The Crick’s new exhibition, Craft & Graft: Making Science Happen, will showcase the surprising roles of the people who work around the clock to make our life-changing research possible.
The free exhibition, which opens on 1 March 2019 until 30 November 2019, takes visitors behind the scenes to meet the technicians, engineers and specialists supporting science here at the Crick.
These technical teams prepare, process, make, mend, analyse and innovate. From fixing faults in complex cutting-edge technology to feeding fruit flies and operating robots, they are essential to keep the labs running and science happening.
The exhibition shines a spotlight on five specialist teams who have opened their doors for the first time:
- The technicians feeding and breeding over 15,000 families of fruit flies. They are also trained to perform incredibly precise tasks including hand-injecting DNA into fly embryos.
- The ‘librarians of life-forms’ responsible for nurturing billions of cells in thousands of flasks, plates and vials.
- The people who meticulously clean the Crick’s essential glassware to allow re-use and prevent any contamination.
- The mechanical and electronic engineers who race against time to fix, adapt or invent vital equipment for use in the labs.
- The specialists preparing biological samples, from fruit flies to cancer cells, for study using powerful microscopes. Some ultra-thin samples are so delicate, an astonishing tool is used to manoeuvre them: an eyelash glued to a cocktail stick.
Workbench in the Engineering team, who repair, improve and create equipment across the institute. - Ben Foot, SNDA Ltd
Visitors will see five typical workbenches that have been specially created with tools and equipment, short films, personal interviews, imagery and interactive exhibits to bring the stories and skills of these teams to life.
The exhibition is part of the Crick’s wider commitment to support technical staff working in research and highlight their vital work. In 2017 the Crick signed the Technician Commitment, a sector-wide initiative led by the Science Council and the Gatsby Foundation aiming to address the career challenges faced by technical staff working in research.
Paul Nurse, Director of the Crick, says: “I began my scientific life as a 17 year old laboratory technician, so I really understand what they contribute to research. Engineers, technicians and other research specialists make up a significant part of our workforce and without them the science we do here would be impossible. That is why we signed the Technician Commitment to recognise the important role that our technical staff play.”
Emily Scott-Dearing, curator of the new exhibition, says: “In the Crick’s gleaming laboratories more than 1,000 scientists are thinking, experimenting and collaborating. What’s less well known is that they depend on the support of an army of technicians, engineers and specialists – from school-leavers learning on the job to highly trained experts. These individuals rarely play the leading roles but without this ensemble cast there’d be no science here at all.”