I am Scottish and began my work in science by getting a degree in Biochemistry from the University of St Andrews. I then spent a year as a volunteer in the Sudan working as an actor on their English language TV channel. The experience convinced me that I should pursue a career as an actor, but on returning to the UK I compromised and combined registering for a doctorate in Neuroendocrinology at Oxford with trying to enter the acting profession through the Oxford University Dramatic Society. After a year I realized that my prospects were probably better within science and I went on to get my doctorate and become a lecturer in Biochemistry at the University of Kent in 1977
Gradually I began to develop a side line as a science communicator and in 1996 I moved to Bristol where I founded the Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England. In 2000 I was approached to advise on the development of a Science Festival in Cheltenham and became its founding co-director with Kathy Sykes in 2002, the same year as I was appointed the first Professor of Science Communication in the UK.
Since establishing the Frank Burnet Consultancy at the beginning of 2009 I have worked in countries as varied as Saudi Arabia, where I have been lead consultant for the creation of an annual National Science Festival and Finland where I am a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi.
Wherever I work my commitment is to do what I can to build bridges between science and society.
1970 – BSc Hons (First Class) Biochemistry, St Andrews University
1971 – Best Freshman Actor, Oxford
1971 – Played Chief Bromden in British Premiere of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in Oxford and London
1973 - Postgraduate Scholarship, Wolfson College, Oxford
1975 - Doctorate in Neuroendocrinology, Oxford
1988 – Media Fellowship, The Royal Society of London
1999 –Von Liebig Memorial Medal, Royal Society of Medicine
1999 – Millenium Fellow, Millennium Commission
2000 – MBE, Queens Birthday Honours List for “Services to Science Communication”
2002 -Founding Director, Cheltenham Science Festival
2002 – First Professor of Science Communication in UK, University of West of England
2006 – International Director Cheltenham Science Festival
2008 – Emeritus Professor of Science Communication, University of West of England