The British Science Association (BSA) is delighted to announce its full list of Scientific Section Presidents for 2023. From top names in British science to up-and-coming researchers tackling some of the greatest scientific challenges of our time, here’s the line-up…

The Scientific Section Presidents are science professionals who play a crucial role in shaping the British Science Festival programme each year.

The BSA has 17 Scientific Sections encompassing every aspect of science, ensuring that the talks, installations and events at the British Science Festival capture the most exciting cutting-edge research and innovation from across the UK.  


Each year, the Presidents are nominated for making a significant contribution to their scientific field.

The best part? The Section Presidents will be marking the start of their presidency by presenting their cutting-edge research at the British Science Festival 2023, taking place 7-10 September, hosted by the University of Exeter. Prepare to hear about everything from the smallest particles in the universe to cultural heritage across the globe.

Tickets for all events for the Festival, including the Scientific Section Presidential addresses, are free and will be available to book in the coming months.

Congratulations to:

Agriculture and Food: Giles Oldroyd, University of Cambridge

  • Fixing the soil: Find out how plants benefit from associations with friendly bacteria and fungi, and the ways this can be used in sustainable agriculture.

Archaeology and Anthropology: Sada Mire, University College London

  • Preserving culture: Learn about how we can sustainably manage and develop cultural heritage and its role in fostering resilient societies in the Horn of Africa, and beyond.

Biological Sciences: Sara Rankin, Imperial College London

  • From brains to bones: Delve into Sara’s research on how cells from your bone marrow are used by your body for repair, and how Sara’s cognitive diversity has contributed to her becoming a leader in her field.

Chemistry: Stephen Ashworth, University of East Anglia

  • Kitchen chemistry: Hear from Stephen (aka the Kitchen Chemist) about his Kitchen Chemistry science show, which uses readily available chemicals and unsophisticated equipment to illustrate chemical principles.

Economics: Maitreesh Ghatak, London School of Economics

  • Poverty traps: What can and should be done to alleviate poverty traps, and is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Education: Zion Lights, Emergency Reactor

  • Breaking out of our bubble: Are there certain topics you avoid bringing up with friends or family, like climate change or anti-vaccination? Zion will share a series of hints and tips she uses to navigate them.

Engineering: Vaishak Belle, University of Edinburgh

  • Risky robots: AI has always raised interesting ethical questions but Vaishak will take us through some of the newest concerns that we don’t always think about.

General: George Beccaloni, Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project

  • In Darwin’s shadow: Take a look into the unheard and underrepresented stories in scientific discoveries, starting with Alfred Russel Wallace and his fundamental work in the theory of natural selection and evolution.

Geography: Ayona Datta, University College London

  • Decolonising the digital city: Explore what it means to unpick and dismantle the networks of power and privilege in cities in a digital age from the bottom up.

Geology: Tim Lenton, University of Exeter

  • Tipping points: Find out how not all of the Earth’s tipping points are disastrous and, in fact, some may help to slow down or prevent the impending impacts of the climate emergency we find ourselves in.

History of Science: Inderbir Bhullar, London School of Economics

  • What inspired the welfare state?: Learn about how the principles of eugenics could have shaped early thinking on the welfare state in Britain.

Mathematical Sciences: Christina Pagel, University College London

  • The maths of healthcare: The healthcare crisis in the UK has been headline news for many years. The system is overwhelmed, but there may be an answer to these issues from an unusual source: Mathematics.

Medical Sciences: Elaine Bignell, University of Exeter

  • From bug to drug: As we use more drugs to treat the diseases in our food chains and bodies, fungi are developing resistance to them. Find out about Elaine’s research aiming to combat antifungal drug resistance.

Physics and Astronomy: Hamied Haroon, University of Manchester

  • Uncovering what’s inside: Medical imaging has never been easier thanks to MR (magnetic resonance) imaging. Learn more about MR and how it’s revolutionising our understanding of health, disease and age.

Psychology: Ayşe K. Üskül, University of Sussex

  • Our relationships and us in a cultural context: Join Ayse to explore the role of cultural meanings, practices, and societal institutions in how we make sense of ourselves and our interactions with others.

Science and The Arts: Gabriella Gilkes, Blue Marine Foundation

  • Creatively combatting climate anxiety: How do you connect with topics that seem difficult to get your head around? Gabriella explains how uniting scientists and storytellers in celebration of their respective talents can help tackle issues like climate change.

Sociology and Social Policy: Katharine Tyler, University of Exeter

  • Sketching society: Explore how the inequalities associated with major societal changes, including Brexit and COVID-19, have been covered by the media and experienced by different communities across the UK.          

Pictured: Adam Rutherford, 2022 General Scientific Section President giving his Presidential address at the British Science Festival.

More details about the British Science Festival 2023 programme, including how to book your free tickets to the Presidential addresses, will be released in the coming months. 

Stay up to date via Twitter (@BritishSciFest) to find out when ticket bookings open.


You might also be interested in: