Science journalist, author and communicator


Most of my career has been built on a passion for science and writing. After a degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, I did a PhD in developmental genetics at the University of Edinburgh. Then I realised that I liked communicating science more than I liked doing research itself – so I moved into science journalism.

I began working at Nature as an online reporter in 2001, and wrote news and features for the journal for several years, specialising in covering biomedical sciences. My stories have won various accolades including the Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award and two best feature awards from the Association of British Science Writers. Over time, I gradually transitioned into editing and for several years I led the magazine’s features section, where I indulged a love of long-form writing. Over that time, I lived in New York for eight years before returning to the UK in 2011.

When I got back, I started researching and writing my book The Life Project, which you can read more about on the Books page.

I now live outside London with my partner and three boys, which means that time is short but life is always interesting.

(This photo of me was taken by the brilliant photographer Chris Close at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August 2016. He asked me to be DNA – so this is me, sort of being DNA. )

Media Appearances

My TED talk: Lessons from the longest study on human development

The Life Project: my talk at the London School of Economics

Interview on the Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast

Seventy years ago, in 1946, the world’s longest running major study of human development began in Britain.

The analysis of the lives of thousands of people was so successful that researchers repeated the exercise, following thousands more babies born in 1958, 1970, the early 1990s, and at the turn of the millennium. Six generations of children were followed: over 70,000 people.

The studies have become the envy of scientists around the world, but beyond the research team, remarkably few people know they even exist.