Sense about Science ? equipping people to make sense of science and evidence
I am a Biological Sciences student at UCL with a background in both humanities and sciences. What attracted me about Sense about Science was the fact that it seemed to be the right place to gain some experience exploiting my skills in both areas, as I believe that an integrative approach is increasingly important in today's society, and I was not disappointed at all. The office and the team are very welcoming and the tasks performed by volunteers are genuinely stimulating, diverse, and will make you feel like you are indeed contributing to something relevant. It also is a great environment where evidence-based thinking, cutting-edge science and current issues are continuously explored in many ways.
Emma graduated from King's College London in 2011 having read biomedical science. She won the 3rd year Biomedical Science prize for the best academic performance and was nominated for a European SET award. She has been assisting with the launch of our new campaign Ask for Evidence, working on some of our publications and writing website content.
I am currently in my third year of studying Biochemistry at the University of Oxford. I came across Sense About Science while reading about the AllTrials Campaign and became interested in their work with public outreach and the media. During my time here I have been able to help on a variety of tasks, including the Ask for Evidence Case Studies, preparation for the AAAS annual meeting and the Plant Science Panel Q&A session. Volunteering with Sense About Science has given me an invaluable insight into science communication and I have really enjoyed my time here.
Mark worked at Sense About Science from September 2011 - January 2012. He became interested in public outreach and scientific policy while studying for an Astrophysics Ph.D. While volunteering for Sense About Science in 2010, he undertook a Medical Statistics MSc. While working for Sense About Science he has been involved in a number of activities, including: issues surrounding the restructuring of the ACMD - including drafting evidence to parliamentary select committees, drafting a peer-review guide for early–career researchers, editing documents, including the annual ‘Celebrities and Science’ publication, organising workshops, annual lecture, and annual reception, and website management. He now provides us with website statistics in a voluntary capacity.
The variety of work that Sense About Science does and its importance for scientists is what really interested me when I heard about the charity. I feel like I’ve helped with all sorts of projects here; going through newspaper and magazine websites looking for Celebrity Science quotes, helping out at a workshop for early career researchers and getting involved in a review group for a leaflet on pharmacology aimed at students. I am an undergraduate of Biology at Imperial College London and volunteering with on-going campaigns such as Ask for Evidence and Libel Reform has given me a valuable insight into the way in which the world of science works. In the office, I felt welcomed immediately and I always look forward to coming back.
I have recently completed a PhD at Imperial College London in Medicinal Chemistry and Cancer Imaging. As I was lucky enough to have a project people could relate to, I got to talk about it a lot and really enjoyed it. This sparked my interest in science communication and public engagement with scientific issues, which is how I found out about Sense About Science. I have been lucky enough to work on the Ask for Evidence campaign, help out at the 2013 Annual Reception and in the office.
Anna is a PhD researcher at the Chemical Engineering Department of Imperial College, London. Her research is currently done in collaboration with VITO, an institute based in Belgium, working on the development of technologies for more sustainable industrial processes. She is interested in how scientific discoveries can be applied outside the laboratories and how to make them positive and beneficial for society. In this translation she believes an important role is played by the way science and scientific findings are communicated to the wide public. She has already been involved in presentations and practical demonstrations to enthuse children and young students over science and technology at schools and university. The work at Sense About Science will provide her more experience on public engagement and will allow her to explore new areas where science meets society.
Harriet is currently working as a neuroscientist as part of the BBSRC Doctoral training program at The University of Nottingham. She is working to uncover the biological basis of fear in the brain, and to identify why more women suffer from anxiety disorders than men. Harriet has always been interested in what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ science, and how to communicate new ideas in research to the public. As part of her internship at Sense about Science, she will be working on the Ask for Evidence campaign, the Plant Science panel and the Energy panel.
Lewis joined the volunteer scheme at Sense About Science in March 2011. He has a PhD from the University of St. Andrews in evolutionary biology and has been a Science and Engineering Ambassador for four years. He was involved in a range of activities at Sense About Science, including working with the Libel Reform Campaign, drafting publications, writing web content, handling enquiries and media calls and assisting with the 2011 annual lecture.
Maria Kuźma-Kuźniarska, Designer
Maria holds a BSc and MSc in Biotechnology from the University of Gdansk, Poland and a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Liverpool. Currently, she is working as a postdoctoral researcher at Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS), Oxford University. She is also a freelance biomedical illustrator and figurative artist. Maria has supported Sense About Science as a volunteer graphic designer since 2012.
Eleanor started at Sense About Science in February 2014 and is involved in the AllTrials campaign, Ask for Evidence, Voice of Young Science as well as more general contributions to the organisation. Her favourite part of the job is chasing up both journalists and researchers to discover the roots of the more bizarre science stories in the press. She is currently studying for an MSc in Neuroscience, Language and Communication at UCL, and has an undergraduate degree in Biology from University of Sussex.
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.
After recently graduating with a degree in Earth Sciences from University College London I briefly worked as an oil and gas analyst but knew my heart lay with science communication and public engagement. I find science as a whole far too interesting to focus on just one small part of it and want to use my enthusiasm to help make science more accessible to the public. Volunteering at Sense About Science has given me a fantastic insight into the importance of clear, evidence-based reporting of science in the media and ways to increase this. For example using the scheme Ask for Evidence to contact journalists, which I did during my time here. I have been given a wide variety of tasks to complete and have been made to feel very welcome and comfortable by the whole team.
After graduating with a B.Sc in Physiology at Kings College London I decided to get in contact with Sense About Science having heard about the charity through a friend who had previously volunteered here. Having spent the last three years studying science I am still as passionate about the subject as the moment I started! It is therefore very important to me that I maintain an active member of the science community and working at Sense About Science seems like a great way of doing this. My interests currently lay in the field of public engagement and communication of science and I am exploring the benefits of using more memorable mediums to do so; such as visual or performance based arts.
Indi has a background in researching the body clock in relation to development and also worked in public health at Cancer Research UK. Indi has a great deal of public engagement experience - it was this enthusiasm to share her love of science with the public and explain it in an understandable way that led her to discover Sense About Science in 2008 when she attended a VoYS workshop. She shares Sense About Science’s values and volunteered in the office, at events, and from home doing some remote editing. Indi supported several different projects and events when she volunteered at Sense About Science in 2013, including the update of the 'I've Got Nothing to Lose' guide, launch of the 'Evidence Based Medicine Matters' guide at Westminster, Ask for Evidence, VoYS campaigns and workshops, and the 2013 Annual Lecture. Indi is volunteering at Sense About Science in July 2014 and is a member of VoYS. She is also London chapter lead for ScienceGrrl, a voluntary grass-roots organisation celebrating women in science and passing that enthusiasm on to the next generation.
Straight away I was made to feel welcome and part of the team by the friendly staff at Sense About Science. I was given lots of varied and interesting tasks to work on, from helping with their upcoming publication Making Sense of Medicine, to processing nominations for the John Maddox Prize. As an undergraduate student of Biomedical Science I have become much more aware of how confusing the contrasting messages about science in the media can be and I am pleased that I could help Sense About Science in their important work. Overall I gained invaluable experience in the work place and would recommend volunteering here to anyone.
Georgina is a PhD student at the University of St Andrews looking at decision-making in animals, and when certain decisions may or may not be considered ‘rational’. Prior to this, she obtained her Master’s degree from Queen’s University Belfast where she studied animal behaviour and welfare. As part of her doctoral training programme, Georgina is able to carry out a three month internship, and has chosen to work with Sense About Science where she will be assisting in the Ask for Evidence campaign, as well as the plant science and energy online panels.
Grace recently graduated from Cambridge with a degree in Natural Sciences, having specialised in Genetics. She has a keen interest in science policy, and has been on the committee of Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE), an organisation run by and for early-career researchers interested in the relationship between science and policy. Previously, Grace interned at the Wellcome Trust, where her work focused on how to incentivise data sharing in scientific research. Having developed an interest in the complex interplay between the media, public perceptions of science, and policy formation, Grace is greatly looking forward to gaining experience at Sense About Science.
Marylka is in her third year studying Biological Science at Warwick University. In the past Marylka has been involved in charities working in science communication such as FlavourSense Nation an interactive exhibit exploring the senses and science behind taste. She is also interested in how information can be explored visually through film making videos producing simple videos of biological concepts for university students. At Sense about Science she is involved with the Ask for Evidence campaign asking how the full moon affects sleep, which can be read here. Marylka is looking forward to getting an insight into how science in portrayed in the media and how simply reading an article in a magazine or newspaper can turn into detective work to find out the science behind the headlines.
I am currently in my fourth year of Natural Sciences at the University of Nottingham. I am interested in pursuing a career in science communications which is how I found out about Sense about Science. I volunteered at their September Standing up for Science media workshop and enjoyed my time so much with the team that I am back again to help out in the office. My time here has given me great insight into the complex world of scientists and the media and I look forward to continuing my interest in this area.
Lucy graduated from Imperial College London with a BSc in Biology and has since pursued a career in science communication. She has a great understanding of the biological world and loves sharing this information with others, so she started writing for the student newspaper and set up a science blog to share scientific stories. Through work experience with the BBC Lucy learnt how scientific topics are portrayed to the general public and has since carried out research for upcoming documentaries. She has also worked as a children’s science presenter at schools and private functions. By volunteering with Sense About Science, she hopes to learn new skills from the team and gain some great experience.
I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2008 with a Masters in Biology, and since then have been studying for a PhD at UCL on the reproductive traits of the stalk-eyed fly. During my studies I have become less interested in research and far more passionate about effective communication and teaching of science, leading to my joining Sense About Science as a volunteer in June 2012. So far I have been involved in working on the Libel Reform Campaign, and am very excited to see how this legislation will change the nature of UK scientific debate.
Following a PhD in malaria research, I decided to leave academia in favour of a career in science communication. I was involved in a lot of campaigning during my PhD so naturally I came across Sense About Science. Luckily for me, they kindly agreed to take me on to expand my sci-com repertoire. My work has primarily focussed on the AllTrials campaign, although I have dabbled in Ask for Evidence, Voice of Young Science and more general contributions to social media, live Q&As and website edits. The work is both interesting and rewarding, the team are great and I thoroughly recommend volunteering with them.
Tabitha was the Scientific Liaison at Sense About Science, coordinating our work with scientists to respond to misconceptions about science and evidence in public debate. She was responsible for communications including our newsletter; and for matching scientists with projects and requests for help from journalists and civic groups. Projects included a working group to produce a public guide, Making Sense of Uncertainty; and developing a guide to help people question stories about research on links between exposures and lifestyle. She worked on Sense About Genetic Ancestry, and edited the 2011 and 2012 'Celebrities and Science' reviews, giving interviews for national and international media. Tabitha joined Sense About Science in August 2010. She previously worked with the Science Media Centre, BIS and the Human Tissue Authority, and has a PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Edinburgh.
For the past year Elle has been the submissions editor for a student science and technology magazine in Scotland, theGIST. She learned about Sense About Science when helping to organise theGIST conference which explored science and evidence-based policy, and developed a student article competition– the prize was a place at a VoYS Standing up for Science media workshop. Elle has completed a number of research internships, including at the Scottish Independence Advocacy Alliance in Edinburgh and at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany, and in 2012 she received a scholarship to debate in a youth forum at the 2012 World Trade Organisation Public Forum. She also had her research on uncertainty within major international financial organisations published by the 2013 Australian Institute of International Affairs Emerging Scholars Journal. Elle recently graduated with a postgraduate diploma in public and urban policy from the University of Glasgow and also has a Masters of International Relations from Macquarie University in Sydney.
Rob is currently undertaking the Scientist Training Programme (STP), a postgraduate professional training programme with integrated MSc at King’s College London, and specialising in radiotherapy physics. As part of the STP, he had the opportunity to arrange an elective placement with Sense About Science. Rob has long had an interest in the public understanding of science, of the proper reporting of science in the media, and of the influence which this has on public discourse; his time spent at Sense About Science is therefore a wonderful opportunity to further explore this field. Prior to starting the STP, Rob completed a BSc in Physics and Philosophy at King’s College London, gained a PGCE in secondary science teaching, and trained as a radiotherapy physics practitioner at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre.
Stefanie is a PhD student at King’s College London with a passion for science communication. In her research, she is currently investigating how muscle stem cells regenerate muscle after injury. Since the beginning of her studies, she has been involved in scientific skepticism and believes that evidence-based decisions in politics and healthcare can make the world a better place. In her spare time, she enjoys researching dubious claims, volunteering for science outreach projects and blogging about science journalism.
Gabriella is in her final year studying for a Bsc in Zoology at Leeds University. Her research is focussed on sexual selection in fruit flies. She first became interested in scientific communication while on the Gatsby plant science summer school, and at university she presents a radio show ‘Weekly Wildlife Watch’. She recently had an article published in Antenna about social insect societies. At Sense About Science, Gabriella is helping support the Ask for Evidence campaign and the Voice of Young Science network.
I graduated with a BSc in Microbiology from the University of Warwick in 2011 and an MSc in Bioinformatics from Cranfield University in 2012. I’m about to start a PhD at UCL Genetics Institute. Communication will be an important aspect of my PhD and I’m volunteering at Sense About Science in order to learn how to effectively present and explain my research, which will hopefully improve my project, as well as enabling me to (eventually) become a well-rounded scientist. Sense About Science has a key role in developing the public’s understanding and trust in science and I’m glad to be involved.
Geraldin Gomez Mazo
Geraldin is a student at Holy Family Catholic School in Walthamstow, she is on a volunteer placement at Sense about Science as part of her work experience. Geraldin is currently doing her three biology GCSEs and will be finishing her exams next year. She is thinking of taking Maths, Biology and Chemistry for A-levels as she would like to do medicine in university and go on to become a doctor in Colombia. She would also like to do sociology for A-levels as she is interested in the study of society. Geraldin decided to do her work experience placement at Sense about Science because she enjoys everything to do with science!
Natasha has recently returned from living in Japan where she was Science and Innovation research assistant at the British Embassy in Tokyo. Whilst there she helped to organise an international conference on the Communication of Risk in the Nuclear Industry, which was chaired by Sense About Science trustee, Nick Ross. Previously, Natasha was Assistant Press Officer at the Royal Society, promoting new research and producing the Society’s podcast. She has also worked with the SMC, the Natural History Museum, BBC Horizon and The One Show. She has a degree in Maths and Philosophy from the University of Oxford. Alongside volunteering at Sense about Science, Natasha is a freelance researcher for the insect appreciation festival, ‘Pestival’.
Ben was project coordinator on the AllTrials campaign for all clinical trials to be registered and results reported. He is developing the campaign's website and communications and worked with global clinical trial registries to set up an international meeting. His most recent background is psychology, where he has worked as a research assistant in clinical health psychology and as an assistant psychologist in adult mental health. Previously he worked in the technical side of IT, developing and maintaining web-based systems. Previously Ben volunteered at Sense About Science, helping with the Libel Reform and Ask for Evidence campaigns, a variety of work in the office, and assisting with the running of events.
I love working with such a committed team of like-minded people. The work that Sense About Science does is vital - giving scientists a real voice to counter the pseudoscience we find all too often in the newspapers - advertorials, reprinted press releases, biased journalists stating opinion as fact. Being able to volunteer gave me an idea of just how much work goes into tackling just these problems. As someone with a chronic illness, I understand how vulnerable patients can be when looking for a treatment. I’ve run a few campaigns against various types of alternative medicine which are not only ineffective, but can actively harm patients. When I’m not volunteering for Sense About Science, I’m studying towards my chemistry, biology, psychology and maths A levels.
James joined Sense About Science in April 2012. He is currently studying International Politics at King’s College London, with an interest in the role policy plays in British healthcare. At Sense About Science he is conducting research into evidence based medicine and helping with the Ask For Evidence and Libel Reform campaigns and other administrative support.
I joined Sense About Science in June 2015 as part of my summer work experience after my GCSEs. I enjoy the sciences and intend to study Astrophysics at university. I understand the need for good scientific communication and came here to find out more about how Sense About Science works.
Lydia Le Page
In 2013 I took 3 months out from my PhD to volunteer for Sense About Science and enjoyed every minute. I helped organise a VoYS media workshop and also the launch event in Liverpool for the new guide Making Sense of Drug Safety Science, where it was great to meet those involved in its production, including academic researchers, patients, nurses, and representatives from industry. I also helped organise (and excitingly got to attend) the annual reception in London.
I carried out research and coordinated volunteers for two Ask for Evidence themed weeks – the topics were recycling policy and dietary fruit and vegetable recommendations. I also carried out research on a variety of interesting subjects for possible future projects. I would definitely recommend volunteering for Sense About Science - the office is friendly and your contribution is valued right from day one!
Ed is a PhD student at Imperial College London, where his research examines reasons for the impaired performance of oral vaccines (especially oral polio vaccine) in low-income countries. Before his PhD, he worked for the Future Science Group as a commissioning editor for several of their peer-reviewed journals. He is currently carrying out a three month internship at Sense About Science supported by the Medical Research Council. During his internship, Ed is assisting with the Ask For Evidence campaign as well as the plant science and energy panels.
I am currently studying Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience Bsc at the University of Nottingham. What initially lured me into wanting to volunteer at Sense About Science is the amalgamation of science, communication and public engagement. Additionally, the work they do is not only great but vast.
It is often strange for those that study or work in the world of science to empathise with those that do not understand the concept of reputable evidence; Sense About Science ensures that this concept is not taken for granted.
Volunteering at Sense About Science has been an incredible experience that has not only allowed me to further myself but has been integral in helping me find my feet in this line of work. The office atmosphere is great and I genuinely look forward to coming in; there is no looking at the clock waiting for the hour hand to strike 5 (something I cannot say about other places I have worked)! I would definitely recommend volunteering here to anyone that is considering it.
I’m about to start my final year at Bath University studying Biochemistry and found out about Sense about Science through my placement year at the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Science communication and public engagement really interest me and spending time at Sense about Science is a great opportunity to gain some more experience in this area.
This week I have been involved with the Maddox Prize and the Ask for Evidence campaign. Volunteering here has given me insight into how important effective communication between the public, scientists and the media is. I was really welcomed as part of the team and would highly recommend volunteering at Sense about Science.
Catherine is currently in her second year studying for a BSc in Biomedical Science at the University of Southampton. Whilst volunteering at Sense About Science in April 2014 she has been involved in the AllTrials campaign surrounding clinical trial transparency and new EU regulations. Catherine has been involved in developing a new website for the AllTrials campaign, synthesising feedback from Ask for Evidence sessions and configuring contact databases. After graduating she hopes to study for a PhD in neuroscience. Catherine also acts as Treasurer for Southampton Marrow, a student run branch of Anthony Nolan.
Chun-Yin is a student at Imperial College London, specializing in biomedical science and global health. He has a long-standing interest in science, and enjoys exploring the ways in which new advances can be translated to generate positive social change. Prior to volunteering with Sense About Science, Chun-Yin has spent his free time working on development work with charities and helping to organize science events at Imperial, including Imagining the Future of Medicine. He is very excited about working with Sense About Science, which will allow him to explore further the intersection between science, technology and society, and develop experience in public engagement.
Leonor is Senior Science Writer and Press Officer at the University of Rochester in the US and also coordinates our US programme on a voluntary basis. Leonor has a degree in Natural Sciences and a PhD from Cambridge University, where she specialised in Physics. She joined Sense About Science in February 2008 as Scientific Liaison and in 2010, Leonor took on the role of Science and Policy Manager. Her responsibilities included scrutiny of science policy, responding to consultations and coordinating “Making Sense of” guides. In 2011 she took on the development of Sense About Science's international work. Read some of Leonor's articles here.
Chelsea is volunteering as part of her PhD at the University of Reading. Her research focuses on a gene in oilseed rape seeds that responds to wounding. She has a BSc in Applied Biology from the University of Nottingham and has also completed an ERASMUS year at AgroParisTech. She has been involved in a number of science outreach and public engagement events with the University of Reading, BBSRC and the British Science Association. At Sense About Science Chelsea is helping out with the Ask for Evidence campaign and the plant science panel.
What struck me most about volunteering at Sense About Science has been the variety. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with the annual reception, Christmas reading room, writing content for the website, handling media enquiries and working on the AllTrials campaign for all trials registered and all results reported. The experiences I've gained have been incredible. I’ve been working in science education for a while now and I believe that the work Sense About Science does is very important. Science is having an ever increasing impact on our lives and I truly believe that providing the public with the tools they need to make their own decisions is vital.
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.
I volunteered for Sense About Science for two weeks during the Summer of 2013. I’m currently studying Biomedical Sciences at Oxford University, and considering pursuing a career in science policy. I was first introduced to Sense About Science through Mark Henderson’s book The Geek Manifesto – once I found out about the crucial work the charity does in combating pseudoscience, encouraging people to ask for evidence for spurious claims, and campaigning on multiple vital issues, I was keen to be involved. I had the chance to help in a number of ways during my time in the office, and it was exciting to be involved in such an important organisation.
Chris is a student at Imperial College London, studying for his MSci in Physics with Theoretical Physics. He is volunteering at Sense About Science through the College’s Charity Insights scheme. At Sense About Science Chris is helping with the Plant Science Panel and the Ask for Evidence campaign. At university Chris is a committee member of the London Forum for Science and Policy, a student-led think tank and in the past has worked with the British Science Association and Sciencewise; researching public policy and helping to promote public engagement with science.