David Davies: on doing departmental donkey work

David Davies comments on his role as 'facilitator' in the Department of Geodesy and Geophysics, University of Cambridge in the early 1970s.

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My – I think my job at the department was [laughs] – I sort of knew I wasn’t going to be a brilliant scientist, I sort of knew, I knew I wasn’t, I’d be – and I knew that there were good, really good people coming through all the time like – like Dan for instance who – but all departments in every scientific discipline, every discipline, they need somebody in a department who will make things happen. You know, who will organise the symposia, who will meet the visitors, who will organise the expeditions, this that and the other. And I think – I sort of knew at that stage that that was my role, read the stuff in the library and tell other people about. Being the – being the sort of gatekeeper in a way, friendly gatekeeper, not an unfriendly gatekeeper, and I sort of fitted into that role. I mean Teddy, Teddy sort of was brilliant in all sorts of directions but somebody needed to sort of take onto his bright ideas and move them somewhere else or say, no it wouldn’t work, or let’s try it out. And everybody else really, all the research students, said you needed some – somebody in the department who just knew broadly what was going on and could organise things. And I suppose I slipped into that role ‘cause nobody else did it but, you know, inviting speakers to colloquium and driving people from the station [laughs] and all that kind of stuff. So – and departments do need that as well as brilliant minds, they do need people who will do the donkey work.
  • Interviewee David Davies
  • Duration 00:01:47
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 12/15/2011
  • Shelfmark C1379/60

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