UncoverED: Exhibition showcases global alumni in Edinburgh


Some of the student researchers who helped with the project. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

Students from the University of Edinburgh are shining a light on former graduates whose stories have been untold… until now.

For over 150 years students from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas have come to Scotland’s capital to study, however many have done so unrecognised for their work and achievements.

From William Fergusson, the first known black student at the University of Edinburgh to Kadambini Ganguly, one of the earliest female physicians from South Asia, the university has played a part in educating many world-leading figures.

The exhibition also features an array of doctors, writers, scientists, artists and more.

A group of student researchers, led by PhD candidates Henry Mitchell and Tom Cunningham, started the project last September and have spent hours reading through old student newspapers, reading biographies and talking to families of the alumni to create a database of successful former students.

Henry Mitchell who led the project said:

“Edinburgh has got this really long and diverse history which hasn’t really been looked at and it has got world thinkers who came to Edinburgh who haven’t been recognised.

“These are people who are famous and are recognised elsewhere, and a lot are in history books but haven’t been recognised in Edinburgh’s history.

“We  went through the archives of the Student which is this really old newspaper. So that starts in 1886 and goes up to the 1980’s. So we read 100 years of the student newspaper in a week.  It’s been really good collaborative research.”


The exhibition will run from February 1, until June at the University of Edinburgh. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

There are two phases of the exhibition. The first, and current, features students from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, and will run until mid-April. The second phase will showcase students from the period between 1800 and 1940, which will run from mid-April until June.

During the research, the team found out more than just the careers of these people but also the lives they lived while in Edinburgh and the experiences they had. They found out what nights out were like, where they lived, what student fees they paid and more.

During the project, the team also found that many of the students did not complete their full degree due to a variety of factors.

Hannah McGurk, a second year German and English student, was part of the research team. She said:

“We found people who are really, really famous in their home countries  that the university just doesn’t really recognise.

“For me, Edinburgh is not a very diverse place and the university does not have a very diverse curriculum. I study English and we were doing all white male writers so for me this is really a way for me to connect with some of those histories.

“It’s an important exhibition because so many students and staff at the university are just unaware of the history, as well as people who just live in the city.

“People of colour have always been a part of the story of Edinburgh, and they still are. This is a really important way to uncover those histories and talk about it and have those conversations.”

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Scotland’s first black professor, is featured in the exhibition. Born in Jamaica in 1940, he moved to London with his mother at the age of 14 as part of the Windrush generation. He did his PhD in Grain Science and Technology in Edinburgh in 1964.

Natasha Ruwona, an Intermedia student, was part of the team of researchers and wrote the biography of Sir Palmer. She said:

“I was so excited to be part of the project because it was branded as an imperial and colonial project and I am quite interested in the relationship between Scotland and black people.

“I think they are important to be told, because for people of colour like myself, it’s important to see people went to this university so long ago and compare their experience to ours now and how things have changed.”

The project aims to encourage the University of Edinburgh’s community to reflect on its imperial past and how it played a part in the university’s global status.

The free exhibition opens today, and will run until June at the Chrystal Macmillan Building at the University of Edinburgh.

Robots are infiltrating Edinburgh

With a new exhibit looking at robots opening at the National Museum of Scotland today, EN4News shares what visitors can expect from the machines that are becoming more and more like humans.

Over 100 robots are the stars of a new major exhibition which has taken over the National Museum of Scotland.

“Robots” explores the quest to reimagine humans as machines, exhibiting androids of a variety of ages, from the earliest to the ones used in modern research labs.

The exhibit opened in Edinburgh today – January 18.

Five time periods are shown in “Robots”, explaining the role of robots in religious belief, the Industrial Revolution, popular culture, and society’s hopes for the future. Displays include an examination into why robots are being built to resemble people in appearance and interactive behaviour.


RoboThespian performs vocal exercises and gives a theatrical performance for visitors. Photo credit to National Museum of Scotland

Dr. Tacye Phillipson, who is the Senior Curator of Modern Science at National Museums Scotland, said;

“The exhibition highlights some of the capabilities of these mechanical marvels, but also examines how technically challenging it is for scientific fact to catch up with the imagination of science fiction.”

As Dr. Phillipson said, there is difficulty when comparing the truth of science with the fantasy that is science fiction. This will be discussed through an analysis of what a realistic future humans share with robots could potentially look like.


More than 100 robots are on display at the National Museum of Scotland from January 18. Photo credit to National Museum of Scotland

Various robots will show the latest advances in their technological designs, including Bipedal Walker walking like a person, Inkha answering questions and offering fashion advice, Zeno R25 replicating facial expressions, and ROSA moving its ‘eye’ to watch as visitors move.

With robots being at the very centre of popular culture since 1920, when the word ‘robot’ was first used, film buffs have a chance to see a T800 Terminator which was used in the film Terminator Salvation.

A new section to the exhibition, which was first developed in London’s Science Museum, has been added just for its time in Edinburgh. This is due to the city’s ground-breaking robotics work.

The display, by the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics’ Robotarium, analyses the creation of Valkyrie, a bot built by NASA and currently being programmed by the Robotarium with the hope of sending it to Mars on a mission.

Dr. Phillipson also said that the city is “a major centre for robotics research and we are delighted to have created a special section for the exhibition’s Edinburgh run which looks at some of this work.”

The funding for this unusual exhibition was provided by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Senior Programmes Manager at People’s Postcode Lottery Hazel Johnstone said:

“Taking an in-depth look at the wonderful world of humanoid robots, visitors will be able to come face to face with a range of iconic examples; from some of those seen on the silver screen to robot workers.”

Visitors to the museum have until May 5 to see the “Robots” exhibit, with tickets costing up to £10 for adults. Purchase them here.

This is the last chance to see the exhibition in the UK before it begins to tour internationally.


Brainstorm: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Kings Theatre, Glasgow, Review

Joanne Clifton as Millie Credit: Darren Bell

Joanne Clifton as Millie Credit: Darren Bell


The curtain lifts to reveal country bumpkin Millie Dillmount, played by Strictly Come Dancing’s Joanne Clifton, pulled from Kansas and thrust into 1920’s New York. The story follows Millie’s first week or so in the city, staying in the Hotel Priscilla run by the baddie of the day Mrs Meers, played by Eastenders’ Michelle Collins, and planning to seduce her new boss to marry up.

Clifton’s performance was zealous enough that her dance and song breaks were almost a welcome relief, that’s not to say she wasn’t good, just that it felt pretty forced. Collins as the hotelier and, get this, white slave driver, was hard to watch in the first instance. Her pidgin English and “oriental” dress came across quite offensive, as well as her side-kicks and pet kidnappers Ching Ho and Bun Foo, played by Damian Buhagiar and Andy Yau respectively.  However in some scenes she really came into her own when she let her true identity come through, and gave a convincing performance as a pantomime villain.

The stand out performance of the night came surprisingly from the undercard Muzzy Van Hossmere, portrayed by Jenny Fitzpatrick. An A-lister that Millie stumble across whilst courting her real love interest of the show, Jimmy Smith played by Sam Barrett, Fitzpatrick exuded, and complimented,  all the glitz and glamour afforded to the play, with its Gatsby-esque fringed dresses and bobbed haircuts, with her guardian angel role to the lead.

The set was impressive, with a small number of large set pieces depicting a small number of locations in which the show takes place, Morgan Larges work is one of the saving graces of the show, however the cast is so compact that even the big cast-heavy scenes left the stage looking a little empty.

Racky Plew’s direction was awkward to say the least. A large chunk of the dialogue made for painful watching. Any attempts at humour were all but lost on the audience. Set in the prohibition era, alcohol runs throughout the play out as a sub plot, however the first and second act provided starkly different portrayals. The second act ‘drunken’ scene, played out largely by Graham Macduff as Trevor Graydon, was musical theatre’s equivalent of whacking your funny bone, painful, frustrating and altogether not funny.

On the contrary the drunken scene of the first act was a delight. Set in a speakeasy, the scene was all singing and all dancing, and one of the few scenes that really filled the stage and filled the theatre with fun. It was exactly what a musical theatre scene should be.

Fun but not funny it showcased excellent dancing prowess and some stand out vocal performances, but it was almost instantly forgettable, and not all that recommendable.

6/10 stars.


Thoroughly Modern Millie is at the Kings until Saturday February 11 before transferring to the New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham, tickets available here.

Oktoberfest comes to Edinburgh


Oktoberfest, Princess Gardens

Oktoberfest, the tradition which started in Munich 200 years ago to celebrate the coming of the harvest and has continued to be celebrated ever since, is coming to Edinburgh once again.

Tents filled with long tables where you can enjoy freshly brewed beer and luscious delicacies, this  inspired the today’s beer tents.
Such delicacies will include pretzels, roasted chicken, pork knuckle, potatoes and white sausage.Some of the favourite traditions that people look forward to each year include beer barrel tapping, parades and the variety of different food and beer on offer for everyone too try.

These days, you do not need to fly to Munich to experience Oktoberfest for yourself. Many different cities now host their very own tribute to Oktoberfest during the same time period as in Germany. Edinburgh has been hosting the festival for the last six years and this year is set to be the biggest. A tent big enough for 1,500 people will be placed in Princes Street Gardens West . Organisers are kicking off the festival with free entry for the first night of festivities. The fun starts at 4pm this evening. This year the first ever student day has been launched, giving you 50% off your first beer or if you come in fancy dress on the £5 student ticket you will be able to grab a beer for free. Links to bookings can be found on this years event page.

Today we spoke to DJ Davie Sorgenfrei who will be doing the music for Edinburgh as well as Aberdeen, Glasgow and Newcastle. He told us about his role at Oktoberfest and why he loves the event in Edinburgh.

“It is very nice here in Edinburgh, the people are lovely and crazy. In Germany you have so many people in the tent – but here, you have a limit, which is good because people have room to dance.”

Fun is the key ingredient for the festival, so on Sunday there is a family day where music will be provided courtesy of real Bavarian Bands who have flown in from Southern Germany. You can turn up on the day or book in advance
and reserve your own seats. Tickets are priced at £5 on Thursday and Sunday and £10
Friday and Saturday. Alternatively, you can purchase a package which will entitle you to food, beer and a seat reservation.


DJ Davie Sorgenfrei

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