Meeting your heroes.

By Peter Dearden 12/03/2014

They* say that you shouldn’t meet your heroes. Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet one of mine, Professor Lord Robert Winston, as he came to visit Genetics Otago for the day. Prof. Winston, as well as being a pioneer in science communication, is also a key figure in genetics, being part of the team that invented the technique of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.

Prof Winston came to talk to school kids, and he gave an inspiring address at Otago Boys’ to an audience of senior students from around Dunedin and Otago. He talked about the promise and dangers of science, and emphasised that scientific literacy is key to us extracting the good from science while avoiding the bad.

Prof Winston also talked to our postgraduate (and a few undergraduate students), about his career and his thoughts on current issues on science. Off-the-cuff he discussed science, science communication, gave career advice, and generally encouraged our students to achieve in their chosen career. It was an impressive performance, and judging from the reactions of our students, a well received one.


Professor Winston talking with Genetics Otago students

Prof Winston and I also had the chance to talk about our own science, and about science communication, which was incredibly useful and informative. I was left with the impression of a deeply thoughtful and caring man, with a real talent for both science and communication. His willingness to give up his time to talk to students and school kids, and his positive but honest message made his visit a pleasure.

I say meet your heroes; you might be left with a deeper respect for them.

Professor Lord Robert Winston was brought to New Zealand by Gravida: The National Centre for Growth and Development.Go check them out.

(*) No reference. Who knows who ‘they’ are, or why we should listen to them!