Portico P_black


UCL Alumni


Or join the University College London (UCL) Official Alumni Group on LinkedIn

Love it? Hate it?
Email us at alumni@ucl.ac.uk or write to us at Portico Magazine, UCL Development & Alumni Relations Office, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT. Please mark your letters “for publication”. Letters may be edited for length.


I was interested to read Andrew Davies’ account of his time in the UCL English Department in the late 1950s (PORTICO, Issue 2). But I could not let the passing reference to “a man named Dodgson” go without comment.

Professor John McNeal Dodgson (1928-1990), after whom, I assume, the John Dodgson House hall of residence was named, was an Anglo-Saxon scholar and place names expert who was secretary of the English Place Names Society. Besides this, he was the most decent of men.

In my short time at the UCL English Department there were many stars – Frank Kermode, Randolph Quirk, Stephen Spender and the Earl of Gowrie (“call me Grey”) – but John Dodgson was not really one of them. He didn’t climb the greasy pole and didn’t think much of those who did, but was well loved.

Anne Falloon (English 1972)

It’s a real pleasure to receive Portico and have UCL a part of you. I really enjoyed reading the thoughts of Andrew Davies as he wanders back to his old stomping grounds. It was beautifully written, with plenty of funny and wistful moments. I loved what Davies wrote about not knowing what he wanted to do for a career. Perhaps these are the kids who we need to look out for, not the destined self-starters. Anyone who has seen the brilliant BBC series War and Peace might agree with me.

Pauline Suwanban (Comparative Literature 2014)

I was interested to read your piece about bacteria and anti-bacterial agents (PORTICO, Issue 2). In the text describing the figure with four Petri dishes you refer to Duchesne (1897) and the observation that mould can protect against the action of bacteria. The history of this kind of effect goes back to 1877 when Pasteur and Jaubert showed that anthrax could be inhibited by bacteria like E.coli, and injected rabbits to show this to be so.

Also that year Tyndall, the physicist who followed Faraday at the Royal Institution, was interested in, among other things, why the sky is blue, and in turbid fluids. It turned out that in his laboratory one of the tubes with turbid fluid from bacteria cleared when a penicillin mould grew in it.

The history of medical science has examples where discoveries are made which take a long time to follow through to clinical application, and the penicillin story is one of those – finally resolved, of course, by Howard Florey and his group in Oxford.

Tim Biscoe (Jodrell Professor and Head of Physiology, Vice-Provost)


Illustration Hanna Melin

On page 20 of the latest issue of Portico you show a picture of students celebrating the relief of Ladysmith, presumably on top of the UCL portico. You don’t say anything about the figure of the Scotsman in full Highland regalia. My mother, who attended UCL around 1920, told me about this figure, which rowdy students would purloin from the front entrance of a tobacconist’s shop in Tottenham Court Road; I think he was holding out a snuff-box. They named him “Phineas MacLino”. My mother said that at that time the rowdiest students by far were the medical ones. I believe when I was at UCL (Architecture, Town Planning, 1951-58) the rowdiest were the engineering students, who one time hoisted someone’s little car on to the roof of – I seem to remember – the Slade School, which was next to the Bartlett.

David Birnbaum (Philosophy 1958)


Jaquelin Pelagio boom_boom_baby
Don’t think I will remove the wrapping because this is in a way incredibly precious to me. UCL sending out magazines to alumni worldwide. As if it wasn’t enough experiences, memories and knowledge for almost half a lifetime that we gained there in half a year. I miss those good times so much. A cosy, warm spot that I go back to in my mind, from time to time

Ben Scanlan @ben_scanlan
Long day; bubbles, bath and #UCLportico providing much needed chill out and stimulation all in one

Kely Sarmiento @keljadue
#UCLportico in my hands, absolutely love it!

  • Contents 2016/17Contents 2016/17
  • DeconstructedDeconstructed
  • InboxInbox
  • Two new grand challengesTwo new grand challenges
  • Free RadicalFree Radical
  • UCL a “global university”UCL a “global university”
  • Jeremy Bentham SpeaksJeremy Bentham Speaks
  • Extra CurricularExtra Curricular
  • The Strong RoomThe Strong Room
  • CloisteredCloistered
  • Follow the CrowdFollow the Crowd
  • A Time to GiveA Time to Give
  • How to Build a BrainHow to Build a Brain
  • Next MachinaNext Machina
  • Social AnimalsSocial Animals
  • What Janani, Sarah and Adam did nextWhat Janani, Sarah and Adam did next
  • The power of philanthropyThe power of philanthropy
  • This idea must dieThis idea must die
  • London  vs  WorldLondon vs World
Portico Issue 3. 2016/17