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Professor Mark Thomas receives Top Teacher Award 2016 – 17

We are delighted to announce Professor Mark Thomas has won a Top Teacher award for Year 2 (Genetics, Development & Cancer).
Throughout the academic year UCL medical students are able to nominate teachers who have been particularly helpful or inspiring to them during their studies for a Top Teacher award. At the end of the academic year, the QAU counts the number of nominations for each teacher and the ones with the most nominations receive an award.

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Fossil skull sheds light on ape ancestry

A remarkably complete fossil skull discovered in Kenya reveals what the common ancestor of all living apes and humans may have looked like, according to a new study involving UCL research.
The find, announced today in Nature, belongs to an infant that lived about 13 million years ago. It’s a significant discovery that will help researchers uncover whether the common ancestor of living apes and humans originated in Africa and what these early ancestors looked like.
The study involved a large international team including Professor Fred Spoor at UCL and was led by Professor Isaiah Nengo of the Turkana Basin Institute, Stony Brook University and De Anza College, USA.
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Congratulations

Congratulations to this year's promotions and re-banded Professors for their huge contributions to the Department and UCL.

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Low iron levels may increase risk of heart disease

People with low iron levels may be at greater risk of heart disease, according to a new study involving UCL scientists.
Researchers analysing genetic data have uncovered a potential protective effect of iron in coronary artery disease, suggesting that having a higher iron status reduces a person’s risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), a type of cardiovascular disease (CVD) where clogged arteries reduce the amount of blood reaching the heart.
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The Life Sciences Faculty Medal 2016-17 goes to…

We are very pleased to announce Yu Xuan Tan, a 3rd year BSc in Neuroscience finalist, has won the Life Sciences Faculty Medal 2016-17. Please join us in congratulating Yu Xuan, who has been an extraordinary, fantastic student year after year, on his great accomplishment.
Life Sciences Faculty Medals are awarded to students who have taken the final examination for an undergraduate degree at UCL in the year for which the awards are made, and who are reported by the Faculty to be the most distinguished of such students.

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Smart detectors to monitor urban bat life

The activity of urban bats in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London is being monitored in real-time using new, automated smart detectors that have been developed and installed by UCL and Intel scientists in collaboration with Arup, the Bat Conservation Trust and the London Wildlife Trust.
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The story is also featured on BBC News website and BBC Radio.

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UCL Grand Challenges grant success

Congratulations to Kimberley Whitehead, Research Associate in NPP, for her award of a £4000 UCL Grand Challenges grant. The grant is to pursue, in collaboration with Professor Matthew Beaumont, UCL Professor in English Literature and co-Director of UCL’s Urban Lab, the intersection between the neurobiology and sociology of sleep and sleeplessness.

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BBSRC Responsive Mode award success

Please join us in congratulating Max Reuter (GEE) as well as his co-PIs Jürg Bähler (GEE), Doug Speed (UGI) and Dan Jeffares (York) who have been awarded a 3-year BBSRC Responsive Mode award. The project will use yeast to look at the interaction between the genetics underlying environmental responses and the capacity to adapt to abrupt changes in growth conditions (‘evolutionary rescue’). The findings will help us to better understand the capacity of populations to deal with climate change, but also serve as a model to design optimal treatment strategies for antibiotics or pesticides.

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Linda Partridge on How to Live Longer (BBC4)

UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing director Professor Dame Linda Partridge was recently invited to appear on the BBC4 programme ’The Big Think – How to Live Longer’.

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With great sadness, we announce the death of our esteemed colleague Professor Mitch Glickstein, on March 14th 2017

Professor Glickstein was born in Roxbury, south of Boston, in 1931. He attended different schools in the Boston area and showed the same indifference to nearly all of them, but managed to enter Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and, subsequently, transfer to the University of Chicago. He loved living in Chicago and studying in that great institution known for its academic rigour, diverse student body and lively political culture at a time when McCarthyism was in full swing. Following graduation in 1951, he set off on a great adventure around the world, using commercial ships at sea and various forms of transport on land, to visit England, France, Italy, Greece, Israel, Ceylon, Singapore, Korea and Japan for various lengths of time, before returning to the United States. He returned to the University of Chicago a few years later to begin his postgraduate studies in psychology.
This was a crucial period in his life when he decided that he did not want to be a clinical psychologist, but began to show a keen interest in the study of the brain. Undoubtedly, he was influenced by many of his already renown teachers and associates such as Austin Riesen, Roger Sperry, Ronnie Myers and Garth Thomas amongst others. He followed Roger Sperry to Cal Tech as a Research Fellow upon receiving his PhD in 1958. He found Cal Tech a lively place and Sperry’s lab a fertile ground for neuroscience. It was full of excellent people doing brilliant science either on nerve regeneration or on the function of the corpus callosum; the latter of which became the focus of Mitch’s work during his 2-year stay in the lab. He subsequently moved to Stanford to work with Karl Pribram in 1960-1961.

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Dr Conrad King (1936-2017), former Senior Lecturer, UCL

It is sad to report that Conrad King who was a Senior Lecturer in Zoology in the Department of Biology died in his sleep (23rd March), in Venice where he was living with his partner Wendy Rees. Conrad had an extremely wide circle of friends & colleagues in UCL and in the international scientific community. Anyone wishing to share their memories, please contact Hugh White (hawhite@blueyonder.co.uk).

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Congratulations Dr Anna Czarkwiani on her PhD Viva Success

Anna successfully defended her thesis entitled 'Towards a gene regulatory network for the regeneration of the adult skeleton in the brittle star Amphiura filiformis’  Many congratulations Dr Czarkwiani!

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DNA analyses of wild pollinators provide a simple solution to reverse their declining populations

Bumblebees are among the most popular and widely recognised insect pollinators. Remarkably, we lack an understanding of some of the basic and fundamental aspects of bumblebee ecology and so our ability to manage the landscape to help reverse declines in the populations is limited.

A team led by scientists at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, working with researchers from the University of East Anglia, ZSL (Zoological Society of London), University of Bristol and the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, UCL, combined genetic analyses with land scape ecology and modelling to  to reveal some of the previously hidden details of the ecology and genetic structure of queen and worker bumblebees, and their relationships with habitat variables, such as the availability of flowers. The genetics component of the work was led by Dr Seirian Sumner, in CBER, GEE.

By creating statistical models of the probability of year-on-year survival they demonstrated that survival of a bumblebee lineage from one year to the next was significantly related to the coverage of both spring and summer flower resources in the surroundings of the colony. These findings, published in Nature, suggest that agricultural landscapes must provide year-round resources if they are to be truly beneficial for their resident bumblebee populations.

These findings are applicable to anyone wishing to manage farmland, or indeed their own back gardens, in a bumblebee-friendly way. In particular, they offer effective management advice for conservation and show that conservation interventions that increase floral resources at a landscape scale and throughout the season have positive effects on wild pollinators in agricultural landscapes.

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Image © L. Hulmes

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European Research Council (ERC) week: UCL celebrates its funding successes

UCL celebrates its funding success during the ERC's 10th Anniversary Week and highlights several years of ULC achievements in attracting ERC funding including a case study of Professor Judith Mank, ERC recipient of both an ERC Starting grant and an ERC Consolidator grant.  See UCL News for full story. 

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