The Robert Edwards Laboratory opened
On Thursday 17th March, Dr Ruth Edwards formally opened the Robert Edwards Laboratory in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Wales at Bangor. The Robert Edwards laboratory and associated preparation rooms were refurbished in 2010 with funding from the joint Bangor & Aberystwyth University Biosciences, Environment and Agriculture Alliance (BEAA) scheme funded by the Welsh Assembly Government. The laboratory supports postgraduate research and practical teaching in biomedical sciences, medical molecular biology/genetics and molecular biology & biotechnology, catering for around 120 postgraduate and undergraduate students at present.
Editor Martin Johnson writes: "Many of Bob's childhood summers were spent working on farms in the Yorkshire Dales. So engaged did Bob become in farming life that, after discharge from the army in 1948 he applied to read agricultural sciences at the University College of North Wales at Bangor. Having gained a place and a Government grant to fund it, the 6 or so months that intervened were occupied in a Government desk job in Salford, Greater Manchester, helping to organise the newly formed National Health Service. This office work experience reinforced the anticipatory attractions of agricultural science. So his disappointment in the course offered at Bangor was acute. By that time he was a relatively experienced 23 year old, described by his impressionable 18 year old public-school educated and self-described "unlikely" friend John Slee, as being "both ambitious and flexible, and unusually confident in his own judgement". And in Bob's confident judgement, the course on offer was not 'scientific', and he was bored through two tedious years of agricultural descriptions, after which he reported that his teachers were "glad to see the back of him" in Zoology for a year, a course much more to his style and led by the more intellectually challenging Rogers Brambell FRS (1901-1970). However, that year was not enough to salvage his honours degree, and in 1951, aged 26 he gained a simple pass. Unbeknown to him at the time, he was not alone in this undistinguished academic embarrassment, as neither 'Tibby' Marshall FRS (1878-1949), the founder of the Reproductive Sciences, nor Sir Alan Parkes FRS (1900-1990), the first Professor of Reproductive Sciences at Cambridge, who was later to recruit Bob there, distinguished themselves as undergraduates. In 1951, however, Bob "was disconsolate. It was a disaster. My grants were spent and I was in debt. Unlike some of the students I had no rich parents ... I could not write home, 'Dear Dad, please send me £100 as I did badly in the exams.'"
[Extract from "Robert Edwards: the early years" - article submitted to RBM Online and under review]