Our Team

Tracey Brown OBE

Tracey Brown has been the director of Sense about Science since 2002. Under her leadership, the charity has turned the case for sound science and evidence into popular campaigns to urge scientific thinking among the public and the people who answer to them. It has launched important initiatives to expand and protect honest discussions of evidence, including AllTrials, a global campaign for the reporting of all clinical trial outcomes; and the Ask for Evidence campaign, which engages the public in requesting evidence for claims. It has challenged opinions and changed the behaviour of governments, media and corporations in the use of scientific evidence.

Tracey leads Sense about Science’s work on the transparency of evidence used by governments in policy, to ensure that the public has access to the same evidence and reasoning as decision makers. This has included drafting the Principles for the Treatment of Independent Scientific Advice, which were adopted into the UK Ministerial Code in 2010, the creation of a public interest defence to libel in the Defamation Act 2013 and the Evidence Transparency Framework, used to audit UK government in 2016 and 2017 and adopted by government audit agencies around the world. In 2010, the Times named Tracey as one of the ten most influential figures in science policy in Britain and in 2014 she was recognised by the Science Council for her work on evidence-based policy making. In June 2017 Tracey was made an OBE, for services to science.

A regular public speaker and discussion chair, Tracey writes frequently about scientific evidence, policy and the public in national media. She has been a vocal critic of the idea of a ‘post-truth’ society and champion of the public interest in trustworthy evidence. She has written papers, periodicals and books on accountability for evidence, including Playing by the Rules (2013, 2016) co-authored with the late science journalist Michael Hanlon. She took up the same theme of holding authorities to account for evidence in her 2014 TEDx talk, The Power of Asking for Evidence.

Tracey has written and edited popular public guides to scientific research and led research on reliability of evidence, including the 2009 Peer Review Survey, the largest global survey of authors, reviewers and editors. Among her recent periodical publications: Goldacre B, Brown T. Fixing flaws in science must be professionalised. J Clin Epidemiol. July 10 2015; and Cossu et al, Lancet Commission: Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, forthcoming.

Tracey is chair of the board of trustees of Jurassica, a £94 million project to bring the story of prehistoric discovery to life on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and develop new understanding of extinction and biodiversity. She is a trustee of the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, and sits on the advisory board of OpenTrials. Tracey was a commissioner on the UK Drug Policy Commission from 2009 to 2012, and a trustee of Centre of the Cell, the first science education centre to be located within working biomedical research laboratories, until December 2013. The Royal College of Pathologists made Tracey a Friend of the College for her work in promoting public engagement and the creation of an outreach centre following a collapse of public confidence during the Alder Hey and Bristol scandals.

Rebecca Asher

Rebecca joined Sense about Science as deputy director in May 2017, having previously worked in the media. She was a producer in television news and current affairs, the deputy editor of Woman’s Hour and an executive producer at BBC Radio 4, and ran a range of editorial standards projects at the BBC Trust. Rebecca has written two books on social policy – Shattered and Man Up – published by Penguin Random House. She is a trustee of Coram Family and Childcare.

Síle Lane

Síle is head of international campaigns and policy, leading our current campaigns which include AllTrials, a global campaign for the registration and reporting of all clinical trials and Ask for Evidence, a public campaign to help people request for themselves the evidence behind news stories, marketing claims and policies. Síle was one of the original founders of the AllTrials campaign, alongside Ben Goldacre, growing it from a simple petition to a high profile, worldwide campaign. In 2016 she gave the keynote speech at TEDxMadrid, “The Hidden side of Clinical Trials”. Síle previously worked on the Libel Reform campaign which called for reform of the libel laws to protect open scientific discussion. The groundswell of support for the campaign led to the passing of the Defamation Act 2013 that changed the law in England and Wales.

In the policy arena, Síle works closely with our director Tracey, to promote transparency in government processes. She also oversees the organisation’s EU office, which calls for EU citizens, researchers and the European parliament to scrutinise and share evidence behind European policymaking. Most recently, Sense about Science organised public-led events in Westminster, the Oireachtas in Dublin and the European parliament, to remind elected officials that evidence matters to the public.

A sought-after chair, panellist and engaging public speaker, Síle has appeared on RTÉ and the Today programme, as well as writing for the Guardian among other publications.

Síle is passionate about science communication and spends a lot of time helping researchers, regulators, policymakers, companies and NGOs to talk about science and evidence openly, humanly and without stigma and intimidation. She founded the Dublin office of Sense about Science in 2016 and recently launched Voice of Young Science in Ireland, a unique and network of early career researchers committed to playing an active role in public discussions about science.

Prior to joining Sense about Science in 2009, Síle was a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial College London working on stem cells and regenerative medicine.

Emily Jesper-Mir

Emily heads up our public engagement programme helping scientists to communicate difficult research findings simply and accurately. She also leads our peer review programme, which includes chairing our peer review workshops for early career researchers. In addition, Emily oversees our many partnerships, takes care of financial management, and generally keeps the place running.

Emily came to Sense about Science following a successful career in scientific publishing.  She was the managing editor of the international, peer reviewed journal BJOG for five years, a publication of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She also worked as assistant editor at the Novartis Foundation, a small science charity promoting excellence in science, as well as spending two years as a biological patent analyst for Thomson Scientific. She has a degree in Biological Science from UMIST, Manchester.

Dr. Samia Burridge

Samia joined Sense about Science in September 2018 as head of development. Samia looks after relations with our donors, funders and partners and seeks new and interesting sources of funding to support our work. Before joining us she spent 12 years working for the publishers of science journal Nature where she held business development, publishing and editorial roles. She has a degree in Chemistry from University of Manchester and Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from University of Cambridge.

Ilaina Khairulzaman

Ilaina joined the team in October 2017. Ilaina has a research masters in immunology from Trinity College Dublin and is trained as a bioinformatician. After a year of clicking away on her computer looking at dolphin genes, she realised she much preferred spreading the word of science than she did doing the science. Ilaina works on building the VoYS network in the EU and encourages early career researchers to start standing up for science, as well as coordinating events and campaigns across the EU.

Alex Clegg

Alex joined the team in October 2018 as the campaigns and communications coordinator. Alex has a BSc in Anthropology from University College London with a particular focus on humans’ relationships with the natural world and bio-technologies. Alex has volunteered with a range of community organisations and charities but is excited to form new relationships as part of Sense About Science in particular with the Ask for Evidence campaign.

Dr Hamid Khan

Hamid joined Sense about Science as public engagement coordinator in January 2019. Hamid runs the VoYS programme in the UK, organising and leading our ‘Standing up for Science’ workshops, coordinating institutional partnerships with the programme and representing Sense about Science at events around the country. He also contributes to the VoYS programme’s twice-yearly peer review workshops and is the first point of contact for partners, UK-based VoYS members and internship applications from PhD students.

Hamid has a PhD in nanoscience from the University of Southampton, where he also completed a Master’s in chemistry and was extensively involved in public engagement and outreach. His experience of depictions of chemistry in public life frustrated him. He set about trying to find a way to channel his efforts towards improving public understanding of science and its methodology.

Hamid strongly believes that policy or engagement careers are equally as important as academic or industrial careers for advancing the public interest.

Errin Riley

Errin joined Sense about Science in February 2019 as Research and policy coordinator. She studied an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, focusing on psychology. She then gained experience in strategic and content marketing before joining us.

Charise Johnson

Charise came to Sense about Science as a policy associate in April 2019, shortly after moving to London from Washington DC. She previously worked as a research analyst in the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where her primary areas of focus included the misuse of science in the regulatory process (especially around air pollution, endangered species, and chemical safety), public access to information and community partnership-building. She strongly believes that humour, compassion and relatability are effective approaches to communicating important science and environmental issues to the public. Charise holds a BA in Psychology, an MS in Environmental Science and considers herself a jack of a few trades.

Sophie Lane

Sophie joined Sense about Science in June 2019 as Senior Communications Officer. She has an undergraduate degree in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Sussex, where she was involved in outreach and communications for her department. After graduating she worked in communications at UCL Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences, maintaining communications channels for the faculty as well as supporting academics in promoting their research to the public and in the press.

Marcos Valenzuela-Ortega

Marcos is currently a PhD candidate in the University of Edinburgh, focusing his research on how synthetic biology can solve limitations in industrial biotechnology. Before his PhD project, he worked for the biotech company Ingenza.

In his internship with Sense about Science, Marcos wants to help other researchers be more engaged with the public and open about their research – spreading scientific values such as critical thinking and evidence to the rest of society.

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