Spotlight on... Chris Cullen

Chris is Project Manager in the Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs) and manages the Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme, which aims to create the leaders of the future through a mix of training and intensive summer research periods.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am the Programme Manager for the Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme. This is a bursary scheme which funds 25 undergraduates per year to undertake summer research projects and receive leadership training and opportunities. It’s a varied role involving a lot of planning, liaison with students and staff, tracking finances, maintaining webpages, and other tasks.

Propose a project or encourage your students to apply to become a Laidlaw Scholar.

Read about BSc Economics and Geography student Maciej Respekta’s experience as a Laidlaw Scholar.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I arrived in 2012 just before the London Olympics. I worked previously on a wide variety of educational projects within the Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs) including a graduate bursary scheme, pilots of educational furniture, and assisting with a review of postgraduate taught education.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I have helped in the setting up and managing of a scheme which gives students their first taste of real research, and also shows to their supervisors just what these young adults are capable of. It’s really satisfying seeing the Laidlaw Scholars grow and mature over the two years of the programme.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list

The scheme is always changing, and we’re now looking to enhance the leadership opportunities of our Laidlaw Scholars through more in-depth hands on experience in their second year. We’re still at the planning and discussing stage, but it will be an exciting development.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: Schubert String Quintet in C Major D956 played by the Alban Berg Quartet and Heinrich Schiff
Film: 8 oe directed by Federico Fellini
Novel: The Bell by Iris Murdoch

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

I sold my vacuum cleaner.... Well, it was just gathering dust.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Rather than meet a bunch of famous people (why would they want to meet me?) perhaps I could invite my grandparents and great grandparents to a big lunch (I take it UCL would foot the bill?). I would really like to meet them all again or for the first time, and see where we have similar interests and characteristics.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I have never been very good at following life advice. I was once told: ’Find the one thing you are good at, and do nothing else’. Wise words, and I offer them here to this discerning readership, but a bit too late for me (and not so easy to find that one thing).

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I am a trained actor and have played roles in Shakespeare and Ibsen and many modern plays. Recently I have played an American maths professor (in Proof), and the great Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (in Terra Nova).

What is your favourite place?

Perhaps the caravan park and beach at Dunwich on the Suffolk coast where I spent many happy childhood holidays in the company of my fond and doting grandparents.


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