A leading research scientist has joined the board of The Cambridge Science Centre to boost collaboration with the University and enhance outreach for the venture.The centre already has some of the top names in UK technology and science in its engine room but Professor Andrea Brand’s involvement is something of a coup as the board accelerates its UK public engagement effort.
Professor Brand is the Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Biology at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute and a member of the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Jesus College.
She heads a lab investigating how the nervous system develops. Professor Brand is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences. She has been actively involved in public science engagement over many years in Cambridge. She was awarded the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award in 2006 for her scientific achievements and her promotion of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
Professor Brand will help the Science Centre establish a committee responsible for researcher engagement and evaluation of exhibition and educational activities. She will also increase the centre’s emphasis on programmes to encourage young women into science.
Centre chairman David Cleevely felt the appointment was a game-changer for the relatively infant venture.
He said “Welcoming such an eminent research scientist onto the board proves yet again how important this initiative is to Cambridge. I look forward to working with Andrea to bring more researchers in to work with us at the centre and to make sure we develop world-class methods for evaluating our informal science education programmes so that we can continue to improve.”
Professor Brand is a hot gospeller for early engagement of young people in the world of science. She said: “Providing a public environment for scientific exploration can really inspire young people.
“I’ve seen the positive impact of public science engagement first-hand, both as a patron of the Cambridge Science Festival and through my daughter’s experience of hands-on science exhibits. Cambridge is an amazing environment in which to develop world-class public engagement programmes and the Cambridge Science Centre has pulled together a really talented team. I’m looking forward to contributing to the development of this great initiative.”
The appointment will help co-ordinate the public engagement priorities of the centre with those of the University of Cambridge. Professor Brand’s experience in research and public engagement will complement an already significant group of directors who together represent the Cambridge entrepreneurial community, government policy, the regional school network, the world-wide science centre industry, and legal and governance requirements.
The Science Centre has completed a successful first six months of operation. Over 12,000 visitors and 25 schools have attended the centre, exceeding expected admissions by over 35 per cent.
The centre has established an excellent relationship with the University of Cambridge and Jesus College over the past two years having partnered with the University of Cambridge Science Festival on many of its activities. It was opened in February by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz at 18 Jesus Lane, a property belonging to Jesus College.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Professor Andrea Brand