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A day of delight at the It’s All Academic Festival

11 October 2019

On Saturday 5 October, UCL opened its doors to the alumni and public to give them a glimpse into the world-changing research taking place within its walls.

IAA Festival 2019

From interactive workshops, cutting-edge research demos, gameshow spinoffs and talks covering everything from Brexit to Climate Change – the It's All Academic Festival did not disappoint.  

Festival in numbers

  • 126 individual events
  • 95 departments showcased from across UCL
  • 3,500+ people attended
  • 5689 individual tickets booked  to a range of our talks and tours 
  • 30 questions posed in Fingers on Buzzers
  • 6700 RLU on the dirtiest phone (that’s very dirty!) and 70 on the cleanest
  • 5,000 sustainably sourced pop-badges collected
  • 50,000 fish on display as part of the visit to the fish facility

Fingers on Buzzers!

It was UCL versus UCL in our University Challenge spinoff flagship event. 

UCL alumni and University Challenge veterans took on a team of our top academics in the Bloomsbury Theatre. Captains Professor Sophie Scott and Katie Bramall-Stainer were given starters for 10 by quizmaster Professor Peter Rees. While UCL alumnus and Director of Operations at UCL Culture Frank Penter was the judge of right and wrong answers in his capacity as ‘the brain’. 

It was tough competition but UCL academics were no match for the seasoned quizzers and the alumni team were crowned champions 270 points to 135. 

If you missed out on attending this event, watch the recording here

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Hands on with UCL research

Whether it was learning about sustainability in our built environment through play, or understanding how our memory works using virtual reality and a maze – visitors had the chance to get up close and personal with the cutting-edge research taking place at UCL.

Alumni also had the chance to head back to campus and see just how much it's changed. "Today I was back at my beloved alma mater...Saw massive changes on campus such as the brand new student centre [and] big transforming plans elsewhere. But hugely reassured that the Main Library history corridor hasn't changed over the decades!" said alumnus Peter Daly on Twitter. 

The university also revealed some of its secrets and hidden history in a number behind-the-scenes tours of never-before-seen areas of UCL including the Fish Facility and Optical Networks Group (ONG) laboratory. Tour-goers received a glimpse into how fish might hold the key to curing cancer and discovered how we communicate through light. 

UCL’s most disruptive discoveries were showcased in the #MadeAtUCL marquee, including a life-sized replica of the Rosalind Franklin Rover which is due to head to Mars in 2020. 

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Going green

The sold-out Green UCL: Sustainability Tour highlighted some of the innovative work that UCL is doing to ensure a greener future for all, including installing rooftop gardens, implementing a single-use coffee cup tariff and ensuring the university is energy efficient from its rooftop gardens right down to the boiler room.   
The festival itself also championed sustainability by:

  • going carbon neutral for the first year ever
  • providing vegetarian-only food 
  • encouraging use of public transport
  • providing free water stations and a reusable cup scheme
  • gifting 100% biodegradable water bottles to alumni
  • using a web-based app to reduce the printing of programmes 

It’s All Academic Festival 2020

After the success of this year's festival, UCL's It's All Academic Festival will be back in Autumn 2020. Stay tuned for more information soon.