The Somerscience Trust is a charitable incorporated organisation set up to advance the education of the public in Somerset in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to promote public engagement in all aspects of STEM developments. Primarily this will be achieved through the establishment of the community-led Somerscience festival, and complementary events, which showcase the research and development in STEM taking place in the area from both the academic and industrial communities.
The aim is for it to be an annual event to foster curiosity amongst all ages, encourage public engagement with science, give people the confidence and information to voice opinions about research, and inspire younger people or career changers to consider the myriad of roles that exist under the STEM umbrella.
Wendy graduated with a BEng in Materials Engineering at Loughborough University and went on to complete her PhD in 2002. Following a move back to the South West, she worked at Airbus UK in Bristol in the Materials and Processes department as a metallurgist, specialising in quality control and failure analysis. Then, after a break to start a family, she worked in the Physics department at Bruton School for Girls for several years. In 2018, she took a position in the learning team at the Fleet Air Arm Museum where she designed and ran school programmes and events, particularly those focused on STEM. She has recently moved into the role of Interpretation Officer at the museum where she is heavily involved in exhibitions and public programming.
She has lived in Somerset with her husband, a pilot in the Royal Navy, and their two teenage daughters.
Colleen came to education after a successful 20-year career in business, culminating in Managing Directorships of healthcare and international recruitment companies. She then spent 10 years teaching Psychology in both the UK and Hong Kong before combining her business and educational expertise in a series of executive roles in the UK and Malta, including school leadership search, development of CPD programmes for teachers and academic mentoring for students and latterly raising public engagement with science and technology on rural Gozo. She developed the island’s first large-scale Science Festival, Science In The Citadel, which she then ran for 3 years, before handing it over to the Ministry for Gozo to sustain. This experience means she has encountered and overcome the many barriers and obstacles to setting up a new festival from a standing start, and demonstrably gained academic, industrial and local community buy-in and enthusiasm. Currently a senior consultant with the Baker Dearing Trust on employer engagement with University Technical Colleges, she aims to create a successful and sustainable festival also uniquely embedded in its location and community.
Professor Alan Champneys
Alan has a degree in mathematics from the University of Birmingham, and a PhD from Oxford. Originally from Kent, he has lived in Bath for 30 years since arriving here to work as a research assistant at the University of Bath. This coincided with marriage to Sharon and bringing up 3 children who have now flown the nest. He now feels a real sense of belonging to the South West, for example writing the regular “Westward Ho!” feature in the IMA Mathematics Today magazine. In 1993 he started as a lecturer in the rather unique department of Engineering Mathematics at the University of Bristol, where he has remained ever since, rising to being full professor in 2001. Alan regards himself as an applied mathematician, originally specialising in nonlinear dynamics and chaos, now becoming an eclectic enthusiast of popular science and outreach, industrial mathematics, and interdisciplinary collaboration across the physical, life and social sciences. In his spare time, he plays table tennis in the Bath and Bristol leagues and enjoys exploring the unique countryside of the region, both by bike and on foot. Vanilla is not his favourite flavour.
Professor Chris Budd
Chris is professor of mathematics at the university of Bath, a position he has held since 1995. He is also Professor of mathematics at the Royal Institution and until recently was the Gresham Professor of Geometry and Chair of the UKMT. He is a passionate populariser of mathematics and science. Since 2000 he has both directed the Bath Taps Into Science festival and has run a course on Science outreach for Bath students. He has won many awards for his work in popularising science, including being awarded OBE in 2015 for services to maths and science education.
Simon is the Chief Executive Officer of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity which founded and supports the 48 University Technical Colleges (UTCs) across England. During his time in charge of Baker Dearing, UTCs have enjoyed double digit growth in students on roll, above average Ofsted outcomes, and an impressive track record of student destinations.
Simon has more than twenty years’ business experience, with the last fifteen working at Board level. After a successful career in the UK financial services industry, where he started a number of asset management companies, Simon co-founded Educate, an education services company, in 2011. Educate’s portfolio of services included project management for school openings, support for school procurement, and advice regarding teaching staff deployment and performance management. More recently, Simon has specialised in financial and staff structure advice for schools. Simon has also supported academies more generally, and works closely with the Department for Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Simon received a double first class degree in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Gavin is the Foundation for Science & Technology Chief Executive, a position he’s held since March 2019. He is responsible for delivering the Foundation’s programme of activities, and is also the host of the FST Podcast. Previous to working at the Foundation, Gavin was at the University of Southampton, most recently as Director of Public Policy – brokering relationships between researchers and policy makers, delivering training to academics on how to interact with policymakers, and increasing the policy impact of research at the University. He was the inaugural chair of the UK’s Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN).His first career was as a civil servant in central government, spending just under 17 years, in what is now the Department for Business, Enterprise & Industrial Strategy, as well as in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. His roles included leading the network of science attachés in UK embassies, managing the Large Facilities Capital Fund within the Science Budget, and reviewing the governance of Research Council Institutes.
Lucy is currently Managing Editor for AIhub.org, a UK registered charity dedicated to connecting the artificial intelligence community to the public by providing free, high-quality information. She is also a lead trainer for scicomm.io, delivering science communication courses. Previously she has worked in academic publishing and as a postdoctoral researcher. She holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Exeter and an MPhys in Theoretical Physics from the University of York.
The Somerscience Festival is a community-driven event, organised by a committee of volunteers with a passion for STEM from across Bruton and Castle Cary.