UCL’s research with impact
My research at UCL looks at climate change both in the past and the future. My research focuses on using organic waste to produce renewable energy and chemicals. The focus of my research is to develop novel imaging techniques to see the world in a way that we haven’t seen it before. I’m looking at representations of women and city space in fiction films from the 1910s and 1920s. My field of science, in astrobiology, is looking at the possibility of there being life beyond Earth. All across UCL, there is groundbreaking research happening, which is changing the way we live. There’s a vast amount of archaeology of all periods on the foreshore. It’s eroding away as tide changes, as sea level changes and we
want the general public to learn the skills of an archaeologist through our training sessions, and be able to go away and do this, year-on-year, so we can monitor erosion and record the heritage of the Thames. UCL’s Institute of Child Health is situated adjacent to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, which is one of the best children’s hospitals in the world. The hospital and institute are very closely aligned and integrated in terms of their research strategy. The area of intense activity in the institute and the hospital is the area of gene therapy. So, for children who are admitted with immune deficiencies, primary immune deficiencies, and who have no donor – so there’s no option to do a bone marrow transplant – then, replacing the defective gene is one way of helping them recover from a disease, which is otherwise not possible to actually cure. And so, the gene therapy team at the UCL Institute of Child Health and at Great Ormond Street have done pioneering research and are now able to correct a number of primary immune defects that have a single gene basis. The institute and the hospital have made a number of pioneering discoveries for identifying genes that responsible for relatively rare syndromes such as forms of epilepsy or hearing disorders. The opportunity that now presents itself is for us to take some of the research findings from our laboratory and from some of our small groups of patients and use those to improve the health of the population in the community. One of the most exciting experiences I’ve had at UCL was working on the UCL-Lancet Commission on looking at global health and climate change. We got 20 professors and students together, from all the departments in this university, and actually then wrote a very important commission for the Lancet, looking at really what are the health effects of climate change. London is incredibly important as a place, because here you have access to government; you have access to the headquarters of NGOs; you have access to big business.
A lot of the work we do here at UCL is policy-orientated, so we look at climate change, we look at policies.
But if you don’t communicate that with the people in the know and in power, it’s useless. So actually being in London is fantastic, because you’re close
to the heart of power and, therefore, you have influence, so you can change the world.