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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, Alex worked 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 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, and in her spare time leads the Octopus platform for primary research publication.

Psychologists

Dr Sander van der Linden

Sander van der Linden is The Professor of Social Psychology in Society and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge. He is also a Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge. He is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher and was named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. He has received many awards for his research on human judgment and decision-making, including the Sir James Cameron Medal for the Public Understanding of Risk from the Royal College of Physicians. Prior to Cambridge, van der Linden was based at Princeton University and Yale University.

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 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, New York in 2018. Her research is motivated by the goal of helping to tackle society-level social issues, such as climate change mitigation or the balanced and transparent communication of evidence and scientific uncertainties.

Her work at the Winton Centre focuses on how the quality of the evidence underlying scientific claims and numbers can be best communicated to support comprehension, transparent information sharing, and informed decision making. She investigates this topic 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 also supports a range of other projects at the Winton Centre relating to risk perception and behaviour around COVID-19 as well as policy-level communication.

Other aspects of her research investigate 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.

Read more about Claudia's work on her Google Scholar profile or get in touch with her: cs2025@cam.ac.uk

Dr John Kerr

John received his PhD in psychology from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, in 2020 and holds a BSc(Hons) in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication, both from the University of Otago. His research interests include beliefs about debated scientific issues, political attitudes, and the communication of scientific information to non-experts. Outside of research, he has also worked in publishing and communications roles in the UK and New Zealand, most recently as a Senior Media Advisor at the Science Media Centre of New Zealand.

His work at the Winton Centre focuses on the communication of evidence in a policy context, and he contributes to a number of ongoing projects examining COVID-19-related risk perception, attitudes and behaviour.

You can read more about John's research on his Google Scholar profile. Email: jk802 [at] cam.ac.uk

Dr Sarah Dryhurst

Sarah Dryhurst received her PhD in 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 forms part of the EU RISE project, and focuses on developing and evaluating tools to communicate seismic risk to a variety of public and policy-making audiences. She also researches how people understand and respond to uncertainty about evidence, and the efficacy of common forms of risk communication such as risk matrices. 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.

Research Manager

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.

Research Assistants

María del Carmen Climént

María studied Veterinary Medicine and an MSc on Animal Health with a focus on breast cancer, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). After her time in research, she worked for seven years on TV and radio science programmes as a content researcher, scriptwriter and host. In 2015, supported by a prestigious Chevening Award, María moved to the UK to study an MSc in Science Communication at the University of Sheffield.

She joined the Winton Centre in early 2019 where she conducts research in risk communication for transplant patients, writes about our work for different media outlets and science magazines, and collaborates in the development of tools for improving risk communication in journalism. Eager to share the knowledge from the Winton Centre with Spanish speaking audiences, she has translated the platform Predict: Breast Cancer into Spanish, as well as international surveys led by the institute. She also enjoys delivering talks on risk communication for science journalists and policymakers in Spanish.

Alice Lawrence

Alice has worked and studied within conservation biology since 2012. She completed a BSc in Zoology at the University of Bristol (2015) and an MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London (2019). Her background is one of an interdisciplinary nature, using methods (and methodologies) from both the natural and social sciences. Research topics include science-practice-policy spaces, behaviour change and human-wildlife conflict. As well as conducting research, Alice has undertaken roles in environmental education, public engagement and project management.

At the Winton Centre, Alice mostly draws upon her experience with qualitative research methods. She is currently applying a user-centred design approach to develop a display to communicate the side effects of different breast cancer treatments, to be added to the Predict: Breast Cancer website. She is also working on undertaking an impact evaluation of the Winton Centre's activities.

You can read more about Alice's research on her Google Scholar page or get in touch with her at alice.lawrence@maths.cam.ac.uk.

Lisa-Maria Tanase

Lisa-Maria completed an MSc Cognitive and Decision Science and a BSc in Arts and Sciences at UCL. She explored decision-making processes at complementary cognitive, behavioural, and political scales with an interdisciplinary combination of data analysis, experimental methods, and computer programming.

Her research interests include social and political decision-making, social conflicts and cooperation, and immunizing citizens against misinformation. Before joining the Winton Centre, she was a research assistant at the London School of Economics Behavioural Research Lab, where she worked on interventions to recalibrate risk perception and reduce biases. As a behavioural consultant at Innovia Tech, she worked to develop interventions improving safety, patients’ risk perception and adherence behaviour to medication. At the Winton Centre, her current research focuses on the communication of evidence and uncertainty in a variety of domains from policy interventions to healthcare and the legal sector.

Ruri Proto

Ruri Proto has a keen interest in research methodology and in making research methods open, transparent, reproducible, and defensible under scrutiny. She holds a MSc in Psychological Research Methods with Data Science from the University of Sheffield, obtained in 2021. Her current work for the Winton Centre is focused on the communication of risk-related information via graphic displays, particularly looking at risk matrices. She is also exploring if, when, how, and why Bayesian statistics approaches might help circumvent or make more explicit the arbitrary decisions that need to be made when applying frequentist statistics. Her interests are interdisciplinary and typically health-related, spanning the fields of medicine, public health, management, economics, statistics, and decision science.

Aarushi Shah

Aarushi completed an MSc in Cognitive Science from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Gandhinagar, and holds a Bachelor’s in Life Sciences from the University of Mumbai. She is interested in applying cognitive science research methods in real-world settings - her previous research focused on risk communication in a road safety context in collaboration with Technische Universitat Dresden. She also conducted an evaluation of a waste education programme across schools in rural India via a randomised controlled trial, with the strategy consulting firm Xynteo and Ashoka University. Prior to joining the Winton Centre, she worked with a design firm DesignCoz as a UX Researcher, conducting user testing for variety of digital products- from a sexual health app for Indian teens, to a new age digital bank for smaller Indian cities. At the Winton Centre, she draws on her testing and evaluation skills to create tools that focus on transparent risk and evidence communication in healthcare.

You can get in touch with Aarushi at as3226@cam.ac.uk.

Daniel Mello-Jenkins

Daniel completed a BSc in Ecology and Environmental Biology at the University of Leeds in 2018 and an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London in 2020. During his time at Imperial, his work focussed on the visual communication of climate change in the media. After graduating, he worked for the NHS before joining the Winton Centre in August 2021.

At the Winton Centre he works on producing a range of visual decision aids to help people make more informed choices about medical procedures and treatments.

Maggie Szymanska

Maggie Szymanska received a MSc in Cognitive and Decision Sciences from UCL and completed a Psychology BSc at the University of Edinburgh. During her time at university she delved into the world of science communication and outreach – organising workshops, conducting interviews and publishing articles for research institutes. She also fell in love with research, examining different methodologies and expanding on her stats and data analysis knowledge.

She joined the Winton Centre in September 2021 and is currently researching ways to communicate and visualise uncertainty.

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.

Mehdi Hajjam

Mehdi Hajjam completed an MSc in Engineering at CentraleSupélec and an MSc in Renewable Energy Development at Heriot-Watt University (2007). He started his career as an Energy trader and Portfolio manager at Sorégies SAEML, a French utility supplying and distributing gas and electricity to 100k+ customers. In 2011, he joined Actility to develop then lead the Energy Business Unit of the company, providing demand response services to Transport System Operators in several European countries. This eventually led to the sale of the activity to Veolia for around £20M in 2017. At the Winton Centre, Mehdi is working as a Clojure/Clojurescript developer on different web-based applications to expose unbiased information to both patients and practitioners.

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. 

Professor John Aston

John Aston is the Harding Professor of Statistics in Public Life and is based in the Statistical Laboratory, Department of Pure Maths and Mathematical Statistics at the University of Cambridge. From 2017-2020 he was on secondment as the Chief Scientific Adviser and Director General for Science, Technology, Analysis, Research and Strategy at the Home Office, UK Government. He is an applied statistician who works in areas including medical imaging, linguistics and official statistics, and was a founding director of the Alan Turing Institute.

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 Cameron Brick

Cameron received his PhD in Social Psychology in 2015 from the University of California, Santa Barbara and was faculty at Hamilton College from 2015-17. 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 led the primary science on communicating policy options, for example in our review paper: Winners and Losers.

He left the Winton centre at the end of 2019 to take up the post of Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. www.cameronbrick.com

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. At the Winton Centre he worked across all online projects, but particularly developed RealRisk.

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.

Holly Sutherland

Holly studied linguistics as an undergraduate at UCL, and as a postgraduate at the University of Cambridge, with a research focus on psycholinguistics. Her postgraduate thesis examined executive functioning, and its relationship to impaired figurative language comprehension, in autistic and non-autistic individuals. At the Winton Centre she carried out a project to investigate ways to improve the layout of risk matrices. She has now started her PhD at the University of Edinburgh,

Giulia Luoni

Giulia Luoni received a Master’s degree in Psychology for Organization: HR, marketing and communication at the University of the Sacred Heart of Milano, Italy, in 2019. After that, she worked as a research assistant at the University of Hertfordshire working on international projects involving teachers’ as well as HR practitioners’ wellbeing. Her passion is to apply the psychological tools and methods, whether qualitative or quantitative to interdisciplinary fields, in fact, she is interested in studying the behaviors, perceptions, attitudes and emotions of people within different contexts or situations. In April 2020 she joined the Winton Centre where her research primarily focuses on exploring people’s risk perception and on the basis of it how to best communicate risk information, in particular earthquake risk-related information.