Dr Jonathan Pettitt from the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition has been recognised by the UK's Genetics Society for their outstanding contribution to public engagement with science, by being asked to deliver the 2020 JBS Haldane Lecture.
This award recognises an individual for outstanding ability to communicate leading edge subjects in genetics research widely interpreted to a broad public audience. JBS Haldane Lecturers are selected for their ability to convey the relevance and excitement of recent advances in genetics in an informative and engaging way. Previous awardees include Dr Giles Yeo, well known for his contribution to BBC science documentaries, including ‘Horizon’ and ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’
Dr Pettitt, Reader in Genetics has a long-standing interest in studying the nematode worm C. elegans as a model organism to study the genetics of basic animal biology and is strongly committed to public engagement with genetics. He believes that the current era of DNA sequence technology, where the exponential increase in the availability and use of human genome sequence information, and the use of genome engineering in biotechnology, is rapidly creating an urgent need to inform the public of advances in this area.
A committed and enthusiastic communicator of genetics, Jonathan has written and presented a broad range of events, including his show ‘May Contain Neanderthal’ at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Royal Greenwich Observatory, the Royal Institution, and science festivals in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Sofia, Bulgaria. He was the genetics consultant for Helen Keen’s book, ‘The Science of Game of Thrones’. He co-hosted the Genetical Society’s winning show garden at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, where their Genetics-themed garden was awarded silver prize in 2019.
Dr Pettitt said: “I am absolutely delighted and very honoured to be awarded the 2020 Genetics Society JBS Haldane Lecture. Given that genetics increasingly has impacts well beyond biological research and medicine, it is important to promote public engagement with the subject, ensuring that genetic literacy permeates as many areas of our society as possible. I look forward to making a small contribution to this enterprise through my lecture next year”.
Dr Pettitt will present his JBS Haldane lecture at the Royal Institute in the autumn of 2020.