Junior Research Fellow in Science Communication, King’s College, University of Cambridge

James is a scientist and science communicator. As Cambridge’s first Junior Research Fellow in Science Communication, he will continue his research at the intersection of nanophotonics and soft matter physics (“making optical materials make themselves”) as part of the Bio-Inspired Photonics Group, Department of Chemistry, whilst also practising and researching science communication. James is interested in how scientists’ perceptions of science, how it works, and its role in society affect how and why they communicate their science, and in reconciling the lived experience of scientist-communicators with the scholarly literature on science communication. In particular, he will focus on science communication with policy makers, as part of the science policy research programme at the Centre for Science and Policy (CSap) and Bennett Institute for Public Policy; and, working alongside Cambridge’s Public Engagement Team, will investigate improv comedy as a novel public engagement technique.

For the last two years, James was a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Molecular Engineering, Argonne National Laboratory, and the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago, designing, creating, and simulating next-generation “self-assembled” optical devices. During this time he also studied improv comedy and co-created Chicago’s first regular science comedy improv show, The Excited State. Prior to his time in Chicago, James undertook his PhD as a member of the NanoDTC on the fabrication and characterisation of gyroid optical metamaterials. Alongside his research, he was a founding member—and later President—of the Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE), and taught engineering undergraduates at Trinity College, where he was a member. He obtained his MEng in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford, Magdalen College, in 2012. Before beginning university, James was an apprentice engineer at the world’s oldest harmonica factory, in Klingenthal, Germany.