The British Science Association (BSA) have today announced the list of Scientific Section Presidents for 2019. Since the foundation of the British Science Festival, the BSA’s Sections have played a key role in its content development, advising the BSA on hot topics in their subject areas, as well as suggesting leading figures who could be involved.  

Comprised of science professionals, the Sections contribute to the programme's events and arrange activities such as talks, demonstrations, and debates.  

Each year, the Sections nominate an individual who has made a significant contribution to their scientific field for Presidency of the Section. They are also invited to give their Presidential Address at the British Science Festival in September to mark the start of their year-long Presidency. 

The list of Sections and their corresponding President for 2019 are: 

  • Medical Sciences: Arne Akbar from University College London

        Presidential Address: How the immune system changes over time and what this means for vaccination in our older years.

        Presidential Address: The geopolitics of the global energy transition.

        Presidential Address: Harnessing the robotics industry to help those living with disability.

  • Mathematical Sciences: Aoife Hunt from Movement Strategies

        Presidential Address: How big data is improving our knowledge of how crowds move.

  • Sociology and Social Policy: Danny Dorling from the University of Oxford

        Presidential Address: Reflecting on the aftermath of post-Brexit Britain and what it now means to be ‘British’.

  • Physics and Astronomy: Melissa Uchida from the University of Cambridge 

        Presidential Address: How muon particles can help unlock the secrets of nature and bring us closer to re-creating the energies that occurred just after the Big Bang.

  • Science and the Arts: Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt)

        Presidential Address: Their research experiences as CERN’s artists-in-residence.

        Presidential Address: The roles and experiences of women scientists (and the wives of scientists) in post-war Britain.

  • Archaeology and Anthropology: Penny Spikins from the University of York

        Presidential Address: How compassion made us human.  

        Presidential Address: What cognitive illusions reveal about the psychology of our minds.

        Presidential Address: Our relationship with genetics research and how public attitudes have changed over time.  

        Presidential Address: Livestock farming and how it impacts global sustainability.

  • Education: Andrew Morris leader of the Coalition for Evidence Based Education

        Presidential Address: Improving the state of our education system.

        Presidential Address: Harnessing geothermal energy globally to combat climate change.  

        Presidential Address: Using big data to understand how we think about money, use numbers and misunderstand debt.   

  • Chemistry: Mike Ward from the University of Warwick

        Presidential Address: How a new ‘Russian doll’ molecule can benefit society, from drug delivery to detecting toxic substances.

        Presidential Address: The future of the Euro currency and countries in the Eurozone.

When the British Science Association was founded, there were four sections: physics, chemistry, geology and natural history. Now there are 17, covering the wide variety of subjects mentioned above. The sections have been crucial for the success of the British Science Festival, ensuring that its programme remains current and relevant for modern audiences.  

For more information on how we support our Sections, please see the volunteering policies and practices page. 

If you’re interested in being involved in one of our Scientific Sections or learning about our other volunteering opportunities, please visit our volunteering page

If you're already a Section member, you can download the Sections Handbook here