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The 2018 UCL Neuroscience Symposium

GuestBlogger15 August 2018

By Oriol Pavón, Wellcome Trust PhD student in Neuroscience

On Friday 22nd of June, just under 800 researchers gathered at the UCL Institute of Education to celebrate the 9th UCL Neuroscience Symposium. With two fantastic keynote speakers, six talks by UCL group leaders, and 129 posters spread across three sessions, the event was once again a big success that marked the culmination of another impressive year for the UCL Neuroscience Domain.

 The morning began with Dr Caswell Barry welcoming everyone and giving a brief overview of the day before proceeding to introduce the first speaker of the meeting: Prof Daniel Wolpert from Columbia University, who presented his work on “Probabilistic Models of Sensorimotor Control”. Prof Wolpert shared how his lab uses machine learning and Bayes theory to investigate human movement control, how we learn to manipulate tools, and what cognitive processes underlie decision making and having a change of mind. After the engaging Q&A session came to an end, Prof Michael Häusser introduced the winners of the Jon Driver Prize, awarded to outstanding young neuroscientists from UCL for their work during their PhD. This year’s awardees were Andrea Banino, for his work on “Neuroscience and AI: modelling the brain using deep neural networks”, and Ruben Duque do Vale, for his research on “Spatial navigation during escape behaviours in mice”, who both had the chance to present their work to the audience. (more…)

The 2017 UCL Neuroscience Symposium

GuestBlogger21 June 2017

By Oriol Pavón, Wellcome Trust PhD student in Neuroscience

Now in its 8th year, the UCL Neuroscience Symposium is the perfect occasion to catch up with the latest developments of our colleagues and establish new collaborations. Over 800 researchers and a gender-balanced line up of speakers gathered to share and discuss some of the exciting scientific breakthroughs that UCL has seen over the past year.

The event kicked off with an unplanned outdoor networking session caused by a fire alarm, thankfully false. Professor Richard Morris of the University of Edinburgh, who shared the 2016 Brain Prize, then delivered a fantastic talk on ‘The synaptic plasticity and memory hypothesis’.

NS17-410Professor Ray Dolan, awardee of the 2017 Brain Prize, introduced the winners of the Jon Driver Prize. Established to honour the memory of the late Professor Jon Driver, former director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, this year’s prize was awarded to three outstanding young neuroscientists from UCL who took the stage to briefly present their work.

Next a poster session, with over 150 lab and research posters showcased in three different halls, allowed PhD students, post-docs and group leaders to present and discuss their research in an amiable atmosphere.

Professor Kenneth Harris chaired the first session of UCL speakers. Dr Jennifer Bizley delivered a talk on “How does seeing improve listening?”, showing how visual cues can be decisive to discriminate between different overlapping sounds. (more…)

Education Select Committee Brexit hearing session at UCL

MelissaBradshaw9 February 2017

On 25 January, the Education Select Committee held the second Oral Evidence Session of its inquiry on the effect of Brexit on higher education (HE) at UCL.

The committee heard evidence from UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur, NUS Vice-President (Higher Education) Sorana Vieru and representatives of University and College Union, Erasmus Student Network UK, Universities UK, the British Council and London Economics.

There was a strong consensus on the potentially damaging effects of Brexit on HE, and an urgent call for the government to do more to address them.

Professor Michael Arthur

Professor Michael Arthur

The hearing took place just over a week after Theresa May’s historic speech on the UK’s strategy for exiting the European Union, and evidence was heard in two panels.

The Chair of the Education Committee, Neil Carmichael MP, began each session by asking the panellists for their reaction to the Prime Minister’s speech.

Every one of the panellists welcomed the tone of the speech and its emphasis on a “global Britain”, but called for immediate action and more specific detail – particularly in regard to the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s expressed wish to guarantee the rights of EU citizens, Professor Arthur said: “I’d like to challenge the Prime Minister to go one step further and take the initiative to make the guarantee and challenge the rest of the EU to follow”, arguing that this would give Britain the moral high-ground and provide the negotiations a foundation of good will.

The committee heard evidence of the significant contribution of the higher education sector to the British economy, including the contributions EU staff and students make to the wider economy when they are residing here.

Dr Gavan Conlon (London Economics) also argued that, with education the UK’s fifth largest services export, the HE sector can generate revenue that could contribute to the government’s Industrial Strategy.

The panellists spoke of the positive contributions that EU staff and students make in terms of diversity and ‘soft power’, contributing to Britain’s prestigious academic profile and giving their British peers invaluable experience in international engagement, leadership and collective problem solving. “For a global Britain we need global graduates”, said Rosie Birchard (Erasmus Student Network UK).

The committee also heard evidence that currently UK HE “punches well above its weight” globally – thanks, in part, to our membership of the EU. Jo Beall (British Council) pointed to statistics showing that the UK leads the world in research quality (by field-weighted citation impact) and 1 in 10 world leaders were educated here.

(more…)

Leading researchers debate survival to 22nd century at It’s All Academic Campaign launch

GuestBlogger16 September 2016

pencil-icon Written by Abigail Smith, Head of Supporter Communications – Office of the Vice-Provost (Development)

Some of UCL’s leading academics joined together last night for a public event to answer the question “How Will Society Survive to the 22nd Century?” at the launch of It’s All Academic – UCL’s biggest ever philanthropic giving campaign.

With a target of £600m, the Campaign aims to raise more money and engage more people with UCL and our work than ever before.

UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur announces the Campaign total

UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur announces the Campaign total

The launch event brought nearly 1,000 people to UCL’s Logan Hall to hear what the future might hold from a great line up of speakers, chaired by ITN Economics Editor and UCL alumna and honorary professor Noreena Hertz.

(more…)