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People

Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication

People

Chairman

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter

David Spiegelhalter is Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk and Fellow of Churchill College at Cambridge University. He works to improve the way in which risk and statistical evidence are taught and discussed in society: he gives many presentations to schools and others, advises organisations on risk communication, and is a regular commentator on risk issues. He presented the BBC4 documentaries Tails you Win: the Science of Chance and the award-winning Climate Change by Numbers. He was elected FRS in 2005, awarded an OBE in 2006, and was knighted in 2014 for services to medical statistics. In 2011 he came 7th in an episode of Winter Wipeout.

Executive Director

Dr Alexandra Freeman

Before joining the Winton Centre in 2016, Alex Freeman had a 16 year career at the BBC, working on series such as Walking with Beasts, Life in the Undergrowth, Bang Goes the Theory, Climate Change by Numbers and as series producer of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor. Her work won a number of awards, from a BAFTA to a AAAS Kavli gold award for science journalism. In addition to developing and making television series, Alexworked with associated content across a whole range of other media – designing websites, games, formal learning resources and social media content – to bring science to the widest possible audience. Now back at the Winton Centre she has a particular interest in helping professionals such as doctors, journalists or legal professionals communicate numbers and uncertainty better, and in whether narrative can be used as a tool to inform but not persuade. She is an advocate of Open Research practices and the reform of the science publishing system.

Psychologists

Dr William J. Skylark

Will is a senior lecturer in the Psychology Department at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, having previously worked at the universities of Essex, Warwick, and Leicester. His research concerns the processes by which people form judgments and make choices. This involves identifying the factors that influence people’s beliefs and decisions, and developing theoretical models that explain these effects in terms of basic mental operations. He uses a wide-variety of techniques – including eye-tracking, lab studies, and large-scale surveys – to try to understand how people form and communicate beliefs about the world, and how these beliefs influence their behaviour.

Dr Sander van der Linden

Sander van der Linden is a University Lecturer in the  Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, where he directs the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab. He is also a Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge. He was named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science and received awards for his research on human judgment and decision-making from the American Psychological Association, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and the International Association of Applied Psychology. He was featured as one of four heroes of digital democracy by Fast Company Magazine and as one of “15 top thinkers” by Wired Magazine. He received the 2017 Frank Prize for research in the public interest. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Environmental Psychology and the book “Risk and Uncertainty in a Post-Truth Society”. Prior to Cambridge, van der Linden was based in the Department of Psychology at Princeton University and before that he was a visiting scholar at Yale University.

Dr Cameron Brick

Cameron received his PhD in Social Psychology in 2015 from the University of California, Santa Barbara, was faculty at Hamilton College from 2015-17, and will be an Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Amsterdam starting in 2020. Cameron researches how people think about and react to society-level problems such as financial policies or climate change, and he conducts quantitative laboratory, survey, and field studies on effective risk communication. In the Winton Centre, Cameron leads the primary science on communicating policy options, for example in our review paper: Winners and Losers. cb954@cam.ac.uk www.cameronbrick.com

Dr Gabriel Recchia

Gabriel Recchia received his PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Indiana in 2012. His current research concerns the communication of information about risks and benefits in ways that support comprehension and informed decision-making, and which take into account recipients' information needs and preferences. He also conducts research on distributional models and their applications in the cognitive and social sciences, and has studied at Stanford and the University of Memphis Institute for Intelligent Systems.

Gabriel leads on user interface design and evaluation of Predict: Breast and user-friendly genetic reports, including evaluations of the effect of design choices on trust and comprehension. He also contributes to the Centre's work on communicating information about societal risks, and to user interface design for other risk/benefit communication tools.

Dr Claudia R. Schneider

Claudia Schneider received her PhD in Psychology from Columbia University in 2018. Her research focuses on how quality of evidence and the uncertainty around claims stemming from factors such as expert disagreement or biases in reporting are best communicated to support comprehension, transparent information sharing, and informed decision making. She investigates these topics across a range of fields, such as medical decision making, climate change and conservation, education and social policy, as well as intelligence and law. Claudia is also interested in human prosociality as related to society-level issues, such as climate change and intergroup conflict. She studies how social and individual factors interplay to bring about and shape prosocial behaviours, as for instance climate change mitigation actions or support of members of marginalised societal groups. She uses a combination of methods ranging from quantitative surveys to field studies.

Research Assistants

Leila Finikarides

Leila joined the Winton Centre from television where she spent 10 years making factual television programmes, from The Hairy Bikers to Countryfile, Watchdog to Children’s TV. She became specialised in running research studies for science programmes, including over 20 research studies for the BBC2 health series “Trust Me, I’m A Doctor”. Prior to television, Leila ran restaurants in London, Cape Town and Tel Aviv. She has a Masters from UMIST and BSc in Information Management and most recently studied for a BA in Nutrition. She is a keen communicator and passionate about health science.

Currently she is working on a two projects with NHS Blood and Transplant and transplant centres in England. The first is with the five adult lung transplant centres in England to create a lung transplant risk communication tool. Shortly a similar project will be underway with 9 kidney transplant centres and renal centres in England. The tool will help transplant patients understand risks and benefits around transplantation and will be created with the help of clinicians and patients.

Dr Sarah Dryhurst

Sarah Dryhurst received her PhD in Climate Change Ecology from Imperial College London in 2014. After working for several years in Open Access publishing, Sarah moved back into research with a redirected focus on psychology, receiving an MSc in Psychology from University of East London in 2018. Her current research focuses on how people understand and respond to uncertainty about evidence, and on improving the communication of uncertainty and risk in ways that increase comprehension and facilitate informed decision making. She is also working on evaluating the efficacy of common forms of risk communication such as risk matrices, for both a public and policy-making audience.
She uses both quantitative and qualitative approaches in her research. Sarah also has an interest in understanding public perceptions of climate change and in how misinformation may influence how people think about climate change and other societal problems.

Ilan Goodman

Beginning with a degree in Psychology and Philosophy at Oxford University, Ilan’s career has been varied and unusual. He spent many years working as an actor on stage and screen, appearing in leading roles in the West End and at regional theatres throughout the UK. He also worked as a video content producer for major youth charities and training organisations like the Royal Academy of Dance and the Jack Petchey Foundation. In 2016, an MSc in the Science and Technology Studies department at UCL prompted a shift of focus towards science communication, first as a producer for the Institute of Art and Ideas’ bi-annual ideas festival HowTheLightGetsIn and now for the Winton Centre. Ilan also produces and hosts the podcast NOUS, where he interviews leading thinkers in neuroscience, psychiatry and philosophy.  

María del Carmen Climént

María joined the Winton Centre in early 2019. She is developing an online tool for press officers and journalists which helps them to report risk in clear and accurate ways. She is also undertaking research to understand better ways to present evidence to patients on the risks and benefits of treatments such as lung and kidney transplants.

Prior to the Winton Centre, María spent 7 years working as a science journalist for TV and radio in Mexico. She was responsible for content research, script writing and hosting three TV series and a radio programme, covering topics in science, the environment, public policy and health.

Supported by a prestigious Chevening Scholarship, Maria went on to study an MSc in Science Communication at the University of Sheffield in 2015. This built on a degree in Veterinary Medicine and an MSc on Animal Health with a focus on breast cancer, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Software Engineers

Mike Pearson

Mike has extensive experience of software design and development. Since 1998 he has supported a number projects within the mathematics and education faculties with web, graphics, animations and data visualisations.

Jin Park

Jin is a full stack developer with experiences in Python and Javascript. He has worked with framework such as Django, Django REST, Flask, ReactJS, React Native, Bootstrap as well as various javascript visualisation libraries. He is also familiar with data science modules on Python such as Pandas, Matplotlib and Scikit-Learn.

Management Board

Professor Dame Theresa Marteau


Theresa Marteau is Director of the Behaviour and Health Research Unit in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, and Fellow and Director of Studies in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Her research interests include: development and evaluation of interventions to change behaviour (principally diet, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol consumption) to improve population health and reduce health inequalities, with a particular focus on targeting non conscious processes; risk perception and communication, particular of biomarker-derived risks, and their weak links with behaviour change; acceptability to publics and policy-makers of population-level intervention to change behavior.

Michael Blastland

Michael Blastland is a freelance writer and broadcaster. Programmes he has devised and presented or produced include More or Less (about numbers in the news, with Andrew Dilnot); The Human Zoo (about behavioural science); The History of Britain in Numbers (also with Andrew), and Whodunnit (about the causes of social change). He is also an occasional presenter of Analysison Radio 4 and The inquiry. His writing includes The Tiger That Isn’t (with Andrew Dilnot, about numbers in public debate); The Norm Chronicles (with David Spiegelhalter, about risk), and Joe (about his son’s autism). He talks and presents widely to public and private sector, and trains senior BBC and other journalists to interpret data. He is currently working on a book so foolhardy it might never see daylight, aiming at a popular treatment of causality and evidence. 

Visitors

Prof Talya Miron-Shatz

Talya Miron-Shatz is an Associate Professor at the Ono Academic College. She has a PhD. in social psychology, did her post-doctoral work at Princeton University with Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, and was a lecturer at the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. Her academic publications deal with the ways people evaluate their experiences – regarding happiness and as consumers. Her research focus is medical decision making and digital health.

Previous Team Members

Dr George Farmer

George Farmer obtained a PhD in psychology from the University of Manchester in 2015, and now conducts research into human judgement and decision-making. He has published work on how people understand chance, and how context affects decision-making. He is also interested in user interface design and has previously studied at University College London and the University of Sussex. He gained a research fellowship at the University of Manchester in 2018 and returned there, but retains Visting status with the Winton Centre.

Zśofia Szlamka


Zśofia received an MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology at the University of Cambridge. Before joining the Winton Centre, she was interning at the World Health Organisations's Headquarters, working mainly in the field of addictions, alcohol and substance use. She had previously investigated prevention strategies of depression using online methods and conducted research on the experiences of women living with autism spectrum disorder. She is also interested in mHealth, eHealth and global mental health. She left the Winton Centre in 2018 to start her PhD at King's College London.

Gustavo Zomer

Gustavo Zomer is a Software Engineer passionate for transforming things into reality. He has vast experience working with many different technologies (NodeJS, PHP, Java, iOS, Android) and industries (E-commerce, Fitness, Mobility, Social Networking). Having launched more than ten digital products, including web and mobile apps, he is constantly looking for new opportunities for learning and creating useful products for users. He left the Winton Centre in 2018 to join a start-up company in London.

Dr Anne Marthe van der Bles


Anne Marthe van der Bles received her PhD in social psychology from the University of Groningen in 2017. Now, she studies how people react to uncertainty about evidence and what the most effective way is to communicate uncertainty. She is also interested in societal discontent and societal trust in facts, and conducts mostly quantitative laboratory, survey, and field studies to investigate these topics. Anne Marthe left the Winton Centre at the end of 2018 to return to Groningen in a new post doctoral position.