Sense about Science ? equipping people to make sense of science and evidence
Tracey Brown, director
Tracey has been the Director of Sense about Science since 2002. She has a background in social research, and previously spent four years working on a European Commission programme to establish social research and teaching in the former Soviet Union. In her time at Sense about Science Tracey has led campaigns for sound science and evidence in public life and she has written and edited many public guides to scientific research. She is a regular public speaker and writes about scientific evidence, policy and the public, for national media, periodicals and books. She was a Commissioner on the UK Drug Policy Commission 2009-2012, and a trustee of Centre of the Cell until December 2013, and is now a trustee of the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, and of Jurassica. Her recent book with Michael Hanlon, In the Interests of Safety, is an exploration of safety and security rules that have no basis in evidence, and a manifesto for changing them. Read about Tracey's book and some of Tracey's articles here.
Julia Wilson, head of operations
Julia is Head of Operations at Sense about Science. She oversees Sense about Science's fundraising and the planning and management of the organisation. Julia launched the Ask for Evidence campaign in Boston in February 2013 and oversaw the launch of the US version of our public guide to peer review. She previously coordinated the Voice of Young Science programme where she headed a campaign that pressured the W.H.O. to respond to the promotion of homeopathy for serious diseases in Africa, and has held many Standing up for Science media workshops in the UK and internationally including South Africa. Julia has a degree in Biology from the University of Manchester and joined the Sense about Science team in April 2009. Read articles by Julia here.
Emily started working at Sense about Science as assistant director in November 2011. She has nine years experience in scientific publishing. Between 2006 and 2011 she worked at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists as the managing editor of the international, peer reviewed journal BJOG. Her positions before that have included, assistant editor at the Novartis Foundation, a small science charity promoting excellence in science and over two years as a biological patent analyst for Thomson Scientific. She has a degree in Biological Science from UMIST, Manchester. Emily also volunteers for a UK wide young person’s helpline. Read some of Emily's articles here.
Max Goldman, development and communications manager
Max joined Sense about Science in March 2013. He is responsible for project development and communications, working specifically on Ask for Evidence. Prior to working with Sense about Science, Max completed a Masters of Research degree at the London Consortium, a cross-disciplinary group of museums, galleries and academic institutions designed to bridge the gap between public and academic discussion. His dissertation explored the relationship between scientific progress and the public perception of science, and it is this that got him interested in the great work that Sense about Science does. Previously to that, Max worked in an advertising agency and he also has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Oxford.
Amy Douthett, communications director
Amy has worked in communications for 15+ years, helping non-profits, companies and creative people to tell their stories. She joined Sense about Science in 2015, and is currently working on a communications review and rebrand of the organisation. Amy lived in New York for 13 years; highlights include working as a speechwriter for the New York City Fire Department and as communications manager for The Museum of Television & Radio. After returning to London, she joined national arts charity IdeasTap as their communications manager. Amy also has extensive writing experience having freelanced for New York Times Digital among others. She is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the Georgetown University postgraduate scholarship programme in Washington D.C.
Síle Lane, director of campaigns and policy
Síle oversees Sense about Science’s campaigns and responsive work. Our campaigns include the libel reform campaign which led to the Defamation Act 2013, the Ask for Evidence campaign which encourages everyone to ask for evidence for every claim they see and the AllTrials campaign for clinical trial transparency. Síle organised the Big Libel Gig at the Palace Theatre in 2010, appears regularly in the media in the Guardian and on the Today programme, chairs debates with leading scientists and commentators, gives evidence to parliament and spends a lot of time helping researchers, regulators, policy makers, companies and NGOs to talk about science and evidence openly, humanly and without stigma and intimidation. Síle joined Sense about Science as Public Liaison in February 2009 to work with patient groups, civic society organisations and medical research charities to promote the tools of scientific thinking and challenge misleading claims. Before this she was a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial College London working on stem cells and regenerative medicine. Read articles by Sile here.
Stephanie Mathisen, campaigns and policy officer
Stephanie joined the Sense about Science team as campaigns and policy officer in November 2015. Stephanie recently finished her PhD at the University of Oxford, where she researched the role of immune cells during intestinal inflammation. She also has a BSc Honours degree in Immunology from the University of Glasgow. During her PhD Stephanie attended a VoYS Standing Up for Science workshop and has been following Sense about Science’s activities ever since. Stephanie feels passionately that evidence should play a key role in decision-making and is excited about contributing to Sense about Science’s aims to promote this throughout society. Stephanie will be supporting Sense about Science’s campaigns, policy and responsive work.
Chris Peters, scientific affairs manager
Chris joined Sense about Science as Campaigns and Policy officer in October 2012. Chris has a PhD in plant biology from the University of Sheffield where he also completed his undergraduate masters in biological sciences. Prior to joining Sense about Science, Chris worked as a policy intern at the British Ecological Society and as a blog writer/researcher intern at Carbon Brief. Chris is supporting the Ask for Evidence and Libel Reform campaigns as well as running the plant science panel.
Joanne Thomas, projects and events co-ordinator
Joanne joined Sense about Science in January 2015 as Projects and Events Officer. She shares responsibility for planning the annual reception and lecture, and workshops for the VoYS network. She is also supporting the new editions of Making Sense of Screening and Testing. Prior to joining the team, Joanne completed a Masters degree in Science Communication at the University of the West of England and previously worked at the Science Media Centre, a press office that aims to improve media coverage of science. Joanne also has an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford.
Will Lord, researcher
Will joined Sense about Science in March 2016, where he supports the team's government transparency work. He was previously an intern at the Institute for Government, conducting research into failure and turnaround in public services. He also has experience working for the BBC, a public affairs company, and a Member of Parliament. Will has an undergraduate degree in Modern History and International Relations from the University of St Andrews, and a Masters in World History from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Thouron Scholar.
Prateek joined the Sense about Science team in September 2013 as Director of the new Public Policy Unit, focussing on the use and misuse of evidence in politics and governance. He has over ten years’ experience as a research scientist, spanning a PhD and post-doctoral research developing disease models and gene therapies for sight loss at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (IOO). Between 2011-2013, Prateek ran a comprehensive Patient and Public Engagement progamme at the UCL IOO, communicating his lab’s research through a new website, blogs, social media and patient awareness events. Prateek has participated in Sense about Science campaigns such as Libel Reform and AllTrials, and is on the Science is Vital Executive. He has several years’ experience as a policy-maker in Westminster, advocating an evidence-based approach through his election to the Liberal Democrat Federal Policy Committee and his work with the Social Liberal Forum.
Sofie Vanthournout, director, Sense about Science EU
Sofie has been the Director of Sense about Science EU since May 2016. She is based in Brussels and focuses on EU policy. She was trained as a botanist and has a background in molecular biology research. Between 2008 and 2016 she managed the international relations of the Royal Belgian Academies. In 2010, she launched a Brussels office for the European Academies Science Advisory Council, an organisation that gives independent scientific advice for EU policy. Sofie headed this office for 6 years, supporting EASAC in connecting to the European Institutions and other stakeholders. In 2014, she temporarily joined the team of Anne Glover, then Chief Scientific Adviser of the European Commission. Is was then that she became passionate about public dialogue and where she became convinced that Brussels is in urgent need of a Sense about Science EU.
Lindsay Hogg, Sense about Science Scotland
Lindsay is a Senior Investigator Scientist at MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in Glasgow. She is working on a project called 'Telling good science from bad science' to develop a toolkit to help distinguish good evidence from bad evidence. Lindsay joined Sense about Science in 2010, as the Assistant Director and she now coordinates our Scottish programme on a voluntary basis. She is also currently working on Sense About CSI and the reprint of Making Sense of Chemical Stories. She previously worked at the Glasgow Science Centre where she project managed and developed exhibitions targeted at different audiences on topics from forces, perception or physiology to the ethical implications of scientific endeavour. She has worked in public engagement with science for over 10 years, developing educational activities including shows, workshops, exhibits and games. Lindsay studied genetics at the University of Edinburgh and has a Masters in science communication. Lindsay also sits on the community advisory board of the MRC-HPA centre and is a reviewer for the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant scheme for public engagement with engineering.
Mabon is currently on a volunteer placement in the Sense about Science office as part of his PhD programme at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. His research is on plant evolution and flower colour choices made by bumblebees. He has an MSc in Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement from the John Innes Centre and the University of East Anglia, and before this, he studied Plant Science at the University of Manchester. At Sense about Science, Mabon is involved in the Ask for Evidence campaign and the plant science panel. He has also helped out with some design work, including an infographic to accompany the Making Sense of Chemical Stories guide.
Brian has a degree in Physics from Queen Mary, London University and a doctorate from Oxford University where he researched the action of cardiac glycosides on the contractility of cardiac muscle. Following post-doctoral research as a member of the cardiac electro-physiology team led by the eminent British biologist and founding member of Save British Science, Denis Noble, Brian spent thirty years running a musical instrument manufacturing firm and performing professionally on TV, radio, film, recordings and concert platforms as a recorder player. He began working as a volunteer for Sense about Science in December 2010, since when he has been developing the CMS database that supports our events, campaigns, projects and general client relationships.
Liam is a first year PhD student at the University of Warwick on the MIBTP doctoral training programme, having previously graduated with an MBio in Medical Microbiology and Virology, also at the University of Warwick, researching nodulation in leguminous plants. Liam is interested in communicating scientific research to a wider audience and is undertaking a three month internship with Sense about Science. Liam will be supporting Ask for Evidence and helping to coordinate the Plant Science and Energy panels.
Charlie is currently undertaking a doctoral training partnership PhD at the University of Nottingham, funded by the BBSRC. His research revolves around understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning development of breast cancer. Charlie is interested in how science is portrayed in the media, and particularly how a news story is pieced together from primary research papers in scientific journals. He is carrying out a three month internship at Sense about Science as part of his PhD course, and will be working on the Ask for Evidence campaigns, the 2016 John Maddox prize in addition to the Plant Science panel and Energy panels.