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November 2013

A big THANK YOU to our trustees!

4th-10th November 2013 is national Trustees’ Week.  Trustees are the people who are in charge of charities, taking on responsibility for them achieving their purpose, and guiding them along that journey.  At the British Science Association our trustees are the members of Council and we’d like to take this opportunity to give them a big thank you for all their dedication and hard work, for steering the staff, and supporting us to be creative and innovative.

To celebrate the Week, this quarter’s Volunteer Spotlight features Professor Dame Julia M Goodfellow DBE, CBE, FMedSci, FInstP, FSB, our Chair of Council.  Julia's term as Chair comes to an end in 2014 and we’d like to thank her for her contributions during her tenure.

Hello Julia, could you please tell us about your scientific background?
I studied Physics at Bristol University a long time ago.  It is a discipline that I still find extraordinarily exciting.  For my final year project, I became involved in a project around structure and arrangements of large biomolecules and I continued in the multidisciplinary area of molecular structural biology.  For much of my career, I used large scale computer modelling to simulate the behaviour of proteins and oligonucleotides to extend our understanding above that which was known from experiment.  This enabled me to combine my love of physics, with computational science and chemistry but with results relevant to biological systems.

I went on to be on the academic staff at Birkbeck, University of London in the then Department of Crystallography.  I became head of school and then deputy head of the College.  It was a wonderful environment in which to study molecular structure with strong links around the world.

What led you to want to be involved with the British Science Association?
When I was Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council,  I worked very closely with Monica Winstanley, director of communication.  She had pioneered work in public dialogue around GM tomato paste in the mid – 1990s and continued to very interesting work using different methods to explore what the public might think around various aspects of science.

Working with her, we set up a Bioscience for Society panel whose chair, then Professor Michael Reiss, was a member of science board.  This was to embed the work on public dialogue and ethics within our usual decision making processes at BBSRC.  

I had always known about the British Science Association and admired their work.  So I was delighted when I was nominated for an honorary fellowship and then later I was asked to be the Chair.

Being Chair of Trustees of such a big charity is an important voluntary role, what did you want to achieve out of it?
I want the Association to go from strength to strength.  It offers a lot to a whole range of people - school children through CREST programs for example, the press and modern media through festivals and the president’s talks, the general public through the festival, science communicators through the annual conference.  A lot of this activity could not take place without the support of the volunteers.  They are essential for the  different sections and for the local groups that put on so many activities in their regions.    We live in difficult economic times but I still want to see the Association valued and adding value to debates around science and technology.

What do you feel has been your greatest achievement in this role?
My greatest achievement ?  Chairing the board meetings with so many eminent trustees.  Appointing Imran to the post of Chief Executive.   

As your tenure soon comes to an end, we’d like to show our appreciation for your commitment over the years and hope that you will stay in touch with the charity.