UCL News


UCL Guest Book 2009

To notify UCL Guest Book of an event, please contact Neil Rodger, Corporate Communications Officer.




The Ambassador of Denmark HE Birger Riis-Jørgensen opened the Cinema and Climate Change symposium at the beginning of the month with remarks on Denmark and COP-15. The one-day symposium, hosted by UCL Scandinavian Studies, was to mark Denmark's role as host country for COP-15, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

Simon Singh was at UCL this month to speak about libel laws and the action brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association.

An event in the House of Lords recently launched a major campaign to keep libel laws out of science. There is a strong public interest in maintaining open, vigorous and testing scientific discourse without the threat of stepping over a legal line.



HRH Princess Alexandra opened the Cancer Clinical Trials Centre at the new UCLH building in Grafton Way and the UCL Cancer Institute in Huntley Street. The centre will provide a state-of-the-art facility for clinical trials of new cancer treatments. The Cancer Clinical Research Facility (CRF), a collaboration between UCL and University College London NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH), will accommodate early phase clinical trials of new anti-cancer drugs and treatments.

Geoffrey Hill, British poet, came to speak and read from his work at an event in the UCL English department on Friday 11 December. The department was hosting an Open Day for Medieval Literature in which Hill was a guest speaker.

Hilary Benn visited UCL in the second week in December to talk to MSc students from Geography as the Copenhagen Conference got under way. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs talked about his vision for the negotiations to students taking the MSc courses in 'Conservation', 'Environment, Society and Space' and 'Globalisation.' He gave students an insight into how the UK Government has prioritised climate change and intends to move the international agenda forward at Copenhagen.



Dr Alice Roberts presented The Incredible Human Journey on Thursday 17 December, in the Grant Museum of Zoology as part of UCL Museums and Collections public events series.

Alice has a PhD in palaeopathology and is a member of the Bristol Osteoarchaeology Research Group, who provide an osteological reporting and consultancy service for archaeological units, museums and the police.

Alice first appeared on television as a bone expert on Channel 4's archaeology series, Time Team, and went on to become a presenter in the spin-off series, Extreme Archaeology, as well as presenting on a Time Team Live - and a follow-up Time Team special, The Big Royal Dig. Alice joined the team presenting the hugely successful Coast on BBC2, where she tackled topics as diverse as palaeolithic archaeology, science and technology, and art.

Images from top: Simon Singh; HRH Princess Alexandra; Dr Alice Roberts



The Jamaican reggae musician, chef and businessman Keith Valentine Graham, better known as Levi Roots, came to UCL on 5 November to speak about his experiences in the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship.

Roots, who lives in Brixton, gained widespread fame after appearing on the television programme Dragons' Den looking for funding for his "Reggae Reggae Sauce". He was invited to speak by the UCL Entrepreneurs Society and UCL Advances.



Dr Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, visited the university's School of Slavonic and East European Studies on 11 November to give the Inaugural UCL-Banking Association for Central and Eastern Europe lecture - entitled 'Slovakia in the 21st Century'.

A delegation from the Building Construction Authority (BCA) Academy Singapore, headed by its director Dr Benedict Tan, visited UCL from 11 to 13 November to discuss developing and delivering a specialist masters programme in Facility and Environment Management.

Professor Michael Worton, Vice-Provost (Academic & International), signed a memorandum of understanding with the BCA and said the collaboration would further strengthen UCL's presence in the region.



The London-New York conference - What Now? Europe and North America in a Disordered World - was held at UCL over the weekend of 21/22 November.

Sponsored by the New York Review of Books and the Guardian, the conference attracted a host of high profile attendees, including Robert Badinter, former Attorney General of France and former President of the French Constitutional Council; Brian Urquhart, the long time Under Secretary-General of the UN and collaborator of Dag Hammerskjold; Chris Patten, former External Affairs Commission of the EU and Chancellor of Oxford University; and Robert Skidelsky, the biographer of J M Keynes.

Lord Robert May, former Government Chief Science Adviser and former President of the Royal Society, came to the university on 30 November to deliver the annual UCL-Lancet lecture on the theme of climate change and global health.

Video: Levi Roots lecture

Images: left; Dr Robert Fico; right, Dr Benedict Tan and Professor Michael Worton sign the BCA MoU




Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher visited UCL on 16 October to receive the  honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Lodz in Poland for her 'extraordinary achievements in field of economy and her support for political and economical transformation in Poland'.

Another high profile visitor on the same night was comedian Stephen Fry, who came to the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre to sign his latest book - Stephen Fry presents Oscar Wilde's Stories For All Ages - and give a short talk about his love of Wilde's work.

Award-winning film-maker Rex Bloomstein visited UCL to present 'Crime and the camera  - excerpts from a lifetime of making films about prison and the people on the inside' at a Prisoners' Education Trust-organised event on 21 October.

Also on October 21, Lithuanian Ambassador Dr Oskaras Jusys opened an international conference hosted by The Centre for the Study of Central Europe at the UCL School for Slavonic and East European Studies and organised in partnership with The Lithuanian Historical Institute, Vilnius, and The Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania, London.



Lord Jay of Ewelme came to the Old Refectory a day later to talk about the work of
the House of Lords Appointments Commission, which he chairs.

And October 22 also saw Professor Michael Worton interview HR Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber - a successful businessman who dedicates much of his time to supporting higher learning in the Arab world - on the subject of 'Education, entrepreneurship and philanthropy in the 21st century'.

The UCL Bloomsbury Theatre was a sell-out on October 26 for a lecture by Justice Albie Sachs, who discussed his remarkable life as an attorney defending people charged under the racist statutes of South African Apartheid, his subsequent persecution by the authorities and his work as a Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, to which he was appointed by Nelson Mandela.

Images from top: Baroness Thatcher; HR Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber (left) and Professor Michael Worton


Professor Brian Regal, of Kean University, traced the evolution of monsters as part of a lecture at the UCL Grant Museum of Zoology on Thursday 9 July.

A delegation from Nigeria visited UCL on Tuesday 14 July to sign an agreement that will see more of the country's scholars train at the university. The delegation represented the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, which was set up to train young Nigerians in engineering, geology, science and management in the oil and gas industry.

Professor John Hsu of the University of Western Australia and the National Sun Yat Sen University, Taiwan, visited the UCL Coastal and Estuarine Research Unit and gave a lecture on the engineering applications of bay beaches on 30 July.



Comedian Ricky Gervais, the Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award-winning co-creator of The Office and Extras, sold out the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre for four nights from 17 August to 20 August.

Navin Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, visited a UCL-affiliated cardiovascular unit on September 28 and met the university's President and Provost Professor Malcolm Grant. Mr Ramgoolam is a physician (part of his training was undertaken at UCL Hospital) and a lawyer. His father, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, who was the first Prime Minister from when the country gained its independence from Britain in 1968 until 1982, was also a UCL graduate.

Professor Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, the distinguished Mexican archaeologist and one of the world's foremost international experts on pre-Hispanic Mexico, lectured at UCL on 21 September. Professor Matos, who has been appointed as an Honorary Professor of UCL in the Institute of Archaeology, was in London as an advisor to the major exhibition at the British Museum - 'Moctezuma Aztec Ruler' - and the lecture was attended by the Mexican Minister for Cultural Affairs in London, Snr Ignacio Duran.

Image: from left to right, Snr Ignacio Duran, Professor Michael Worton, Professor Eduardo Matos Moctezuma and Professor Alejandro Madrigal

JUNE 2009

His Excellency Mr Shin Ebihara, the Japanese Ambassador discussed the place of higher education in the UK and Japan with UCL President and Provost Professor Malcolm Grant and Professor Derek Tocher, UCL Pro-Provost for East and South East Asia, at UCL on 25 June 2009.

Maverick showman Philip Escoffey challenged what we believe to be true at the Bloomsbury Theatre this month. He is interested in not whether people can read minds or not but what the rational - perhaps even cynical - mind does in the face of an irrefutable demonstration.

Marcel Berlins, Guardian columnist and lecturer in media law at City University, chaired the annual UCL/Bindman Debate on 30 June 2009. The motion was: 'To be or not to be: a decision for the individual or the State?' and panellists included Baroness Jane Campbell, leading disability rights campaigner and Commissioner of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt, MP, Sir Ken Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions and Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying.



Shami Chakrabarti, Director of the human rights organisation Liberty, delivered the 2009 Annual Mishcon Lecture to a packed audience on 29 June. Her lecture on 'Common Values, Common Sense: The story of rights and freedoms in modern Britain' explored the adversity and great opportunity for rights and freedoms in Britain. Marcel Berlins, Guardian columnist and lecturer in media law at City University, also chaired the event.

Images: bottom right, Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty

MAY 2009

Dr Wang Yidan, of Peking University, and Dr Vivienne Lo, from the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, gave a lecture on 6 May called Qi or Blood Circulation: Rashid al-Din's Ilkhan Treasure Book on Chinese Science and Techniques.



Dr Robert Kirk, from the University of Manchester, delivered a lecture at the Wellcome Trust on 13 May entitled Living Spaces: Ethology, Environment and Welfare in the Lives of Late Twentieth Century Laboratory Animals.

Tony Benn, Britain's longest-serving Labour MP and former Cabinet Minister, brought his 50 years' experience of people, politics and power to the stage at the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre on 19 May.



Renowned broadcaster, journalist and television presenter Joan Bakewell gave a talk at the Roberts Building on 19 May as part of the CRUCIBLE project to foster cross disciplinary collaboration on the issue of life-long wellbeing.

Lord Adair Turner of Ecchinswell, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, visited the university on 20 May to deliver a UCL Environment Institute Public Lecture.

Novelist and poet Dame Antonia Byatt discussed the importance of literature for the study of the brain in the emerging discipline of neuroesthetics with Professor Semir Zeki (UCL Neuroesthetics) on 21 May. Dame Antonia talked about how love can be examined from both a literary and neurobiological perspective.

Professor John Friedmann, Honorary Professor in the School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, and Professor Emeritus in the School of Public Policy and Social Research at UCLA, gave the Professor Sir Peter Hall Annual Lecture on 26 May.

On 27 May Professor Shigehisa Kuriyama, Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History at Harvard University, delivered this year's Roy Porter Lecture on the subject of traditional Chinese medicine's image as an alternative to modern Western medicine.

Images: top right, Joan Bakewell at the CRUCIBLE centre for lifelong health and wellbeing with Professor Nick Tyler, Head of UCL Civil, Enviromental & Geomatic Engineering; bottom left, Dame Antonia Byatt.

APRIL 2009

On 22 April the writer and cultural historian Dr Fay Bound Alberti, who specialises in the study of emotions, gender and subjectivity at Queen Mary, University of London, visited UCL to give a lecture on 'Matters of the Heart, or Why the Heart Matters: Emotions, the Body and Medical History'.



Professor Fiona Watt, President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and Deputy Director of Cancer Research UK-Cambridge Research Institute, was the invited speaker at the opening of UCL's Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine on 24 April. She gave a talk on the future of stem cell research.



Australian writer, broadcaster and raconteur Clive James visited the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre on 24 April to talk about his latest book and take part in a question and answer session with the audience.

Dr Kasia Szpakowska from Swansea University, author of Daily Life in Ancient Egypt: Recreating Lahun, gave a talk entitled 'Pinch Pots and Nappy Rash: Early Childhood in Lahun' on 24 April.

Award-winning novelist Ian McEwan visited the university on 30 April to discuss the role of emotion and its place in literature and the brain with Professor Ray Dolan (UCL Imaging Neuroscience). The author's work explores the currrents of emotion in families, couples and individuals in extreme situations, such as times of war. Professor Dolan and his research group investigate how emotion can interact with cognition in many contexts, such as when we make decisions.

Images: Australian raconteur Clive James (right); and author Ian McEwan

MARCH 2009



Israeli author David Grossman talked to psychoanalyst Orna Hadary about his fiction writing, including his exploration of characters' inner lives and the power of stories to reconcile and exorcise on 1 March in the UCL Main Library as part of the 'Connecting Conversations' series. Listen here.



On 6 March Iranian director Manijeh Hekmat took questions from the audience after a special screening of her recent film Three Women at UCL as part of the Mellon Programme's 'Performing Gender' programme.

Captain Jerry Roberts (UCL German 1941) returned to UCL on 11 March for the second time in recent months to give an intriguing lecture on his time as one of the original codebreakers at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.

Dr Mike Short, VP of Group Research and Development at Telefonica O2, gave a UCL Business Partnership lecture on the third generation mobile industry on 16 March. Dr Short drew on his experiences and expertise as recent Chairman and current Honorary President of the Mobile Data Association, current Chairman of the UK Trade and Investment Information Communications Technology Sector Advisory Board, and Vice-President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.



Professor Michael Kelly (Chief Scientific Adviser, Department of Communities and Local Government), gave a lecture on 'Climate change resilience, sustainable consumption and energy efficiency; the role of the built environment' at UCL on 19 March 2009.

Around 180 guests, including policymakers, High Commissioners, journalists and UCL staff and students, attended the lecture 'Development Policies for a Changing World' given by Ransford Smith, Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth, at UCL on 31 March. 

Images from top:
Author David Grossman; film director Manijeh Hekmat; Ransford Smith, Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth


The UCL Environment Institute lecture 'Climate Change: Science and the Way Forward' was given by Professor John Beddington, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government on 4 February.



On 9 February, Abubakar Ibrahim Swelhi, Head of the Libyan Biological Society, visited UCL as part of a delegation from the science faculty at Al Fateh University, Libya.

Lord Karan Bilimoria, founder of Cobra Beers and cross-bench life peer, spoke at UCL on 12 February as part of the UCL Advances Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture Series. Gillian Lacey-Solymar, BBC consumer affairs correspondent and lecturer in UCL Management Science & Innovation, is conducting interviews with all speakers throughout the series.

Comedian Ricky Gervais played at the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre on 15 and 16 February trialling material for his new tour.

Professor Dame Carol Black, Director of the UCL Centre for Rheumatology and Connective Tissue Disease, spoke on 'Working for a healthier tomorrow' at a public seminar on 17 February held by the UCL International Institute for Society and health.

Dr Shan Jixiang, Director-General of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, China, lectured at the UCL Institute of Archaeology on 19 February as part of a visit to strengthen the university's relations with Chinese heritage organisations.



Shirley Williams (the Rt. Hon the Baroness Williams of Crosby), Liberal Democrat life peer and distinguished commentator on American affairs, introduced a lecture delivered on 19 February by Professor Allen Guelzo of Gettysbury College to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

On 23 February, a delegation from Tsinghua University, Beijing led by Professor Hongyong Yuan, Deputy Director of the Centre for Public Safety Research visited UCL to learn about the two new Centres for Doctoral Training in Security Science, and Urban Sustainability and Resilience. The delegation met Dr Hervé Borrion and Dr Tiziana Rosetto, Deputy Directors of the new centres; Dr Shane Johnson and Spencer Chainey of the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science; Professor Xiao Guo, UCL Pro-Provost for China, Hong Kong & Macau, and Professor Bernard Buxton, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences.



New offices and research laboratories that are part of the UCL Centre for Rheumatology were opened on 24 February by actress Anna Chancellor, perhaps best known for her performance as 'Duckface' in the film 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. The centre helps further the understanding and treatment of debilitating autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

On 27 February, Lord Young, Minister for Students, addressed the second National Workshop on Student Evaluation at the Royal Free and University College Medical School.

Images from top: Professor Stephen Shennan, Director of the UCL Institute of Archaeology (left) introduces Dr Shan Jixiang (right) and colleague to a student in the institute's conservation labs; Liberal Democrat peer Shirley Williams; Professor David Isenberg of the UCL Centre for Rheumatology looks on as Anna Chancellor opens new facilities at the centre




On 15 January, Captain Jerry Roberts (UCL German 1941) gave a talk to his former department about his experiences as a Bletchley Park codebreaker during the Second World War, working on the messages encrypted in the 'Tunny' code - a more complex machine than the better-known 'Enigma'.

Around 150 diplomats, business people, academics, students and non-governmental organisation representatives came to UCL on 21 January for 'Reforming International Institutions: An Agenda for the 21st Century', the first in a series of three lectures jointly organised by UCL and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The visiting speakers included  Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and Professor Ngaire Woods from the Global Economic Governance Programme at the University of Oxford. Watch the video and read more at UCL News.

Karmalesh Sharma

To celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Ox, UCL President and Provost Professor Malcolm Grant hosted a drinks reception on 23 January for 200 UCL staff and students from China, with the executive officers of the UCL Union. Among the guests were Minister Counsellor Tian Xiaogang (Education) and Minister Counsellor Chen Futao (Science and Technology), from the Chinese Embassy; Ms Sarah Wu, Director General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Delegation in London and Lord Tim Clement-Jones, Vice Chair for the All-Party Parliamentary China Group.

The newly appointed Serbian Ambassador to the UK, Dejan Popovic, visited the UCL Institute of Archaeology on 23 January to discuss build on the institute's current activities and plans, and greater involvement in Serbian archaeology in the future.

Images from top: Captain Jerry Roberts, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

To notify UCL Guest Book of an event, please contact Neil Rodger, Corporate Communications Officer.

To see the variety of guests who came to UCL in 2008, visit the UCL Guest Book 2008 page.