Marieke received a first class degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Sheffield in 2000. She then spent a year earning followed by a year burning (following the sun around the world) as well as 6 months teaching science in Ghana, to return to Sheffield for a PhD in 2003. She is now writing up her thesis on scintillator for a neutrino oscillation experiment. Last year she spent 6 weeks helping to repair a huge underground water neutrino detector deep in the Japanese Alps. Marieke's hobbies are learning Japanese and sign language, singing in the University choir and meditating.
Jan Schnupp grew up in Munich and spent a year in Paris before coming to England to study Genetics at UCL. This is where he met his wife Sheelah. Twenty years ago he moved to Oxford to take up a career in Neuroscience. He now co-directs the Auditory Neuroscience Group at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.
When Nicholas won NESTA FameLab he was studying towards a physics PhD at Imperial College London. His research was about trying to understand the strange quantum behaviour of very small things and investigating how this strangeness can be used to try and create new types of communication and computation. In particular he'd like to know why only small things are strange and whether or not the moon is there when he doesn't look at it.... Nicholas likes to juggle things that are on fire and regularly plays air guitar to sold out imaginary audiences.
Becky West studied Zoology at Bristol University before moving to London to communicate science to the most critical and hard to please audience - secondary school children. Whilst in Bristol she presented animal encounter sessions to the public at the zoo and volunteered for the zoo's outreach team. Becky specialises in A-level Biology and Psychology teaching but also runs a number of extra-curricular activities, including a gardening project and a science discovery club. At home, she shares her living space with a menagerie of over 20 animals ranging from imperial scorpions to hamsters.
Andrew Pontzen, born near Oxford, is a cosmologist, currently based at Emmanuel College and the Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge. He received his PhD from Cambridge University in 2009. His research interests span everything from galaxy formation to the microwave background (the radiation left over from the big bang).
Simon Foster lives in North London and is currently working as a science teacher as well as developing a website to help students pass their GCSE science examinations, www.studydoctor.co.uk. Simon studied Physics with Space science (so he's a qualified rocket scientist) at the University of Southampton and stayed on to undertake a PhD in Solar-terrestrial Physics. Simon developed models and reconstructions of solar irradiance to help climatologists explain how the Sun has influenced the climate in the past so that they can better explain and understand current changes in the Earth's climate.
Alistair is a nuclear training instructor at EDF Energy and freelance presenter. He came second in the 2009 UK competition and won the opportunity to make a "Three Minute Wonder" for Channel 4 which aired in November 2009.
Since the competition he has travelled to Venezuela to make a documentary with "The Lost World Project", pitched at Sheffield Doc/Fest, and taken the children's science show "Marvellous Medicine" to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Steve is responsible for the funding of FameLab.Org the parent organisation of the competition as well as the funding of the Cheltenham Science Festival.
Along with Sharon Bishop Steve sets the strategic direction of FameLab and manages all top level relationships with partners such as the British Council and funders of the Uk and global competition.
Lewis Dartnell is an astrobiology researcher at University College London looking into the possibility of microbial life surviving on the surface of Mars. Lewis started out with a Biology degree at Oxford before moving on to a PhD at UCL's interdisciplinary centre, CoMPLEX, and learning more about high-energy physics and computer programming than is probably healthy.