Advisory board

Alison Mitchell

Alison Mitchell is Director of Development for Vitae the global leader in the professional development of researchers at all stages of their career in academia and beyond, dedicated to realising the potential of researchers, promoting professional and career development, and strengthening institutional capacity for excellence. Her current role follows a career in Scottish universities including as Head of the Postgraduate Research Office at the University of Strathclyde where Alison played a key role in outreach as well as previously in recruitment at the University of Glasgow. She leads for Vitae on public engagement, leadership, equality and diversity, mentoring and enterprise with overall responsibility for the Vitae Researcher Development Framework. With a lifelong commitment to engagement in science at all ages, from nursery to university, she leads Every Researcher Counts funded by RCUK and UK HE funding bodies to promote equality of opportunity in the research environment for women and others with protected characteristics, and has championed the careers of women in science in schools and universities, including Women into Computing Science at University of Glasgow, and starting up an independent science cubs for girls. Alison continues her strong personal commitment to public engagement in science across the world.

Speakezee is an exciting new development that enables scientists as all stages in their careers to reach out and communicate their work to others. Providing this opportunity for researchers early in their careers has the potential to transform the way experts now and in the future communicate with a wide range of audiences.
- Alison Mitchell

Andrew Wray

Andrew has worked in science communication and application for 20 years, initially in academic publishing, and for the past 5 years as Knowledge Exchange Development Manager at the University of Bristol, UK.

He directs the strategy and day-to-day management of funds for the economic and social impact of research across all disciplines in the University of Bristol including locally managed funds of £1.5million each year. In addition, Andrew guides academic teams in developing impact strategies for their research programmes and creating collaborative partnerships with companies, charities and government organisations. This often leads to joint grant proposals to business and university funding agencies in the UK and Europe.

Andrew has played a crucial role in guiding the development and strategy of Speakezee since its launch.

"Speakezee is an exciting new facility for connecting experts and audiences. It will also help universities and community groups develop a wider range of events and understand what audiences want to hear"
- Andrew Wray

Penny Fidler

Dr Penny Fidler is the CEO of The UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres, a membership organisation that brings together over 60 of the nation's major science engagement organisations. Every year, ASDC members engage over 20 million people in all parts of the UK with the wonders of science.

Penny gained her PhD in neuroscience from Cambridge University. She has fourteen years experience working in the field of science engagement, including six years setting up then working in a landmark millennium science centre. Prior to taking this post in 2007, she ran her own Exhibitions and Neuroscience Consultancy setting up innovative projects in the UK and overseas.

As CEO of ASDC Penny has founded and directed many national strategic science engagement projects on subjects ranging from astrophysics to molecular biology. Each has an emphasis on bringing the latest excellent science and scientists to the fore so adults and children across the UK can share what is going on in science. She has also consulted and worked worldwide, and has spoken in the UK parliament on the importance of informal science learning.

"This is a brilliant resource that has the potential to revolutionise how we bring together experts with families and schools in public settings."
- Penny Fidler

Mark Miodownik

Mark Miodownik is the UCL Professor of Materials & Society.  He received his Ph.D in turbine jet engine alloys from Oxford University, and has worked as a materials engineer in the USA, Ireland and the UK. For more than ten years he has championed materials research that links the arts and humanities to medicine, engineering and materials science. This culminated in the establishment of the UCL Institute of Making where he is Director and runs the research programme ( Prof Miodownik is a well known author and broadcaster. He regularly presents BBC TV programmes on engineering which have reached millions of viewers in more than 200 countries. In 2013 he was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Medal, and he was elected a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014. He is author of Stuff Matters which won the Royal Society Winton Prize in 2014.

“Speakezee brings the whole science communication community together in one place”
- Mark Miodownik

Shane McCracken

Shane's career travelled through sales promotion, advertising and publishing before he set up Gallomanor Communications Ltd in 2001. Since then he's been behind community engagement projects such as I'm a Councillor, Get me out of here (, I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here ( and Decipher My Data (

He's also been responsible for the first bloggers to gain access to a G20 Summit and to advise Comic Relief and Oxfam on a variety of campaigns. He uses that experience to help Science Is Vital campaign for more public funding of science.

"Speakezee makes sourcing an expert simple and quick. Those experts can focus on their subject and not worry about finding places to talk about their work. Brilliant!"
- Shane McCracken

Gail Cardew

Gail Cardew is the Royal Institution Professor of Science, Culture and Society, and Director of Science and Education. She leads the institution’s charitable public engagement activities and  champions its mission to encourage people to think more deeply about the wonders and applications of science.

“When you’re organising public events, or in fact any event with speakers, it’s tempting to invite just the people you know or the same old people who speak everywhere. But a really good event relies on interesting perspectives curated together to bring fresh insights. And that’s where Speakezee can help – giving an event organiser the opportunity to browse hundreds of profiles and therefore selecting the perfect ones for their event.”
- Gail Cardew

Helen Czerski

Helen is a physicist, oceanographer and broadcaster with a passion for science, sport, books, creativity, hot chocolate and investigating the interesting things in life. She currently works at University College London and is a science presenter for the BBC.

“It’s really important that the public get to hear a variety of expert voices on scientific topics, and Speakezee is a great forum for linking the interested with the interesting.”
- Helen Czerski

Paul Manners

Paul Manners is Associate Professor in Public Engagement at UWE and director of the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement. The NCCPE’s role is to help to coordinate public engagement practice and to support innovation and strategic change in universities. Paul’s whole career has been education related.  He trained as a secondary English teacher and after teaching for five years, joined the BBC where his credits include the long running BBC2 series, ‘Rough Science’. He is chair of the National Trust’s advisory panel on Learning and Engagement and a fellow of the RSA.

“Speakezee is one of those brilliantly simple ideas – an engine for curiosity and engagement between researchers and people passionate about building knowledge and sharing expertise”
- Paul Manners