Meet the Soapbox Science Milton Keynes organising team

Meet the organising team bringing Soapbox Science to Centre:MK Milton Keynes for a third year!

Photo (L-R): Gill Hill, Laura Crook, Julia Cooke, Clare Humphries, Jack Hannam


Dr Julia Cooke, Lecturer in Ecology.  I am a plant ecologist who uses traits to explore ecological strategies.  I’m particularly interested in how plants use silicon as a resource. Increasing the visibility of women in science is a key part of changing the ratio of women who progress to senior levels as well as reducing unconscious bias in the way women are perceived in science and I see Soapbox Science as a positive way to do that.  Having benefited from the networking and promotion of me and my research that Soapbox Science offers, I’m very pleased to be able to pay that forward to the next round of speakers by leading the local organising committee this year.


Dr Clare Humphries, Water, Energy and Environment Information Specialist at Cranfield University. My job is based in the library but I also get to spend lots of time talking to researchers. When the first Soapbox Science MK was being planned back in 2015 I jumped at the chance to be involved and 3 years later I still am! It provides a great opportunity to hear about some of the amazing research being done in this region. My passion for science was ignited as a student in Bristol, and although I’ve hung up my labcoat now (after 6 years as a biomedical researcher) I have never lost my curiosity and desire to learn. You can take the woman out of the lab and put her in the library, but I’ll always be a scientist at heart!


Hi, I am Gill. I was a speaker at the first Milton Keynes Soapbox Science in 2016, and loved the event so much that I decided I wanted to continue to be involved to enable other scientists to share their research in such an interactive way. I am a Psychology lecturer and researcher at the University of Buckingham.  I research creativity and particularly everyday insight moments, which are sudden Aha or Uh-oh moments of new understanding. I use a variety of methods in my research, both interview and online questionnaires alongside face to face experimental work, where I explore how psychological and physiological (for example heart activity) factors impact on the experience of insight. I think it is really important to highlight the diverse nature of science and the people who ‘do’ science, with the view that anyone and everyone can get involved. I am passionate about science and want to share this enthusiasm with an audience who wouldn’t typically go to ‘sciencey’ events, which is just what Soapbox Science does.


Dr Jacqueline “Jack” Hannam is a Senior Research Fellow in Pedology at Cranfield University. I love soil. I use mapping and modelling to determine how soils change in space and time. I also work with farmers to devise practical solutions for sustainable soil management whilst also growing enough food. Like many other LOs I was a previous speaker (at the London event in 2015) and wanted others to experience the event in our home town, so I founded SSMK in 2016. SSMK means anyone can meet amazing women scientists and hear about their research right in the heart of the local shopping centre. This is the third year of SSMK, we have a really great team led by Julia Cooke with lots of momentum & enthusiasm. Milton Keynes is geographically bang in the middle between Oxford and Cambridge. But you don’t need to go to Oxbridge for groundbreaking research in STEM- it is happening right here on our doorstep at the unique University, research institutions and businesses in the MK region.


My name is Laura Crook and I am the Programme Co-ordinator for the Smart Crop Protection project at Rothamsted Research. I work on the day to day running of the project, organising meetings and events as well as managing the science communication aspects of the programme. I am also a research technician conducting glasshouse experiments investigating herbicide resistance in black-grass, the biggest weed problem facing arable farmers in the UK. I was a speaker at the first Soapbox Science Milton Keynes event in 2016 and really enjoyed the experience. Soapbox Science gave me more confidence and ultimately helped me get the role I do now. The team were great when I stood on my soapbox and I really wanted to help give other women that opportunity, particularly as another Rothamsted colleague is taking part this year. Soapbox Science is a fantastic way to get woman shouting about their science and to hear such a diverse range of subjects from all walks of academia, PhD students to post-docs, professors to technicians.


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