Enhancing engagement with biotechnology through interactions with the scientific community, school students, teachers and the general public

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Group Members


Director: Prof. Mary Bownes

Mary Bownes is Professor Emerita of Developmental Biology. She is a member of the boards of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the National Museums of Scotland; and is Programme convenor for the Royal Society of Edinburgh.


Deputy Director: Dr Janet Paterson

Previously a post-doctoral research scientist, Janet joined SIBE in 2007 as Development Officer, later becoming Deputy Director. Janet facilitates collaborative public engagement projects involving activities such as resource development, mentoring researchers in public engagement, and running biotechnology workshops for senior secondary school pupils. On behalf of the University, she organises the annual University’s family programme at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.


SIBE Associate: Dr Jan Barfoot

Jan is a previous SIBE Deputy Director and went on to facilitate other collaborative public engagement projects. Following secondment as the Project Manager for Researchers in Residence, Jan returned to SIBE to develop an undergraduate honours course in Science Communication and produce a booklet 'Stem Cells: Science and Ethics'. Jan is currently the Public Engagement Manager for EuroStemCell (EC-funded stem cell research consortium).


SIBE Associate: Dr Heather McQueen

Heather is a senior lecturer in molecular genetics at the University of Edinburgh and runs the e-learning project Gene Jury, which engages primary and secondary school children with bioscience.


SIBE Associate: Dr Cathy Southworth

A fomer SIBE Science Communicator, Cathy is a public engagement manager within the EuroStemCell team at the MRC-Centre for Regenerative Medicine. She is a science communicator and engagement manager for HumEn and Thymistem and previously for Optistem and Eurosystem. At University of Edinburgh she runs the science education module for the MSc in Science Communication and has recently developed and run two Scottish focused public engagement projects ‘Hope Beyond Hype’ and ‘Regenerate’.


SIBE Associate: Dr Briony Curtis

Briony followed her PhD with work as a professional science communicator including research in children's science television and running a science communication company. She has been involved with SIBE for several years working on projects including Research Communication in Action and Biomedical Horizons. Currently on a career break, Bryony continues to maintain links with public engagement and skills training.


SIBE Associate: Dr Elizabeth Stevenson

A chemist by background, Elizabeth has collaborated with SIBE on public engagement projects as part of her remit in Public Engagement with Science and Schools’ Outreach in the School of Chemistry. She now directs the University of Edinburgh MSc course in Science Communication and Public Engagement.