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Mice People: Cultures of Science

Clare S Ryan9 March 2012

Gail Davies (UCL Geography) travels around the world looking at laboratory mice, and the scientists who study them. To find out why a geographer would be spending her life doing this, I went to hear her in conversation with Steve Cross – Head of UCL’s Public Engagement Unit (and a closet geneticist) – at the event Mice People: Cultures of Science organised as part of the Humanimals season at the UCL Grant Museum of Zoology.

Gail is a human geographer interested in how science works, both in terms of the interface between nature and culture, and the spatial aspects of science.

A big part of her work is looking at how science varies internationally. Taking an extremely broad view of science, there have been two big “science migrations”. The first was after World War II when many European scientists moved to America. The second is happening now, with a huge shift in science going towards south-east Asia.

However, scientists don’t move around the globe alone. In the case of quite a few biologists, they take their mice with them. In fact, as Gail explained, if you take away apparatus, knowledge of standard methods etc., “the international knowledge economy looks rather furry”.

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