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Grant Museum hosts big cat dissection
10th Feb 2017
Members of the public, students and zoologists joined researchers from University College London (UCL) and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) for a one-off event giving a unique insight into the evolution of cat anatomy and movement.Wild Cats Uncovered was a partnership event between UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology and the RVC at the RVC’s Camden campus. During the event leading experts in feline anatomy performed a post mortem on a cheetah before a live audience.[[{"fid":"1367","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_float_left_right[und]":"none"},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"867","width":"3467","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]Known as ‘Team Cat’ and headed by Professors Anjali Goswami from University College London’s Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment and John Hutchinson from the Royal Veterinary College, researchers have brought together their expertise in evolution and biomechanics to better understand the evolution of form and movement within the cat family.For most animal groups, as they get bigger their posture changes: their legs tend to straighten and become stiffer to support their weight. But not cats. Despite ranging in size from 1kg to over 300kg, living members of the cat family are strikingly similar in their posture and how they stand or move. For scientists from Team Cat, the idea of the ‘crouching tiger’ is an evolutionary mystery they set out to investigate over the course of the project.The post-mortem on the cheetah, which had died of natural causes, revealed insights about the individual animal, and the cat family. In terms of the individual cheetah’s pathology, abnormalities in the gallbladder, spleen, liver and lungs and overall weight were consistent with the cheetah having died of a disease such as cancer.Regarding the post mortem, Professor Hutchinson said: “We shared a unique opportunity to celebrate the amazing form, function and evolution of cats in general, and the spectacular beauty of the cheetah specimen’s anatomy as well as its life and some clues about the sad story of its demise. We were flooded with challenging, insightful questions from the very enthusiastic audience and it was a joy to hear how much people attending appreciated the event. It was a very important event for us, considering our commitment to engaging the public with scientific research.”In terms of the cat family, Team Cat has used a variety of techniques over the last three years to understand their anatomy; from tempting tigers to cross 3D scales that measures the force produced as they walk, to dissections of wild cats that died of natural causes in zoos and parks, to even CT scanning and measuring the remains of fossil cats to capture their shape in 3D. Using these techniques, the scientists involved have been piecing together the developmental, ecological and biomechanical influences that have shaped the evolution of the cat musculoskeletal system.Professor Goswami said: “In evolutionary biology, we spend a lot of time trying to identify grand unifying processes or patterns that are repeated across different groups or different periods in Earth history, but the exceptions to these rules can sometimes tell us even more about how the current diversity of life evolved and why organisms look and behave the way they do. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to a cat lover that cats are one of the weird groups that break the rules, and we are looking at this from numerous angles, from development to biomechanics, and using a wide range of analytical techniques to understand how they get away with it.” Professor Hutchinson commented: “We brought together a dream team of researchers with expertise across the fields of anatomy, development, mechanics, evolution and palaeontology to tackle big questions about big and small cats. It has been an exciting three-year study that is putting together some big puzzle pieces about the evolution of cats and their form, function and behaviour. This event showed and celebrates our latest findings". The “Walking the Cat Back” project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
Beacon Bursaries awarded
13th Feb 2017
The UCL Public Engagement Unit is delighted to announce the awardees in the latest round of Beacon Bursaries.Beacon Bursaries are available to UCL staff and postgraduate research students looking to connect their research or teaching with people outside UCL.In an extremely competitive round the following projects were funded:A learning architecture: An exhibition of Muktangan community practice-led design research interventions from the Mariamma Nagar settlementNicola Antaki, UCL Development Planning Unit/Bartlett School of ArchitectureNicola worked on a participatory design project with children studying at Muktangan School in Mumbai between 2013 and 2016. To bring together all the work they did around developments to their school, an exhibition will be curated and designed through workshops with the children and staff. Along with the exhibition there will be a series of events, and two workshops will be held in the exhibition space with children from other schools, staff, parents and community members to share the approach and inspire future activities.Energy access targets and aspirations: participatory mapping and photography workshop with remote rural communities in Rwanda.Iwona Bisaga, UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic EngineeringThis project will build on Iwona’s PhD research focusing on the users of off-grid home solar power systems in Rwanda. Iwona will run a series of energy mapping and participatory photography workshops with 5-6 of those communities. The photos from the participatory energy mapping and photography workshops will be co-curated by participants and exhibited in Kigali and London. Blog posts and a podcast will accompany the exhibitions, creating impact among stakeholders in Rwanda and the UK.Engaging young people with chronic rheumatic conditions in research development and communicating their ideas through digital mediaAlice Ran Cai, UCL Division of MedicineThrough this project, Alice will create opportunities for young people with chronic rheumatic conditions to share their views on current and future research projects about digital health and self-management of their condition. The team will share research findings with young people, and invite them to test out the smartphone application that they have developed, in order to incorporate their expertise into its design and delivery. Through the project, the participants will be able to access communications and digital training.Engaging with mental health research in very late lifeRachael Frost, UCL Primary Care and Population HealthRachael and her team are planning a series of short workshops to give people in very late life an opportunity to shape future research and benefit from current research findings. Having observed that frail older people are rarely able to participate in engagement activities, this group of mental health researchers are delivering tailored workshops to change that.Storytelling maps and internet clinicAbril Herrera Chavez, UCL Bartlett School of ArchitectureDuring her PhD, Abril carried out research about home technology and internet use in the village of Pendeen in Cornwall. Through this project, Abril will share the results of her research through participatory drop-in events involving storytelling and maps at a community centre in the village. Participants will also get IT support for home gadgets and internet skills training, as her research identified that this support was unavailable in the area.Beat boxing after laryngectomyEvangelos Himonides, Centre for Digital Arts Research Education, UCL Institute of EducationEvangelos will run a series of Beat Box workshops, linking clinicians, patients who have had laryngectomies and young East London audiences. The workshops will explore different techniques for speech rehabilitation, raise awareness of the difficulty facing those without voice boxes and investigate voice production techniques.How can we help homeless people with advanced illness to live well and plan for the future?Briony Hudson, Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, UCL Division of PsychiatryConversations about planning for the future between homeless people with advanced illnesses and hostel staff can be extremely difficult but are also very important. Briony and her team will make a short film in conjunction with homeless people and hostel staff, to share their experiences of having those conversations and strategies they have developed to open up conversations. The film will be used as part of a package of training for healthcare professionals about how they might open up conversations about the difficulties of treatment with hostel residents who are very unwell.Empowering migrant parents: A school-family relationship approachSara Joiko Mujica, Department of Education, Practice and Society, UCL Institute of EducationThrough this project, Sara plans to provide support to Spanish and Portuguese-speaking migrant families in London, helping them to develop relationships with their children’s schools. She will be working with families to highlight their main concerns on issues such as access, family-school relationships, and parents' rights and responsibilities. The project will conclude with workshops involving different educational and local stakeholders to empower migrant parents in their school-family relationships.The deadline for the next round of Beacon Bursaries is likely to be in summer 2017. Follow @UCLCulture on twitter and subscribe to our newsletter for updates on all of our funding opportunities, projects and events. 
UCL for Refugee Education
13th Feb 2017
Later this month, UCL will show its support for refugee education by hosting Refugee Week.A range of events run by UCL Student Support & Wellbeing (with UCLU and Student Action for Refugees) to champion refugee education initiatives in the UK and abroad, from 20th to 24th February 2017.This comes in the wake of a statement from the Home Office last week declaring its intention to end its so-called 'Dubs scheme'. An amendment to the 2016 Immigration Act designed to help unaccompanied, child refugees find safe refuge in the UK. The announcement marks a sea-change in our response to what is fast becoming an international humanitarian crisis; with the UNHCR estimating that 65.3 million people were displaced in 2015, fleeing war, poverty and persecution. A global education crisisOne sadly overlooked aspect of the crisis is education. Refugee children are often unable to access this fundamental human right, with only 50% attending primary school and only 1% going on to reach higher education. It is estimated that refugees will spend an average of 17 years in displacement, which for children may mean the entirety of their schooling years. UCL Student Support & Wellbeing wants to do its part to help increase awareness of this issue and raise funds.Proceeds will be used to fund the following charities working on refugee education initiatives:       EdluminoA registered charity of qualified teachers from the United Kingdom, providing emergency education and support to children currently in refugee camps.Action for Refugees in Lewisham (AFRIL)A grassroots charity in London, working with refugees and asylum seekers to relieve poverty and social isolation. AFRIL run free courses in English as a second language to refugee adults, with a crèche facility attached, as well as a children's supplementary school called the Rainbow Club. Programme of eventsVarious events will be taking place on campus from Monday to Friday, including a charity 'mindful' rave, film screening, panel discussion and a workshop from Charity UK to give tips on campaigning for refugees in your community. Events are constantly being updated, for full details visit the UCL for Refugee Education page. 
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