As the new chief executive of the BSA, what will your role entail day to day?
So far it has been trying to get a handle on everything that happens here, as we have a huge range of activities occurring. We have things in secondary schools, primary schools, an annual festival, we work with the media to try and instigate conversation between scientists and journalists, and at the moment I am just trying to get my head round all of that while meeting the staff, trustees and partners. I’m trying to find out how the place works, as it will be my role to try and knit our different activities together and also to clearly articulate what we are offering to people.
Who is your scientific hero?
While there have been scientists that have inspired me intellectually, where I have really loved their work – people like Richard Dawkins and Charles Darwin – I wouldn’t say either of those were my heroes. This is going to sound pretty cheesy, but if you were to ask me who has inspired me most in terms of making science such a large part of my life, it would have to be my teachers at school. They were the ones who were always there when I came up with bizarre questions about whatever it is I was asking about at the time, regardless of whether it was evolution or nuclear fusion. They are the ones I find most inspiring.
What can visitors expect to see at the British Science Festival 2013?
Well, they can expect a citywide festival of science, with lots of inspiring speakers and events [for all ages]. More specifically, we’ve got a new strand of events called ‘You heard it here first’ and that is an idea that explores the new emerging fields in research. We are looking at things that will hopefully be hitting the news in five years’ time, but we want people to come along to see the really fascinating things on the cusp of discovery.
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