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    UCL Events blog

    By Nick Dawe, on 6 May 2011

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

    Chevron Case: Ecuador’s Defense

    By Guest Blogger, on 25 November 2015


    Written by Ira Ryk-Lakhman, MPhil/PhD candidate (UCL Laws)


    Dr Martins Paparinskis (on left) with Dr Diego Garcia Carrion

    On Friday, 13 November 2015, Dr Diego Garcia Carrion, the Attorney General for Ecuador came to UCL to present his book “Chevron Case: Defense of Ecuador”, and discuss the Ecuadorian position in one of the most important and controversial international dispute settlement cases at the moment – Chevron v. Ecuador. Importantly, the event was not intended to constitute a full and exhaustive legal or factual discussion of the case and the parties’ contentions, but merely a presentation of the main points of the Ecuadorian perspective.

    The Ecuadorean Attorney General’s presentation was co-organised by UCL Laws and UCL Global Governance Institute and Investment Law and Policy. Dr Martins Paparinskis, convenor of International Law of Foreign Investments course at UCL Laws, chaired the event. The event was filmed by the Ecuadorian Embassy, and complimentary copies of the book were handed to the participants.

    In brief, in September 2009 Chevron brought its claim against Ecuador to an investor-State arbitration tribunal under the US-Ecuador BIT. The claim primarily alleges denial of justice by Ecuador’s courts in a domestic dispute relating to environmental and social harms due to contamination resulting from oil production in Lago Agrio region (Chevron’s position on the dispute). The case is still pending, and raises hard questions about international investment arbitration, which are of considerable conceptual and practical importance. Can international investment arbitration successfully address the public elements of private disputes? What is the role of parties, non-parties, and participants in investment arbitration? Can investment arbitration resolve the interplay between different substantive and procedural regimes of domestic and international law? Is ad hoc arbitration an appropriate regime of dispute settlement for dealing with legal and factual issues of such complexity? How do States’ representatives think and act upon these issues?

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    R=T?: Creating a dialogue between research and teaching

    By Irrum Ali, on 23 November 2015

    UCL R=T?Tuesday 17 November saw the UCL Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching (UCL CALT) launch ‘R=T?’, a forum to explore how teaching and research can best be brought together and valued.

    UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur introduced the event, noting how research and teaching have always been close partners. He commented how they work together to ensure learners feel a valued part of their academic institution; students often express a keen interest in working with their inspirational teachers and researchers.

    Professor Arthur also expressed how fundamentally important taking learners through the research-based approach is: it enables them to realise their full potential by helping them to understand how knowledge is created, as well as core attributes such as team work, problem solving, critical thinking and communication skills. A research-based education, he stressed, equips our students with what they need to be contributory members of society: an idea that is at the heart of the UCL 2034 strategy.

    Following this, Dr Vincent Tong, Principal Teaching Fellow (Connected Curriculum) at UCL CALT and the lead on the R=T initiative, explained how the launch of the dialogue and associated masterclasses are designed to enable staff and students to share ideas, initiatives and solutions to bring research and teaching closer together, and to have further impact at UCL and beyond. He also highlighted his own experience in leading an Earth science research consortium, which reinforced how crucial partnerships can be.

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    School trip to the WWI battlefields

    By James L Russell, on 20 November 2015

    P1010115-(2)Working in media/press at the UCL Institute of Education, I am dealing daily with issues and research around teaching and education. However, it is quite rare to get a chance to engage with schools, teachers, and pupils directly and witness the real-life aspect of the work that IOE is involved in.

    I therefore found it a really interesting experience to be able to take part in one of the First World War Centenary Battlefields Tours Project (FWWCBTP) trips – a five year project running until 2019 by the IOE in conjunction with Equity Tours, and funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which allows every state secondary school in England to send two pupils and one teacher to the Ypres and the Somme to visit the First World War Battlefields.

    It was insightful and hugely enjoyable not only to learn more about The Great War myself, but also to meet and the teachers and learn more about their jobs, the pressures and the satisfactions; as well as meeting some really engaged and bright pupils and witnessing how they immersed themselves into this experience.

    The tours, which take place over four days, offer the pupils, who range in age from 14 to 18, the opportunity to see the First World War Battlefields, cemeteries and memorials first-hand. The aim of the project, as opposed to other Battlefield tours, is for the pupils to engage on a more personal level with the war; they are encouraged to research soldiers from their local areas who took part, and, where possible, any relatives from their own family. They then have the opportunity to follow the journey of these soldiers and locate their place of burial while in Ypres and the Somme.

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    From tadpole guts to Nobel Prize: John Gurdon’s UCL Prize Lecture in Clinical Science

    By Guest Blogger, on 19 November 2015

    Written by James Arrich and Isobel Weinberg, both UCL PhD students

    Do all the cells of the body possess the same set of genes? This was the question facing a young John Gurdon as he embarked upon his PhD 60 years ago. His research has transformed the way we understand biology in a way that holds promise for the treatment of many common diseases. He received the Nobel Prize in 2012 and on 10 November he visited UCL to give the UCL Prize Lecture in Clinical Science and receive the accompanying medal.

    John Gurdon made an unpromising start to his scientific career: at school, he was ranked last out of 250 students for Biology, and was required to give up science and study Classics. Nevertheless, he later chose to switch his degree from Classics to Zoology and then embark on a PhD in cell development.

    Professor Sir John Gurdon, UCL Nobel Prize winner

    Nobel Prize winner Professor Sir John Gurdon

    Ground-breaking work soon followed. His PhD centred upon the technique of nuclear transplantation.

    That is, he would transplant the nucleus of one cell into an egg cell whose own nucleus had been removed (it had been ‘enucleated’) and then watch to see how this egg (with its transplanted nucleus) developed.

    In a famous set of experiments, he took a specialised gut cell from a tadpole and transplanted the cell’s nucleus into an enucleated egg. Astonishingly, he demonstrated that such eggs (with their transplanted ‘gut’ nuclei) could develop into healthy frogs. That is, the nucleus of a gut cell that was wholly specialised to absorb nutrients still possessed all the genes required to make an entire new frog.

    The implications were huge. Not only did all the cells of an organism possess the same genes, but clearly some factors in the egg cell could revert an adult, specialised cell into a stem cell capable of generating any other cell type. The phenomenon was termed nuclear reprogramming and Gurdon has spent the rest of his career unravelling the mechanisms that underlie it.

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