Leading science communication expert becomes chair of UKOOG

20 October 2015

UKOOG, the representative body for UK onshore oil and gas, has today appointed Professor Averil Macdonald OBE, one of the UK's leading experts in communicating science to the public, as its chair. Professor Macdonald is Emeritus Professor of Science Engagement at the University of Reading, a board member of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), consultant director of Highbury College, Portsmouth and advises the nine Physics departments in South East Physics Network on diversity. In addition she was chair of the Expert Group for Women in Science until 2015.

Professor Macdonald has been at the forefront of promoting engineering and science education and careers for women. She is well known for pioneering Science Outreach through a wide range of projects designed to show people the fascination and careers opportunities of science, including the well-known 'Science with Coffee and Hobnobs' – a project particularly aimed at communicating science to mums. She was subsequently invited to write the definitive guide to Science Outreach in universities by the Higher Education Academy.

Professor Macdonald said: "I am delighted to be taking up the position of chair of UKOOG at a critical time for the onshore oil and gas industry. I believe strongly that developing the UK's home grown sources of gas will be a major part of moving the UK towards a low carbon economy. In this role, I will use a clear, accurate application of scientific evidence to help reassure local communities that reserves of British natural gas can be developed safety and with the minimum of environmental impact and that UK gas supplies are part of a long term sustainable solution and not just a stop gap. I am keen to engage with people to understand their perspectives, hopes and concerns."

Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of UKOOG, said: "The industry could not have found a better chair than Professor Macdonald. Not only is she a leading figure in science education, she also brings an intellectual curiosity and a willingness to communicate that will be invaluable as the industry begins finding out how much gas there is underneath our feet."

Professor Macdonald takes up her role immediately.


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About Professor Averil Macdonald

Professor Macdonald OBE DSc, Hon. DUniv, FInstP, FRSA is presently Diversity Lead for SEPnet, consultant director of Highbury College, Portsmouth, member of the board of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), a trustee of the Science Museum Group and a member of the court of Imperial College, London, and the UK's representative on the EU Helsinki Group: Gender in Research and Innovation. Until 2014 she was Professor of Science Engagement at the University of Reading.

Her career began teaching Physics in secondary schools before taking a career break, studying part time for an MA then a PhD and becoming a part time lecturer in the Physics department at the University of Reading. She has co-authored over 25 school text books, and produced a wide range of free teaching resources for schools, and is committed to engaging under-represented groups with STEM subjects. She has appeared many times on television and radio including Scrapheap Challenge, The Eleven O'clock Show, Vanessa and was the BBC Radio Berkshire Resident Scientist.

Professor Macdonald was awarded the international Bragg Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics, London in 1999 for her distinguished contribution to popularising Physics (the youngest ever recipient and one of only four women to receive this international medal in its 40 year history) while the Royal Society recognised the importance of her outreach work with a Millennium Award.

In 2007 she was awarded the accolade of Woman of Outstanding Achievement in Science in recognition of her work in Science Communication, and the prestigious Plastics Industry Award for Personal Contribution to the Industry for her success in inspiring young people to study science as a result of her lectures, and has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of York and Kingston University. From 2009 until 2015 she was chair of the Expert Group for Women in Science reporting to BIS.

Professor Macdonald is married with two daughters.

About UKOOG:

UKOOG is the representative body for the UK onshore oil and gas industry, including exploration, production and storage. The organisation's objectives are to enhance the profile of the onshore industry, promote better and more open dialogue with key stakeholders, deliver industry wide initiatives and programmes and to ensure standards in safety, the environment and operations are maintained to the highest possible level. Membership is open to all companies active in the onshore industry including those involved in the supply chain. www.ukoog.org.uk