My interests span the history, ethics, and policy of science and technology. Formerly a bioscientist, a science teacher, and science adviser to ICI (the international chemical company), I became Head of the Science Museum in London and then Chief Executive of the British Science Association.
I am now a Visiting Fellow at the Royal Institution and an honorary Research Associate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London, where I concentrate on the history of nineteenth-century science. I am a general editor of the correspondence of John Tyndall, being published in 20 volumes by Pittsburgh University Press.
The Ascent of John Tyndall, my biography of this outstanding nineteenth-century physicist, mountaineer, and public intellectual, was published by OUP on 22 March 2018 in hardback and in 2020 in paperback.
The Poetry of John Tyndall, with Nicola Jackson and Daniel Brown, was published in 2020 by UCL Press.
For other publications see Papers.
Beyond the history of science, my focus in the twenty-first century is on public dialogue to inform policy-making across Government on issues involving science and technology, through Sciencewise.
Some previous roles include:
2013-2019 Council member, Nuffield Council on Bioethics
2012-2016 Executive Chair, Sciencewise
2014-2016 Management Board, Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst
2008-2014 Science in Society Panel, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Chair 2011-2014)
2009-2010 Chair, ‘Science for All’ Expert Group for Dept for Innovation, Universities and Skills
2004-2008 Director of SETNET (Science, Engineering and Technology Network)
2002-2009 Board of ECSITE-UK (the interactive science centre network)
1998-2002 Information and Public Access Committee for the National Museum Directors' Conference
1989-1993 CBI Education Policy Panel
1989-1991 Royal Society ad hoc Committee on Post-16 Science (which produced the report 'Beyond GCSE')