Our people

headshot of Professor Julian RaynerConnecting Science is led by its Director, Professor Julian Rayner. Julian combines his passion for malaria research with his conviction that dialogue, learning and public engagement are a fundamental and essential part of the research process. He provides strategic leadership to Connecting Science, ensuring our mission stays relevant and delivers the change we want to see.

After completing a PhD at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, Julian began working on malaria parasites as a post-doctoral fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA. He has been a faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (USA) and the Wellcome Sanger Institute (2008-2019), and was recently appointed Director of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research at the University of Cambridge.


Headshot of Ireena DuttaThe Connecting Science Programme Office is responsible for supporting the Director with strategy development and stakeholder engagement, providing marketing and communications support across the programme, and developing and delivering large-scale, programme-wide projects. It is led by the Head of Strategy, Dr Ireena Dutta.

Ireena has a PhD in antimicrobial resistance from the University of Cambridge, and extensive experience in knowledge transfer, science communication, and strategy development. She remains an enthusiastic microbiologist.


Headshot of Dr Rebecca TwellsDr Rebecca Twells is the Head of Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences. Rebecca leads a team of 20 staff, directing strategy around learning and training ambitions, and planning the development of an extensive international courses and conferences programme. The team includes several members with postdoctoral research experience, as well as expertise in education theory, administration, and laboratory and event management.

Rebecca holds a PhD in molecular genetics from Imperial College London. She continued her research career at the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, before joining the Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences team.


Headshot of Linda PiorLinda Prior is the Conference Centre Business Manager. Linda leads a core events team of nine, and manages a wider contract team who provide support services to the Conference Centre ranging from housekeeping to fine dining. Together, these teams focus on providing outstanding facilities and services to both Connecting Science, and to external Conference Centre clients.

Linda has over three decades of experience in the events and hospitality sector, leading major venue renovation projects and creating new services.


Headshot of Kenneth SkeldonDr Kenneth Skeldon is the Head of Public Engagement. Ken leads a team of engagement and education professionals whose ambition is to create a world-leading engaged research campus. The team have expertise in research support, project planning, stakeholder management and creative production.

Ken completed a PhD in lasers and optoelectronics from the University of Glasgow, and has a particular interest in embedding engagement within research culture.


Headshot of Anna MiddletonProfessor Anna Middleton is the Head of Society and Ethics Research. Anna leads a team with expertise across social sciences methodology, psychology, genetic counselling, empirical bioethics, and digital resource production. Collectively they contribute a societal voice on the impact of genomics on patients, as well as develop policy and teaching practice.

Anna is a qualified genetic counsellor with a PhD in psychology and genetics from the University of Leeds. She is a Professor/Affiliate Lecturer within the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. Anna is passionate about delivering research that has real practical value to patients.

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