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Date: 10/05/04

Researching neglected fields of science

Independent scientist Brian J Ford will undertake interdisciplinary scientific research in neglected fields thanks to a 75,000 Fellowship from NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), the organisation that invests in UK creativity and innovation.

Brian, from Eastrea in Cambridgeshire, has an international reputation for his work across scientific disciplines. He wrote the standard book on BSE and recently published a book on the science of GM crops. He has recently designed a revolutionary lightweight microscope for use in space and is well known for his appearances in the media as a science communicator.

His campaigning stance has influenced the way modern science works and he now plans to look at the popularisation of science in the UK as part of his three-year Fellowship. This will also give him the opportunity to undertake a programme of professional development and research neglected fields in science away from the constraints of his commitments as a lecturer, writer and independent scientist.

Possible areas of research range from the reclamation of heavy metals from polluted soils to eliciting what happens inside the neuron. Brian is also keen to look into ways of explaining the functioning of multicellular organisms like ourselves through the behaviour of the single cells of which we are composed.

In the second year of the Fellowship, Brian aims to undertake research programmes in Cambridge, perhaps working with the new microscopes at the Cavendish Laboratory, and in Australia, working with teams from the Macquarie University to look at microbial diagnostics.

Brian said:

"The three years of my NESTA Fellowship will prove a trigger for many following years of long-term scientific endeavour, a stepping stone to realise long-standing ambitions. After all, the best new research comes from chance encounter, rather than prediction."

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