Gail Cardew

Director of Science and Education

  • Credit: Royal Institution


Dr Gail Cardew is Director of Science and Education at the Royal Institution, where she is responsible for the strategic development of the Royal Institution’s science communication, science education and science policy activities.

She is also Chair of the board that governs the strategic direction of the Euroscience Open Forum and selects host cities – the ESOF Supervisory Board, as well as a member of the Advisory Board for the Gothenburg Science Festival,  the AXA Scientific Search Committee, the European Institute of Science and Society and the Editorial Board of the Euroscientist. From 2006–2012 she was Vice President of Euroscience, and in 2012 she sat on the Canadian Foundation for Innovation Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee.

Scientific inspiration

Originally, my biology teachers, Mr Buckby and Mr Savill, for wonderful field trips on boats and beaches, and for introducing me to John Maynard Smith. Discovering that JMS would lecture me was one of my reasons for going to Sussex University. I loved how he applied the elegance of mathematics to the messiness of biology. Then Chris Ford, my developmental biology lecturer and subsequently DPhil supervisor, for opening my eyes to so many unanswered questions.

Favourite experiment/demo

Definitely ones that make the audience think further about what they’re observing. When Bruce Hood did a live demonstration of locust neurons firing, you could see the students in the audience on the edge of their seats and whispering excitedly to each other.

Best things about the Ri

That the founding principles over 200 years ago are even more relevant today. The original document contains this wonderful statement: ‘To point out the causes which impede this (scientific) progress, and to invite the public to join in effectually removing them, is the purpose of the present address’.
That the Ri staff are so amazingly dedicated and talented. They all love the history of this place, but are able to reinterpret it in fresh and interesting ways in order to capture public attention and engage them in scientific discovery and discussion.
That mirror in the Library. Without a doubt the most beautiful object in the building.

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