The company also pulls off a rather difficult balancing act: “There are a lot of people who go there and don’t enjoy it, but still seem to keep going back,” said Professor Penn.
In one of the most complex transplant surgeries ever performed, an international team of surgeons, which included Professor Martin Birchall (UCL Ear Institute), restored the voice of a US woman who had been unable to speak for more than a decade. She said: “This operation has restored my life. I feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity. It is a miracle. I’m talking, talking, talking, which just amazes my family and friends.”
Keep up Read the latest stories from UCL: www.ucl.ac.uk/news Watch UCLTV: www.youtube.com/UCLTV Podcasts and more: http://itunes.ucl.ac.uk
Fertile ground With a history tracing back to UCL’s foundation, the university’s ties with China are stronger than ever. UCL People interviewed Professor Zheng Xiao Guo, Pro-Provost (China, Hong Kong & Macau) about this fruitful relationship.
“China has a culture and history that is not only different, but in many ways complementary to the West, and we know that many global issues are due to a lack of cultural understanding. Our connection with China provides an opportunity for these two cultures to engage more with each other and hopefully create solutions for a better future for humanity and society. This drives my vision for UCL’s interaction with China – to use UCL’s strength in academic excellence and China’s thirst to learn from and interact with the west. UCL is the ideal platform to make these things happen. “The relationship between UCL and China really began with the founding of the university. As many Chinese alumni will be aware, UCL was home to the UK’s first Professor of Chinese Language & Literature – Professor Samuel Kidd. He was a scholar in China prior to his appointment in 1837, and brought a large amount of literature with him. He established a group for Chinese Studies, which encompassed not only language and literature, but culture as well. The bond with the Chinese community has continued ever since. In fact, many Chinese nationals have studied here and went back to contribute greatly to the Chinese community. Currently, we have contact with thousands of former students. Some of our young alumni have been very active in encouraging the next generation to come to UCL and they also look after new alumni on their
resettlement. They are immensely generous with their free time and I am thoroughly impressed by their enthusiasm and strong support. In Chinese culture, a student’s college or university is considered almost part of the family, so once you come to UCL you are a member for life. “The alumni groups in mainland China, particularly Beijing, contribute by exchanging their UCL and work experiences, and they welcome new alumni back to society. Alumni in China also have an immensely benevolent spirit, for example, former students are doing important work funding scholarships for students from China and Hong Kong in subject areas that will
help the region’s development. No less than twelve members of the Chu family have attended UCL over the years, and thanks to the Vinson Chu Charitable Foundation, the Cissy Chu Common Room was opened in October 2010. Recently, Vincent Cheung (UCL Laws 1965) funded a new lecture theatre in the name of Professor Denys Holland (see page 54). “Many others too numerous to mention here have also generously contributed to UCL, including our alumni group in Hong Kong, which has set up a UCL scholarship fund. Schemes such as these are immensely valuable in helping the younger generation receive the best training possible.
PROJECTS Medical history Dr Vivienne Lo (UCL Centre for the History of Medicine), an expert in early and medieval Chinese medicine, has been working with many colleagues in China, excavating and translating ancient manuscripts relating to the development of practices such as acupuncture, and has trained visitors and students from as far afield as Tibet.
Public health For the last 22 years, Dr Therese Hesketh (UCL Institute of Child Health) has worked with a number of Chinese organisations and with the support of the Chinese government on population and reproductive health projects. She is currently working on a major project to restore equality to the country’s healthcare system. Funded by the Department for International Development, it aims to make China’s healthcare more affordable and efficient by introducing evidence-based protocols for doctors, improving access to healthcare and engaging in public education. The project is earmarked for 20 Chinese counties, with a population of 15 million.
Environmental law Professor Joanne Scott (UCL Laws) and Professor Jolene Lin of the University of Hong Kong recently organised an international conference on the global environment and sustainable development, the result of a close collaboration between the two academics. Professor Scott explained: “This collaboration is of immense value as it facilitates a bridging of Europe and Asia – two regions which are so crucial in meeting the challenge of climate change.”
“Currently, the university as a whole is looking at major global issues through four Grand Challenges. These focus UCL’s efforts on addressing problems in the areas of global health, sustainable cities, human wellbeing and intercultural interactions. “In a Chinese context we are providing practical support to the country’s development by focusing our efforts on four geographical zones: east, west, north, south. “The first cluster covers the southern cities of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Macao, where we see a new wave of rapid economic and urban progression. I’m sure many of our alumni are contributing greatly in that region and we are looking into opportunities with companies and academic institutions for research and
The built environment The UCL Bartlett School is working with the Changsha-ZhuzhouXiangtan City Cluster (CZT) in China’s Hunan province and Central South University Business School (CSU) to foster exchange of expertise in city masterplanning within the region, which comprises eight major cities and is home to 65 million people. The CZT is a critical development zone which aims to build a world-class, modern and ecological city cluster which meets the challenges of sustainability and industrial growth.
training collaborations, particularly in the areas of architecture and city planning. “The eastern sector is focused around Shanghai, and the Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, where there is rapid progression in trade, finance, management, healthcare and other technologies, so here we have been looking at close links with major universities and other institutions such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The focus here is mainly clean energy and healthcare solutions. “The north region encompasses the Beijing and Tianjin area, where we already have strong interactions in nanotechnology and the physical sciences. In the last couple of years we have, for example, established six co-funded projects with top regional institutions
Heritage and archaeology In December 2003, UCL and Peking University officially launched the International Centre for Chinese Heritage & Archaeology. The centre has a joint management body with offices and activities in London and Beijing. The first such venture of its kind between China and the UK, training concentrates on the conservation of objects and the management of sites, public archaeology, archaeobotany and archaeometallurgy.
Science and technology The London Centre for Nanotechnology, Peking University and Tsinghua University are working on radically new approaches to miniaturising computer systems, which would require less energy and make data storage completely stable, among other benefits. Other initiatives include the ‘Fourth Generation Wireless Communication’ project, which facilitates scientific exchange, rapid technology development and the commercialisation of new wireless communication technologies. The Cleaner Fossil Fuels Scheme is developing multifunctional nanostructures that can effectively capture carbon dioxide and harmful pollutants in coal-fired power stations.
through UK funding councils, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, which are looking at nanotechnologies for information technology and energy applications. “The western region of Chonqing, Chengdu and Xi’an is also a fast developing area. We have colleagues from the Built Environment and Engineering faculties to help the evolution of the larger cities and also in the transport and materials sectors. We are working in many disciplines focused on science, engineering and medicine, but we have also had many strong interactions in terms of the humanities and cultural exchanges with local universities. Regional characteristics do exist, although the major issues such as healthcare, energy and environment are common throughout the entire country. However, we need to have a focus for each area because of our limited resources and personnel. “UCL has always offered freedom of thought and expression within the academic context, and we want to maintain such a spirit, because it is this that brings out the best in people’s creativity – that’s how we built our excellence throughout our history. UCL is also a community with great societal responsibility. We realise that to best serve our obligations and promote our
“In Chinese culture, a student’s college or university is considered almost part of the family, so once you come to UCL you are a member for life.”
vision, the university must foster close links with the industrial sector, other institutions and government offices, including the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China and the representative office of the Hong Kong Trade Commission. This enables us to better understand the needs of the region so we can devise appropriate mechanisms of interaction. “UCL is actively seeking suggestions and welcomes ideas from Chinese institutions, companies and alumni on the most appropriate pathways. UCL can only serve its purpose well if we have feedback from society at large, so I’d very much like to hear from our alumni, through the Alumni Relations team, on their achievements, thoughts, experiences, comments and suggestions on UCL’s presence. By doing so we hope to build a mutually supportive kinship.”
NUMBERS 1st Professor of Chinese Studies 10 joint research projects 100 Chinese staff 1,300 Chinese students currently at UCL 4,000 alumni in China
Local Alumni There are regular alumni events in China organised by local alumni volunteers. If you would like to receive invitations to these events, please ensure your contact details are up to date with Alumni Relations. You can do this online by visiting the alumni website: www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni or by emailing email@example.com. The following alumni have volunteered their time to run local alumni groups: Hong Kong – Andrew Ng (UCL Laws 1985) Beijing – Hiu Ng (UCL SLAIS 2001) Shanghai – Cha Li (UCL Slade 1989) Guangzhou – Alex Chen (UCL Economics 2007) To contact alumni volunteers, please visit the website: www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni/groups
GET IN TOUCH www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni firstname.lastname@example.org
Routes to success Confronted with a straitened employment market, many UCL graduates want to brave being their own boss. How can an academic institution support its budding entrepreneurs?
However, creating an entrepreneur requires more than individual brilliance. Over the last few years, UCL has put a programme in place to help students make the most of the knowledge gained at university in the commercial sphere. Professor Steve Caddick, UCL’s Vice Provost for Enterprise, explains the university’s approach to integrate entrepreneurship into other aspects of a student’s life: “We give students the chance to participate in entrepreneurship activities alongside their academic studies. We are committed to doing everything we can to support our students in their aspirations and in making a major contribution to long term economic prosperity in the UK.”
Today’s students graduate into an exceptionally competitive jobs market. A good degree combined with a handful of extracurricular interests – qualifications that sufficed to secure a career in the past – give no guarantee of success in 2011. While academic excellence remains high on employers’ wish lists, evidence that a graduate can thrive in a business environment, and turn academic knowledge into social or commercial benefit, has become paramount. As a university with a mission to turn research into real-life results, UCL places entrepreneurship at the heart of its agenda. Important innovations – from new cancer drugs to better submarine design – are brought to the market year on year thanks to UCL researchers’ work with industry. Ideas to make the world a better place – be they improving healthcare in Camden, or tackling high neonatal death rates in the poorest parts of the world – are sparked by the creativity and commitment of staff and students alike.
At the heart of these activities, explains Professor Caddick, is UCL Advances. The university’s centre for entrepreneurship and business interaction, last year Advances trained more than 2,000 people and worked with around 150 small businesses. At any one time, UCL Advances works with 50 student-led business ideas and has just hired its first business adviser. Advances Executive Director Tim Barnes can point to some genuine business successes to come from the centre, including an iPod speaker system – the rCube – named product of the year by What Hi-Fi? magazine; Kit4troops, an online service which enables people to donate requested items to British soldiers; and travel website Tripbod, whose founder, UCL graduate Sally Broom (UCL Human Sciences 2006), now mentors other aspiring entrepreneurs. In this arena of ideas, how does Barnes walk the line between the good and the bad and relay the news of the ‘not-so-good’ or the ‘been-done-before’ to the creative mind on the cusp of their greatest venture?
Image: Detail of Each Long Second by Brighid Lowe (UCL Slade School of Electronic Media in Fine Art)
“I see my role as a nurturer of ideas – and enthusiasm. Students might be excited about a pitch, only for you to tell them it’s been done; they come up with another and maybe you have to tell them it’s a bad idea; but the third is something new, with just a bit of imagination and creativity. “It’s about learning and growth: rather than slamming the door in someone’s face, we try to make something positive. This isn’t about trying to find profitable companies so that UCL can extract a financial return – we’re trying to encourage people to find the rewards in trying to start a business.” And it’s an invitation that extends beyond today’s campus. UCL has two main programmes which offer opportunities for alumni to become involved: SMILE (Selected Mentors and Interims for London-based Enterprises) helps find mentors and interim executives from within UCL, while HELO (Higher Education London Outreach) provides student and academic teams to tackle specific business problems. Barnes is keen to get more alumni to share their experiences, including recent graduates to whom students might relate more easily than more experienced business people. Nadhim Zahawi (UCL Chemical Engineering, 1985) is one person to support enterprising UCL students. Founder of YouGov and now Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon, he’s one of those already doing it for themselves. “When I’ve spoken at UCL’s enterprise events, it’s been fantastic to see some of the young people there who had launched embryonic businesses because of available grants. UCL is clearly very serious and engaged in the process of developing ideas that might stem from the student body.
“We started YouGov first and foremost because we believed it was important to improve a clunky, difficult process. You have to be passionate, and being focused in that passion can make the difference between success and failure. There are thousands of ideas around and you have to be relentless, waking up each morning with the will to make it happen. “That’s where the nurturing environment that UCL can provide comes into play. On top of that, the value chain connecting students and the wider business world via the range of UCL’s support schemes is the same ingredient that makes US universities such as Stanford so successful in the sphere of entrepreneurship. It’s not just about keeping in touch but getting absolutely involved with the businesses that alumni spawn. “UCL alumni represent an extraordinarily rich pool of talent that graduate start-ups straight out of university can tap into – and because our alumni are spread far and wide, it’s a fantastic catalyst to reach out internationally.” If an economic downturn forces more individuals to go it alone, then some would say there’s never been a better time for graduates to ‘think big’. UCL Advances has yet to find the bottom of the appetite for business entrepreneurship. Events regularly sell out, as do internship programmes and, at the time of writing, collaborations with Georgetown University in Washington and Beijing’s Peking University are in full flow and enquiries from other organisations are coming in “from Cambridge to Kazakhstan”. But Barnes would still like to get more UCL alumni and UCL graduates involved and aware of the array of enterprise options on offer at UCL. “Often, people are doing something entrepreneurial without even knowing it.” Robin PARKER
Below: Nadhim Zahawi
“There are thousands of ideas around and you have to be relentless, waking up each morning with the will to make it happen.”
Steven McGregor: “UCL Advances creates the environment where ideas can flow.” Steven McGregor dreamt up the idea for website kit4troops.org.uk during his four-year stint in the US army. But while completing his MA in Anthropology at UCL, a chance email helped him turn it into reality. How did you get started?
I received an email from the UCL Union about UCL Advances’ 10-week course in entrepreneurship and went along out of curiosity. On the first evening, there were more than 200 students there. How did things develop from there?
Get involved Become a mentor Through the SMILE mentorship scheme www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/ business/support/smile
Create a network The HELO scheme connects students and businesses www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/ students/support/helo
Share your bright idea London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge www.londonentrepreneurschallenge.com
Get on-the-ground experience Student internship scheme www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/support/ workexperience
Set up from scratch Small business training www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/ training/short-courses
I had a couple of ideas that didn’t come to anything, but around halfway through, we were encouraged to do a 30-second pitch to the room to see if anyone else there could bring something to our idea. I pitched kit4troops and asked for help with marketing and computing experiences and Inaam Tahir, who had some private sector business experience, came forward. We went on to cofound the company. What ongoing support did you get?
After pitching our idea to a panel that included UCL professors and venture capitalists, we won a £3,500 grant, which paid for the website. The UCL press office helped draw up publicity material and we had a mentor on call to talk about things like corporate sponsorship. We also benefited from the HELO scheme, which conducted a usability test of the site. UCL undergrads and postgrads are also helping stage a fundraising event this summer. We’ve got a mailing address at The Hatchery – an office base for UCL start-ups – and we meet up with other alumni to discuss general ideas about improving our businesses. What’s the best lesson the course taught you?
A lot of wannabe entrepreneurs think they should keep their ideas secret – but in reality, you should tell as many people as possible. People aren’t going to steal your idea; it’s too much effort. People can bring skills, they can tell you what they think and help improve it. What would you have done if you hadn’t taken the course?
If I hadn’t gone on the course, I wouldn’t have had anything more than a passing idea. UCL Advances creates the environment where these ideas can flow. 24|25
UCL News ONLINE NEWS FROM UCL
Thereâ€™s a new-look website for UCL alumni: www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni The Alumni Relations team have made content easier to find and improved navigation round the site, while showcasing the wide range of activities and benefits on offer to former students.
If you have any comments or feedback, please email us: email@example.com
Alumni Web Community We have simplified the log-in for our bespoke alumni social network. Log in to search for classmates, sign up for career mentoring and view or update your profile.
Benefits Card Sign up for your free alumni benefits card for continued access to UCL venues and a range of exclusive discounts.
Find out about forthcoming alumni events at UCL and around the world.
Around a third of the alumni community live outside the UK. There are a wide variety of international alumni groups run by volunteers in locations around the world.
NEWS & PUBLICATIONS
Nobel prize winners, Olympic medallists, artists of world renown and captains of industry. Read more about other well-known figures who shared the UCL experience.
Catch up with all the latest news specifically for and about UCL alumni, as well as downloadable back issues of UCL People magazine.
Artists in residence Slade Students at Work In Healâ€™s
To celebrate Healâ€™s bicentenary, students from the UCL Slade School of Fine Art showcased their work in the windows of the flagship London store. View the project at: www.youtube.com/ucltv
Campus Q&A Professor Faith Wigzell UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies
What should UCL’s motto be? Dynamism, diversity and excellence.
What is your greatest extravagance? My pedigree Norwegian Forest cat.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sitting in a good seat at a top-class opera, drinking champagne in the interval, all without having to worry about the cost.
Emerita Professor Faith Wigzell has spent most of her adult life at the UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies.
What do very few people know about you? That in 1964 an American defector to the USSR (a scientist working on the data gathered by the U2 flights) asked me to marry him to get him out of the Soviet Union. Far more people would know that I declined the offer.
What is the biggest threat facing humanity? So many, but the worst is environmental damage to the planet.
What is your favourite building and why? The magical Church of the Transfiguration on the small island of Kizhi in Russian Karelia. Made entirely of wood, it’s surrounded by grass and the waters of Lake Onega and expresses the fantastic extreme which Byzantine Christian architectural heritage reached in Russia.
How would you like to be remembered? As someone who cared.
What has been your most embarrassing moment at UCL?
Dr Georgette Donchin at SSEES, now sadly deceased, who made me feel I was capable of an academic career.
Probably when I had returned to teaching at SSEES after eight weeks’ maternity leave. I had had so little sleep that I started teaching a class about a fourteenth-century text to a group who were expecting to be hearing about Lermontov’s Hero of our Time. They gently pointed out my mistake.
Which living person do you most admire?
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
What is your greatest fear? As Pushkin said “May God grant that I do not lose my mind”.
Who at UCL (past or present) has most influenced you?
Aung San Suu Kyi for her dignity, courage and forbearance.
For what cause would you die? I feel strongly about oppression and injustice. I like to think that if I saw that someone was about to commit a terrible act of violence I would attempt to stop it, even at the cost of my life. But maybe I’m only being a romantic and my knees would turn to jelly!
That the most important thing is to try to behave in a way you can live with, without (too many) regrets.
Faith is also President of SSEES Alumni; to find out more about SSEES alumni activities visit: www.ssees.ucl.ac.uk/alumni 28|29
UCL News recent news from UCL
UCL student James Xu (UCL Italian & Management Studies) has been named International Student of the Year 2011 in a competition organised by the British Council.
International Student of the Year 2011
James, from China, was one of more than 1,200 students from 118 countries to enter the ninth annual awards, which spotlight international students’ contributions to life in the UK. Each student was asked to write a personal ‘letter home’ detailing their volunteering and involvement in community projects and illustrating how they are making the most of their time in the UK.
Image: Julius Csotonyi
UCL researchers have been instrumental in the discovery of three new dinosaur species over the past year.
Three dinosaur discoveries
Michael Pittman, a PhD student at UCL Earth Sciences, was part of the team that unearthed a new species of parrot-sized dinosaur with just one wing. The fossilised remains of the species, Linhenykus monodactylus, were found in Inner Mongolia, China by a team led by Professor Xing Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The rocks of the Upper Cretaceous Wulansuhai Formation, which date back to between 75 and 84 million years ago, yielded a rich trove of vertebrate fossils, including the Linheraptor exquisitus. That discovery, spotted sticking out of a cliff-face during a field project, was the first near-complete skeleton of its kind to be found in the Gobi desert since 1972.
Judges praised James’s “brilliantly composed letter”, which described his passion for his involvement in the UCL Volunteering Society, including promoting the role of British Red Cross during the 2012 London Olympics. UCLU volunteering manager John Braime said: “This award is richly deserved – his energy and enthusiasm have been an inspiration to other students.”
Find out more www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/ 1103/11032101
Meanwhile, Mike Taylor of the same department helped to discover the species Brontomerus mcintoshi, dubbed ‘thunder-thighs’ thanks to its powerful thigh muscles. The team of UK and US scientists examined the fossilised bones of a mother and a juvenile of the species after researchers from the Sam Noble Museum rescued them from a previously looted and damaged quarry in eastern Utah. The dinosaur was part of the sauropod family, which included Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus. It lived around 110 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous Period.
Find out more www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/ 1102/23021101
Eminent female UCL figures have featured in Suffrage Science: a collection of interviews and stories about women’s significant scientific contributions over the past century.
The volume, published on 8 March – the centenary of the first International Women’s Day – includes interviews with Vivienne Parry (UCL Zoology, 1978), Vice-Chair of UCL Council, on sex and success in science; Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) about love and social cognition; and Professor Mary Collins (UCL Infection & Immunity), Dean of UCL Life Sciences, on women pioneers in cancer and HIV biology.
Acclaimed socio-political thinker and linguist Noam Chomsky delivered this year’s Rickman Godlee lecture in March. To a sell-out audience, he took as his theme ‘Contours of Global Order: Domination, Stability, Security in a Changing World’.
Contours of Global Order
His wide-ranging address examined the ‘Grand Area’ that the US devised in 1939 for its expected post-war dominance, drawing parallels between the continent’s desire for “unquestionable power” with the motives of its leaders today. He argued that America sympathised with Stalinist principles, that the US’s public support for democracy concealed the fact that it would not want
It also features prominently Professor Uta Frith (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience), pictured left, whose seminal work on autism provided inspiration for Professor Blakemore’s scientific ambitions, and Professor Kathleen Lonsdale, UCL Chemistry (1947–1971), chemist and crystallographer.
Find out more www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/ 1103/11031001
certain countries to gain independence if this would threaten America’s international dominance, seen most recently in the pressure put on Turkey to be loyal to the West’s intervention in Iraq. Despite all the worries and power struggles Chomsky discussed, he also reminded us that we have been through it all before and are still here; it is time again to fight, but we will emerge the stronger for it.
Find out more A wide variety of UCL events are now covered on the UCL Events blog: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/events 30|31
The whole world’s in our heads I could tell you Beau Lotto’s just a showman. I’d be lying. I could tell you he’s a neuroscientist. That would be partly true. But really all I have is my perception of our meeting; and from what I’ve now gleaned, that too could be a myth.
There is something inherently theatrical about the setting in which I meet Dr Beau Lotto (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology – Visual Neuroscience). Surrounded by black curtains with only bottom-lit cabinets for light, it’s an eerie encounter but not entirely unexpected; Beau’s work rotates around an axis of seeing and being seen. We’re at London’s Science Museum where Lotto’s setting up his ‘living lab’, an exhibition-cum-experimental research space that will provide the backdrop for his work on visual perception, as well as house the objects he uses to reveal it. In the last decade Lotto has become somewhat of a master in revealing how and why we see the way we do. This is a man whose mission to prove us all wrong has taken him from the lab to the gallery, to the street, and back again. Optical illusions, sculptures, sound installations and bees have been drafted into his work, which has featured in documentaries, art–science exhibitions and even formed part of the pavement beneath our feet; an outdoor walkway of colour-lit, pressure-sensitive tiles continue to react to foot traffic in East London’s Old Street as the city charges through. Look up Lottolab, his research HQ, and it’s clear that he’s a figure with boundless energy who enjoys the stage, and whose lectures leave audiences spellbound. But when I mention the scope of this enterprise he comes straight back with a grin: “That’s just your perception at work.”
“What we want to do is to create works or objects that truly engage with people, and to do that you have to enable them to come together in a space to consider that object or experiment.”
The bee matrix is a virtual meadow of transilluminated Plexiglas flowers mounted vertically along one wall of a one-metre Plexiglas cube. Live bumblebees inhabit an enclosed flight arena so the viewer can see their flight patterns as they learn to respond to different colour stimuli. The bees’ learning is then recorded in three dimensions and etched into glass blocks which show their progress as they learn to face the same perceptual challenges that we have evolved to solve. It’s a bit like an etch-a-sketch drawn by a bee and captured in a cube and it fascinates adults and children alike. Its aim? “Making people part of the process of discovery.” It’s a line that could easily be applied to Lotto’s whole ethos. “What we want to do is to create works or objects that truly engage with people, and to do that you have to enable them to come together in a space to consider that object or experiment. If they look at the bee cube as an object, first and foremost they can appreciate its aesthetics, then they can go deeper and think about the
Opposite: Solar-powered beacon in Old Street, London Below: Detail from one of the Plexiglas flowers in the bee matrix
fact that the different cubes represent the different paths that are a result of watching this bee learn to see, then they can go deeper still and get to the question of how the bee makes sense of the world. This then puts them in a position where they can have compassion, if not empathy. That’s our aim, to create any one piece that interacts at these multiple levels.” There’s something quite Brechtian about the Lotto approach. There’s the same sense of playing with the medium – in this case the science – as a means to disrupt and awaken another sense of ourselves. “I’m interested in perception because it underpins everything we do, all our decisions – everything we think, everything we believe, everything we feel. If we can understand perception we can understand not only how our brains work, but who we are as people, as a society, as ourselves.” Lotto’s research centres on the argument that we can’t understand what we see outside the context in which our brains have evolved to see it; far from offering a sensory reflection of the world, our brains simply construct our reality moment by moment, making the present a fiction that’s been written by the past. Lotto sees sensory perception as a survival mechanism that’s been built up through evolution, so what we see and ‘know’ to be true is nothing but conditioning from previous experience. “The beauty of working with bumblebees is that we can use them to understand the relationship between what we see and the biology by which we see it. With the bumblebee we can actually completely control their history of experience, so we can raise a bumblebee through its whole life and completely control its history, and then we can quantify all the images that it experiences and what it did when presented with those images.
“We can then see how those statistics of experience shaped themselves in the bee’s subsequent behaviour. “None of our perceptions are things that exist in the world in any real sense. The reason I study colour is that it shows that in its most explicit form. The reason why we see colour the way we do is because it was useful to see it that way, but what’s useful is not necessarily synonymous with what’s there. “Another reason for studying colour is it’s the simplest perception that the brain generates – even jellyfish see the lightness of something, and they don’t even have a brain. So what we can understand at the realm of colour, to a certain extent must be true all the way up with what the brain does. The hope is that we can use colour to understand the general principles by which the brain makes sense of itself in the world.” But this isn’t just about proving an orange is never or never has been orange. Lotto believes that it’s only by understanding why we see the world in the way that we do that we can truly have choice and shape how we see the world in the future. “If we don’t understand that what we’re doing now is shaped by what we did in the past, then all we’re ever going to do is respond. The only way I can do something creative or innovative is to step outside that and see why I’m doing what I’m doing. That’s what the living lab is; we’re trying to put people into a context of being an experiencer of themselves having an experience.”
The universality of perception has undeniably enabled Lotto to involve a wide variety of people in his quest. “It means you can talk to people in their own language, whether that be the language of fashion or art or education, because it’s all these different perspectives on the same question – how do we make sense of ourselves in the world? Also perception doesn’t understand boundaries; if we want to understand how the physical relates to the psychological then we have to understand how one emerges from the other.” Beau’s work with bees and children is something for which he’s now well known. His latest research paper marked a world first. Co-authored by schoolchildren and published in a peer-reviewed Royal Society journal, it was undertaken by 8-10 year-old pupils at Blackawton School in Devon, who investigated the way that bumblebees see colours and patterns. “It’s just beautiful working with children. It’s probably true that kids are more perceptive but it’s also a cliché to say it. What’s interesting with young kids is that when you show them an illusion, they’re perfectly happy to entertain it; it’s the adults that say ‘Oh wow, that’s amazing’ because they’ve been told that that’s not possible. And of course kids can have insights because they’re able to see the world without as many filters.
“What really drives me is uncertainty; everyone hates it, but it’s only in that space that we can actually create anything new.”
“We want to work with older kids as well, especially those seen to be challenging. We also want to work with seniors – here in the Science Museum everything’s geared towards the kids, but what about the 70- or 80-year-old? In a way they’re better to work with than kids because the best person on the planet is the 70- or 80-year-old who has had all that history but is still open to redefine themselves and new experiences.” For Lotto the publication of his recent groundbreaking research paper represented a turning point: what’s possible if uncertainty is celebrated. “Real scientific work is full of uncertainty – that’s why it’s so exciting – but I find that lacking in education, where subjects are too often presented as a series of dull factual certainties.” When I ask if he has moments of uncertainty himself, he laughs and says: “Only when I’m awake.” There is something of the outsider about Lotto, a characteristic that is perhaps a prerequisite in a role such as his. “I hate doing things the way they’re supposed to be done. We have to run the lab so that we’re always questioning what we’re doing and why. What I am and what people call what I do is irrelevant for me. A scientist, an artist, I don’t think of myself as any of these things. I’ve always wanted to be an inventor, my Grandpa did that. But what really drives me is uncertainty; everyone hates it, but it’s only in that space that we can actually create anything new. “What we need in the world is more compassion. Although this is ostensibly a science lab, the aim is to discover more about ourselves and each other, and the hope is that we can use science to do it.” RACHEL Lister
A slice of Lotto life 2006: Displays light and sound installations as part of AfterImage, an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery 2007: Features in BBC’s Coast programme discussing the nature of light 2007: Develops Bing Bong, the first iPhone game played purely in sound 2008: Publishes first science paper to reveal that ‘robots’ see the same illusions we see 2008: Launches a striking solar-powered beacon lighting up London’s Old Street 2009: Dazzles leading thinkers with optical illusions at TED conference 2010: Publishes first peer-reviewed science paper to be co-authored by schoolchildren 2010: Publishes second edition of Why We See What We Do with Professor Dale Purves
Find out more Lotto’s living lab runs from March to December at the Science Museum in London. Visit www.sciencemuseum.org.uk to find out more.
2011: Features in BBC 2’s Horizon documentary Is Seeing Believing? 2011: Opens ‘living lab’, an exhibition/experimental research space at the Science Museum 36|37
The college we knewâ€Ś
A visitor to UCL’s heartlands in Bloomsbury today might find it hard to imagine that at one time the university was composed of a series of outposts, serving as sanctuaries for researchers and students cast out by bomb attacks on London. Here, a group of alumni recall their memories of the college they knew, of lives far from London, and of studying within the context of a country at war.
In the Second World War, UCL was evacuated to five Welsh universities, which included Aberystwyth and Bangor, as well as several other sites in towns and cities across the country.
My time in ‘Aber’: Alexandra Hall, aircrew and afternoon tea “Seaside towns in wartime were far removed from what they are today,” remembers Joan Newey née Silverwood (UCL Classics 1945). “Our main excitement was the daily walk or cycle trip along the promenade to the university from the hostel Alexandra Hall where most women were quartered. A frequent distraction was the presence of a number of RAF cadets marked out by the white flashes on their caps for aircrew training in Canada. Whenever we passed them the NCO in charge would order “Eyes right!” or “Eyes left!” “Women were given just two years to complete their bachelor’s degree, with no relaxation of standards, and then had to do National Service. Men, however, had only one year before being called up. It was only the chemists, engineers and physicists who were allowed to complete their degrees so that their expertise could be used for the war effort. “For the women the only weekly entertainment was the cinema and such late passes as we could get expired at 9pm – just time to take in the first house. Our other entertainment was a small and staid dance hall on the promenade to which similar pass restrictions applied.
Left: Bomb damage to the Cloisters Above right: Postcard of Aberystwyth University and Promenade
“In those days it was considered appropriate for students to remain in college accommodation throughout their course. Professors and tutors on the other hand mostly lived in accommodation outside Aber and students had to cycle or walk to lectures or tutorials. 38|39
“A special attraction of these visits, even in wartime, was old-fashioned afternoon tea, perhaps even Welsh cakes – the real article, not the ones you can buy at Marks and Spencer today, good though these are. “We moved back to London – all 1,000 of us – when it was deemed safe in 1944; however we were greeted by the arrival of V-1s (buzz bombs), one of which landed on a church near Goodge Street station. Despite this, it was a welcome contrast to Wales as we had plenty of time and the opportunity to use later passes from the women’s hostel in Malet Street. These were put to good use for visits to see Laurence Olivier and Edith Evans in the West End.
Elizabeth Whyte, featured overleaf, and chickens
“The crowning recollection of my return to London was of being close to Buckingham Palace on VE day and seeing the Royal Family and Winston Churchill on the balcony. Little did I know that I would be celebrating VJ day in a few months’ time.”
Londoners using an underground station as a bomb shelter during an air raid in 1940
Our time in ‘Aber’: Stooking, Bath Street and the sea
© Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans
Bea Green née Siegel (UCL German & French 1946) and Celia Scott née Sharpe (UCL German, French, English 1945) became close friends when they studied in Aberystwyth together. Bea was one of the children of the Kindertransport and by the time she arrived in Aberystwyth, she knew her parents were safe but her family life had “become irrevocably undone”. Sharing living quarters with the tutor for science Henry Terrey and his family in a double-fronted house in Bath Street, both Bea and Celia found an intimate home from home and a friendship that would last a lifetime. “What beat me hollow with astonishment was the sea! Having come from central Europe I had never seen the sea and here I was facing it – it was fabulous! The next feeling was of having to adapt to something totally different from everything I had known before, both the situation and the people. “The work was really quite hard – learning Latin from scratch – that’s what sticks in my mind. Every summer there were local farm camps (also hard work) run by the NUS and we used to pick up bundles of hay and put them together to make a circular swathe called a stook.”
The College we Knew
Celia joined UCL at Aberystwyth in the autumn of 1942. She was just 17 years old and had come from a chequered educational background at six different schools because of the war. “It wasn’t only the influx of UCL students that made Aber quite a crammed university town. There was also a remand school from the Midlands run by nuns who paraded their charges along the promenade. Then there was the Initial Training Wing of the RAF. The recruits did their marching exercises on the front every day – it is sad to think that many of them would go on to lose their lives. “We fitted into life there extremely happily and were warmly welcomed, making friends at once. The University College of Wales, known as ‘The College by the Sea’, had its building at the south end of the front. We spent many hours walking along the promenade
and chatting and the tradition was to ‘kick the bar’, a metal bar at knee height over a piece of concrete. We all joined in the life in Aber with gusto. We supported their rugby team, went to their college dances which were called ‘hops’, and I fell in love at intervals. “When we returned to London it was a huge change and I missed the collegiate life of Wales. I languished in an attic in Golders Green for a while and I remember the bombs shook the glass in my window so much that after one term I fled back to the Terreys who were now in Blackheath Park. I saw people at night on racks in the Hampstead Underground and I remember diving for cover when a Doodle bug came overhead as I was playing tennis on a court at the College.”
“We all joined in the life in Aber with gusto. We supported their rugby team, went to their college dances and I fell in love at intervals.”
we shared between us. There was no electricity in the house and we had a basin in our room with hot and cold water that very few people had, so there used to be a little queue for hair washing.
Cwmcynfelin: The cucumber bus, candlelight and the country life Jill Tyler née Woolf (UCL History, English & Economics 1946) and Elizabeth Whyte née West (UCL French 1947) lived outside Aberystwyth in a small hamlet called Cwmcynfelin. Here they remember their time together in a rural pocket of North Wales: Elizabeth: “We met on our first day and we’ve been friends ever since. We were very much on our own at the hostel in ‘Cwm’. It was three miles out of Aberystwyth and of course if you went to the student hops any interest rapidly dropped off at the prospect of a three-mile walk home!” Jill: “This black-and-white picture taken with my five-shilling Box Brownie shows 23 of the girls in front of the hostel. Mrs Miles, the woman who ran the hostel, was quite a formidable character but looking back she looked after us all like an older sister. A pale green bus that we affectionately named ‘the cucumber’ used to take us back and forth to the old college in the town which is still there today, and is where we used to have our lectures. “We all mixed in, especially for the sports matches. One of the things I remember, it’s an experience you never forget, was walking home from the rugby matches and the entire audience walking back and singing in part, in descant – it was extraordinary.” Elizabeth: “On the whole they were very enjoyable times, it was a tremendous thing for us all to do as most of us had never been away from home and it was a big change for me coming from the North East.” Jill: “We grew up there and made friends for life. I shared a room with June Winter (née Bradford); there was a table where we used to work and one candle that
“When we returned to London, the Provost asked for volunteers to offer rooms to rent because accommodation was so scarce at that time. I remember the college itself was very dirty, I came back on the underground and my bare legs were black. But we did work hard to get the college back to shape. I remember scrubbing the floors of the old refectory in my science overalls. The Provost at that time liked to see us all sitting on the steps – he thought it was a nice sight.” Elizabeth: “I remember there was a tennis court where we played and when the V-2s came over we used to have to rush down into the cellars. We were so accustomed to the scares, I was getting fed up with doing this and played on and I don’t know who it was, it must have been one of the beadles who came over in their top hat and really laid into us. He was right of course – a V-2 fell soon afterwards. We came back in 1944 to the flying bombs and the rockets, it wasn’t like the aircraft used in the Blitz, the V-2s were silent, you never knew when they were going to fall.” Jill: “You can see a lot of us in the picture on the right on the eve of VE day when it was the custom to parade Phineas. If you look closely, you can actually see Sheila Smith, the girl who lived with us in my second year, and me within the crowd. You can see from the pictures that we’re all in skirts or dresses. Trousers didn’t really start to be worn for another two or three years.” Elizabeth: “I remember going home in mine, and my father’s eyebrows lifted a mile!”
The College we Knew
Jill Tyler and Sheila Smith
Leaving for Leatherhead: Medicine, mugs for firewatching and the first mixed Union Jean Horton’s (UCL Medicine 1948) journey was also as much of an adventure as an education. Moving to Leatherhead to study medicine she reveals what life was like as she experienced early examples of UCL’s liberal roots at first hand: “UCL was one of the first truly co-educational medical school environments in England where men and women students and staff found themselves living and working together under the same roof. I don’t think we realised at the time that we were living through a historic moment, being part of the first mixed student union. “One of our duties was to go on fire watch. We would go down at ten o’clock and there was a trolley that was brought in and we would have cocoa and Ovaltine. I remember you had to have your own mug and the staff would come down as well. Then whoever was on duty would go fire watching. In ’44 the V bombs started. The first ones, the V-1s – you would hear them and then the engine would cut out and you didn’t know where they were going to drop, so you just had to lie on the floor and wait. I remember I was behind with my studies and I tried to ask that the college postpone the exams, but no way were they going to do that. “UCL has been very important to me, I was and still am very proud of its egalitarian approach – it was always the Godless place in Gower Street. It’s really more than an education, it’s a life. That’s why I’ve remembered UCL in my will.” Imbued with philanthropy, liberalism and an everinquisitive core, these histories are testament to the UCL spirit and the people who embody it. Through challenging times, it is, and always has been, the perserverance and dedication of UCL’s staff, students and alumni that have made this university the worldclass institution we know today.
Being part of UCL is something in which to take great pride. By considering a gift to UCL in your will, you can preserve the richness of UCL life for generations to come. Every gift will make a difference. Please contact Ruth Coutinho, Deputy Head of Legacy Giving, to find out more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +44 (0)20 3108 3822.
Cover stories RECENT BOOKS FROM THE UCL COMMUNITY
Your Alumni Relations team welcomes your books. Here is a small selection of those received recently…
Taking control of an uncertain world Dr Magda Osman, Honorary Research Fellow of Psychology in Cognitive, Perceptual & Brain Sciences, UCL
If automation is increasing, how much control are we giving up to make our lives easier? How can we differentiate between when we have control over what happens and when we don’t? In her latest book, Controlling Uncertainty: Decision making and learning in complex worlds, Dr Magda Osman discusses current research about how we can control the uncertain world around us.
She explores the numerous factors that affect our ability to control this uncertainty, such as the increased automation due to phones, computers and automated driving systems, as well as situations in which the effects of our actions are not 100 per cent likely, such as profit from real estate investments and the dynamism of the environment itself.
“We are awash with ideas currently promoted in popular science in which we are told that we should go with our gut feelings and intuition,” she writes. “While this is a popular idea, there is no evidence for this in research on control. In fact, our intuition can set us back rather than help us to better control the world around us.”
Strength and Conditioning: Biological principles and practical applications Dr Marco Cardinale (UCL Surgery & Interventional Science) Dr Cardinale and colleagues have compiled the most relevant and up-to-date research on scientific and practical applications in conditioning and strength. Sports scientists, coaches and students alike will discover how the science of keeping elite athletics at their peak can also benefit the population as a whole.
Bringing Up Baby: A unique American dream of independence Dr Peter Swaab (UCL English) Dr Swaab explains his enduring love of Howard Hawks’ classic 1938 comedy Bringing Up Baby. As both the epitome of the screwball genre and an exception to its rules, Swaab highlights how its relentless speed, ever-present chaos, wild romance and apparent lack of morals and idealism in their own way express an American dream of independence.
Selecting International Judges: Principle, process and politics Co-authored by Professor Philippe Sands (UCL Laws) Professor Sands uncovers the obscure ‘cattle market-like’ processes at play in selecting some of the world’s most influential judges. Part of the problem, he discovers, is the lack of minimum standards that bind all 200 states and 30+ international courts. Add in anecdotes of intense lobbying and vote trading and a picture emerges of highly politicised processes.
Do Llamas Fall in Love? Peter Cave (UCL Philosophy) The question of whether llamas fall in love is just one of 33 perplexing philosophy dilemmas in Peter Cave’s latest book. With the help of some tall stories, jokes, common sense and bizarre insights, Cave tackles some of life’s most important questions and day-to-day conundrums, laying bare as he does so his belief that philosophy should provoke as much as it should soothe.
The Honest Look
Jennifer L Rohn (UCL Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology)
Bill Larkworthy (UCL Medicine)
In Rohn’s latest novel, biochemist Dr Claire Cyrus moves from Liverpool to Amsterdam to start her first research job. Working with ‘the Zapper’, a compound designed to combat Alzheimer’s, she makes a startling discovery that could bring down the biotech start-up that employs her, setting the stage for an exploration of the quest for truth, the pursuit of profit and her own career struggle.
The extraordinary memoirs of Bill Larkworthy’s 40-year medical career. His ancedotes are filled with larger-than-life tales of treating the king of Saudi Arabia and characters, from the retired RAF air vice-marshal who carried the Queen’s head in his stomach to the American doctor who disappeared in Moscow with the help of the Russian Mafia. He reflects on a rich life from his retirement among the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhone.
School of thought Smart thinking. It’s the seam that runs through the mine of creativity that is the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment – and fosters fresh solutions to cultural, social and economic problems, and more...
This spring, as Frédéric Migayrou, Deputy Director at Paris’s Centre Pompidou takes up the helm as the new Bartlett Professor of Architecture, we focus on some of the people and the projects that convey the Bartlett’s signature style across the world.
Imagination at work
Creating music videos of the highest order, the three architecture alumni that make up digital animation company Lynn Fox have built an impressive portfolio, going from the Bartlett to working with Björk in the last ten years. The collective of directors – Bastian Glassner, Chris McKenzie and Patrick Chen – formed in 2001 and went on to produce music videos, commercials and live concert visuals. Their delicate and intricate animations have since attracted clients including Stella McCartney, Audi and Mercedes. The trio met while studying as part of the Bartlett’s experimental film and animation design unit led by Nic Clear. They then went on to work for Clear’s production company General Lighting and Power before graduating.
Within two years of setting up their business, they were winning prestigious awards, including two coveted D&AD Yellow Pencils, and sending their work on tour with Björk. Glassner says: “The Bartlett gave us the skills to take an image, or object, chew it up and spit it out into something completely unintelligible.” Their work shows how innovative ideas and the ability to design unique architectural environments has relevance right across the spectrum of today’s contemporary creative industries. Find out more at: www.lynnfox.co.uk
Below: Still from music video for FC Kahuna’s Hayling
“The Bartlett gave us the skills to take an image, or object, chew it up and spit it out into something completely unintelligible.”
Connecting through cable-cars in Colombia This ESRC-funded research project examines the links between mobility, poverty reduction, social inclusion and urban integration in some of the poorest neighbourhoods of Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city. Julio D Dávila of the UCL Development Planning Unit (DPU) explains: “Over the past decade Medellín’s city government has sought to upgrade and integrate large areas that have for years been marked by severe poverty and violence into the fabric of the city. A central component is two new cable-car lines (Metrocablesâ) linked to the city’s surface metro system, thereby increasing accessibility for local people while physically and symbolically integrating previously no-go areas to the rest of the city. “The speed, low cost of construction, and low levels of particulate emissions of aerial cable-cars are part of their appeal in dense and hilly urban areas, to the extent that
the system is being implemented by other local governments in Colombia and elsewhere. The research also looks at how aerial cable-car technology can be transferred to cities with similar conditions in Latin America and other parts of the world, including China.” This project is being developed by the DPU; UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering; Universidad Nacional (Medellín); and Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá). Find out more at: www.ucl.ac.uk/dpu/dpu/metrocables
School of Thought
The stuff of stories The team at the Bartlett’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) is part of ‘Tales of Things’, a project which encourages users to ‘tag’ objects with digital media using the sort of technology found in Oyster cards and bar codes. Centre Director Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith is leading the project and explains how it works:
Extending the concept to the built environment, CASA has linked up with UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities and UCL Museums & Collections. The newly reopened Grant Museum of Zoology, which contains some of the rarest extinct animal specimens in the world, now contains 10 iPads linked to Tales of Things in the form of a new project known as ‘QRator’.
“Users first upload an image of the object and an associated memory in the form of text, audio or video to the project’s website – talesofthings.com – or via a dedicated iPhone app.
“Each artefact has a unique QRCode and Twitter hashtag allowing digital conversations both inside and outside the museum. Using handheld mobile devices and new interactive digital labels, QRator enables the public to collaborate and interpret objects with museum curators and academic researchers.”
“The user receives a unique barcode to attach to the object, which can then be read by taking a photograph from a mobile phone or webcam, thereby linking the object back to its entry on the website. The tags enable future generations to have a greater understanding of the object’s past and offer a new way of preserving social history. In many ways the technology and the idea can be seen as a mix between Facebook, The Antiques Roadshow and eBay.”
Find out more at: http://talesofthings.com and www.qrator.org QRcode: Download the iPhone or Android app from talesofthings.com to scan this code and leave a tale of UCL People magazine
Fieldwork of the future Could the future see us working from a field? This is the kind of question at the centre of a project funded by the Finnish National Technology Agency (TEKES), involving Aalto University in Helsinki. The research aims to explore how the social, mental and physical places that we inhabit affect our behaviour. Dr Satu Teerikangas, lecturer in Construction & Project Management, explains: “Through a virtual workshop ‘Unconference’, we are looking at how physically distant co-workers ‘engage’ through virtual worlds – why is it that at times it’s easier to engage virtually than face-to-face? Is there even a need for a physical office space anymore? What kinds of approaches to virtual work would be needed, and are the current tools sufficient? “We are also setting up international student workshops organised by ESTIEM (European Students in Industrial Engineering and Management) across Europe to understand how changing places and spaces effect engagement.
“And together with our Japanese designer we are working on the ‘Leadership Lab’, a futuristic training centre for management being piloted at Aalto University, where we try to break away from training within static interior spaces.”
Putting people back into the energy equation Houses and heating technologies are more efficient than ever, so why isn’t home energy use declining in the UK? Dr David Shipworth, Director of Enterprise and Reader in Energy & the Built Environment at the UCL Energy Institute, says, in part, the answer is the historical focus on houses rather than homes. “Homes are the wrapper we place around ourselves to make nice places to live. Houses are industrial products constructed to specified standards. We believe that focusing on the efficiency of houses alone isn’t enough. If we do not take into account the human dimensions of energy, which is an intrinsic part of energy use in homes, we are not getting a complete picture. “There are many factors involved in how people use energy in buildings including demographics, physiological differences, occupant behaviour and
economics. Our aim is to understand and simplify this complicated picture and ultimately help create low-carbon homes that people like. “Our current research includes helping to develop new intuitive heating controls to make it easy for people to save energy. We are also developing next-generation housing stock models with EDF, linking buildings and occupant diversity, to help decarbonise the housing stock. Our governmental consultancy work is also shaping initiatives like Smart Meters, behavioural change campaigns and the Green Deal, and our doctoral researchers are exploiting leading-edge sensing technologies to gather behavioral data straight from the insides of peoples’ homes.” Find out more at: www.ucl.ac.uk/energy
School of Thought
Rethinking land management Mark Tewdwr-Jones, Professor of Spatial Planning and Governance at UCL, was one of the lead experts and co-authors of the ‘Land Use Futures Report’ published by the Government Office for Science in 2010. Here, he explains its impact to date. “The report looks at how landscapes and land use could change over the next 50 years. It concludes that the present system of managing land use is in dire need of revision as pressures on land intensify in parts of the country, such as the South East of England. “We can’t go on blindly expecting the land to deliver more homes, better transport, food, drinking water, energy, at a time when we’re projecting a population increase of nine million by 2031 and 15 million by 2050, we have an uncertain economy, and climate change is likely to lead to an increase in flooding. That combination of current and future problems means we need a new set of priorities.
“The present system of managing land use is in dire need of revision as pressures on land intensify.”
“The issues around land use are enormously complex; it relates to everything we do and affects every one of us. And so, since the report’s launch, I have been actively disseminating its key messages to academics and to the policy and practice communities, including advising Government departments on new policies in the context of the localism agenda. Other audiences have ranged from Wales Biodiversity Partnership and the Royal Society, to the Royal Town Planning Institute and 18 universities worldwide.” Find out more at: www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1002/10022601 50|51
Preserving the plastic The rapid evolution of chemical sciences in the first half of the 20th century enabled new and experimental forms of creative expression. But these new materials were never intended to last, and their rapid degradation is today one of the most pressing preservation issues faced by curators of contemporary art and design. Consequently the European Community is funding the collaborative POPART research project to identify plastic heritage materials, characterise degradation processes and develop conservation treatments. Matija Strlič, lead researcher and senior lecturer at the Centre for Sustainable Heritage, explains: “We are developing innovative chemical imaging techniques which visualise degradation before the point of rapid decay is reached. A comprehensive study of 25 types of historic plastics in 11 environments across Europe and Egypt is also underway. This allows us to determine how damage depends on levels of pollutants, heat and humidity, thereby leading to improved storage.
You’ve made the Bartlett even better
In the last few years, thanks to alumni gifts, the Bartlett has created several publications – including the annual catalogue of student work, Bartlett Works and Bartlett Designs: Speculating With Architecture – celebrating the enormous variety of work done by staff, students and alumni alike. And thanks to all those who contributed to the UCL Annual Fund, the faculty ground floor space has been transformed into a flexible teaching and exhibition facility. Furthermore, it is alumni support that has turned the annual Summer Show into the largest exhibition of architectural student work on show anywhere in the world, with 15,000 visitors every year.
© Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne Métropole / Yves Bresson
“With partners from European museums, research institutions and small- and medium-sized businesses, this groundbreaking research is establishing best practice for analysing, exhibiting, cleaning and protecting these important but vulnerable artefacts for future generations.” Find out more at: http://popart.mnhn.fr
Come back to the Bartlett
There are many ways that you can get back in touch with the Bartlett – whether through the annual ‘Rogues and Vagabonds’ alumni dinner, the annual grand Summer Show, or its huge range of public lectures and professional development events. Find out more at: www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk
Bartlett Summer Show 2010: plan_section Matthew Shaw and William Trossell
In 2010, 48 hours of colour 3D scanning captured 64 scans of the entire Bartlett School of Architecture Summer Show. This image shows a plan and section taken through the 3D pointcloud. For more information and a fly-through animation visit: www.scanlabprojects.co.uk
Departmental events Stay in touch with your subject
On 15 February UCL Laws celebrated the life and legacy of Professor Denys Holland with the opening of a new lecture theatre in his name. The event brought together over 150 distinguished alumni and friends for a glittering evening reception and candlelit dinner.
Man for all seasons
The lecture theatre, which has undergone a refurbishment thanks to a donation from Laws alumnus Vincent Cheung (LLB 1965), was opened by HRH The Princess Royal and is a fitting memorial to Denys Holland’s lasting impact on the Faculty and its students. Here freelance writer and author Sally Thomas reveals what made Holland such a special character. “UCL has seen many fine academics throughout its 185-year history. However, it is the exceptional professor, whose gifts of humanity and character, more than any learned thoughts, affect so many and make such a profound impact. Denys Holland was one such professor.
“Denys could have been successful at any number of professions with his intellect and people skills, but it was teaching he chose – or perhaps, which chose him. After Cambridge, he qualified at the Bar but soon applied for a lecturing post at UCL, joining the staff in 1948. His career progressed from Assistant Lecturer to Lecturer then – ten years later – to Reader in English Law. By 1966, he had become Professor of English Law at UCL.
Find out more Find out more about Denys Holland and the event at: www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/alumni
“But the titles would not have meant a great deal to his students. What remains in their memories is Holland’s gift for looking beyond
the formal, beyond the obvious. During his time as Admissions Tutor he took a chance on many prospective undergraduates. During some turbulent times in the 1950s and 60s, he also accepted the role of mediator and became UCL’s first Dean of Students. “Many of those in whom Denys saw potential are now successful and prominent members of the community. Would they have been able to achieve this without that first but all-important door opening to them? And what does it teach us in these days when funding cuts are rife and competition for places is fiercer than ever? “For so many former students and colleagues who knew Denys, his legacy lives on, in the faculty’s new Denys Holland Lecture Theatre and in the Denys Holland Scholarship Fund which continues to support and encourage UCL students in his name.” Below: An exhibition of the Denys Holland portrait competition
A centenary of statistical science
On 18 January, the department of Statistical Science celebrated the first 100 years of the discipline at UCL.
The department, which was the first in the world for statistics, was founded at UCL in 1911 with Karl Pearson as its head. Many of the world’s leading statisticians have been educated at UCL, whether as students or staff members. Professor Valerie Isham, Head of Department and President of the Royal Statistical Society, introduced the day and relayed her congratulations, before Professor Stephen Stigler of Chicago (above right) gave the inaugural Pearson Lecture entitled ‘Karl Pearson and the Rule of Three’. The ‘three’ referred to were not the remarkable UCL statistical oligarchy of Francis Galton, Pearson and RA Fisher, but the statement by Charles Darwin (Galton’s cousin) that he had “no faith in anything but actual measurement and the Rule
of Three”. An afternoon symposium was followed by an evening attended by some 100 alumni and guests. A brief history of the department by Stephen Stigler was followed by presentations on current research areas by academic staff. The evening concluded with a dinner at which UCL’s President & Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant, gave a toast to the past and future of the department.
Find out more For more information about alumni events in your department, please contact Alumni Relations: www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni email@example.com 54|55
Provost’s Circle a celebration of philanthropy
Philanthropy goes full circle UCL was founded by far-sighted, ambitious philanthropists. Today’s alumni are proud to uphold the tradition, as illustrated by the 2011 Provost’s Circle event.
With over 150 members, the Provost’s Circle has doubled in size since it launched in 2009, clear evidence that more people than ever are keen to support UCL amid increasingly challenging times for higher education. The Provost’s Circle is a group of individuals who have each committed to a gift of £1,000 or more in the last 12 months. Members span all ages and academic disciplines but are all connected by a single aim: to use philanthropy to shape the research and learning landscape at UCL. Members’ gifts support areas across the university’s community, from funding medical research, to helping students in financial need. Once a year, Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL’s President & Provost, brings this group
of generous supporters together to showcase the impact that their contribution has across the campus and beyond. At this year’s annual Provost’s Circle reception UCL People spoke to the Provost and his guests to find out why philanthropy is so important now: Professor Grant said: “Tonight’s event gives me the opportunity to personally thank all our members. It’s really their contributions that make the difference. I know the reason people want to invest in UCL is because of what we do and the quality of the way in which we do it, and because of the support that we need to give our students – particularly through the difficult years ahead.”
Recent UCL Laws graduate Hauwa Shehu, spoke to guests about her UCL experience:
“Studying at UCL in the early 1980s was, certainly financially, a much more carefree existence than it is today.”
“I graduated from the Laws faculty last September and studying here has been such an incredible experience. I really want to be able to give something back to the community that’s given me so much. In fact, I actually hope to be the youngest member of the Provost’s Circle in just a few years’ time.”
Provost’s Circle member Bertrand Lipworth (Economics, 1982) said: “Studying at UCL in the early 1980s was, certainly financially, a much more carefree existence than it is today. Hauwa’s speech made me realise to a deeper extent the debt of gratitude that my generation of students owe. Joining the Provost’s Circle was a way to start to repay this debt, by increasing the level of my ongoing support for UCL and indeed encouraging other alumni to do so too.”
The time is now To find out more about the Provost’s Circle and hear the speeches from this year’s reception visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/ makeyourmark/circle
Alumni reunions what became of classmates
Kay first attempted a reunion in 2007. A small informal gathering near her home in Yorkshire, it started the ball rolling towards bigger, more ambitious events.
Kay Jackson knows a thing or two about reunions. Together with fellow alumnus Melvin Reynolds, she’s been busy reuniting the graduate Geography class of 1960, organising three events within the last five years.
What Became of Them? contains the stories of the “37 or so bright-eyed, clean-cut shy and earnest hopefuls intent upon nothing but a singleminded pursuit of learning” and is now a special treasure for all who studied Geography at UCL more than 50 years ago. The collection, which reveals “how half a century treated one particular group, and how one particular group treated half a century”, is an inspiration for all UCL alumni considering getting back in touch.
“The first reunion was really stimulated by one of our members coming over from Canada. He was a professor of geomorphology in Canada, and we met up there. That was very successful and then Melvin came up with the idea for a weekend. He was the main driving force.” Kay and Melvin’s second reunion was more ambitious. A three-day event in London, it was organised with the support of UCL’s Alumni Relations team and included a department tour, a dinner, and even a field trip to Docklands with Peter Wood, now Emeritus Professor in UCL Geography. “We’d done a field trip to the Docklands when we were at college but at that time it was totally derelict, and of course there has been all this new development since. We were able to see all the sights of the Olympics and all the changes that had happened.” These transformations made the group look back to their time at UCL and living in London in the late fifties. Kay fondly remembered spending time seeing shows in the West End. “About 10 of us went to see The Mousetrap as part of our reunion which had been running when we were at college about 50 years earlier! It was great living in London at that time – there was always so much to do. I’ve still got some letters which I sent to my mother where I’m telling her what I
got up to but they don’t seem to mention me doing any work whatsoever!” But it wasn’t until Kay and Melvin had embarked on the event that they realised just how much of a challenge they’d set themselves. “The problem was getting in touch with everybody – that was an incredible task. I think if we were to do it again we’d do better networking. We had great difficulty getting in contact with some people. Melvin and I spent ages on the internet and the telephone trying to find clues as to where people might be. “In the end we managed to get in touch with the classmate we’d been searching for in Nigeria. We found out through searching online that she had attended a party at a children’s home, and we actually emailed, got in touch and eventually found somebody who knew her.” But all Kay and Melvin’s efforts paid off. Their reunion in 2007 brought together old classmates from Canada, Nigeria, Kuwait and Australia, as well as from all over the UK. It was so successful that a follow-up was planned for 2010. Sadly, Melvin passed away just before the 2010 reunion that had brought him and Kay together as organisers for the third time. He will be remembered fondly by Geography ’60 both for bringing his classmates together, and for a commemorative booklet he produced sharing the class’s life stories, and publications, as well as ‘then and now’ photos of all the students.
Save the date: Forthcoming reunions If youâ€™re interested in attending any of the listed reunions or would like to find out more about organising your own, please contact Alumni Relations at: +44 (0)20 3108 3833; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni
Terrace restaurant Offering a fine dining experience exclusive to UCL alumni and staff, the restaurant provides elegant cuisine using fresh, ethically sourced ingredients prepared and cooked by chef James Buckley. The restaurant is the perfect setting for celebratory events such as a class reunion or an evening of indulgence. Alumni receive a 10 per cent discount on dinner and lunch menus.
1986 Ifor Evans Hall
10 June 2011
30 July 2011
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 2153
2 July 2011
28 June 2011
5 September 2011
1986 Middlesex & UCL Medics
27â€“29 June 2011
8 October 2011
2007 LLM Spring 2012
Benefits and services
The benefits and services listed on these pages are exclusively available to UCL Alumni Benefits cardholders.
Royal Commonwealth Society
Girls Travel Club
Cardholder access code: quote ‘UCL alumni’ Discount: significant reductions on joining fee and annual membership www.thercs.org
Cardholder access code: quote ‘UCL alumni’ Discount: 10 per cent email@example.com +44 (0)1403 887 894
Avis worldwide discount code: O788305 (starts with the letter ‘O’, not the number) Discount: up to 10 per cent +44 (0)844 581 0187 www.avis.co.uk/premierpartners
Cottages 4 You
Hadrian Travel – See India Differently
Cardholder access code: quote ‘UCL alumni’ by phone or click through from UCL alumni website Discount: 10 per cent +44 (0)870 191 7857 www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni/benefits
Cardholder access code: quote ‘UCL alumni’ Discount: $100 off holidays www.seeindiadifferently.com
Gosimply.com Cardholder access code: click through from UCL alumni website and quote UCLALUM Discount: range of discounts www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni/benefits
Find out more… The benefits and services listed on these pages are exclusively available to UCL Alumni Benefits cardholders. You can find the latest alumni benefits listed at: www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni/benefits
Any questions? Please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3108 3833
London Hotel Discount Cardholder access code: quote ‘UCL alumni’ Discount: on a number of hotel chains in London email@example.com
Asia House Cardholder access code: quote ‘UCL alumni’ Discount: reduced membership firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7307 5454 www.asiahouse.org
UCL Bloomsbury Theatre
Cardholder access code: UCL Alumni Benefits card required for access Discount: free reference access. Payment of an annual membership fee of £50 entitles you to borrow up to five books at a time email@example.com +44 (0)20 7679 7700 www.ucl.ac.uk/library
Cardholder access code: UCL alumni (present your Alumni Benefits card at box office) Discount: varies depending on the show firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7388 8822 www.thebloomsbury.com
Cardholder access code: quote ‘UCL alumni’ (and take your Alumni Benefits card) email@example.com +44 (0)20 7679 2541 www.uclu.org
UCL Careers Service / GradClub Cardholder access code: quote UCL alumni Discount: reduced membership of £25 firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7866 3600 www.gradclub.co.uk, www.ucl.ac.uk/careers
UCL Union Bloomsbury Fitness Cardholder access code: ‘quote UCL alumni’ (and take your Alumni Benefits card) Discount: continued access and reduced membership fee email@example.com +44 (0)20 7679 7221 www.ucl.ac.uk/benefits
UCL Halls of Residence Cardholder access code: quote ‘UCL alumni’ (and take your Alumni Benefits card) Discount: reduced rates available during summer vacation +44 (0)20 7278 3895 www.ucl.ac.uk/residences
UCL Language Centre Discount: discount on all courses. For details check the website: www.ucl.ac.uk/language-centre
Performance highs UCL’s Bloomsbury Theatre is a professionally equipped theatre located on the main campus with a capacity of over 530. For 12 weeks each year it is reserved for two hugely popular student seasons, with involvement from across the institution. The remainder of the year it hosts professional performances – often innovative and unusual productions – including stand-up comedy, drama, dance and music. Recent highlights have included such comedy luminaries as Ricky Gervais, Stewart Lee, Harry Hill, Jimmy Carr, Tim Vine, Stephen Merchant, Sarah Millican and Lee Mack to name but a few. The Bloomsbury is also a very popular
music venue, and has previously starred Paul Simon, Rumer, Adele and Fyfe Dangerfield. For those of you with children, the theatre greatly encourages their participation, with recent productions of Horrible Histories, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Jungle Book, Danny the Champion of the World and for the very young, The Fimbles and Elmer the Elephant, playing to capacity houses. The forthcoming spring/summer season promises to be one of the busiest yet and the theatre team looks forward to offering you a very warm Bloomsbury welcome. For event listings visit www.thebloomsbury.com 60|61
Public events Forthcoming events
Life and Death Treasure Hunt with UCL Museums 13 May, 6–8.30pm Chadwick Lecture Theatre www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/whats-on firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3108 2052 Join the chase and follow clues to lead you around UCL’s incredible museums and collections, hunting out intriguing objects and specimens in store. There are prizes to be won by the team that solves all the mysteries.
UCL hosts public events throughout the year, including concerts and film screenings, exhibitions, family workshops and of course, lectures – the vast majority of which are free. Here’s a small selection of what’s on.
Alumni Professional Networking: Not-for-profit Thursday 9 June 6.30–9.30pm Engineering Front Building Tickets: £12 www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni/professionaldevelopment/network
Thinking about changing your career or need a helping hand to get started? Join us to hear an experienced alumni panel discuss not-for-profit careers, including charities, non-government organisations and the arts. Guests will have the opportunity to network and ask questions.
UCL Open Day
Sign up for the monthly events e-newsletter www.ucl.ac.uk/events Event details correct at time of going to press. Check for up-to-date details at the above address or the contact details provided in the event listing.
30 June, 10am–4pm www.ucl.ac.uk/openday email@example.com +44 (0)20 7679 3016 The UCL Open Day provides visitors with an opportunity to see the campus and attend both subject talks and general presentations. This event is primarily for Year 12 students about to make UCAS decisions. The online booking system will be open from April. Pre-booking essential.
LECTURES AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM
During June 2011 UCL’s free Lunch Hour Lectures will be going on tour to the British Museum. Entrance is free, with booking advised. All lectures will also be available to watch online. 1.15–1.55pm The British Museum www.ucl.ac.uk/lhlontour To book tel: +44 (0)20 7323 8181 email: firstname.lastname@example.org A climate of fear: what the past tells us about human responses to climate change Thursday 9 June Dr Joe Flatman (UCL Institute of Archaeology) 30 years and still counting: slowing the spread of HIV in a complex world Thursday 16 June Professor Anne Johnson (UCL Institute for Global Health) Desirability and domination: Greek sculpture and the modern male body Thursday 23 June Professor Maria Wyke (UCL Greek & Latin) Science meets art: investigating pigments in art and archaeology Thursday 30 June Professor Robin Clark (UCL Chemistry)
Typecast: Flinders Petrie and Francis Galton
UCL Slade School of Fine Art Degree Shows
Until 22 December, UCL Petrie Museum www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/petrie email@example.com +44 (0)20 7679 4138
BA Degree Show 28 May – 2 June
In 1886 Francis Galton commissioned Flinders Petrie to take photographs of different ‘racial types’ that were present in or enemies of Ancient Egyptian civilisation. This was part of Galton’s research into racial difference and the start of a lifelong friendship between Galton and Petrie. This exhibition displays photographs and explores their contentious legacies, examining and inviting comment on Galton and Petrie as well as on the impact of racial theory on archaeology.
Climate Stories 10 May 2011 – March 2012, weekdays 9am–5pm UCL Institute of Archaeology Leventis Gallery www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/archaeology firstname.lastname@example.org Polar bears. Apocalypse. Carbon footprint. You might think of these things when you think about climate change, but how did the Vikings or Henry VIII experience it? Climate Stories explores the fascinating historic diversity of human reactions to the changing climate.
MA/MFA Degree Show 16 June – 22 June Weekdays 10am–8pm Weekends 10am–5pm email@example.com +44 (0)20 7679 2313 Join the thousands of degree show visitors at the annual exhibition, showcasing the next generation of top artistic talent.
UCL Bartlett School of Architecture Summer Show 2 July – 9 July, 10am–5pm (check online for further details) www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/architecture The annual celebration of work at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture. Over 450 students provide a glimpse into the future with their innovative drawings, models, devices, texts, animations and installations.
Calling all London alumni London Open House is an annual event, when buildings of architectural significance open their doors to the public. The UCL Events team is seeking alumni volunteers to act as campus guides for this year’s event, on 17 and 18 September 2011. If you can spare a few hours of your time and knowledge, please contact Zoë Witte, Head of UCL Events: firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 (0)20 3108 3838
Parting shot Revisited
In the Spring 2010 edition of UCL People we published a photo of student protests from the mid-1980s against Margaret Thatcher’s proposed introduction of student loans. A number of readers were inspired to respond.
“Back in 1985, SSEES union was probably the only still apolitical college in London. Glasnost and Gorbachev hadn’t yet taken hold – and ungrounded fears that anything even slightly political at college level would result in mass expulsions of all our students from Russia meant that nothing more revolutionary than the price of vodka in the bar ever made it onto the agenda at union meetings. “So when a small band of us decided to do the unthinkable and formed a SSEES labour club, for a while things got decidedly nasty. “Our first big outing as a group was to the NUS national demonstration – and I do remember being appalled at the fact that if we didn’t get ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie – Out Out Out’, housing benefit for students was gong to be cancelled by the end of the summer.” Claire Melvin (SSEES History 1985–88) “I took part in a march to Trafalgar Square to oppose apartheid in autumn 1958, shortly before I began my studies at UCL. The Times carried a huge photo of me on their back page – my parents were horrified and I remember telling them I would do it again anytime.” Kay Eley (UCL Economics 1961)
“The first thing that came to mind when I saw the protest image in UCL People was the chant (sung to the tune of ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’) – ‘Education is a right, is a right, is a right. Education is a right, not a privilege’ – which we sang many times over while parading round Hyde Park and down past the House of Commons and Downing Street. At the time I was a first-year student at Buckinghamshire College of Higher Education, and the idea of going to university – let alone UCL – was way off in the future. “People were worried and angry. Angry talk was rife, with the irony that the very people in power who were proposing this idea were the ones who had themselves benefited from a free university education. What’s more, raising the number of people graduating from 10 per cent of the population to a third made us fear that our degrees would be devalued. “As it turned out, I started at UCL in 1994, the first year that loans were being phased in. Being 22, I had already supported myself for some time and was well used to fitting in waitressing jobs around lectures and study. Ironically, the day I sat my last finals was 1 May 1997 – the day Labour swept to power.” Hannah Dunsterville (Institute of Archaeology 1997)
Parting shot Tug-of-war
These photos, sent in by Professor Michael Wilson (UCL Electronic Engineering 1955; PhD 1958), are from 1956 and depict a tug-of-war between Engineering staff and students. The student team won and was awarded the Postlethwaite Cup. Were you on the student team? Send your recollections and photos to Alumni Relations for the next parting shot. email@example.com
UCL People 2011