The British Science Association (BSA) has today (30 April 2019) announced that academic, writer and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts is to be its next President, taking up the role in September.   

The evolutionary biologist will start her year-long term during the British Science Festival 2019which this year is being run in partnership with the University of Warwick. She will succeed current BSA President, Professor Jim Al-Khalili.  

Alice is a medical doctor and Professor of Public Engagement with Science at the University of Birmingham. She has been a regular on our screens since 2001, presenting and writing for several television series such as The Incredible Human Journey, BBC's Horizon and Digging for Britain. She has also written many popular science books, including The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being: Evolution and the Making of Us, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2015. 

Alice has previously been recognised by the BSA, when in 2011 she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship for her contribution to promoting science in society. She was also involved in the 2014 British Science Festival which was held in Birmingham as part of the Birmingham Year of Science. 

Speaking ahead of the announcement today, Professor Alice Roberts said: As a passionate science communicator, I’m excited to be taking on the role of President for the British Science Association this year. I’m particularly interested in the place of science in our culture, and in making science more accessible, to a wide audience.  

“Science provides us with powerful tools for tackling the biggest problems facing humanity in the 21st century, and I think it’s crucially important that we’re all involved with deciding how those tools are developed and employed. But science is also culturally important - it helps us to understand the world and ourselves, and it’s a fount of ideas, stories and wonder. 

She will mark the start of her Presidency at the British Science Festival in Coventry & Warwickshire by delivering the annual Presidential Address and hosting the Festival Dinner.  

The BSA's incoming President marks the start of their term with the annual Presidential Address at the British Science Festival

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said: “I’m delighted that Alice is going to be our next President. She’s a superb role model for science, being a distinguished doctor and anatomist with extensive expertise in broadcasting, writing, and communicating. This gives her a unique talent for telling compelling and critical stories from the scientific community that get to the heart of what it means it be human. 

“I’d also like to extend my thanks to outgoing President Professor Jim Al-Khalili for his enthusiasm and dedication over the past year. Alice is the perfect person to take the baton from him and I look forward to hearing her Address at the Festival this September and working with her throughout the 12 months of her term.” 

Today’s news coincides with the announcement of other star speakers from this year’s British Science Festival in partnership with the University of Warwick, who include:  

The British Science Festival 2019 will take place in Coventry and Warwickshire from 10 – 13 September, at venues on campus at the University of Warwick and in Coventry city centre. It will be followed by a Family Day on 14 September. 

The Festival is aimed at an audience of non-specialist adults with a broad interest in science, delivering 100 events specially curated by the British Science Association. World-leading academics from the University of Warwick and other institutions and organisations across the UK will present, discuss and debate cutting-edge science (across the scientific spectrum including technology, engineering and social sciences) at a range of different events, from talks to performances.  

This is the first time the British Science Festival is visiting the region since its inception in 1831, where it has been travelling to a different city every year to shine a spotlight on its people and research. 

The Festival has been the stage for many iconic moments in history – such as the famous debate on Darwin’s controversial theory of evolution between Thomas Huxley and the Bishop of Oxford in 1860. It also saw the first use of the word ‘scientist’ in 1834 and ‘dinosaur’ 1841.   

The origins of the Festival, previously known as the annual meeting, can be traced back to York, in 1831. Since then it has travelled the globe, including visits to Montreal and Australia.