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UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Developing Sustainable
Agri-Food Systems
in London
Studying London’s current food and agriculture landscape, a
unique collaboration between UCL and London communities
resulting in The Food Junctions Cookbook
This study began as a comprehensive but
critical analysis of the current landscape of
food and agriculture in London, conducted
through multi-sited ethnographical
investigation. It explored the complex
relationships between food, human society
and nature – often discussed in terms of
‘crisis’ in London, without sustainable
alternatives being explored.
GCSC
The work resulted in the publication of The
Food Junctions Cookbook: Living Recipes
for Social Innovation, a unique collaboration
between UCL staff and students and
London’s local communities. The book is
free to download, and mixes practice,
politics and pleasure, uniting people
through a common interest in food. 300
Londoners from all walks of life attended the
book’s launch party, where a celebratory
atmosphere broke down many barriers.
Collaborators
• UCL Development
Planning Unit
• UCL Anthropology
• UCL Public Engagement
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Blackouts prevention
and solutions
Managing the risk of power blackouts in emerging energy
grids through cross-disciplinary techniques
Healthcare, security and financial systems
across the world depend on reliable power
supplies, which are vulnerable to
disturbance from natural hazards and
technological failure. The project aimed to
understand how complex systems react to
disturbances, to support improved
forecasting and contingency planning by
drawing on expertise from medicine,
biology, engineering and economics.
GCSC
After a two-day workshop at UCL, the
cross-disciplinary research group named
[email protected] was established as the basis of
an international network. Early findings
from the project have already been
disseminated internationally in a conference
presentation, Understanding, Prediction,
Mitigation of Cascading Failures in
Interdisciplinary Complex Systems, and a
research paper will be co-authored to
achieve wider academic dissemination.
Collaborators
• UCL Energy Institute
• UCL Security & Crime
Science
• UCL Biochemical
Engineering
• UCL Institute of
Cardiovascular Science
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Infrastructure
resilience
Exploring the assessment and management of resilience
in different infrastructure systems – transport, water
supply and power – from a cross-disciplinary perspective
After identifying key issues with colleagues
across the UK, a one-day cross-disciplinary
workshop was held at UCL. A special
session on infrastructure was also held at
an international conference, with two
research student speakers funded to attend.
GCSC
The work has resulted in the creation of a
network studying assessment of critical
infrastructure, and the project team are
currently developing a paper in which they
apply a game-theoretic analysis, already
developed for the power supply market, to
the UK railway market. The Rail Safety
Standards Board has requested a proposal
on resilience railway planning with respect
to climate change.
Collaborators
• UCL Civil, Environmental
& Geomatic Engineering
• UCL Bartlett School of
Planning
• UCL Statistical Science
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Gaza ‘Learning
Room’
An innovative self-help prototype of a new annexe to
schools in the Gaza Strip
The twin purposes of the ‘Learning Room’
were to provide a community centre for
local residents, and a knowledge
base/testing site to spread methods of
low-cost sustainable construction.
An initial design workshop was held at
UCL. Follow-up sessions involved the
project team, Palestinian representatives,
and leading architects and engineers
working together.
GCSC
The ‘Learning Room’ project offered a
means to disseminate low-energy passive
building techniques that Gazan citizens
could use when they erect new houses
within the constraints of severe economic
scarcity. While current political realities
mean that all efforts in Gaza are now
focusing on emergency rebuilding, the
question of how to build in a manner that
conserves resources as much as possible is
one that remains vital.
Collaborators
• UCL Bartlett School of
Architecture
• UCL Development
Planning Unit
• Golzari Sharif Architects
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
A life-history approach to
diabetes in rural India
Developing and applying a novel evolutionary
perspective on the lifecourse causes of diabetes risk
in rural Indian adolescents
The study measures physical activity using
accelerometry in 680 adolescents from the
Pune Maternal Nutrition Study, exploring the
interaction of early life experience, schedule
of maturation and current activity patterns in
terms of diabetes risk at age 18.
The research will help to understand how
rapid lifestyle change can affect the risk of
metabolic disorders, by clarifying how
behaviour in one generation interacts with
the nutritional experience of the previous
generation. This approach benefits from the
GCGH
use of evolutionary theory to generate
testable predictions.
The measurements have been successfully
implemented, making this one of the first
studies to apply this approach in rural
populations undergoing the early stages of
‘nutrition transition.’
Collaborators
• UCL Institute of Child
Health
• UCL Anthropology
• InsKEM Hospital, Pune,
India
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Improving ventilation to
control tuberculosis
Identifying potential sites of TB transmission by
measuring CO2 levels in indoor public spaces in rural
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Tuberculosis (TB), largely HIV-related, is a
major cause of mortality in Southern Africa.
Research suggests that, in such high
burdens, much transmission occurs outside
the home. This study is the first collaboration
between the disciplines of epidemiology and
environmental design and engineering.
After developing low-cost CO2 sensors, the
team placed them inside and outside public
buildings and recorded the numbers of
people inside, and duration of visits. The
contribution of occupant breathing to indoor
GCGH
CO2 levels was calculated, and the risk of
transmission estimated. The team will
model low-cost retrofits which might
reduce infection risk while maintaining
indoor comfort levels.
This work will inform interventions to make
public spaces safer in communities affected
by TB.
Collaborators
• UCL Centre for Infectious
Disease Epidemiology
• UCL Bartlett Institute
for Environmental Design
& Engineering
• Africa Centre for Health
& Population Studies,
South Africa
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Burns as a result of
crimes against women
Death from burning may be the result of an accident,
homicide or suicide. In India, women’s deaths are often
suspected to be non-accidental
In India, more women sustain fatal burns
than men, and their deaths are often
suspected to be non-accidental. Through
interviews with women admitted to burns
units, doctors, nurses, forensic experts and
police officers, in Mumbai and New Delhi,
this study examined the roles of the medical
profession and the police in the process of
classification of cause of death.
practitioners, non-governmental
organisations and the public in Delhi
(reported nationally in The Hindu).
The study resulted in three jointly authored
articles in public health and criminology
journals, one conference presentation and
dissemination of the findings to
• police have limited powers for conducting independent investigation
in dowry-related cases
GCGH
The research concluded:
• classification in suspected non-accidental cases depends entirely on
victim accounts
• forensic or medical evidence is rudimentary and can be disjointed
from police investigations
• measures to reduce accidental burns include designing safer stoves,
signage for stoves and lamps, and discouraging floor-level cooking.
Collaborators
• UCL Security & Crime
Science
• UCL Institute for Global
Health
• Society for Nutrition,
Education and Health
Action (India)
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Screening for Neonatal
Jaundice based on the
Sclera Colour of the Eye:
A smartphone App for Neonatal Jaundice
A low cost screening tool for jaundice would reduce the number of
newborn infants being referred for blood sampling, and would be more
economically viable for developing countries.
Collaborators
Jaundice is found in 50% of term, and 86%
of preterm infants within the first week of life.
The yellow colour is caused by bilirubin, a
breakdown product of haemoglobin. While
high levels of bilirubin in blood can cause
brain damage, jaundice is treatable, and is
currently screened for using blood sampling.
The project team have now carried out
preliminary studies to correlate sclera colour
and serum bilirubin levels. Results show that
GCGH
the sclera colour is a better feature to
predict serum bilirubin level than the skin
colour. The ultimate aim is to develop a
smartphone app to screen for neonatal
jaundice. A prototype app has been
developed but not yet tested in newborn
babies. If viable, it could be an easy to use
and low-cost alternative to blood sampling
for jaundice in developing countries.
• Dr Terence Leung, Karan
Kapur, Ashley Guilliam
Department of Medical Physics
& Biomedical Engineering
• Dr Lindsay MacDonald
Department of Civil,
Environmental & Geomatic
Engineering
• Dr Judith Meek
• The Neonatal Unit, UCL
Hospitals
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Negotiating
religion
How religious communities create or defend their place
in a given commonwealth, both in history and in our
world today
The focus of this series of workshops was
how communities formulate and present
their claims, identify potential spokespeople
and their addressees, secure their
institutions, and assert their physical and
political presence and integrity.
Workshops were held on: European
Legacies, European Challenges;
Constitutional & Philosophical Dimensions;
Negotiating Religion in Urban Space;
and Legal Frameworks – Schools and
Religious Freedom.
GCII
Outputs included a public events series
and the creation of a cross-disciplinary
network embracing UCL’s wealth of
expertise on religion and society, with
connections made to similar groups at other
UK universities. A publication, Negotiating
Religion, will present selected contributions
to the workshops.
Collaborators
• UCL Hebrew & Jewish
Studies
• UCL European Institute
• UCL Geography
• UCL Political Science
• UCL Constitution Unit
• UCL Laws
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Archaeology, Heritage
and Civilisation in Iraqi
Kurdistan
A collaboration with the Suleimaniya Board of Antiquities
& Museums, to begin excavations in the Shahrizor Plain
of Iraqi Kurdistan
Seven faculty members from UCL and
UCL Qatar travelled to Suleimaniya (Iraqi
Kurdistan) and agreed a five-year
programme of cross-disciplinary research
with the Suleimaniya Board of Antiquities
& Museums.
During a second field season the team
uncovered well-preserved remains of a
7,000-year-old settlement on the site of
Gurga Chiya, providing rich evidence of
prehistoric economy, diet and material
GCII
culture. Material from the field seasons
forms the basis for three research projects,
including two fully funded PhDs.
Publications to date include New Agendas
in Remote Sensing and Landscape
Archaeology and The Provincial
Archaeology of the Assyrian Empire.
Collaborators
• UCL Institute of
Archeology
• UCL History
• UCL Qatar
The second field season was completed
shortly before Mosul fell to ISIS. The team
remains in close touch with colleagues in
Kurdistan and awaits further news.
• Suleimaniya Board of
Antiquities & Museums
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Mapping rapid cultural
change in Ethiopia
Anthropologists and engineers came together to apply
and evaluate portable data collection technology, as a
tool for evaluating rapid cultural change
The Sapelli platform, a technology
developed at UCL, has the potential to help
assess the ways in which people are
responding to environmental change.
The platform – initially developed for, and
to some extent with, hunter-gatherer
communities in the Congo basin – uses
interfaces composed of hierarchically
organised icons to enable non-literate
people to engage in data collection. This
project investigated the practicality of
adapting the Sapelli system for use by and
with agro-pastoralists in Ethiopia.
GCII
The pilot study confirmed this potential, and
grant proposals have been submitted to the
Leverhulme Foundation and the UCL Centre
for Humanities Interdisciplinary Research
Projects scheme. Extensions have been
made to the Sapelli software, to be used in
in several other deployments.
Collaborators
• UCL Anthropology
• UCL Civil, Environmental
& Geomatic Engineering
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Between Art and
the Law
This project Grey Areas: Between Art and
the Law was a collaboration between artist
Carey Young (UCL Slade School of Fine
Art) and Dr Ralph Wilde (UCL Laws). It
explored well-known ‘grey areas’ such as
Guantànamo Bay, as well as lesser-known
examples such as the ECHELON
surveillance network.
Dr Wilde acted as a discussant and
research adviser on various legal aspects of
the works. The resulting artworks were
shown in a major solo exhibition at the
GCII
Migros Museum, Zurich. Three works were
exhibited at CA2M in Madrid, one of the
leading contemporary art galleries in Spain.
The research supported Still Life, Young’s
recent performance commission at Dublin
Castle. Young is developing the research
towards a solo exhibition at Paula Cooper
Gallery, New York in 2015.
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This consideration of legal ‘grey areas’ – domains in which
law seems to have withdrawn or been forced into exile –
resulted in a major solo exhibition
Collaborators
• UCL Slade School of Art
• UCL Laws
• Finers Stephens
Innocent LLP
• Birkbeck School of Law
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Identifying the essential
elements of visual
representations of pain
An analysis of current visual representations of pain
available to patients as part of the explanation of chronic pain
This project integrates understanding of pain
from basic science and from psychology,
research fields with disparate explanatory
frameworks. The ultimate aim is to design a
visual representation of pain (particularly
neuropathic pain), integrating physiological
and psychological components, for use with
and by people with pain.
The study concluded that visual
representations of pain which were concrete
and anatomical offered better models than
conceptual representations. A good
GCHW
explanatory model will connect these levels,
use functional labelling of processes, and
locate pain within the model.
Outputs so far include a prototype of
dynamic, individually adaptable
representations of pain, presented at a pain
clinic and general practice scientific
meetings, as well as planned submissions
to a pain journal and conference.
Collaborators
• UCL Clinical, Educational
& Health Psychology
• UCL Neuroscience,
Physiology &
Pharmacology
• UCL Interaction Centre
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
The risks of
extreme dieting
A study of the effects of the ‘5:2’ fasting diet on
cognitive processing and decision-making, and the
risks of developing eating disorder symptoms
Minimal or nil intake is a frequent
component of both abnormal eating, and
diets such as ‘5:2’ (in which participants
alternate between five days of normal
consumption and two days of minimal
intake). The effects on decision-making are
poorly studied, as are potential risks of
developing eating disorder symptoms such
as bingeing.
This study tested 100 healthy participants,
both when they fasted and when satiated.
The results will test the hypothesis that
highly impulsive subjects are more
GCHW
vulnerable to developing binge behaviours
when attempting a fasting diet.
The project has led to the development
of a programme of related research,
including data collection for a study of
naturalistic hunger and its impact on
neuropsychological test performance, and
data collection for a two-stage naturalistic
study comparing individuals undergoing
intermittent fasting with those undergoing
other kinds of weight-loss diets.
Collaborators
• UCL Clinical, Educational
& Health Psychology
• Gatsby Computational
Neuroscience Unit at UCL
• UCL Institute of Cognitive
Neuroscience
• Maxine Howard
Clinical, Educational &
Health Psychology
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
Social media and
healthy ageing
How social media can be used to help healthy aging, with a
specific focus on social isolation, care monitoring, and
training of organisations and carers
This project – The Social Web: A
Community Technology for Healthy Ageing
–involved collaboration with a communitybased multi-sectoral organisation in
Stratford, East London, which works with
and cares for elders suffering from various
forms of cognitive impairment.
The collaboration has led to a UCL Beacon
Public Engagement Fellowship Award and a
Big Lottery Fund Award. Through the use of
an Ipad app, oral history, photographic and
verbal data was collected from the elders
and made available to them to review and
share with family and friends.
GCHW
Outputs so far include: a demonstration of
using social media with multi-sectoral
organisations, especially in the context of
aging; and a review of literature on issues of
social media and social isolation, care
monitoring and training/education of carers
for people with dementia. Research will be
presented in November during a hands-on
training public workshop.
Collaborators
• UCL Institute for Global
Health
• UCL Civil, Environmental
& Geomatic Engineering
UCL GRAND CHALLENGES
How to get on (with)
a bus
An exploration of the world of wheelchair users within the
public transport system, especially London buses
This study tested the viability of a
larger project aiming to find innovative
solutions to improve the accessibility
of London Transport.
The focus of the exploratory study was on
how wheelchair users engage with London
buses in particular, categorising barriers
users pointed out themselves. The research
used quantitative methods (human limb
movement and strength exertion) and
semi-structured interviews.
GCHW
Evidence suggests accessibility issues
cannot be grounded in a single factor
(social, technological or spatial). Analyses
indicate that barriers to accessibility result
from institutional exclusion of wheelchair
users due to the transport system having
become stabilised without the full integration
of these users’ needs within it. The research
is now expanding as a doctoral thesis.
Collaborators
• UCL Science &
Technology Studies
• UCL Civil, Environmental
& Geomatic Engineering