Science Brainwaves Committee 2014-15

Chair – Cassy Ashman


Hi, I’m Cassy and I’m the Chair of Science Brainwaves for 2014 – 2015. I’m currently also a third year PhD student at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience, looking at improving the survival of motor neurons in Motor Neurone Disease (MND), using stem cell models.

In 2013- 2014, whilst I was not a committee member, I took an active role in Science Brainwaves, as Head of Neutrinos, our after school science club. I helped to organise the volunteers and co-ordinate several new session plans including fun activities on fluorescence, dinosaurs, and a very messy oobleks and subwoofers activity, all of which the children really seemed to enjoy!

I have also had the great opportunity to be part of the Festival of the Mind 2014, where in collaboration with a local artist and art therapist produced an exhibition called “From Loss to Hope: the Story of Motor Neurone Disease”. It told the story of MND from multiple perspectives including researchers studying the disease, patients, as well as past carers and family members.

This year I am really excited to be Chair of Science Brainwaves, and can’t wait to have year filled with lots of fun events, lectures and outreach activities!
If you are interested in volunteering with us, or are a lecturer or academic who would like to get more involved in the public communication of your research, email me at
Head of Events – Harriet Knafler

Harriet Knafler

Hi! I’m Harriet Knafler, and third year undergraduate in Microbiology at the department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology here in Sheffield. I’m especially interested in Environmental Microbiology and the use of bacteria and algae to solve our food and energy crisis. I am also passionate about opening science up to everyone: engaging non-scientists, encouraging children to connect with science, and ensuring equality for women and minority groups in STEM subjects.

I feel extremely lucky to be part of the Science Brainwaves committee this year in my role as Head of Events. This will involve organising lots of interesting and exciting one off events, open to everyone, so I look forwards to seeing you all there! Any questions or suggestions, I’d love to have a chat –

Head of Projects – Nik Muldal


Hi, I’m Nik and I’m the Head of Projects for Science Brainwaves 2014/15. I’m in my 4th year at Sheffield studying the fascinating world of microscopic biology. Doing a degree in Biochemistry & Microbiology has shown me just how exciting life on a tiny scale is!

Since having extracted my DNA, and even eaten insects as a volunteer for Science Brainwaves, I’ve found myself in charge of organising this years set of engaging projects and workshops. I’m really passionate about getting everyone involved with Science from all areas of society as it provides such a fundamental and amazing way of viewing the world. My role involves developing ideas and getting them off the ground into the lab – which could even be a park near you!

Aside from my passions for outreach, I’m a keen walker frequenting the beautiful Peak District on the doorstep of Sheffield.

If you have any ideas for Science Brainwaves or if you’re a school/community group needing more Science workshops, please do get in touch by emailing me at

Head of Publicity – Emma Curran


Hi there, I’m Emma and I’m Head of Media for Science Brainwaves 2014/2015. I’m a first year PhD student in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, and I’m studying the genetics and evolution of iridescent colour in South American butterflies.

While I have a great enthusiasm for research in science, I feel it’s a bit of a waste if we don’t try and make it accessible to anyone and everyone. Because of this I became involved in outreach within my department, involving all sorts of activities, from handling insects with schoolchildren to teaching them about dinosaurs. Last year I was Head of Outreach for Science Brainwaves, a role which allowed me to get practically involved in communicating science to the Sheffield public through after-school clubs, public events and putting on lectures.

If you have any queries regarding publicity, our blog, or anything else regarding Science Brainwaves and the media, don’t hesitate to contact me at

Treasurer – Serina Akhtar

Secretary – Emma Jardine

Hi! I’m Emma Jardine. I have been in Sheffield for four years now, completing an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology last year and working currently on a PhD in Biological Chemistry. I love baking/cooking, dancing and a walk in the park on a sunny day.

I’ve been taking part in events like this ever since I can remember and I was ecstatic when I realised that there was a way that I could get involved in passing that joy and sense of discovery onto other people. This is my 2nd year on the committee, and I am delighted to continue working with Science Brainwaves.

If you have any questions and don’t know who else to ask, ask me

Head of Volunteers – Lizzie Baldwin
Head of Website – Dominic Swain

Hi everyone, I’m Dominic and I’m the current Head of Website for Science Brainwaves. I’m studying evolutionary biology as a PhD student in the Animal and Plant Sciences department at the University of Sheffield. My project uses fruit flies to investigate the genetic basis of local adaptation, which means I try to understand what genetic changes allow one species to inhabit many different environments. In particular the project is investigating how a species that is spread over thousands of miles can adapt to different temperatures, this is particularly important in light of ongoing climate change.

After getting my A-levels I worked for many years in the IT industry; however I decided to return to full-time education to follow a huge passion for biological science. It is this passion for science that I want to share with others. I love the way that science helps us understand the world around us and our place in it. No matter how much we learn, science always opens up more interesting questions to investigate. Science has been a huge inspiration in my life and I hope to inspire others to find out how amazing, fascinating and exciting it can be.

As the Head of Website it’s my job to manage and update the website, I also work with the Brainwaves team to develop ideas to enhance the website. I work to ensure that we have a web presence which supports the work we do and is able to engage people in the wonderful world of science.

If you have any queries regarding the website, or would like to get involved with any part of it, then please email me at: