I’ve done rather less conducting since 2018, when I switched from professional music to full-time work in a non-musical field. But I’ve been diverting my choral energies elsewhere, creating some in-depth tutorial videos to help beginning choir conductors explore some of the classics of the repertoire.
I produce and present an ongoing podcast for the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism. It’s a series of long-form interviews about the interface between science and politics, focusing particularly on science advice and evidence-informed policymaking.
I’ve interviewed some big names (big in the science advice world, that is!), but also a range of early-career researchers and off-the-wall guests. The show has become pretty well known in science advice circles in Europe, and it’s a lot of fun — if you’re into that kind of thing.
In an extremely unlikely turn of events, I was the lead author for a paper about microplastics pollution published in the journal Environment International, and subsequently cited in Nature. I don’t think this is too bad an achievement, given that my highest science qualification is a school certificate from the age of 16.
Choral evensong in Bruges
The many Christian churches of the Belgian city of Bruges hold an annual massed service in the spectacular Sint-Salvatorskathedraal. In 2019, the Anglican community hosted a service of full choral evensong with more than a thousand people in attendance. I directed it.
Visual design and layout
As well as writing, I’ve done a lot of visual design for both printed and online communications over the years. Here are some samples.
Doctors’ moral beliefs and public policy
This is my PhD thesis, if for some reason you really want to read it.
I wrote and edited the rules for several popular board games on the Dized app.
I’ve written my fair share of speeches for people much more important than me to read from podiums. Here’s one I wrote for the erstwhile prime minister of Bulgaria. (Yep.)
I conceived and created a phone app, Doorstep EU, in the early days of Britain’s EU referendum campaign. Originally intended for doorstep campaigners, it provided daily in-depth analysis and mythbusting of the main EU-related stories in the British media. By the final weeks of the campaign it had over 20,000 active users — including Labour MPs, BBC journalists, politicians and activists.
How to talk about Europe
As part of the UK’s referendum campaign in 2016, I was commissioned to write some guidelines for well-meaning political journalists and campaigners on how to avoid traps when discussing Europe.
Sad to say, this stuff is no use to anyone any more. I guess we didn’t avoid enough of the traps.
Training for early-career researchers
When working for a collaborative research project in the UK, one of my responsibilities was to train early-stage social science researchers in communications activities, both traditional and new media. As well as providing written training materials, I also put on a series of seminars, plenary lectures and workshops at the Universities of Cambridge, Reading, Sheffield and Loughborough.
For five years, I taught an elective module in media ethics for medical students at the University of York. The course ran every term and was frequently over-subscribed. It was one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever done.
I have a diploma in choral conducting from the Association of British Choral Directors, accredited by the ABRSM.
Limericks are dreadful
I wrote an extended essay on limericks so you don’t have to. Here’s the first part of it.
Shape from shading
I’ve done various freelance science writing jobs over the years. This is an example of a magazine commission I wrote in 2013 — an article about scientists’ attempts to teach computers to understand 3D shapes.
Living in the Matrix?
My MA dissertation looked at Nick Bostrom’s intriguing simulation argument and the theory that we might all be living in a version of the Matrix.
I think there’s more to be said about this argument which hasn’t yet made it into the literature (as far as I know), but I can see why it may not be a top priority!
Left to our own devices
In 2011, I co-led a knowledge exchange project called ‘Left to our own devices’. The aim was to challenge stereotypes, particularly among policy-makers, about the relationship between older people and technology.
Advanced murder mysteries
I wrote about the design process behind murder mystery party games back in 2010, for a long-defunct magazine.
I’ve written my fair share of corporate documents as a freelancer.
Web design and development
I’ve been making websites since before it was cool. All the way back in 2005, I built and managed a large, comprehensive website for a leading politician, including extensive campaign and policy materials, a widely-read blog, audiovisual resources, and an archive of political activities. The site was nominated for a New Statesman New Media award in 2005, and the blog was listed as one of Europe’s top ten political blogs by the Wall Street Journal in 2006.
Since then, I have kept my hand in with web design and development, but it’s no longer a main focus.
An atheist defends the design argument
Way back as an undergraduate, I wrote a short essay about why the design argument wasn’t as shaky as some people seem to think. It was published in 2003 on The Secular Web. People still find it occasionally, and it comes around to haunt me again every few years.