Scientists in the city . . . the next generation
Nick Booth and I met some of them last week. We’re planning to get what goes on in their minds out to a wider audience; e.g. by live streaming their conversations. Here’s just a couple of awesome examples from the short time we spent with them:
- Chemical engineer and expert on hydrogen storage applications, Rosie Davies, who wanted to better understand evolution . . . questioned Nardie Hanson (whose research is on the evolution of cognition in primates and birds) and Emily Saunders (whose research is on the evolution of primate bipedalism, she’s studying lowland gorillas and us humans) . . . and then Joseph Wragg joined in. He’s a cancer researcher investigating the blood vessels that supply a tumour — cancers evolve as they progress and/or are treated.
- Francisco Fernandez-Trillo, or Paco as he’s known to his friends, is a chemist, no less than the John Evans Fellow in Nanotechnology at the University of Birmingham. He’s a profoundly curious man, with a gentle but persistent line of questioning on matters he doesn’t understand. And he didn’t understand what Aston University’s Jim Scott was saying about the economics driving the EBRI-type biofuels industry — in competition with the legacy structures and vast investments in fossil fuel production.They sat opposite each other at the Old Joint Stock, a pint in front of each of them. Piv (Piraveen Gopalasingam, a structural biologist, see his blog here) sat between them, adding lively pertinent stuff to their debate.
We heard, too, about Eric Hill’s work with stem cells (no, he isn’t growing a brain in a jar, nor has he a cure for Alzheimer’s . . . yet), also drug forms, drug delivery systems from a great bunch at Aston University — winner of a global award from the Pharmaceutical Council Ali Al-Khattawi, Elisabeth Kastner (who’s developing new ways to deliver vaccines, including TB), John Pollard, one of Yvonne Perrie’s rising stars, plus pharmacist Deborah Lowry (nanotechnology for pulmonary delivery, how amazing is that?) and her colleague Defang Ouyang who’s into the formulation and optimisation of medicines, including interesting computer modelling to help predict efficacy.
Andy Baker (who works for Coventry Public Health) and Ben Cowan (who researches how we interact with technologies), found common ground over coffee and cakes on Thursday. I’ll wager two people from the Saturday get-together in the pub would have had much to offer that conversation too — Warwick researchers Carolyn Dawson, a psychologist who’s doing work on infection control, notably hand hygiene, blog here — and Jamie Mackrill, an ergonomics guy, who’s done work on soundscapes and how they affect us.
Food and mobile phones proved an adequate bribe for the young kids of molecular biologist Anna Hine and husband Andy Sutherland (a synthetic organic chemist, i.e. a kind of engineer at a molecular level) at the Old Joint Stock. Anna, whose work has created Colibra (a codon library, hugely useful to researchers) began the discussion about creativity being at the very heart of the scientist’s endeavour . . . If only I’d had a microphone with me!