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    UCL Events blog

    By Nick Dawe, on 6 May 2011

    Reviews of UCL public lectures, debates, exhibitions, shows, and more…

    Collective practices vs. the Neoliberal City?

    By Guest Blogger, on 29 November 2016


    Written by Harshavardhan R Jatkar, UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit 


    Has democracy failed to resist the neoliberal vision of the city and does architecture have anything to contribute to the debate? A presentation by Leonardo Cappetto, an architect and co-founder of Grupo TOMA, came as a fresh and potent ray of hope on Thursday evening – 17th November 2016. Thanks to Dr. Camilo Boano, Leonardo was invited to present at the Development Planning Unit.

    His presentation commenced by juxtaposing the rise of populist right-wing politicians almost all around the world and the seeming demise of an alternative to the neoliberal city. But the optimism rose as he presented the work done by the Chile based collective – Grupo TOMA towards attempting to find that alternative.


    The promise of an alternative reflected within the very structure of Grupo TOMA, defying the norms that governed the 20th century professional world.

    Grupo TOMA is a collective of architects without any hierarchical internal relationships.

    It is a nomad organisation that resents the idea of growth for its sake and it works with temporal communities inherently being denied the chance for any permanent architectural statement.

    What motivates a group of architects to let go of the egotistic practice of the 20th century?

    What inspires their continuing reconciliation with temporal existence?

    Leonardo’s presentation was just a glimpse into some of the aspects that may answer these questions. Read the rest of this entry »

    The 2016 US presidential election: a post-mortem

    By Melissa Bradshaw, on 23 November 2016

    Dr Nick Witham began by admitting that he’d had to rewrite this Lunch Hour Lecture because, like all the pollsters, he had expected a different outcome from the US presidential election. Nonetheless, and unsurprisingly given Dr Witham’s expertise, it was a thorough post-mortem with important conclusions.

    Although the electoral map of the US, as Dr Witham showed us, is now heavily dominated by Republican red, for only the fifth time in US history the President-elect lost the popular vote. Hillary Clinton has won more than 1.5 million more votes than Donald Trump, he said, and this margin could increase to 2 million.*

    As well as the distorting effects of the Electoral College, Donald Trump’s victory “forces us to reckon with some very unpleasant features of the US political landscape,” Dr Witham said.

    Trump’s appeal to ethno-nationalism, racism, and misogyny

    He began by analysing the appeal of Trump’s campaign. His slogan, “Make America great again”, resonated with a large portion of the American population who felt unrepresented by globalisation, multiculturalism and political correctness: in particular in America’s Rust Belt, which has experienced stagnating wages and living standards.

    “Make America great again” was also an etho-nationalist appeal to the memory of white privilege.


    In many of the most memorable moments of his campaign – smearing immigrants, promising to build a “glorious” wall to keep out Mexicans, promising a ban on Muslims entering the US, and a public fight with the parents of a Pakistani-American US Army captain killed in Iraq –  Trump  “politicised immigration more successfully than any Republican candidate before him,” said Dr Witham. (Image: Evan Guest)

    Trump also appealed to old-fashioned American racism, Dr Witham said, and he warned that Trump’s endorsement by white supremacists such as David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, means that these people will now take a place at the forefront of American political life.

    Finally Trump’s misogyny, culminating in a number of sexual assault allegations against him, and his behaviour towards Clinton in the televised debates, which was “dripping with condescension and privilege” only  added to Trump’s status as a maverick outsider who “tells it like it is”. (T shirts worn at Trump rallies included “Hillary sucks but not like Monica” and “Trump that Bitch”.)

    Unlike “shy Brexit” voters in the UK, Trump’s supporters did not quietly or shyly support him, but loudly and proudly.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    UCL Infection, Immunology and Inflammation (III) Symposium 2016

    By Guest Blogger, on 23 November 2016

    pencil-iconWritten by Simon Guillaumé, PhD Student, London Interdisciplinary Doctoral training programme

    On Tuesday 8 November, over 300 leading researchers from top London institutions gathered at the UCL Institute of Education for the annual UCL Infection, Immunology and Inflammation (III) Symposium, hosted by UCL in partnership with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), UCLPartners and the National Institute for Health Research BRC Infection, Immunity and Inflammation (III) Programme.

    Professor Hans Stauss (UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation), opened the Symposium by highlighting the impact of the research presented annually.

    Integration of pathogen and human genomic sequencing

    Professor Judith Breuer (UCL Division of Infection & Immunity) started the session by presenting her latest research on the pathology of Varicella Zoster Virus (the cause of chickenpox and shingles), which will help alleviate the side effects of VZV vaccines.

    Following an overview of the human oral microbiome by Professor William Wade (Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London), Professor Harry Hemingway (UCL Institute of Health Informatics) reviewed Big Data sources available to UK biomedical researchers, including some recent examples of large-scale health record mining used in biomedical research.

    Basic immunology

    Starting off the second session, Dr Melania Capasso (Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL) highlighted the importance of proton channel interactions in supporting tumour growth.

    After reminding the room that “ageing, well, is inevitable…”, Professor Arne Akbar (UCL Division of Infection & Immunity) gave us a glimmer of hope by presenting his current research on T-cell ageing.

    The last presentation of the morning was Dr Benedict Seddon’s (UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation) appetising ‘Sauces and mixtures – recipe for long term maintenance of CD4 memory’. His research brings us a step closer to understanding how CD4 cells regulate immune memory.

    Symposium III 2

    Early Career Researchers presentations

    Following the networking break, six early career researchers from UCL and QMUL enthralled us with presentations of their research. These presentations give early career researchers the opportunity to gain greater visibility and to make their research knownto the scientific community already established in the field.

    The first prize for the best early career researcher presentation was awarded to Dr Neil McCarthy (Blizard Institute, QMUL), for his presentation on ‘Human antigen-presenting yd T-cells promote IL-22 production in naïve and intestinal memory CD4+ T-cells in a TNF-alpha and ICOSL-dependent manner’. Read the rest of this entry »

    UCL Ageing event

    By Guest Blogger, on 15 November 2016

    pencil-iconWritten by Dr Emma Chambers, Research Associate in the Division of Infection and Immunity

     The United Kingdom has an ageing population and by 2025, one in four people will be over the age of 65. Unfortunately with increasing age there is not increasing ‘healthspan’, and actually people are now living unhealthy for longer.

    With increasing age come increasing health problems, as people over the age of 65 have an increased risk of infections such as flu and shingles, as well as an increased risk of having dementia; this collectively places a huge burden on our already stretched NHS.

    At the UCL Ageing Event – cultivating research connections across the university, arranged by the UCL Populations and Lifelong Health Domain and held on Thursday 3 November 2016, researchers from across UCL came together to discuss what we can do to age better.

    Attendees heard first from Dr Jenny Regan (Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment) who works on the common fruit fly. Apparently, the fruit fly ages similarly to humans, with decreased mobility, increased infections and memory loss.

    Dr Regan told us that the key to a longer life is to be female – a bit unfortunate for half of the population! Secondly, you need to have a calorie restricted diet, though this does not enhance the lifespan of a male fruit fly.

    Dr Milica Vukmanovic-Stejic (Division of Infection and Immunity) introduced us to her human skin model where the lab studies white blood cells (immune system) in the skin of old and young people to establish if there are any differences that can explain why older people are more at risk of shingles. Read the rest of this entry »