Frequently asked questions

Can I volunteer or gain work experience in the labs?

We are no longer accepting applications for work experience students this summer. To enquire about other opportunities in the Museum, please contact the volunteering office. Please DO NOT contact the lab team as they will be unable to help you.  

University students seeking placements or internships are advised to contact research groups directly.

I am a researcher based at another institution and would like to use your facilities. How do I do that?

Apply to the Research Coordination Office (RCO). You need to have your own funding and a letter of recommendation from your institute. RCO can advise you on how to apply.

If you require additional information or wish to discuss your project, contact Senior Laboratory Manager Steve Russell.

If you wish to use the Museum collections, contact the relevant collections manager. They can arrange access to the labs as part of a collaborative project. We may also be able to train you.

Can you provide training if I am not a member of staff?

Training is free to researchers from other institutions only if they are working at the Museum (see above).

We can organise bespoke training for individuals or groups but please note that you will be charged and must arrange your own funding. Contact Steve Russell for more information.

I’ve been to see the labs from the cocoon gallery, what are you doing in there?

There are four glass rooms directly facing the cocoon.

On the far left is the DNA extraction lab, where scientists process specimens in order to extract their DNA.

The near left-hand room is used by the lab management team for benchwork. This is general lab-work that doesn’t require specific equipment - a bit like using a desk in an office.

The two rooms to the right are instrument labs. Typically scientists spend a few minutes at a time in these rooms while they are preparing or analysing their samples. First is the robotics lab. The room on the far right is the DNA analysis lab.

Behind these rooms is the main lab for our researchers to do their benchwork. The rooms off this area house more equipment.

I’ve been to see the labs from the cocoon gallery, but there was nobody there. Where are all the scientists?

Working in the lab is only a small part of a much bigger process. Our scientists are often out and about doing fieldwork or at conferences. They may be at their desk coming up with new ideas or project proposals, looking at results or writing papers. Scientists may work intensively in labs for weeks, or they may only use lab facilities for an hour or two.

Teaching and training

The lab team has a comprehensive variety of expertise and we are happy to train people in any of our areas of expertise.

We offer assistance and advice to all staff as well as external enquiries.