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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Boldrewood – Southampton’s Hollywood under the microscope?

Published: 11 November 2008

From a microscope to an Emmy: the strange world of a scientist

It may come as a surprise to some people, but the unremarkable building housing the School of Biological Sciences at Boldrewood has been the focus of many extraordinary scenes recorded on film over the years, from shots for the celebrated BBC Life on Earth series, to dramatic sequences inside living bodies for Channel 4 and even IMAX film features.

And now the man behind these projects, David Barlow, an Honorary Research Fellow in Neurophysiology, has scooped a major award for his photographic sequences in a TV series for National Geographic called “Inside the Living Body”.

The Emmy, the TV equivalent of the Oscars, was presented in New York by the National Academy of TV Arts and Sciences for outstanding individual achievement in a craft. But the unassuming scientist, whose work as a special effects director takes place mainly in his photographic lab in the School, was actually too busy to go and collect it. “I had a deadline to finish another project and I couldn’t really afford the time to go!” So David’s colleague Steve Gomez, who did the computer animation for the series and was jointly nominated with David, accepted the golden award which is now shared between them.

The Emmy may be a major scoop for some filmmakers but what this modest scientist enjoys most is working on his projects in the lab and at his home, bringing the marvels of the living world to new generations of students and TV viewers.

“Extraordinary Animals in the Womb” started on Channel 4 on Monday 20 October 2008 and continued in a prime slot on Saturdays.   For more information go to

David Barlow

David Barlow studied BSc Physiology and Biochemistry and for a PhD at the University of Southampton and is now a Researcher and film-maker.

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