Current ASDC Trustees
The ASDC Board of Trustees is as follows:
Chas Bishop (chair), National Space Centre
Linda Conlon, Centre for Life, Newcastle
Bryan Davies, Catalyst Science Discovery Centre
Karen Davies, Science Museum, London
Cindy Forde, Cambridge Science Centre
Liz Hodge, Satrosphere
Gillian Lang, Glasgow Science Centre
Linda Leuchars, Dundee Science Centre
Adrian Lutton, W5
Terry O'Connor, STFC
Scot Owen, Techniquest Glyndwr
Dr Anita Shaw, Techniquest
Leigh-Anne Stradeski, Eureka! The Museum for Children, Halifax
Phil Winfield, At-Bristol Science Centre
Former ASDC Trustees
Teresa Anderson (former chair), Jodrell Bank
Dr Stephen Breslin, Glasgow Science Centre
Vicky Brightman, Horniman Museum and Gardens
Verena Cornwall, Winchester Science Centre (former Director)
Goéry Delacôte, At-Bristol
John Ellison, The Eden Project, Cornwall
Ian Griffin (former chair), Science Oxford, Oxford
Dr Robin Holgate, MOSI, Manchester
Dr Robin Hoyle, Glasgow Science Centre
Dr Anne Hunt, A.D.Hunt Ltd.
Dr Chris Lennard, Cambridge Science Centre
Heather Mayfield, Science Museum, London
Anthony Richards, Science Museum Group
Louise Smith, Dundee Science Centre
Ian Simmons, Centre for Life, Newcastle
Peter Trevitt, Techniquest, Cardiff
Kenny Webster, Thinktank, Birmingham
Nick Winterbotham (former chair), former CEO of Thinktank
Current Trustee election statements
CEO, The National Space Centre
Having worked in a range of operational and marketing roles in five visitor attractions across the UK, including Madame Tussauds and Alton Towers, I joined the National Space Centre team in 1999 when a disused sewage works in Leicester had been declared the ideal location for the Millennium Landmark project for the East Midlands. I became Chief Executive of The Charity's operating company in 2001 and have since launched the Visitor Attraction (2001), NSC Creative (2008) and the National Space Academy (2012) as its three strategic business units. I am Chairman of Leicestershire Promotions Ltd and a Trustee of the King Richard III Visitor Centre, and work closely with the UK Space Agency on recruitment and skills development needs for the space sector.
I have enjoyed my first term as an ASDC Trustee and would very much like to serve a second. It is uplifting to see a sector finding its feet and its members, collectively and individually, offering long term plans to help inspire young people and address the shortage of scientists and engineers passing through GCSE, BTEC and A level into colleges, universities, apprenticeships and careers.
ASDC is a more robust organisation than once it was and has developed excellent strategic links with the Science & Technology Facilities Council and UK Space Agency amongst others. I hope to continue supporting the excellent management team and throwing ideas into the pot. I am particularly interested in seeing how marginal businesses find their feet and become sustainable through good strategic decision-making. ASDC is very much like many of the operations it represents in this respect.
CEO, International Centre for Life
Linda Conlon is responsible for managing the International Centre for Life, a £90m science village in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England. It brings together a University medical research institute, 2 National Health Service clinics, biotechnology businesses, science engagement and education, and ethics on a single site, all with the aim of promoting advancement of science. This unique project has fostered inter-disciplinary collaboration among the 550-strong workforce, achieving some spectacular results - e.g. the world's first cloned human embryo was created at the Centre.
Life aims to ignite and nurture a curiosity in everyone for science, technology, engineering and maths and to encourage the next generation of STEM professionals. It offers a comprehensive programme of science engagement; Europe's biggest programme of hands on science workshops for students in state of the art laboratories; lectures; debates; outreach to disadvantaged communities and under achieving schools; professional development for teachers and an annual science festival delivered with partners in the city. In 2014, it hosted Europe's largest gathering of makers at Maker Faire UK.
The Centre is financially self-sustaining through its own income generation efforts and does not receive revenue funding from central or local government.
Linda Conlon is Chair Elect of the Association of Science and Technology Centres, a body representing science centres worldwide, and a member of its Executive, International and Finance Committees. She is also a member of the International Programme Committee, which is charged with delivering the next Science Centre World Summit in Japan in 2017. She is a former board member of the European Collaboration of Science and Discovery Centres (Ecsite), and a former chair of Ecsite-uk (now the Association of Science and Discovery Centres).
Linda Conlon is a governor of a major secondary school, Excelsior Academy, in Newcastle and is a business mentor for small charities and voluntary groups in North East England. She is an executive member of NE1, the Business Improvement District Company for Newcastle, and chairs its marketing task force.
She has travelled extensively, lecturing and advising other bodies setting up science centres in the UK, Europe, the United States and China.
Linda Conlon's career before the world of science centres was in regional development and urban regeneration, where she was involved in the creation of major high profile waterfront developments, helping to bring in £1 billion of investment. Before that, she ran her own marketing consultancy and in her early career, worked for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the multi-national company, Procter and Gamble.
My reason for wishing to join the board of ASDC is quite simple: I want to see science centres get the recognition and support they deserve.
Some progress has been made towards achieving this but much, much more needs to be done. I was involved in this quest some years ago and feel the time is right, after a period of absence from the board, to seek election and work with colleagues to keep climbing the mountain!
Chairman and acting CEO, Catalyst Science Discovery Centre
I have worked for over 45 years in the UK Chemical Industry with a variety of senior roles. I was invited to join Catalyst as a Trustee in 2007, elected Chairman in 2011 and appointed acting CEO in 2013.
As a chemical science focussed organisation Catalyst offers teaching facilities for both school children and adult learners and hosts a collection of many items connected to the chemical industry. Annually we have over 30,000 visitors with more than 15,000 visitors partaking in practical science experiments.
My involvement within the chemical industry has enabled me to open new avenues for Catalyst and secure lasting technical, educational and commercial relationships. In 2015 I was honoured by the Chemical Industries Association with their Lifetime Achievement Award.
I am an active Rotarian and a school governor at 2 schools in Cheshire.
What I Bring
- An appreciation of the vital role industry, trade associations and funding bodies can bring to the sector
- A long established passion for science and technology
- An awareness of new innovations within the science sector
- An excellent network of industry and government contacts
- A proven ability to successfully manage a Science Discovery Centre
- Strong links with the UK and International chemical industry
- To increase the expansion of ASDC outreach particularly to people who never currently visit science centres
- To increase public awareness about topical issues; e.g. fracking, GM foods, nanotechnology
- To influence government and educationalists about the long term necessity to expand the teaching of science both academically and vocationally. UK's future as an innovative and successful nation needs more STEM qualified people at all levels.
- To increase the co-operation between ASDC members and optimise any synergistic benefits
- To learn from other members and to encourage the sharing of best practice
- To strengthen the awareness and breadth of science in everyday life, to showcase the achievements and demonstrate the critical role of science for future sustainability, improved health and living standards.
Head of Learning Research and Projects, Science Museum Group
I am passionate about learning in informal settings, having spent over 23 years devising new and innovative ways of communicating scientific and technological ideas and concepts to a wide range of audiences using interactive exhibits and innovative programming.
Currently I am Head of Learning Research and Projects at the Science Museum and work with the Museum Leadership, Development and Project teams to maximise Learning's input across the public offer ensuring that audience needs are addressed and learning programmes are properly integrated and delivered. I work with a range of academic partners, including King's College and Sheffield Hallam, on large-scale learning projects like the Enterprising Science Programme.
I have played a pivotal role in some of the Science Museum's most exciting and innovative projects including the Wellcome Wing's 'In Future' exhibition (a multi-user computer game) and the development and delivery of the Dana Centre, known for its experimental adult programming based around contemporary science dialogue and debate.
I am a chemist by background and was the first School Teacher Fellow at the Royal Society of Chemistry, responsible for identifying, testing/evaluating and writing chemical problem-solving/egg race experiments for inclusion in the RSC's publication 'In Search of Solutions. A long time ago I was a secondary science teacher.
What I bring
- Experience of working with a range of academic partners on large-scale national projects
- Sharing of information e.g. evaluation and research findings gained from the Enterprising Science Programme and our participatory work with new audiences.
- Experience of training teachers, science communicators, scientists, museum educators and curators in informal science learning approaches and practices; that includes audience awareness training.
Science and Discovery Centres play a huge part in engaging and inspiring audiences with science. But how do we encourage more people to see the science centre/museum as a resource not just a destination? How do we effectively engage those who are hard-to-reach that isn't just another project? What influence can school, home and out-of-school experiences make on young people's science learning and how can we support more joined-up linkages? What of digital participation? How we measure our impact has proved elusive to date, but in our gut we know that what we do is right because we see it in the faces of the people who visit us and we hear it in their conversations. By gaining a better understanding of how we do it and developing a framework that supports science learning consistently and more effectively, we can benefit ALL - visitors, non-visitors, staff and the sector.
As a passionate and diverse membership that delivers on science engagement our strengths lie in:
- Continuing to share best practice
- Continuing to be reflective about our practice and encouraging our staff to do the same
- Scaling up what we know works and seeking unusual collaborations/partnerships
- Looking to learnings from outside our sector
- Attracting new and diverse audiences into our institutions - visitors and staff - and in doing so enriching everyone's experience
- Coming up with the research questions we would like answered as a network and capturing that evidence across the network in order to gain new insights to feed into our practice.
- Speaking loudly with one voice on the things that matter.
CEO, Cambridge Science Centre
I am a communications professional with an MSc in Sustainability and Business. Throughout my career I have worked internationally with organisations endeavouring to make positive change.
I've worked with leaders across sectors including the UN, government, NGOs, finance, business, technology and education. A principle aim has been to explore and advance economic, corporate and educational models that increase our understanding of our world and how to live well in it. Prior to joining the Cambridge Science Centre, I was Managing Director of the Blue Marine Foundation heading a global team dedicated to protecting and regenerating the world's oceans.
I believe that hands on adventures in science enable children not only to explore and understand how things work, but also how they themselves work, the potential they have inside themselves to invent, discover and make a positive contribution to the world they will inherit. Acquiring this knowledge should be great fun. It also equips young people to innovate or be part of the solutions to some of society's most pressing problems.
What I bring
As an inveterate traveller who has spent almost as much time out of the UK than in, from an arts background with a love of writing and telling stories, I hope I can bring a useful perspective on how to include new voices in the stories we tell and to invite new audiences to share the wonderful journeys that begin as you step through our doors.
The Cambridge Science Centre is a remarkable institution. From our 100sqm home we reach over 50,000 people a year. We have a unique outreach model that can create a pop-up Science Centre in the most remote village, a bustling city centre square or even a field. In this way we can make exciting adventures in exploration and discovery accessible to children, their families and communities no matter what their circumstances. Inspiring young people to make the most of themselves and their world is a guiding principle for us. Joining the ASDC board means we can combine forces with other brilliant organisation working to make this happen.
CEO, Aberdeen's Science Centre, Satrosphere.
Many, many moons ago I taught in Edinburgh prior to relocating to the south of England where I worked in finance for various SMEs and latterly with a large multi national aerospace company. Following another relocation, this time in the right direction, I move to the North of England where I was employed in the public sector initially in finance and then as Group Sales and Marketing Manager for one of the largest Housing Associations in the UK.
On moving back to Scotland I joined, Aberdeen based educational charity, TechFest-SetPoint as Managing Director where I used all my acquired skills, experiences and passions to grow this small charity into a leading and highly regarded STEM education and communication organisation not only in Scotland but throughout the UK. Successfully securing and retaining contracts to deliver many national schemes and projects, e.g. Nuffield School Bursaries, British Science Association CRest Awards, Greenpower, Researchers in Residence, STEMNET contracts.
Following my resignation from this post I carried out consultancy work with several small charities assisting them with governance, compliance and funding.
I was approached by the Board of Aberdeen's Science Centre, Satrosphere in May 2014 to take up the role of Chief Executive. This post is to develop and implement short, medium and long-term strategies to further strengthen the centre's mission to promote STEM. To continue to raise awareness of the importance, applications and most importantly the career opportunities that STEM can offer to young people of our region. Whilst further engaging with industry and academia to source vehicles, partnerships and collaborations to demonstrate and highlight the relevance and impact STEM has on all of our lives.
What I bring
- A passion and an understanding of both formal and informal STEM education.
- Experience of together with an understanding and awareness of the role of the third sector within the education landscape.
- An ability to work collaboratively and an appreciation of what is required to achieve meaningful partnerships.
The theme running through my manifesto is partnership and collaboration.
It is widely recognised that a successful nation is reliant on having a STEM educated and literate population.
Science Centres and other STEM education focussed organisations have a very significant part to play in the UK achieving this. However I believe it will take a collaborative approach and ASDC is well place to drive this forward. I believe together we have the necessary skills and understanding of the landscape to help with the strategic positioning and operational development required to deliver this goal.
The mission I have introduced here in Aberdeen's Science Centre is to be the recognised Regional STEM Hub that connects, engages and works with members of the public, industry, academia and government to highlight and promote STEM. As part of ASDC team I would welcome the opportunity to promote this vision of fostering, embracing and nurturing partnerships as well as encouraging the sharing of good practise and ideas across all members.
Funding for all third sector organisations is incredibly difficult at present with more and more regulations and demands being made on our time and finances. It makes it even more important to work together as we will achieve considerably more by speaking with one voice than we will if we just operate within our own silo. Therefore, by working together under the umbrella of ASDC to lobby and raise awareness, to seek funding and recognition will undoubtedly deliver a more impactful outcome.
I would relish the challenge and the opportunity to be part of the ASDC Board of Trustees.
Deputy Director of Science, Glasgow Science Centre
I have been involved in public engagement with science professionally for the last 16 years. I have a background in physics and spent 5 years researching physics for biomedical applications before joining Glasgow Science Centre. I have worked in a variety of roles throughout the organisation and have experience in operations, education and public programmes, fundraising, relationship management and exhibition development.
I am currently fortunate to be part of the creative team responsible for the development and delivery of GSC's major new exhibit development projects such as BodyWorks and Powering the Future as well as the maintenance and refresh of the current visitor experience. In addition I have responsibility for a number of key strategic partnerships to help develop GSC as a national resource and a hub for science communication such as Skills Development Scotland, RSC and Coder Dojo.
Our ASDC member organisations face a shared dilemma. We are visitor attractions, educational establishments, businesses and charities, with each identity bringing associated and sometimes conflicting challenges. Our stakeholders come from industry, academia, the government and, importantly, the public. Our job at ASDC must be to showcase our successes, prepare the ground for future developments and act as persuaders with our stakeholders, demonstrating the enormous impact of our collective effort on the economy, on science and for the benefit of society. On a practical level, I would like to see ASDC further promote collaborative networks to encourage pooling and sharing of resources and experience more effectively.
Interim Chief Executive, Dundee Science Centre
A graduate of Pharmacology and with an MPhil in Biomedicine, I entered science communication whilst still working in research, leading to a full-time career change into Dundee Science Centre in April 2008. During my first 6 years in post, I led and managed a wide range of Science Learning and Public Engagement initiatives and teams. This included learning programmes for children and young people in formal education settings, exhibition and community engagement projects, Dundee and Fife Science Festivals, and professional development for teachers and scientists.
Being appointed Head of Development in 2014, I had additional responsibility for supporting the CEO to provide strategic direction for the overall centre, leading fundraising and development projects, and overseeing the ongoing performance of the four learning departments. Since February 2015, I have fulfilled the role of Interim Chief Executive, and during this time I have driven forward the fundraising campaign and development work for the centre's £1.8 million capital expansion project: a new medical technology exhibition, 80-seat lecture theatre, learning spaces, meeting rooms and office. The new facilities are to bring together STEM and education professionals, to co-create and deliver innovative learning experiences for schools, colleges, universities, industry and the public community.
I would bring to the ASDC Board hands-on experience of a wide range of science learning projects, together with a knowledge and passion for collaboration, sharing best practice and widening access to science.
ASDC has been a hugely valuable resource for me whilst I've grown as a science learning professional over the past 8 years. It has also been a very valuable partner and support mechanism for Dundee Science Centre as whole. I have personally been involved in ASDC's national projects and have experienced first-hand how beneficial these can be from the perspective of a participating science centre.
Using this knowledge, experience and enthusiasm, I would help to raise recognition and support for the vital work of ASDC and the wider informal science learning sector. I would support ASDC to provide new and existing opportunities for sharing best practice, co-developing and co-delivering activities, and expanding the ASDC membership. Ultimately, I strive to assist ASDC to build capacity across the sector so we can expand our reach and have a growing and positive 'impact' locally and nationally, as keystones for lifelong science learning for all.
Head of Exhibitions, Design and Marketing , W5
As Head of Exhibitions, Design and Marketing at W5 in Belfast since its inception and opening, I have a breadth of experience in the strategic development and operations of interactive science and discovery centres. In this role I have worked in partnership with a wide and diverse range of national and international organisations in developing cutting edge exhibitions and events. As Brand Manager I am responsible for the delivery of our core ideology and ethos, ensuring that our core values and brand integrity pervade the entire organisation and are the driving force behind everything that we do.
I have been working in the fields of graphic, exhibition and interactive design for over three decades. I began my career as a graphics and exhibition designer with the Department of Agriculture and The Forest Service of Northern Ireland. I briefly worked as freelance illustrator and even more briefly as a comic artist before joining the Ulster Museum Exhibition Design Team in 1989.
When work began on the Odyssey Science Centre project, which became whowhatwherewhenwhy-W5, I was seconded on to the development and design team. During the development phase of the project I met and worked with a wide range of inspirational individuals and companies in what was probably the most intense learning period of my life. I left the museum in 2000 to take up the role as designer in W5 prior to its opening in March 2001. As a a member of the senior management team I head up an extremely dedicated team developing exhibits, exhibitions (permanent and temporary), programmes, shows and events. I have worked with a wide range of funders, sponsors and partners over the years, from the Northern Ireland Executive, Millennium Commission etc to companies like Aardman Animations.
In the last two years we have begun a programme of redevelopment which has seen the transformation of our under eights area into The Town of Discovery and the installation of our multi-storey climbing sculpture - Climbit. These alongside seasonal events, new education programmes and a dynamic science theatre show resulted in W5 achieving its best visitor numbers ever last year, with over 260,000 visitors. We celebrated our 15th birthday in March this year and are now working on a strategic development plan to take W5 to the next stage in its evolution, to create more compelling experiences and to attract a wider audience in even bigger numbers!
I think from my biography we have already established that I'm not a scientist! But I have learnt a lot of science 'stuff' in the last 20 years. It's surprising, I know, but working in and visiting a lot of Science Centres will do that to you! Subsequently I have developed a real passion for the role that Science Centres play in the promotion of the STEM (and STEAM) agenda.
What do I bring to the table? Well, I bring a different perspective; I bring a passion for creating exciting, immersive, new experiences which are accessible to everyone. I want to inspire, educate and entertain our visitors. I want to make learning fun, to create exhibitions and experiences that will encourage families, from all walks of life, to learn and play together. We must never forget the value of play in what we do as a sector!
Personally I would value, and benefit greatly from, the opportunity to work with colleagues from across the sector. After a period of absence for a few years it would be good to represent W5 and Northern Ireland at this level again.
Head of Communications, Science and Technology Facilities Council
I am the Head of Communications for the Science and Technology Facilities Council, one of Europe's largest multi-disciplinary research organisations and a proud partner of the ASDC through programmes such as Explore Your Universe.
STFC operates visitor centres and active Public Engagement programmes at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Daresbury Lab in Cheshire, and Rutherford Appleton Lab in Oxfordshire - all three are ASDC members in their own right. STFC is also a corporate member in recognition of our major role in delivering and funding a very broad Public Engagement programme nationally.
My personal role is as the strategic lead for communications, including reputation, political engagement, events, issues management, media and online. I also lead for the collective Research Councils on major international showcases for UK research, most recently the successful ESOF meeting in Manchester.
STFC's refreshed PE strategy, and our strategic communications plan, places a very high priority on building the UK's science capital. We recognise that true STEM engagement must include parents and teachers as well as students, and that we must focus more effort on encouraging 10-13 year olds to continue STEM study, including through highlighting the personal career options open to them in the wider STEM environment.
Prior to joining STFC in 2008, I held similar positions for a range of Australian Government organisations including the national air traffic control company and the national trade facilitation body. My early career was as a reporter for the Australian national wire service AAP, rising to Chief Political Correspondent, before working for a Government minister as press secretary and then senior policy adviser.
What I bring to the board
- Passion, dedication and commitment
- Deep understanding of the UK political and governmental environment affecting the science base and Association members
- Policy development and influencing skills
- Personal commitment to improving the take-up of STEM subjects across the UK
- Very high level strategic communications and stakeholder engagement skills, including in building new and innovative partnerships
- Strong links with the particle and nuclear physics, and astronomy communities, and a strong network of personal and professional connections across the UK and international science community.
My skills lie in influencing and engaging, especially in the political sphere, and in building enduring and deep collaborations to deliver strong results. I am standing for re-election as I believe my initial statement is still valid: while the individual Centres do a fantastic job in promoting STEM, we still do not receive the wider national recognition that's deserved for our contribution to education and societal well-being. I want to contribute to creating the ASDC as the "go-to" organisation for national STEM programmes.
I said in 2012 that if the ASDC didn't exist, we'd want to create it. We have it, it delivers results, and is ready to do more. I look forward to helping do so.
Education Manager, Techniquest Glyndwr
I have an undergraduate master's degree (MChem) in Medicinal Chemistry. My early career was spent in the pharmaceutical industry as an Analytical Chemist and latterly as a Process Validation Scientist. I was fortunate to work for some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Glaxo Wellcome and Wockhardt UK. After leaving the pharmaceutical industry, I began a teaching career which took me to Madrid as well as the UK, teaching Chemistry and general science to 11-18 year olds.
In March 2011, I joined Techniquest Glyndwr as the Education Manager to take on some exciting new challenges with the rest of the team. I have overseen the opening of a new facility comprising a Lego Education Innovation Studio and a Live Science laboratory and the development of several new interactive workshops. As an education team we have rolled out innovative new projects such as an outreach intervention programme for more able and talented students and an employer engagement programme for 14-16 year olds. Since 2011 I have shared responsibility for overall senior management of Techniquest Glyndwr, working alongside the Operations Manager. I am currently reading for an MBA at Glyndwr University and hope to complete this in summer 2014.
In addition to my role at Techniquest Glyndwr, I currently sit on the regional committee for the Royal Society of Chemistry and the British Science Association as well as being an active member of the Association for Science Education.
What I bring
- An appreciation of the combined importance to the UK of STEM industry, STEM education and Science Communication.
- A mix of experience in science engagement, STEM industry and education.
- A passion for science and technology, particularly chemistry and robotics.
- Expertise in building strong relationships with industry partners, academics and professional institutes.
- Experience of operating within the environment of a complex mix of contrasting stakeholders.
As a network of science centres and science communication organisations ASDC members aim to inspire all sections of society - ensuring we provide for the full spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds and abilities. If elected I will champion projects and initiatives targeting under-represented groups: particularly those with additional learning needs and those from low income families.
The future sustainability of all organisations is dependent on their long-term financial stability; in my opinion diversification is key to achieving this and the ASDC members lead the way. Embracing change and new technologies has always been important; however looking at how we can utilise 'mission enabling' activities more effectively or work with other sectors can open up new funding streams. I believe that developing approaches to work closely with industry will help to provide a supply of inspired STEM professionals thereby reducing the existing skills gap.
As a representative of a comparatively small science centre I would value working with the ASDC board to embrace and support the diversity of its members and ensure that these smaller independent centres have a voice.
Acting CEO, Techniquest
My passion for communicating science started 30 years ago whist I was at college, when I worked in my holidays at the science museum on what was to become Launch Pad. After that, I started a PhD in neuroscience and went on to do four years' postdoctoral research in medical genetics. The pull of those early years in the science museum was still strong so I studied for a Diploma in Science Communication before landing a job as a manager in Techniquest. I have now been here for twenty years, and am still excited to be part of an inspirational, forward-thinking and well-loved Welsh institution.
What I bring
I have worked at a strategic level at Techniquest for 15 years, mainly with responsibility for education, partnerships, marketing, and research and evaluation. During this time I have been asked to sit on a number of committees, largely focused on education, science communication and women in science. Currently, I sit on the Welsh Government's Department for Education and Skills' Science Working Group, the Chief Scientific Advisor for Wales' task and finish group on Women in STEM, and I am a mentee in the National Assembly for Wales' Women in Public Life Development Scheme. I have twice given written and oral evidence to the National Assembly for Wales on STEM issues.
My commitment to offering people opportunities to engage in science is, and has been, at the heart of my career. I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a position where I can make a difference, and I enjoy the challenge and rigour of adding to the STEM debate in Wales. I would welcome the chance to bring these skills and experiences to the ASDC board of trustees, sharing and learning from other trustees and the wider sector.
My main question is: how do we make sure that our stakeholders understand how important science centres are to our society to the point that they want to work with us, visit us, celebrate us and, of course, fund us. We should be aiming for a point where stakeholders aren't saying 'it would be good to work with ASDC', but 'how on earth did we manage before we worked with this key group?'
To move to that position, we need to look at our groups of stakeholders and find out how we can address their needs. What is it about science centres and what we can offer that is different to what others can offer these stakeholders? How can we capitalize on this to position ourselves as key to our stakeholders' needs?
Chief Executive, Eureka! The National Children's Museum
I have worked in the science and discovery centre sector for 21 years both here and in Canada. Prior to that I worked in senior level roles in communications and PR in health care and higher education. I am currently Chief Executive of the UK's national children's museum, Eureka! based in Halifax, West Yorkshire.
What I bring to the committee
- Experience: I am a long-serving ASDC trustee, having become involved in the early days of ECSITE-UK and have been delighted to help support the association as it has gone from strength to strength. I have been a member of several other professional association boards, including the Association of Children's Museums based in Washington, DC and I am Immediate Past President of Hands-On! International.
- Expertise: A good understanding of the range of issues our members face and the knowledge and skills to help tackle them.
- Ethos: A firm belief in the need to enhance public engagement in science throughout the UK and the strength of our centres working in partnership through ASDC to achieve this.
Understanding science in a holistic sense in the context of our everyday lives is essential for the current generation. When it comes to children, it's never too early to start this process and this is where science centres, with their highly accessible, interactive and playful approach come into their own. Being hands-on certainly doesn't mean the science is light-touch though, and we have the potential to make a lasting impact on each child that visits us, encouraging them into further scientific pursuits in education and careers, and making our role in the larger context not only highly significant but essential.
Over the past 20 to 30 years, great progress has been made on positioning SDCs as important cultural and scientific resources with an integral role to play in modern society, but much remains to be done. The types of funded projects that ASDC is leading on now, such as the Astronaut programme and the Wellcome Food & Drink initiative, have the potential to showcase the contribution of our centres, taking the entire SDC sector to a whole new level of influence, awareness, understanding and sustainability.
I am very keen to continue to play an active role as we move forward with this agenda, representing the ASDC membership and helping to ensure science and discovery centres continue to fulfil their vital remit on a national and international scale.
Chief Executive, At-Bristol
My first career consisted of 23 years in industrial research and development, product design and development, product management and marketing in radiation cross-linked polymer technology; culminating in the post of European R&D Director for a US multinational. This gives me a detailed understanding of the skills needs of industry and extensive business experience.
My science communication career started in November 2002 when I became Director of INTECH Science Centre & Planetarium; then in 2012 I joined At-Bristol as Chief Executive. The combination of my industrial background and my experience leading small and large science centres has given me a breadth of understanding of the needs and challenges of the sector as well as the exciting opportunities and initiatives available to us all.
What I bring to the committee
- Recognition of the needs of small and medium sized science centres which is essential if ASDC is to reflect the views and needs of its members.
- A detailed understanding of all aspects of running a sustainable science centre on a tight budget - and therefore the critical needs.
- A passion for effective science communication and recognition of our sector as the unique hub where science meets society.
- We need to further strengthen our network to achieve the synergy that will be generated by the sharing of best practice and content - I am a passionate believer in sharing; there is needless duplication of effort in our sector; we can all achieve much more by sharing.
- We need to work on our image: to some academics we trivialise science and are not to be taken seriously; while to some potential visitors we are centres for serious science learning, not places for a family fun day out. One of our key strengths is the depth and breadth of what we deliver which is not readily understood by those outside the sector.
- We all know that despite tough financial constraints we are delivering high quality STEM enhancement and enrichment activities and facilitating public engagement. Collectively we form a unique nationwide hub where science meets society at every level. We must continue to pressurise the Government to recognise the enormous value of that hub and to support it.
Former Trustee election statements
CEO, Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre
I am the Director of the University of Manchester's new Discovery Centre at Jodrell Bank. I have a background in Physics and Engineering and a long track record in science engagement and science policy.
The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre connects visitors to the world leading Astrophysics research being carried out at the Observatory and showcases research from right across the University.
Our Education programme welcomes around 15,000 school pupils each year and our 'Live from Jodrell Bank' Science-Music festivals have become part of the summer festival scene. We are already at capacity so are planning an expansion into new buildings and activities next year.
As well as giving people a link 'live' to Space and what our scientists are researching, our new Discovery Centre also focuses on the perspective that Astronomy gives us on the Earth - which is a very rare thing, a tiny pale blue dot in the vastness of Space - and explores our need to look after our planet and its environment.
We're very committed to forging new and innovative links across the ASDC network in future.
What I bring
- Experience of founding and directing a high-profile Science Discovery Centre based at a leading science research site
- Strong academic background in STEM subjects and a keen appreciation of their importance for the UK
- Years of experience in Science Engagement with a wide range of audiences, ranging from 'hands-on' projects overseas (with Practical Action) through coordination roles in the UK (Café Scientifique) to lobbying/policy and funding (e.g. NESTA)
- Strong links with the Research sector
- Expertise in building strategic partnerships at many levels
- Passion, commitment, great communication skills and a 'can-do' attitude
People will only choose to pursue their interest in science - or support science - if they're motivated and inspired to do so.
Inspiration rarely originates solely in the delivery of information - it's much more likely to be sparked off by transformative emotional experiences - awe, surprise, excitement, wonder, curiosity, fun. These are the 'Wow' moments that so many scientists cite as the thing that switched them on to science.
I believe that our core role is to provide the places, events and moments where Inspiration happens.
In order to do this as organisations, of course, we need the basic foundations in place. Financial sustainability; constant evaluation and affirmation of the value of what we do; the sharing of experience and information. We also need political support - nationally, regionally and locally - which can only be built on strong communication of the value of what we do at all these levels.
These are challenging things to maintain, but collectively as the ASDC we are very well placed to do this - and to build our sector further so that its voice makes a real difference.
As our new Centre flourishes at Jodrell Bank, it is an honour to be able to work for ASDC and contribute to its future as Chair of its Board.
CEO, Glasgow Science Centre
From as early as I can remember I have been excited by Science and Technology. I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde and worked as an engineering consultant to the Navy (on nuclear submarines) for a few years before returning to study for a PhD in Aircraft Flight Control Systems. I then went on to be a commercial software engineer and run an organization called The Kelvin Institute where we worked with Scotland's universities to commercialize intellectual property in the areas of photonics, software, biotech and renewable energy. Most recently I was the Chief Executive of Futurelab Education, a 'think-tank' for innovative approaches to teaching and learning in schools.
What I bring
A combined passion for science, technology and education. 20 years of experience across a number of science and technology related businesses, 4 years of deep immersion in education where I developed and understanding and appreciation of challenges teachers face every day in schools in providing the very best learning opportunities for their kids.
Every parent wants the very best education for their children, likewise, I believe that every teacher wants to create the very best learning opportunities for the children in their care. However, teaching science and technology is hard, not only because it relies on a significant amount of domain knowledge, but because the developments in the area are so rapid and significant. I passionately believe that the science centres have a deep responsibility to schools and teachers and support them to create the very best learning offer for our young people. Through a combination of engaging exhibitions, outreach and in-house workshops, partnerships with industry and academia, science centres can support teachers to develop rich learning experiences which encourage the development of curiosity, creativity and a lifelong passion for science in our young people.
If elected, I will work with ASDC to establish science centres as an integral and essential part of the nations educational offer to our young people, not just a nice to have.
Head of Engagement and Interpretation, Kew Gardens (as of October 2012)
During my five years at the Horniman Museum and Gardens as Head of Learning and Volunteering, I coordinated a broad offer to our local, highly diverse visitors. This involved developing, and using as inspiration, the natural history and world culture collections, our aquarium, animal enclosure and special exhibitions in the gardens.
Previously, I occupied roles in learning, exhibition and audience development at the following ASDC member organisations: Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, The National Space Centre and Techniquest Science Discovery Centre.
I have recently accepted the role of Head of Engagement and Interpretation at Kew Gardens, where I have responsibility for the strategic direction of visitor engagement and interpretation across both KEW sites.
What I bring
- I bring experience of working in a wide range of ASDC member organisations and aim to represent the wider membership, helping to help generate a range of benefits for all.
- I bring an audience focused approach and passion for the inspirational potential of our products, despite continuing economic pressures.
- Having spent several years on the ASDC board I am up to speed with the current issues and ready for the challenges this coming year brings.
- Our sector is bursting with expertise and enthusiasm and we need to share best practice and work collaboratively in order to sustain and grow our audiences and business.
- We should continue to strengthen our role for engaging schools and family visitors in highly relevant science issues, as well as providing a source of inspiration about STEM. We should continue to strive for recognition for our role from government.
- The ASDC membership and Board must continue to advocate and support the important work of ASDC, which enables our sector to achieve more than the sum of its parts.
Former Director, Winchester Science Centre
Verena Cornwall has held a number of key positions in arts and heritage and is the former Director for Winchester Science Centre. She recently served as Creative Director for St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin and prior to this was Principal of English National Ballet School in London. Verena has been involved in the development of street arts and circus in the UK and across Europe for many years. She set up the first touring circus academy in the UK to offer accreditation and for ten years chaired the national advocacy agency for circus. She has been an Advisory Board Member for The Nottinghill Carnival and through Arts Council England worked as lead change management consultant for St Paul's Afrikan Caribbean Carnival in Bristol and for The Without Walls Consortium.
Verena has been a key partner in four major EU funded projects including JTCE, a €2.5m commissioning initiative. She has been an international adviser to the Arts Council in the Republic of Ireland and for the Imperial War Museum worked in America to develop The Churchill Museum. Within the region Verena has chaired the Board of WALT (owners of Theatre Royal Winchester), she was Director of Fairfields Arts Centre in Basingstoke and held senior roles in the Winchester Hat Fair for a number of years. Verena is presently on the Board of English Touring Opera and is an Area Council Member for Arts Council England, South West.
Having worked in arts and heritage for almost three decades I have undertaken a great many roles, driven by two passions; audience engagement/ development and quality of product/visitor offer.
As we all know, a world without quality is one of mediocrity and asking audiences to engage with this will not grow the great scientists and engineers of the future. My left-of-centre thinking and ability to creatively thread elements together have brought about some great moments around these two themes; being artistic director of a science-inspired artistic procession that was viewed by 500,000 audience members, televised live and cost €750,000 being one of these. A nationwide schools engagement project which was undertaken in advance of this project, linked to ESOF, saw measurable impact.
This spider's web approach, with quality at the heart, is also an excellent way of drawing in people with money and influence. I've worked to raise over £60m in the last decade and lobbied Government ministers to achieve a major change in policy which held back public engagement in the arts.
I am often heard to say that I have only a basic knowledge of science - and oddly I am finding this brings a different dynamic to the table. I am very committed to the role of Science Centres in assisting with the STEM agenda. What I could bring to ASDC is strategic thinking based on reality, a solid understanding of funding here and abroad and an ability find key partners to further develop audience engagement across the UK.
Executive director of At-Bristol
I have over 20 years of experience in the field of science centres including starting La Cite des Sciences in Paris, heading the Exploratorium for 15 years in San-Francisco, founding and chairing the Exploradome in Paris on the model of the Exploratorium, former chairman of the board of the Palais de la decouverte in Paris and heading At -Bristol for the last 4 years.
I believe that we have to prioritise 2 kind of actions in UK:
- Being better at sharing data, resources and innovation within the network of science centres.
- Compelling the government to finally recognise that we are a central part of the science learning agenda of the nation.
The main vehicle to achieve those goals is to be an active participant in the newly created Association of science and discovery centres. On our own, we are sure to lose in a context which is very difficult and with a government which does not want to listen.
Together we may have a chance to win.
Head of Education Strategy Eden Project
Research:- Applied medical and biological research, (cancer, fertility); Formal learning sector:- science teaching across wide range of schools and locations from urban to rural, from high achievers to challenging young people. Non Formal sector:- 10 years Royal Botanic Gardens Kew's Education Officer & manager developing teams and delivering programmes ; Eden Project since 2004, currently Head of Education Strategy . Extensive experience of structured learning and free learning across both built and natural environments, developing and implementing education strategy for Eden Project as a social enterprise.
What could I contribute to the ASDC board
- Passion for transformational potential of hands on Science in context of real world experience
- An adaptable, cross-disciplinary thinking style able to listen, see opportunities for synergy and connect widely differing perspectives and experience. Well developed skills of analysis and synthesis. Clear understanding of both non formal and formal learning sectors, commercial, strategic and policy challenges in which visitor attraction and Science discovery sectors operate.
- Political and business intelligence skills to establish relationships, build trust and strategic support enabling policy and funding development. Experience in building collaboration and strategic partnerships in education, learning and training across government, business and third sectors. Successful funding development for programmes to deliver local to international reach:- eg programmes supported through corporate sponsorship, European Social Fund, Government departments charitable foundations and BIG Lottery fund.
- Relevant committee / charity board experience :- chair UK Science Council Science & Sustainability group (3 yrs); board director UK Botanic Gardens Education Network (15 yrs); Higher Education and Funding Council for England (hefce) sustainable development (5yrs) & carbon reduction (2yrs) committees; ASE - elected London representative (6yrs); Real World Learning/Learning Outside Classroom Natural Environment Sector (7years); Cornwall workforce development group (3yrs) overseeing European Social Funded training and learning support programmes over £100m aggregate value. Judge for UK Rolls-Royce Science Prize - Project Enthuse and National Network of Science learning Centres. Judge for Eden Environment Award.
- Clear recognition of strategic value of intellectual capital and talent for R&D and advanced manufacturing for a sustainable UK low carbon economy and applied STEM skills for innovation and sustainable economic development.
- Experience of applied STEM - technical and intellectual research, extensive experience in the non-formal learning sector delivering, developing and leading structured programmes for learners, professionals and public , supporting immersive free-learning experiences, from local onsite programmes to multi-stakeholder international partnerships.
- Understanding of some transformational paradigms for learning to fit us for demographic, economic; social and environmental resource challenges of 21st Century and the critical role for inspiration; knowledge and applied skills in STEM innovation.
- Eden Project team and colleagues can catalyse support for and work with, partner networks to showcase the value of all our contributions where people of goodwill work in common purpose.
- As a network ASDC should service its members with regular political and business intelligence to enable them to collectively exert influence and plan strategically for commercial and policy environments affecting their futures.
- ASDC members should collaborate to research and evaluate economic and social impact and outcomes where these can be clearly linked to the sector's activity. ASDC has to be a clear voice representing the value of the Science and Discovery centres resource as critical to the UK s future economic wellbeing. ASDC should thus collaborate and learn with institutions and nations where systematic evaluation of free-choice learning and science engagement is well developed and developing.
- ASDC should develop collaborative practical programmes across ASDC members which are adaptable for local contexts and build capacity for member organisations.
- ASDC should give systematic attention to the values of heart and hand as well as head in inspiring and engaging Science achievement and participation. ASDC should exercise business and political intelligence to achieve recognition and support for the sector's role in shaping the future.
CEO, The Oxford Trust
I am CEO of The Oxford Trust, which operates the 'Science Oxford' science centre. After finishing a PhD in astronomy in 1990 I have served in a number of roles including; Director of the Armagh Planetarium, Director BCC Observatory & Planetarium in Florida, CEO Auckland Observatory in New Zealand, Head of Education and Outreach for NASA's Hubble Telescope Programme and Director of MOSI in Manchester. I am an ASTC Noyce Fellow for 2009/10, serve on the Boards of the Oxfordshire Economic Partnership, Venturefest Oxford and am a Trustee of the Oxfordshire Science Festival. I was also involved in the establishment of the Manchester Science Festival in 2007.
What I bring
Enthusiasm, and a knowledge of and a passion for science. Two decades international experience managing science centres, museums and planetariums together with knowledge of working with local, regional and national government.
The UK's future depends upon creating a generation of educated, literate and numerate citizens who will make discoveries, build businesses or become the workers that drive our economy. As shop windows for science, and as trusted centres of informal learning, ASDC members are the public's first opportunities to engage and inspire our fellow citizens to take a lifelong interest in science. I believe that ASDC should continue to make connections between public, researchers, educators, high tech business and policy makers, and amplify these connections via our powerful national network. With millions of visitors each year, ASDC members play a key role in inspiring our society to face and solve the challenges of the 21st century.
If elected I will work with other Trustees to ensure that this important role is recognized and appropriately funded.
Head of Interpretation and Learning, Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI), Manchester
Previously Director of Luton Museum service, I joined MOSI in 2000. I have been involved with the development of our interactive gallery – Xperiment! (opened in 2001) – and the Manchester Science Gallery (opened 2004) and leading the development and delivery of STEM learning (both formal and informal) programmes. I work in partnership with industries and universities in our region to co-ordinate the annual Manchester Science Festival. I have presented at the MA and Ecsite conferences on the Museum’s public engagement with science programmes.
I have experience of fundraising and developing regional partnerships to deliver broad-based science programmes for a range of audiences.
Science centres and museums are uniquely placed to improve overall levels of science literacy and to inspire young people to consider pursuing a career in science and engineering – vital to the future of our economy. We need to seek ways of raising the science centre network profile through developing regional and national partnerships which will increase the impact we have in engaging people in science and enable us to maximise our ability to advocate to the government departments concerned with children, industry and skills for the resources to sustain science centres.
Director of Science, Glasgow Science Centre
Robin became involved in science communication activity during his research posts in Manchester, Dublin and Glasgow before joining GSC in 2000.
His personal development at GSC has seen him move from frontline deliverer, through programme and exhibition development to strategic planning and implementation.
Robin leads a strong creative team of scientists and educationalists that aims to inspire, challenge and engage all learners in science.
What could I bring to ASDC?
- Ten years of science communication experience at all levels.
- Clear understanding of the issues faced in engaging a wide range of audiences with science.
- Strong analytical skills with experience in developing and delivering strategic objectives.
Science and discovery centres have the potential to become key hubs of science engagement activity across the UK.
This is an exciting time with external factors, such as the recently realised DIUS paper ‘A Vision for Science and Society’, offering a range of significant opportunities.
As a network we need to act collectively to establish a clear strategic framework that:
- Forms strategic alliances.
- Provides systematic long-term analysis of outcomes and impacts.
- Develops a quality assurance framework.
- Develops professional science communicators.
- Supports efficient and effective delivery of high quality national programmes
Degree in physiology/biochemistry and PhD in endocrinology. Career in promoting public engagement in the science, heritage and the environment sectors. Recent roles include Director for Exhibitions and Programmes for At-Bristol, and Director of Community, Learning and Volunteering for the Natinal Trust. For the last 3 years I have been freelance, supporting organisations such as Natural England, King's College London and Play England with both strategic and delivery programming to improve children's access to and engagement with local natural environments.
What I bring
I would continue to support ASDC by drawing on my understanding of working across complex, multi-site organisations; shaping policy from practice; expertise in engagement through learning, volunteering and community engagement; experience of using evaluation to effect organisational change; and a personal passion and belief in the wide ranging benefts of learning outside the classroom.
Conservation, whether heritage or environmental, is grounded in science. I would use this position to help develop more places - including heritage and environmental sites - as venues for engagement with science, in real places with real people; and to harness the power of human interest stories, past and present, to hook people into science. Conservation is about managing change, and the impact of climate change on the natural and built places in our care is a live issue. So there is a huge opportunity for science, heritage and environmental sectors to work better together to engage people with the challenges we face daily, to work closer with partners such as the Research Councils to do this, and to respond to the need to become better at providing evidence of impact. I always champion approaches that are open, inclusive, involving and based on mutual benefit.
Head of Content, the Science Museum
I joined the Science Museum over twenty five years ago as a museum assistant in the medical department. Since 1993 I have been leading contemporary science initiatives in the museum including the Wellcome Wing, Dana Centre and most recently Launchpad.
If re-elected to the ASDC Board I would continue to support the work of the committee in moving potential funding opportunities out to member institutions, working on the recognition of our sector as fundamental in learning and cultural agendas and ensuring that the membership have a good value and quality experience from the organisation and its committee.
CEO, Cambridge Science Centre
I'm a charity founder, have raised seed-capital, assembled an amazing team and created a real local buzz for a science centre in Cambridge. It's high time we had one. Cambridge science is exceptional, and East Anglia is underserved. I am an electronic engineer by training, a marketing and commercial manager by experience, but my heart lies in welcoming people into the amazing world of scientific discovery. Prior to setting up the Cambridge Science Centre I directed business development for the Services and Training division of ARM Ltd, a major technology provider for mobile devices. I believe strongly in partner networks and collaborative development and founded an international standards organisation delivering exchange formats now used across the electronics industry (IP-XACT™). The past couple of years I have been involved in all aspects of starting up the Cambridge Science Centre. While scary at times, without a doubt it's been the best job I've ever had!
What I bring
- Experience in fundraising, operations and market development for a start-up science centre
- Experience in developing a strong relationship with local research institutions to help capture and present their work
- New ways to excite audiences with exhibits, workshops and on-line materials as we help develop the East Anglia region
- Strengthening of the ASDC as a share network for exhibits, workshops, shows and operational infrastructure
- Science Centres are not just broadcast centres. They need active integration with local research institutes, both to make new concepts approachable for different audiences, as well as get people actively involved in contributing to research.
- There is too much similar static tried-and-true content on science centre floors today. Imagine the entire ASDC network as having one huge hands-on-science collection where each centre contributes content developed locally. Active exchange networks make centres more vibrant for locals and more compelling for tourists. The US has better active share networks than we do: we need to improve this.
- Science centres need to get their experiences out to people that may not be motivated to drive an hour to their local major centre. Single day pop-up shows and exhibitions are not enough. We believe standardised modular exhibit platforms can provide local high-quality hands-on experiences, visiting hour flexibility and a cost-effective way to serve a wide geographic area.
- Best-practice product development processes today are significantly different to the 1990s: so too should be exhibit and workshop development. We need to excite and enable volunteers and contractors to contribute into a network which fosters design exchange, provides great opportunities for adoption and display, and makes best use of the world of on-the-go pervasive information. The science centre experience, both for volunteers and visitors, does not stop at the admissions desk.
Head of Gallery Programmes, Science Museum Group
I have worked within museum education and the informal science for nearly 25 years. My interest was sparked by a father obsessed with museum queues and museum objects and a life long fascination with riddles, puzzles and magic tricks. My background is in psychology and in learning, initially focussing on how to scaffold children's thinking effectively. I now have two young children and am re-living theory with practice.
I worked as a gallery assistant at the Science Museum and led the development of the Explainer position, the outreach department, the science shows, the new interactive galleries and the expansion of live events and provision for adults and children. I have been lucky enough to be trained at the Exploratorium and give talks at many international conferences. I currently manage the hands on galleries and live interpretation at the Science Museum and lead the Lates programme for young adults. Highlights include being trained by George Hein, hosting Michael Jackson, advising the Donmar Warehouse on relativity and working at any time with Tim Hunkin.
What I bring
- More than anything, experience of people and programmes within museums and informal science education. I have developed galleries, staff, teams and shows and brought them to large audiences. I have consulted on approaches and the development of centres and museums in the UK and abroad, recently in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and China.
- I am used to starting brave initiatives, often met with a chorus of 'it will never work' - such as Science Sleepovers, programmes for teenagers, science comedy, late programmes for adults and controversial drama characters.
- Experience of training, motivating teams, international consultancy and promotion of our core beliefs in informal education.
- Representation of new approaches and evaluation from the Museum's galleries and programming, including contemporary science and dialogue, and extensive work with press and TV.
- Experience and drive to boost diversity in museums and science centres, in staff and visitors, and to make programmes and galleries more accessible.
In the words of George Hein, and its something I have lived by for 10 years
- "Your job is to put on more things for more people."
- We need to do more for children and adults with disabilities, both understanding and practice. It improves our outputs for all and celebrates the enriched environments we create.
He's right about that
I am right about that
Science Communication Director, Centre for Life
I have a degree in Biology, a PGCE and an MA in Museum Studies and have been involved in hands-on science for 22 years now. I started out by setting up the original hands-on galleries and science playground at Snibston Discovery Park, then originated the concept for Inspire Discovery Centre in Norwich, which I went on to set up and run with Science Projects. I subsequently joined Techniquest where I was Operations and Marketing Director and Head of Fundraising before moving north to become Science Communication Director at the Centre for Life. I was one of the group that set up the British Interactive Group in the early 90's and served on its committee in a variety of capacities for nearly 10 years. I was also on the first Ecsite-UK committee representing small science centres, stepping down when I moved to Techniquest.
I have done just about everything in a science centre that doesn't require an accountancy qualification, from cleaning the loos to schmoozing politicians and my excitement about their value and potential remains undiminished. I remain committed to taking science centres forward into new and exciting areas of engagement, creating effective and satisfying ways of involving new audiences in the experience and deepening the links we have with our existing audiences.
What Can I Bring to ASDC?
- Over 20 years in the field
- Experience of running small, medium and large centres in both the charitable and public sectors
- Experience of advocacy for science centres at the highest levels
- An understanding of the practical challenges facing science centres in the current economic climate
ASDC and Science Centres in the UK are at a crossroads. The newly stand-alone ASDC has to stand alone and demonstrate its continuing worth in a world where one of the core purposes of its predecessor, Ecsite-UK - advocacy for government funding, is no longer tenable, while science centres themselves have to face the prospect of regular exhibition renewal in a climate where multi-million pound lottery grants are no longer easily available. I want to see an ASDC that fosters enhanced networking between centres, particularly at a management level, encourages creative self-sufficiency and relevance to local communities. I also want to see ASDC act as a catalyst for projects of the kind exemplified by the Question of Taste collaboration that allow centres to build capacity and audiences to keep themselves fresh by maximizing synergies and the sharing of resources.
CEO, Dundee Science Centre
I am a social scientist and have worked in the science centre industry for 13 years, leading project and exhibition development, overseeing operations as well as fundraising and business strategy before becoming CEO of Dundee Science Centre.
What I bring
I have served on the committee for two years and feel I have more to offer. As our individual centres, and our collective industry matures, we face different challenges to those in the early years. We operate in a changed economic environment and a changing formal education setting. We know and understand more about our mission now than ever before and are better placed to work collaboratively - this presents opportunities that we must take.
For three years, I was CEO of two science centres in Scotland and this allowed me to experience the true benefit of collaborative working (the team, the resources and the creativity). Too often science centres work in isolation and therefore we fail to build up a National picture and evidence base of the values of science centres within their communities, and therefore the country.
I work in regional and Scotland-wide networks for public engagement, and engagement with the Scottish Government. As a representative of the smaller science and discovery centre, I believe that the smaller centres can play an equal role in innovation and science centre development.
I have two main manifesto themes - science and culture, and science centre as hubs for public engagement.
Science is not fully embedded in the cultural mix of our cities and regions in the way that art, heritage and other leisure pursuits might be. Reaching and providing meaningful engagement opportunities for a diverse audience means working with local and National government, aligning with wider National strategy and demonstrating to Government that we can deliver against their objectives, and are therefore worthy of long-term investment.
Science Centres have been innovators in educational pedagogy since their inception; they bring together active scientists and researchers, teachers, children, community groups and adults - all the people that make up a community. The science centre is the central hub where these groups can come together and reaching all of these groups is key to our success. Through sharing of ideas, programmes, exhibits and best practice we ensure that all science centres attain high standards thus improving the perception of science centres in the UK.
I'm really excited about what ASDC has achieved so far, and would like to be a part of driving the mission forward.
I am a physics graduate with commercial experience running my own business and I have worked in science communication for close to 25 years. Posts include: Head of Education at Science Projects - designing exhibits and developed schools outreach services; Head of Exhibit Development at the Science Museum - creating new interactive galleries and leading major science communication projects carried out for other organisations, and my present post at a vibrant and popular science centre in beautiful Wales.
What I bring
- A belief in ASDC as a vital player in promoting science in the UK
- Knowledge of science centres and what makes them tick, both here and abroad
- A willingness to listen as well as to contribute solutions
- Good commercial and financial awareness
- To ensure members can not only survive but can innovate and expand their influence
- To help members reach more people, especially those who currently never come to science centres
- For members to engage in more national initiatives and so become more than the sum of our parts
- To celebrate and learn from our diverse membership
- To strengthen the place of science in culture, as well as in education and industry
Informal Learning Manager, Resident Scientist and Duty Manager, Thinktank Science Museum
As a former post doctoral research biochemist, I am passionate about science. Since moving to Thinktank 7 years ago, I have become even more passionate about engaging visitors with the historical and future relevance of science and its applications. As well as being the Resident Scientist within Thinktank, I also manage the Informal Learning and Access & Inclusion Teams.
What you feel you would bring to the ASDC Board
I bring a strong scientific background and understanding of University research programmes and funding. I also have a lot of experience of working directly with visitors and in particular (as a Thinktank Duty Manager) in managing differences in visitors' expectations and realisations. The visitor experience is and should be the most important driving force within science centres/ museums and anything that we can do to improve this should be at the top of our agenda.
Whilst there are 19 million visits to ASDC member organisations per annum, there is still a lot of room for growth. We must find ways of working together more efficiently to secure funding as a sector and to improve the quality of what we develop and deliver as a result. There are still major untapped audiences of current 'non-visitors' who do not use our services; for some, lack of disposable income is genuinely a factor, but for many it is an excuse that we accept at face value rather than addressing the real issue of perceived value in science centres and museums. As the Research Excellence Framework within Universities becomes more of a focal point for academics, their need to work with the public engagement sector will become more significant and the subsequent evidencing of 'impact' by them and ourselves needs to be demonstrated in a clear and coherent manner. These challenges are not insurmountable, but do require vision and cooperation between ASDC organisations.