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Tales from the water cooler: December 2011

Barrie Cadshaw reveals the movers and shakers in public engagement

Motherhood calls

There is maternity mayhem at the British Science Association.  Alice Taylor Gee, the Association’s Science in Society Manager, is currently on maternity leave.  So is the Manager of Regional Programmes, Hema Teji.

Alice’s maternity leave is being covered by Monica Lobo. Monica joins the Association from an impressive career in public engagement in Portugal. Hema’s maternity leave is being covered by Dan Richards, known to many as the Association’s former National Science & Engineering Week project manager.  Dan’s role on NSEW is covered by Penny Fletcher. Penny previously worked on the Green Festival at Peterborough Environment City Trust. 

New brooms

Following the departure of Sandy Smith as the Association’s Regional Officer for Scotland, Helen Richens takes up the role north of the border, having previously worked for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. 

Katrina Ridley has left her role as Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust to take up a post at the Student Loans Company in her native Scotland. The saddest aspect of the diminutive Kat leaving the Trust is that, now she is no longer seen out and about with her very tall colleague Craig Brierley, we can’t refer to them as mop and bucket.

Sam Lister, Heath Editor at the Times, has become Head of Communications at the Department of Health, and Roger Highfield is the new Director of External Affairs at the National Museum for Science and Industry.  Roger is the former Editor of New Scientist.  Roger will be working four days a week, the remainder of his time taken with new book projects.

Tamara Cohen has joined the Daily Mail as a Science Correspondent and Nick Collins has become the Daily Telegraph’s Science Editor. Karen Bultitude has left her post as lecturer in science communication at the University of the West of England to join University College London.

Who’s who

This autumn we saw the long-awaited publication of Successful Science Communication: Telling It Like It Is by Cambridge University Press [Oh no! - Like it is? Has even CUP succumbed to the vernacular? – Ed]. The book has a forward by Walter Bodmer and features chapters written by a veritable who’s who in science communication. It’s a much-needed practical guide and a one-stop resource for case studies and project ideas for science communication in its many different guises.

Andrew Pontzen, cosmologist and enthusiastic science communicator, has won the British Science Association’s 2011 Lord Kelvin Award Lecture (illustrious former recipients of this Award include the stratospheric Brian Cox).  Andrew travelled up to Bradford to give his Award Lecture at the British Science Festival in Bradford in September only to report on Twitter: ‘In Bradford for 2 hours and I get mugged...’ Thankfully Andrew bounced back from this traumatic experience to take part in some fabulous events at the Festival.

In the last issue of People & Science, I commented on the BBC having produced a report lead by geneticist Steve Jones on impartiality in its science coverage. In response to this report, the BBC has advertised for a new overall Science Editor.  It would appear that no one (apparently  including ‘Jones the Gene’  himself) can quite fathom how criticisms of the lack of communication and co-ordination between different areas of the BBC's science output will be resolved by appointing the new Nick Robinson or Stephanie Flanders for science.  But we wait with baited breath to see if they promote from within the ranks of the science news team or bring in an outsider...

At the time of writing this column, the Association is recruiting for the role of web editor with special responsibility for the development of this magazine’s online presence in future.  Exciting times ahead.

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Barrie Cadshaw
Barrie Cadshaw is at the British Science Association
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