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Ask GEO: Rachel Hall, Senior Partnership Manager (Americas)

By Sophie Vinter, on 29 November 2017

Rachel Hall is GEO’s Senior Partnership Manager for North and Latin America.

Q: Tell us more about your role and activity in your regions.

A: I joined GEO in August 2017 as Senior Partnership Manager for North and Latin America. Previously I was working at the Faculty of Population Health Sciences. My background is in Latin American studies and I studied an MA at UCL Institute of the Americas. My role is to develop and manage partnerships in the Americas region and a key focus is to try and map all of the collaboration that exists at UCL within North America and Latin America.

My main focus at the moment is an emerging partnership with the University of Toronto which is developing well, and facilitating different activities under this partnership. Recently we announced the winners of the first UCL-UofT funding stream, which will support some great projects in the areas of child health, education and cities, among others.

I’m also looking at building on the existing links we have with Yale and NYU. In Latin America, we are focusing on Mexico and Chile and supporting our partnership with Santander Universities and the many schemes offered under our agreement with them, such as the Research Catalyst Awards which will open next month.

Q: How are you finding the role?

A: I think the Global Engagement Strategy is great for UCL and I like how the GEO team is constantly reviewing our work, which is the nature of working with partners. We’re looking at the implementation and evaluation of our strategy and I think partners appreciate success stories and case studies of our work together – a good example of this is our ongoing partnership with Santander Universities. In my first month GEO welcomed the CEO of Santander to an event celebrating ten years of our partnership. It’s nice to now be working across the university in the full range of subjects too.

Q: What’s top of your to do list at the moment?

A: In January Provost will be welcoming the President of the University of Toronto to discuss the development of our partnership, so I am currently preparing for that. We recently set up a UCL-UofT working group that meets termly to oversee activities as we develop how we work together.

In Latin America, we’ve just announced that Dr Deepak Kalaskar (UCL Biomedical Engineering) is a successful recipient of the the UK-Mexico Visiting Chair Scheme, which offers UCL academics a great opportunity to develop links in Mexico. He’ll be collaborating with the Autonomous University of Nuevo León.

I’m always mapping more collaborations in both regions and actively pursuing leads – so if you are a UCL academic collaborating in the Americas, please get in touch as I’d love to hear about your work!

Q: How can academics find out more about UCL activity in the regions?

A: I work closely with UCL’s Pro-Vice-Provosts for North and Latin America, Professor Brad Karp and Professor Alejandro Madrigal, to develop our regional networks.

For Latin America we’re planning to hold a meeting in January to discuss new ways we can harness our shared interest in the region to leverage funding. I’d be really keen to hear from any UCL academics who are currently collaborating in Chile and Mexico as a priority. We’re also looking to broaden our partnership with Yale University and will be reaching out to the academic community over the next few months, to see where potential opportunities lie.

Q: Can you tell us a fact about either region that may surprise people?

A: Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon is visiting the New York Metropolitan Museum next year, as part of some work being led by UCL Culture and OVPD!

UCL Research Catalyst Award Winners – 2016/17

By uclqjle, on 4 April 2017

UCL Research Catalyst Award Winners – 2016/17

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Santander Universities Research Catalyst Awards!

We wish our UCL colleagues best of luck, and look forwarding to seeing the outcomes of these exciting collaborations.

Here’s the full list of winners:

UCL Award Winner      UCL Department           Partner Institution(s)
Arroyo-Kalin, Manuel Institute of Archaeology Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Attanasio, Orazio Economics Universidad de Los Andes
Beeken, Rebecca Behavioural Science & Health University of Guadalajara
Boano, Camillo Development Planning Unit Universidad Católica del Norte; Universidad de Chile;  Universidad Alberto Hurtado
Drinot, Paulo Institute of the Americas Universidad Nacional de Quilmes
Edwards, Stephen Earth Sciences La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Heinrich, Michael School of Pharmacy UNAM, Méxcio, D.F; Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición “Salvador Zubirán”
Heywood, Wendy ICH Genetics & Genomic Medicine, UCL GOS Institute of Child Health Universidade Federal de Pernambuco;  Real Hospital Português; GSK – Latin America & Caribbean; Hospital das Clínicas de Porto Alegre
Mindell, Jennifer Epidemiology & Public Health Various (Brazil; Chile; Colombia)
Murcio, Roberto Geography UNAM; Universidad de Pamplona
Ortiz, Catalina Bartlett Development Planning Unit National University of Colombia;  University of Los Andes
Phelps, Nicholas Bartlett School of Planning Universidad Catolica del Norte
Prieto-Garcia, Jose School of Pharmacy Universidad de La Plata
Schuster, Christian Political Science National School of Public Administration (ENAP); Federal University of Minas Gerais and National School of Public Administration (ENAP)
Sulu, Michael Biochemical Engineering Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua


The Santander Universities Research Catalyst Awards, in line with UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy, seeks to engender innovative research collaborations between UCL and universities and research institutions abroad.

While the Research Catalyst Awards focuses solely on collaborations with universities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, UCL provides various other global engagement funding opportunities for its academics and researchers.


Ask GEO: Ciaran Moynihan, Senior Partnership Manager (North and Latin America)

By Sophie Vinter, on 25 January 2017

Ciaran Moynihan, Senior Partnerships Manager (North and Latin America)Ciaran is GEO’s Senior Partnerships Manager for North and Latin America. Here he shares some key updates and opportunities from both regions with us.

Tell us more about your role in GEO and activity in your regions

I work closely with UCL faculties and departments, as well as other Professional Services, to manage and develop partnerships with institutions in North and Latin America. As you can imagine, UCL has a very wide range of activity in both regions, ranging from research collaborations and student exchanges to dual degrees and beyond. Some interesting partnerships I work on would be the Yale UCL Collaborative; an emerging priority partnership with Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile; and another emerging partnership with the University of Toronto (to name but a few!)

One challenge I face in my role is around capturing the full breadth of activity that UCL colleagues have underway with partners in North and Latin America – I am always interested to hear about links in the regions which I may not be aware of – so please do get in touch to tell me about your research and education links in both regions. There may be ways I can support you in your endeavours!

Map showing a sample of UCL collaborations in North and Latin America, by metropolitan areaWhat are the UCL Research Catalyst Awards?

The UCL Research Catalyst Awards, sponsored by Santander Universities, have successfully run since 2011. The scheme has enabled more than 40 visits to Latin American universities to support development of research collaboration.

The purpose of the awards is to foster research collaboration between UCL and key partner universities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. The awards are available to cover travel, accommodation and subsistence costs associated with focused visits to potential research collaborators, and are aimed at achieving a specific outcome that will support future research collaboration.

We have recently extended the deadline for this year’s applications to Monday 13 February 2017 at 10am. If you’d like to apply, find out more on GEO’s website.

Why do you think UCL’s partnership with Santander Universities is so successful?

UCL began its partnership with Santander Universities in 2007 and was one of the very first UK universities to become a member of the Santander Universities network. The partnership provides UCL students and staff with numerous benefits and opportunities, ranging from study abroad experiences, to research travel grants for staff, to Masters scholarships for incoming students from Latin America.

The partnership with Santander Universities is a strong one for UCL – this year marks the ten-year anniversary of the relationship, which has gone from strength to strength. Not only does Santander Universities provide funding to UCL, but we also work closely with them on support for student entrepreneurship and on helping students to gain internships in small and medium enterprises to enable them to be better prepared for global careers and lives.

UCL will shortly sign a new partnership agreement with Santander Universities, renewing our strong relationship through to 2019, so watch this space for updates on opportunities for staff and students!

What are you working on at the moment?

One of my big areas of focus right now is developing a potentially important partnership with the University of Toronto (U of T). UCL already has strong collaborative links with U of T in a range of areas including child health, education, big data and cancer research, to name a few. We also have a large undergraduate student exchange programme with them. I am currently working with UCL faculties and U of T, under the leadership of the Vice-Provost (International), to explore other areas in which we might collaborate together. Most specifically right now, we are organising a joint workshop on ‘cities’ at UCL, to discuss research collaboration in this area.

U of T is a similar institution to UCL – located in a global city, similarly placed in world league tables, research intensive and with strong educational underpinnings for our students. We are excited at UCL with the opportunity this developing partnership presents, to enable us to work together to deliver excellence in research that will potentially have global impact while also supporting our students as global citizens.

What benefits would joining the North and Latin America networks bring to UCL academics?

Both networks essentially act as ‘communities of interest’ for UCL academics working on topics related to the region, with partners in the region or from the region. We hold termly meetings to bring academics together to hear about institutional initiatives in these regions, while also providing a forum for academics to network with each other and discuss their work regarding partners from North and Latin America.

We also utilise the networks to share regular region-specific funding opportunities that may be of interest to academics, and we are planning to run some academic led events over the coming months. In fact, it would be wonderful to hear from UCL academics on themes, topics etc. for possible events which colleagues would like to see run via the networks!

Contact Ciaran on:

+44 (0)20 3108 7777 / internal 57777

Collaborating in Chile: UCL hosts Chilean Guest of Government Event

By Ciaran Moynihan, on 31 May 2016

Roundtable Delegates take their places at the Chilean Guest of Government event at UCL in May 2016

Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL, hosted a successful Chilean Guest of Government Event earlier this month.

The event provided an opportunity for the public to directly engage with project and programme leads from a range of companies, UK research funding agencies and UK universities, to explore the vast range of UK-Chile collaborations underway.

The event was held in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Chilean Embassy London and the International Unit, Universities UK.

Guests included a high level Government of Chile Delegation, led by Heraldo Muñoz, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Professor Robin Grimes, Chief Scientific Advisor to the FCO and Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Chile, Fiona Clouder joined the Event on behalf of the British Government.

Mutually beneficial collaborations

Alberto Undurraga, Minister for Public Works visiting the UCL STEaPP Project with Dr Michele AcutoThe event began with a Project Showcase – the FCO’s first joint Newton-Prosperity Showcase displaying a range of UK-Chile initiatives that have been funded through the Newton-Picarte and Prosperity Funds.

This was followed by a roundtable discussion on education, science and innovation, focusing on how the UK and Chile can work more closely together in future.

Minister Muñoz welcomed the strong approach to partnership between UCL and Chile, which was outlined by Professor Michael Arthur in his welcome words at the roundtable. He highlighted the importance of such funding opportunities in developing mutually beneficial projects between the two countries.

The Minister stated that Chile’s upcoming removal from the DAC List of ODA Recipients must not result in an immediate removal of access to such funding sources and that the Chilean Government would be discussing this with key stakeholders over the coming months.

Supporting national priorities

Andrés Gómez-Lobo, Minister for Transportation and Telecommunications and UCL alumnus and Heraldo Muñoz, Minister for Foreign Affairs visit Jeremy BenthamMinister Muñoz and Minister Gómez-Lobo outlined a number of national priority areas, which they noted could benefit further from partnerships with UK institutions, including astronomy, energy, the use of satellite technology to prevent illegal fishing along Chile’s coast and city transport initiatives.

Professor Michael Arthur said: “It was wonderful for UCL to host this fantastic event with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Chilean Embassy London and the International Unit.

“The event highlighted the exciting range of projects that are already underway between UK and Chilean institutions and the scope for further partnerships. Chile is one of UCL’s priority countries for development of partnerships that can lead to the creation of wise solutions to global challenges – the commitment of the Chilean and British governments to supporting development of such links is inspiring and I hope will lead to further engagement between UCL and Chilean institutions in future”.

Building shared approaches

Her Majesty’s Ambassador Fiona Clouder added: “The event at UCL demonstrated the vibrancy of collaborations already underway between the UK and Chile. Since I began my posting in Chile, I have seen a strong increase in UK and Chilean universities working in partnership to address challenges that not only affect Chile but also the UK.

“I hope the discussions at UCL will add to the momentum already developing around building shared approaches to benefit both nations in the future.”

Find out more

Shaping how society tackles Climate Change

By Sophie Vinter, on 23 February 2016

Professor Chris Rapley speaking at Chile's Congreso del FuturoA UCL professor held the floor in front of more than 100 international thought leaders, including Nobel Prize winners, during a major scientific congress in Chile.

Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at the Department of Earth Sciences, was among expert influencers presenting to delegates and the public at the Congreso del Futuro in Santiago in January.

The unique congress is one of the biggest scientific and technological events in Latin America, helping to shape progress of how societies adjust to global challenges.

UCL’s representation builds on strong developing partnerships with Chile, one of our priority countries for institutional engagement in the region.

Professor Rapley delivered five presentations over the course of the event, with topics covering the communication of climate change and society’s ability to adapt to climate-related impacts ahead.

His talks were streamed live and covered widely in the media.

Developing a public dialogue

The Chilean constitution is being rewritten and Professor Rapley has agreed to work with Chilean environmental lawyers to develop public dialogue aimed at its including specific reference to climate change and sustainability. Professor Joanne Scott from the UCL Laws faculty has agreed to be involved with the participation of some Chilean students.

Iceberg in Chilean AntarcticaThe vast landscapes of the Antarctic and Torres del Paine National Park provided the backdrop to thought-provoking discussion ahead of the congress, which was the brainchild of Chilean Physician and Politician, Senator Guido Girardi.

Professor Rapley said: “On the one hand the economy in Chile has soared compared with its neighbours, but on the other it is suffering the ills of the free market such as extremes of inequity, weak social functions in health and education, and environmental damage. Many Chileans are saying ‘we need to try something else.’ The idea of the congress is to bring together world-leading thinkers to address these issues.

“It was certainly one of the most intellectually stimulating and interesting events that I can recall being part of. The knowledge, insights and experience represented within the body of participants were truly stellar. The trip to the Antarctic and to Torres del Paine was an extraordinary ‘bonding’ opportunity, as well as being a logistical feat of brilliance, and a stunning visual experience.

“As a result of my presentations I have established numerous strong contacts and was asked by the Senator to continue to help him with his mission in the future.”

Professor Chris Rapley and other speakers at Congreso del Futuro in Chile

Strengthening collaborations

UCL enjoys a broad range of collaborations with Chilean institutions, ranging from mining and disaster management to crime science and beyond.

Last year the university hosted visits from Chile’s Minister for Finance and its Minister for Mining.

During a reciprocal visit in December 2015, UCL academics engaged with a number of leading Chilean universities and the Mining Ministry, leading to deeper understanding and broadening of their collaborations.

UCL Research Catalyst Award Winners – 2015/16

By Sophie Vinter, on 23 February 2016

A new round of Santander Universities Research Catalyst Awards launched in November 2015, with the aim of fostering new research collaborations between UCL and universities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.

Colleagues from across UCL applied for funding, with the winners shown below.

The Catalyst Award winners will undertake their visits over the coming academic year, in order to develop collaborative activities with their chosen partners.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.

UCL Award Winner UCL Department Partner Institution
Arroyo-Kalin, Manuel Institute of Archaeology Universidad de Los Andes; Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Boano, Camillo Development Planning Unit Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Edwards, Stephen Hazard Centre Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Hamilton, Ian Energy Institute Universidad Diego Portales
Kalaskar, Deepak Division of Surgery and Interventional Science Universidad Industrial de Santander
Mookerjee, Raj Institute for Liver and Digestive Health Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
Phelps, Nicholas School of Planning Universidad Catolica del Norte
Ricardo, Silva Statistical Science Universidade Federal do Ceara
Whitmore, David Cell and Developmental Biology Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Zaidi, Zehra Institute of Risk and Disaster Management Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Zuluaga, Maria Medical Physics and Bioengineering Universidad Nacional de Colombia

UCL and Chile: Visit by the Chilean Minister for Finance and the Minister for Mining

By Kerry Milton, on 18 November 2015

UCL’s relationship with Chile continues to develop and deepen following a number of high level visits to UCL over recent months.

Chilean Minister for Finance and Chile Day 2015

The Chilean Minister for Finance, Rodrigo Valdés Pulido was welcomed to UCL by Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost on 7 September 2015. Minister Valdés Pulido’s visit began with a private meeting with Professor Arthur and Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International) to discuss UCL’s strengthening relationship with Chile and the challenges Chile’s economy is currently facing. The Minister was joined by H.E. Fiona Clouder, British Ambassador to Chile and H.E. Rolando Drago Rodríguez, Chilean Ambassador to Great Britain.

The private meeting was followed by a public lecture given by the Minister and introduced by Professor Arthur. The lecture, titled ‘Chilean Economy: challenges ahead’, had an audience of over 150 people, formed of UCL staff and students as well as senior colleagues from the Chilean and British finance sectors attending Chile Day 2015 events across London.

The visit was a fantastic opportunity for the Minister to also engage with Chilean students studying at UCL and academic colleagues with an interest in developing collaborations to support Chile’s economic development.

Chilean Minister for Mining

The Minister for Mining, Government of Chile was welcomed to UCL on 13 October 2015 by Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International). The Minister visited UCL to discuss the challenges facing Chile in relation to the Mining sector and to explore ways in which UCL could support development of solutions to these challenges.

In addition to meeting with Dame Nicola, the Minister held a roundtable discussion with UCL academics and students from Faculty of Engineering Sciences, Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. During the discussion the Minister outlined specific issues facing the mining sector broadly related to energy and water supply, environmental rights and mine tailings with UCL colleagues noting the expertise at UCL which could support development of solutions to these challenges. As a result, a follow up meeting will be held in Santiago with Dame Nicola Brewer and academic colleagues on the UCL delegation visit to Chile, 3-4 December 2015 to discuss next steps in developing collaboration.

Dame Nicola has said of the developing relationship with Chile ‘Chile is one of UCL’s priority countries in Latin America. We welcome increasing numbers of Chilean students to study here every year – UCL now being the number one destination in the UK for Chilean students. We are committed to developing strong partnerships of equivalence with Chile and will undertake an institutional visit there from 3-4 December in order to build on the growing number of engagements from Chilean national agencies and universities.’

Chilean Economy: challenges ahead

By Kerry Milton, on 7 August 2015

UCL is delighted to welcome Rodrigo Valdés Pulido, Minister for Finance, Government of Chile to give a public lecture on ‘Chilean Economy: challenges ahead.’

  • Date: 7 September 2015

  • Time: 15.15-16.10

  • Location: UCL, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT (Exact building will be confirmed 2 weeks before the event)

  • Open to academics, staff, students and the general public

You MUST register to attend

The Minister’s visit to UCL takes place in the context of Chile Day 2015, which is organised by Chilean Ministry of Finance and INBEST Chile. It seeks to promote Chile abroad as a highly attractive country for investment and as a financial fund management platform for Latin America and emerging markets as well as strengthening ties between Chilean local capital markets and its global partners.

What is the Newton Fund?

By Kerry Milton, on 27 October 2014

The Newton Fund is part of the UK’s official international development assistance. This new funding is designed to promote the long term economic development and welfare of people in partner countries and unlock new opportunities for HEIs to contribute and build partnerships.

The fund is worth £75 million each year from 2014 for 5 years, predicated upon reciprocal funding in cash or kind from each partner country.

The partner countries have been confirmed as 15 fast-developing economies, identified by OECD:

  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Philippines
  • South Africa
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Vietnam

The fund has a governance board chaired by the Minister for Universities and Science, while BIS will oversee the management of the fund via a core group of ‘delivery partners’, including various academies, the British Council and International Higher Education Unit, Research Councils UK, Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Met Office.

The fund is organised into a wide-ranging series of collaborative programmes grouped into three ‘pillars’: People, Programmes, Translation.

Each UK delivery partner has a particular role in promoting different programmes; see Newton Fund Programme Descriptions [PDF] for further information.

Each partner country decides upon its own priorities in consultation with the UK delivery partners and UK diplomatic centres in-country, according to local need and the local availability of reciprocal matching resources.

How to apply

UCL applications for Newton funding will follow the applicant’s usual departmental procedures in line with the relevant Newton Fund delivery partner’s requirements. Further guidance if required can be obtained from the research facilitation team member for the appropriate School, visit the Office of the Vice Provost for Research website for contact information

Useful information

An overview of the BIS policy [webpage]

The Newton Fund Programme Descriptions [PDF]

Government Newton Fund Presentation [PowerPoint]

Frequently asked questions [PDF]

Universities UK International Unit maintains an up-to-date web page as a one-stop for all current calls [webpage]

Universities UK International Unit runs an email alert service for all new calls, and UCL colleagues are encouraged to sign up for this [webpage]

UCL President and Pro-Provost for the Americas visit Brazil

By Kerry Milton, on 22 August 2014

As well as attending the third Universia Vice-Chancellors Meeting in Rio, Brazil, where Santander Universities announced 700 million Euro investment in universities until 2018; UCL President and Provost, Professor Michael Arthur and Pro-Provost to the Americas, Professor Alejandro Madrigal, met with some of Latin America’s top universities and organisations to discuss opportunities for partnership and collaboration in higher education.

Engagements included meeting with the Rector of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) to deepen the developing institutional relationship between UCL and PUC through the Engineering 2030 Programme.

The Engineering 2030 initiative provides funding from the Chilean Economic Development Agency (Corfo) to universities that plan transforming their Engineering Schools into world-class entities, with a particular focus on the four pillars that are increasingly important in the engineering field: applied research, technology development and transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship.

UCL formally supported PUC’s successful proposal and over the coming months will explore further opportunities for working under this partnership.

Another highlight was a meeting with the Rector of Universidade de São Paulo (USP), the oldest university in Brazil and one of the most prestigious higher education and research institutions in Latin America, to discuss a potential high-level relationship between USP and UCL.

A final meeting took place with the President of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), one of the world’s largest universities with an excellent international reputation, and a long-standing collaborator of UCL.

Discussions spanned renewing a highly-successful research agreement in biomedical and life sciences, as well as exploring new subject areas for potential collaboration and partnership.

To discuss UCL’s current links and on going plan for the Latin America region, contact Professor Madrigal at a.madrigal@ucl.ac.uk or Julia Dawson, Assistant Director at the Office for International Affairs at julia.dawson@ucl.ac.uk