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Walking with dinosaurs

Ian Owens, head of life sciences at Imperial College, London, takes over as director of science at the Natural History Museum in October. He talks to Elizabeth Gibney about doing cutting-edge research while entertaining the general public.

People often think of dinosaur skeletons when they think of the NHM. How much research goes on there?

It’s similar in scale to the life sciences department at Imperial but the agenda is a bit different. There are about 300 scientists and about 150 postgraduate students, structured around departments associated with collections, such as zoology, entomology and mineralogy. Part of the museum’s job is the public experience, but the other part is maintaining the 70 million specimens and making them accessible.

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