The Blast lab at Imperial College, London, is a research group with many flavours. There’s military personnel mingling with civilians; professors with PhD students; surgeons with mechanical engineers; rugby players with motorbike drivers; the list goes on. This isn’t unusual in scientific research; people come from all over the world, and from all walks of life, to add their skills and expertise to the mix. No two labs are the same, and we’re only just beginning to figure out who makes up each part of the unique ‘Blast blend’.
To help us, and you, get to know the group a little better, we asked them to give us a taste of what they’re like. What’s their academic background? What, if anything, do they eat for breakfast? Mac or PC? We were interested to explore how they defined themselves. Contrary to stereotypes, such as those which depict scientists as mad professors wearing lab-coats, they are regular people, and we sought to show you this in a different way.
To have a little fun introducing the members of the lab, we wanted to describe their personalities as a custom coffee recipe, listing the various ingredients that constitute the Blast lab. But, it quickly became apparent that coffee alone wouldn’t be enough to represent the group. So we had to expand the menu.
The Inside Knowledge kitchen was hub of activity, creating a product range to represent the group members we’d caught up with. By the end, we were like advertising executives trying to work out the best way to capture the essence of these products. However, we were unable to channel the charisma of Mad Men and instead had just gone a little mad. We were thinking of people’s attributes as food and vice versa. The store cupboards had been chaotically raided, the printer was running hot and we were waving desk lamps and torches around freely.
We managed to rein in the madness, and the slideshow below is our unusual way of introducing you to seven of the Imperial Blast group members. Warning: products are a representation only. Real contents may differ. If in doubt, consult your physician.
You’ll be seeing and hearing from these people more as Inside Knowledge progresses, so it’ll be worth checking back to see if they live up to what’s on their packaging!
Next week, we’ll be exploring the difficult issue of dual-use research. What should we do when studying subjects with potentially dangerous applications, and how does this affect the people at the forefront of the research?