Meet the Team
Exeter Science Centre is a charity (CIO), dedicated to informing and inspiring the public about science.
Dr Natalie Whitehead
Founder & Director
Natalie finished her PhD in Physics at the University of Exeter in September 2019, and started setting up the Exeter Science Centre as soon as her thesis was submitted. She has been a passionate science communicator during her PhD and undergraduate Masters degree, leading many workshops, outreach events and giving talks to schools and the public. She has also taught, coached and mentored many students from A-Level to University level alongside her studies. Prior to this, she was a Trainee consulting engineer, studying part-time towards a BEng in Building Services Engineering, with a specialism in building physics and sustainability.
Dr Alice Mills
Founder & Director
Alice has a PhD in Astrophysics from Durham University, and was the Science Outreach Officer for the University of Exeter from 2015-2020, developing and delivering workshops and talks across the South West, running large scale science events, building relationships with schools and local industry/organisations and working with academics to disseminate their research effectively to the public. Alice is passionate about making science more accessible and understandable for all, in particular in Devon, where she grew up.
Prof. Justin Dillon
Chair of Trustees: Justin is professor of science and environmental education at the University of Exeter. He spent 10 years as a secondary school teacher and then moved into higher education. His research interests include learning and engagement in out-of-school settings. He is a Trustee of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.
Dr Sarah Usher
Sarah has over 20 years experience teaching Physics, Science and Maths. In addition to running a Physics Department in a top rated secondary school, Sarah has also been a Teacher Fellow for the Ogden Trust and ran a very successful Science Outreach program in East Devon for over 10 years. She is now an applications engineer for a large international optics company.
Charlie is an ex-rocket engineer, having spent the first decade of his career fuelling satellites, fixing launch tables and managing launch campaigns at the European Launchsite in French Guiana. Combined with subsequent careers in digital media and healthcare innovation, Charlie now works as a systems-led design strategist in healthcare, maritime and space industries.
Prof Pete Vukusic
Pete is Associate Dean for Education and Professor of Physics at the University of Exeter. He is an internationally award-winning science communicator and a qualified and experienced schools teacher. He formed and leads the Natural Photonics Research group and delivers academic talks and runs outreach events across the UK, the EU, the US, China and Africa.
Dr Celia Butler
Celia is a Senior Applications Engineer at Synopsys; working with engineers, researchers and medical professionals to generate models used to solve complex problems. Celia has previous experience leading research projects and product development in commercial and academic teams. She is a Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter.
David is an award-winning business mentor, former Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Exeter, and board member of a number of educational companies and charities. He has great experience in establishing and running successful businesses in a range of disciplines, in the UK and abroad.
Olya Petrakova is an actor, director and creative industries practitioner with over fifteen years’ experience. With an emphasis on creative entrepreneurship, Olya specialises in transforming disused urban and rural spaces into performance venues. Olya is Director of MAKETANK, co-Artistic Director of ARTEL and Lecturer/MA Creativity at the University of Exeter.
Ross has recently joined us part-time to help deliver our second Climate exhibition!
Ross is a part-time PhD student at the University of Exeter, studying planetary atmospheres. He has an undergraduate degree in mathematics, and a passion for STEAMM communication! Throughout the pop-up exhibition in March 2022 and for the rest of the year, he helped build and maintain exhibits and contributed his time as a climate expert, and volunteered in our outreach events.
James K Myers
We are deeply saddened that Jim passed away in early February 2023. Jim was an invaluable member of our team, generously providing a great deal of time and enthusiasm to help us with our philanthropic funding efforts.
Jim’s extensive background in philanthropic giving, as the founder of Philanthropy Impact and more recently as a partner in the charity publishing firm, Social Partnership Marketing, has been invaluable to our Charity. We are honoured to have known and worked with him, and he will be sorely missed.
The different perspectives, experiences and skills that interns, work experience students and volunteers bring to our organisation are so valuable. We are really grateful to all our past contributors and list them here:
Interns / Work Experience:
Niall Hockey (Autumn 2021) – Low Carbon Building Design Intern: Niall investigated an environmentally-considerate plan for the Exeter Science Centre building, and we’re finalising his report to be added to our website soon. This internship was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the University of Plymouth’s Low Carbon Devon Internship Scheme.
Leah Dryer, Cherie Nginilla & Angel Harper (November 2021) – IKEEP Programme: Through the SETsquared Intrapreneurial Knowledge Exchange Enterprise Pathway (IKEEP) Internship scheme, we were joined by three undergraduate interns from the University of Exeter throughout November 2021. They helped us to develop our stakeholder map to support us in our networking.
Albert – Colyton Grammar School (February 2022) – Albert did his work experience placement with us, and prepared some fantastic online resources for our pop-up exhibition. Check out his webpages on seed experiments, Detecting Exoplanets and Exoplanet Climates.
Eleanor King-Turner (Aug 2020- July 2021) – Knowledge Nibbles & social media assistance.
Patric Boardman (July – September 2021) – Working on additional career videos from our visit to Creacombe Solar Farm (see more about the ESC Live project).
Danni Walters (July – October 2021) – Knowledge Nibbles, social media posts and preparing climate change resources.
Our 2022 climate pop-up mediators: we’re so grateful to the 32 volunteers who helped as mediators in our pop-up exhibition – most of them are shown in our Thank You image wall here!
Leah Heath (July-August 2022) – Knowledge Nibble infographics.
Liv Chisholm-El Saad (July-August 2022) – researching potential festivals and events + Knowledge Nibble infographics.