As part of this year’s Centenary celebrations, the Institute opened its doors last week to thirty A-Level students and staff from Collingwood College (Camberley), George Abbot School (Guildford) and Woking College. Taking place on 10 and 11 July, the Young Scientists Days gave the students an opportunity to discover more about careers in a scientific research facility. The school and college groups were also provided with a unique opportunity to tour the Institute’s recently named BBSRC National Virology Centre: The Plowright Building
Construction of the new laboratory complex began in 2010 and the building is now undergoing extensive testing so that the Institute can apply for a licence to operate from Defra. Once the license has been awarded the aim is to move scientists and their science into the new building to start work sometime towards the end of the year.
“This gives us a narrow window of opportunity in which we have been able to invite members of the public into the laboratories of our unique facility,” said Professor John Fazakerley, Director of The Pirbright Institute. “Once science activity has started, access will be largely limited to the 150 or so scientists and engineers who will be working in the building.”
The students were given an exclusive guided tour of the BBSRC National Virology Centre and they also learnt about careers open to those with biological qualifications.
“Our students very much enjoyed the information about careers and the tour of the new laboratories,” said Dr Robert Harris, Head of Science at Woking College. “In particular the career profiles of some of the Pirbright Institute staff was very useful, as well the information about short-term verses tenured positions in the science sector, something that I know students are not generally aware of.”
Financed by UK government through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), construction of the BBSRC National Virology Centre was completed on time and on budget earlier this year. It is the largest laboratory complex of its type in the UK and is a departure from the standard box-in-a-box approach to high containment laboratory design.