Milton St John’s Primary School – a little brick building on the side of a big hill a few minutes walk from my house. I loved it.
Mossley Hollins Secondary School – I owe so much to my secondary school. When I was there it was a crumbling 1960s building that needed knocking down but it was full of so many hard working teachers and I still have lots and lots of friends from there.
Oldham Sixth Form – it felt so big in comparison to my school and I had a great time there with more inspiring and supportive teachers.
Cambridge University – I didn’t know much about Cambridge when I went there, and it could have been a bit intimidating. But actually I made some great friends really quickly and there was so many exciting things to get involved with.
Imperial College, London – I’d already been living in London for ten years by the time I did my Masters. My classmates were all so welcoming and came from lots of different professions and backgrounds.
11 GCSEs from Mossley Hollins High School (Maths, Statistics, Double Science, Double English, Electronics, French, Spanish, Media Studies, Drama) – these gave me passion and curiosity and lots of brilliant friends.
5 A-levels from Oldham Sixth Form College (Maths, Further Maths, Phsyics, Chemistry and Drama) – these gave me the tools to think about things, and the confidence in myself to talk about what interested me.
Undergraduate Degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University (Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, and History of Science all in one degree) – this shaped the way I thought about problems and gave me some more fantastic friends and brilliant experiences.
Masters Degree in Science Communication from Imperial College London – this made me realise how important it was to share science with everyone who doesn’t work in it, that science is a collective project we nurture together.
My work history is definitely not straightforward, but I’m so happy to have found a job now that combines all of my interests and skills:
- My first job was delivering newspapers up and down the hilly streets of my rainy Lancashire town. I also worked in a fish and chip shop peeling potatoes, it was great because I always got a fish, chips and gravy for free! I’ve had jobs as a waiter, a barman, a receptionist, in a variety of office jobs, and in a fried chicken van (that was my least favourite).
- After university I worked as an actor for ten years. This included performing on stage to a thousand people a night, both in London and around the country – I did Shakespeare and modern plays and had lots of adventures. I also did some work on TV and film, including a stint as a sidekick to a detective in an Irish TV series that saw me kidnapped by gangsters and hung upside by my feet from a crane. It was a lot of fun.
- More recently I’ve written science textbooks, made an exhibition for a musuem, done research for BBC radio and TV, and produced podcasts for a variety of different organisations – my favourite is the UK Space Agency which meant I got to sit in on interviews with astronauts!! Helen Sharman (the first person from the UK to go into space) is AMAZING!!
- And now I’ve landed here – at Darwin Tree of Life. It’s been an unusual journey to get here, but boy am I pleased to have arrived. This project fills me with so much excitement that I can’t stop telling everyone about it.
Public Engagement Coordinator
Wellcome Sanger Institute – Darwin Tree of Life Project
Hello, I’m Jack. I like exploring new places and talking about new things. My job usually involves meeting people like you in person, to share ideas and find inspiration, so this year has been quite different. And that makes me doubly excited to get to speak to you on here.
My work involves bringing people together to share ideas about the science we do – whether that’s students, scientists, nature enthusiasts or just people walking past on the street. Science is better with more people involved.
My job title is Public Engagement Coordinator. This means I help connect our science
I'm currently solving this problem:
Public engagement is all about how science is made better the more people involved in it, and the more points of view it is exposed to. Sometimes scientists can find that a little scary – they worry that people might find the work they are doing boring, or worse that spending time or money investigating the question we are looking into. Other times scientists are just so darn busy! How can they make time to engage with the public when they have so much research to do.
I work to make public engagement as easy as possible for our teams. Sometimes this means providing training so they feel confident, sometimes providing funding or practical support. It’s the practical
I'm currently working on these species doing this:
I am looking at the species Interestocus Inscientus. Getting people to speak to other people and share their thoughts on the work we do.
How has your work progressed recently?
It's coming along great. I joined the team in March and it's been a little strange joining in lockdown, but I've now met all the other teams on zoom and will hopefully get some face to face meeting in over the summer.
What have you got planned for your research over the next year?
We'll have our first pilot in-person activities. Those will be really exciting, and feel like quite a moment after this last year. It'll also be great to get onto campus for the first time and get a sense of how everything works in real life.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Mischevous Ideas Fan
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I've had lots of brilliant teachers in my life, but the biggest inspirations have been my mum and my grandparents.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Drama or Maths
What did you want to be after you left school?
I remember wanting to go on a big old fashioned sailing ship and travel around the world. I don't think the reality would have been as good as I imagined it.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not very often. I was quite clumsy though, and had to have stitches about five times while I was at school. The worst I got in trouble was for climbing onto the roof of our house (I liked the view up there) and, considering how clumsy I was, I can see now why my mum was so angry.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I enjoy cooking a lot. I've worked in kitchens before and they are usually busy and stressful but if I could be a chef for a restaurant with only one table and where I could pick what people ate then I think I'd enjoy that.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I've been listening to Fontaines DC and Sports Team quite a lot in lockdown. But secretly my fave would be Laura Marling or Van Morrison. The best gig I've been to was Ezra Furman for sure!
What's your favourite food?
A really good curry. Meera Sodha's cookbook is very well used in my house (and covered in splodges and stains as a result).
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I remember going 'gully hopping' with a big group of my friends when we were camping after our a-levels. We put some old clothes and shoes on and then climbed all the way up the path of a mountain river in Wales. It was summer so it wasn't too cold, and it was great.