Meet our new British Science Association Media Fellows

We are delighted to announce that environmental scientists Dr. Charlotte Brassey and Dr. Alex Lees are Manchester Metropolitan University’s British Science Association Media Fellows for 2017. Charlotte will be undertaking her Fellowship with BBC Radio whilst Alex will be based at BBC Breakfast.

Now in its 30th year, the BSA’s Media Fellowship scheme provide a unique opportunity for practising scientists and clinicians to spend dedicated time working at the heart of a media organisation in the UK. The Fellowships help to improve the quality of science related stories reported in the media by breaking down the barriers that can sometimes exist between scientists and journalists.

Each year a small group of Fellows is selected through a competitive process. The Fellows are mentored by professional broadcasters and journalists and learn how the media operates, how to communicate more effectively and how to engage the wider public with science.

Charlotte and Alex are both thrilled to have been selected for this prestigious scheme and are looking forward to taking up their placements at the BBC over the summer.

Charlotte said, “I have spent a considerable amount of time communicating science with the general public in a face-to-face manner, particularly with a school-age audience. In comparison, I have less experience talking to adults and interacting with the media. I hope a media fellowship will help me convey my research in a clear yet ‘grown-up’ manner. To be specific, I would like to improve my ability to communicate the ‘bigger picture’ of my research.”

Alex said, “I am a conservation biologist, which is inherently a ‘crisis discipline’ and informing the public and shaping opinion is key to achieving future environmental sustainability. I’m interested in how best to achieve this given that some headlines have a catastrophizing  focus which the public become immune to eventually, thus defeating the communication purpose.”

After their media placement Fellows attend the British Science Festival in September, which provides valuable experience of working in a dedicated Press Centre alongside a range of media organisations from all over the UK. They also commit to bringing their learning back into the University to ensure that there is an opportunity for other colleagues to benefit from their skills and experience.

Dr Justine Daniels, Director of Research & Knowledge Exchange, said “The Media Fellowships are a fantastic opportunity for our aspiring and gifted science researchers to gain valuable insight into media communication. The British Science Association is a critical partner for scientists focussed on making science an intrinsic part of wider culture and society. Through their placements with the BBC, Charlotte and Alex both have a wonderful opportunity to understand how to engage wider and more diverse audiences with their own research interests. This will provide an excellent foundation for the impact capacity of their work and their research centre.”

Manchester Metropolitan University’s BSA Fellows Profiles
Dr Charlotte Brassey, Environmental Sciences Research Centre 

Charlotte is a BBSRC Future Leader Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University. Charlotte’s research is highly interdisciplinary, spanning taxonomic groups and geologic time periods, seeking to address questions of form and function using 3D imaging and computational simulation approaches. During her BBSRC fellowship, Charlotte will be focusing on the evolution of mammalian genitalia, specifically the male baculum bone. Charlotte combines traditional anatomy, phylogenetics, high-resolution CT imaging and engineering simulations to investigate the evolution of these enigmatic structures. Charlotte is a keen public engager and has done extensive work with museums, with current work involving the launch of a travelling museum of research in 2018.



Dr Alexander Lees , Environmental Sciences Research Centre

Alex has been working on Amazonian conservation issues for over 14 years and is one of the co-investigators of the Sustainable Amazon Network which attempts to understand the trade-offs between biodiversity value, ecosystem services and economic development along tropical agricultural frontiers. Alex spent five years working at the Goeldi Museum in the Brazilian Amazon, and a year at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University. Beyond intensive field-work supported studies aiming to understand land-use change, and the drivers of past, current and future biodiversity loss Alex is involved in leading on several large-scale syntheses and meta-analyses addressing macro-ecological and phylogenetic work at large scales to understand the context and interplay of ecological and evolutionary factors.