I am a participatory arts and engagement practitioner, researcher and evaluator interested in bringing people and their creativity together to exchange ideas and experiences and raise consciousness (including my own) around some of the big questions we face. My academic background transgresses borders spanning science, arts and the humanities. I have worked within the field of public engagement with science for over 20 years both within the United Kingdom (London's Science and Natural History Museums, Science Year and Science Line) as well as within and across developing country contexts where the emphasis has been on global health and global health research. I managed the International Engagement programme at The Wellcome Trust, which involved building an international community of practice and managing a portfolio of grants that spanned global contexts (Africa, Asia, Latin America).
My Master’s thesis used participatory research methods to explore the empowering potential of participatory film with young women in Honduras and my PhD fieldwork (also practice-based) explored the potential of participatory arts and storytelling to create opportunities for mutual understanding between medical researchers and research communities around enteric disease in Kathmandu, Nepal.
I am grateful to live in a time where we don't have to talk about the arts and science as separate endeavours anymore. I choose to bring all tools out of the toolbox to see what positive things we can do together.
Helen is a freelance Community and Public Engagement Consultant based in the UK. Since 2019 she has been managing Mesh (www.mesh-ce.org), The Global Health Network’s knowledge hub for people working in community engagement with global health research. Previously Helen worked at the Wellcome Trust for 8 years and led their International Engagement Programme supporting researchers, engagement practitioners, creatives and others across Africa and Asia. She has a background in psychology, clinical trial coordination, research funding and science communication.
Aoife is a digital content, communications and engagement expert with extensive experience across the public and private sector with a focus on science, environment and sport. She has worked as a communications and content expert across numerous organisations including the University of Bristol, Roots & Shoots UK (youth-oriented environmental charity), Forth Edge (sports science-based biomarker testing company), the Natural History Museum and Immediate Media UK (UK’s largest specialist media publishing company).
Aoife has experience in growing and developing online audiences, targeting content to specific groups to increase engagement and build lasting relationships, and managing online discussion and debate. Establishing and developing key channels of communication is a key skill, including the identification of audience-appropriate channels, management of social media (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, IGTV), and various digital publishing tools and CMS such as Wordpress and Squarespace.
Up-to-date training and qualifications include GDPR and H&S legislation.
Dr Hannah Macpherson
Dr Hannah Macpherson. Hannah has over 15 years experience of delivering RCUK funded and consultancy projects on time and to budget. Her interdisciplinary research sits at the intersection of health sciences, critical theory and creative methods with marginalised groups. Hannah is co-author of the Arts Council funded title ‘Inclusive Arts Practice and Research: a critical manifesto’ with Alice Fox (Routledge, Tate Modern launch 2015) and was Principal Investigator on the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project ‘Building resilience through collaborative community arts practice: a scoping study with young people with learning disabilities and/or mental health complexity’. She is an accomplished ESRC, AHRC and ODPM funded academic (MRes, PhD, Post-Doc) and collaborative social researcher, senior lecturer, research project manager, workshop facilitator and grant writer, with interdisciplinary research impact and public engagement at the core of her practice and publications. In the foreword to Hannah’s co-authored book, Anna Cutler, Director of Learning, Tate Modern, London states “Inclusive Arts Practice and Research is an open and generous call for co-constructed hope based on the potential for creative exchange. When do we get started? “ The answer of course is now! Recent esteem indicators include; Expert Funding Panel Member for the Medical Research Council, Adolescence, Mental Health and the Developing Mind 2020 (£1.6 million funding call) and invited Speaker and Session Chair for the National Centre for Research Methods summer school 2019: ‘Building quality in inclusive, participatory and emancipatory research’.
Dr Tom Ziessen
I have a background as a scientist and think the insights provided by research are crucial to improving our world. Changes to our public services, government policies or industry regulations should be informed by scientific evidence, but not dictated by it. I support public engagement that provides the time and space for people to come to their own conclusions about how we should deal with issues by considering the science in its social, ethical, economic and personal contexts. I am currently working on engagement projects exploring issues around biometrics policy, human developmental biology and patient data.
I have worked in science engagement for over 15 years, much of which was at The Wellcome Trust where I managed an award-winning multi-million-pound portfolio of innovative projects spanning sectors including museums, broadcast, festivals (science and arts), theatre and education. I am also course director for Oxford Catalyst, a summer school for 12-16 year olds teaching critical thinking and communication skills.