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Tales from the water cooler

Barrie Cadshaw reveals the movers and shakers in public engagement

Barrie Cadshaw reveals the movers and shakers in public engagement.


Penny Fletcher has left her role as National Science & Engineering Week Project Manager at the British Science Association to be Events and Public Engagement Manager at the Society of Biology. She is replaced by Christina Fuentes, former cognitive neuroscientist and STEMNET ambassador. The wonderful Sue Hordijenko is leaving her role as Director of Programmes at the Association. Her (very fashionable) boots will be filled in the interim by the Association’s Director of Education Katherine MathiesonNancy Lane has stepped down from her position as chair of the People & Science Editorial Committee and Wendy Barnaby has decided to resign from the editorship of the magazine from the end of 2013. Wendy has racked up some twelve years’ devoted service working on the mag and is quite simply irreplaceable.

Also leaving at the end of the year is Involve’s Deputy Director Edward Andersson, He plans to return to his native Sweden. Jenna Stevens-Smith has joined Imperial College’s Department of Bioengineering as their Outreach Manager.

Physicist and scicommer extraordinaire Laurie Winkless left the National Physical Laboratory at the end of July, to work on Nobel Media AB’s international science programmes. Nobel Media AB is the media arm of the Nobel Foundation.


At the latest Cheltenham Science Festival, self-confessed daredevil science presenter Greg Foot was caught climbing on top of a roof without having given prior notification to the logistics team (tsk tsk) and without a risk assessment!

At the recent Science in Public conference at Nottingham University the prize for the most gorgeous delegate went to science engagement specialist Sophia Collins’s one week old son, Squiggle. She tweeted ‘Prepping Squiggle for his first conference appearance at #SIP13. He’s finding it hard to choose between some of the parallel sessions…’

At the same conference, delegates saw that the best laid plans can come unstuck. UCL’s Jack Stilgoe and SPRU’s James Wilsdon took part in a discussion following Harry Collins’s keynote address.  As Harry crossed his arms and found it difficult to explain how separating 'technical' and 'political' phases of decision making would actually work (comparing himself to Marx in the process), James lost patience and called Collins's framework 'banal and irrelevant'. Following the event Jack tweeted ‘I was supposed to be bad cop @jameswilson good cop. But he went all Jimmy McNulty.’ 

Pubic lice

The British Science Festival will announce the winner of your favourite ugly animal competition.

Currently a joint enterprise between the Association’s National Science + Engineering Competition and Simon Watt, who set up the original Ugly Animal Preservation Society, it is being run to highlight the importance of conserving some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically-challenged children to young people during the school summer holidays.

‘The panda gets too much attention. Our society needs a mascot, one to rival the cute and cuddly emblems of many charities and organisations,’ declared Simon.

Each contending species is being supported by a comedian with a short campaigning clip, and voters are supporting their favourite by liking its associated Youtube clip.

Amongst our comedic campaigners are Helen Arney who will be agitating on behalf of the axolotol; Paul Foot battling for the blobfish; Rob Wells electioneering for the European common eel; Ellie Taylor politicking for the proboscis monkey; Suzi Ruffell mobilising the Myer’s Surinam toad and Dan Shrieber remonstrating for the rough nosed horned lizard.

Do get in touch if you hear any tales at the water cooler that you’d like us to include in the next edition of People & Science.

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Barrie Cadshaw
Barrie Cadshaw is at the British Science Association.
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