UCL at the BA Festival of Science

17 August 2006

UCL is well represented at this year’s BA Festival of Science, held in Norwich from 2–9 September.

Members of the university will be appearing at nine separate events throughout the week, speaking on subjects ranging from ‘Beautiful brains’ and ‘Secrets of our universe’ to ‘Engineering today helps you work, rest and play’ and ‘Is there an anti-cancer diet?’

UCL’s involvement in full:
‘Visual music and synaesthesia in art and brains’ is a presentation given by Dr Jamie Ward, UCL Psychology, on Monday 4 September. Part of the ‘Beautiful brains’ session, Dr Ward’s talk looks at his work on synaesthesia, a condition where people experience automatic sensations when they perceive something with a different sense. For example, synaesthetes ‘see’ specific colours when they read certain words, taste particular foods or hear music.

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‘What do you want to know?’ is the question answered by both Dr Lucie Green, UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory, and Dr Chris Lintott, UCL Physics & Astronomy, who will share their motivations for going into research at a session called ‘Secrets of our universe’ on Wednesday 6 September.

For more about Lucie Green, click here, and for more about Chris Lintott, click here.

Also on Wednesday 6 September is a presentation by Professor Chris Frith, UCL Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, entitled ‘Faces in the brain’, which looks at how the invention of brain scanners in the 1980s has led to the unexpected discovery of a region of the brain that specialises in the recognition of faces – and its role in social interaction.

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Professor Jeffrey Tobias, UCL Surgery, delivers ‘How modern radiotherapy cures more patients with fewer side-effects’ on Thursday 7 September. Professor Tobias was among the authors of a paper on breast cancer that was one of the most-cited papers of 2005, according to Thomson Scientific.

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A session called ‘Mission Impossible? Reinventing the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’, will feature two independent representatives of UCL. On display will be the racing car developed by a team from UCL Mechanical Engineering for the Formula Student competition in July. Speaking at the event will be Professor Angela Sasse, UCL Computer Science, whose presentation, ‘Can we make biometrics work in practice?’ will look at the practical aspects of identity management for the proposed ID cards for UK citizens.

For more about Formula Student, click here, and for more about Angela Sasse, click here

Dr Sarah Blakemore, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, will speak on Thursday 7 September about ‘The social brain: the mirror system, autism and adolescence’. Her work, with Professor Uta Frith, on the brain’s development through infancy and adolescence, is the subject of a book, ‘The Learning Brain’. This presentation, exploring the nature of autism, forms part of a session entitled ‘The Emotions’.

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Professor Jane Wardle, UCL Epidemiology & Public Health, looks at ‘Obesity and cancer: are we fit for the future?’ in the session ‘Is there an anti-cancer diet?’ organised by Cancer Research UK on Thursday 7 September.

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'How can engineers improve the quality of life for disabled people?’ is the question addressed by Professor Nick Tyler, UCL Civil Engineering, on Friday 8 September. Professor Tyler’s work at the Pedestrian Accessibility and Movement Environment Laboratory (PAMELA) enables new designs for underfoot surfaces to be tested for safety. His talk ends a session called ‘Engineering today helps you work, rest and play’, which seeks to illustrate the role of engineers in shaping our lives.

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Finally, also on Friday 8 September, Dr Amanda Sacker, UCL Epidemiology & Public Health, is asking ‘Have the hard-drinking and smoking, couch potato adolescents of yesterday become the unhealthy adults of today?’ as part of a session entitled ‘Beating the odds’. The session addresses the issue of ‘resilience’, which, in a social science context, refers to the process of overcoming disadvantages and life crises. Questions that will be discussed include: Why is health less badly affected in some economically depressed areas than others? What factors can protect young people’s development in families with a low income? Which young people do well academically in spite of coming from a deprived inner-city background? How can social workers best promote resilience in clients facing extreme hardship?

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