A look back at 2019

This year has flown by! A sea of stages, trains and universities. Here I've summarised the ten elements that sum up my year. Thanks to those of you who joined me on the journey.

2019 in numbers

20,000 miles travelled on trains

13,570 audience members

797 researchers trained

208 salsa classes taught

78 live events

34 REF case studies and grants consulted on

14 Universities worked with

1 book written

1. Officially freelance

Planet Freelance can be a scary and inhospitable place and I wanted to be sure I could make myself a comfortable home there before I committed. In June 2019 I had enough experience to know it was working and it was time to embrace it fully and I decided to commit to this life in the long term. I have worked incredibly hard this year. I’m exhausted and proud. I was worried that not having an organisation behind me that I’d lose my voice in the engagement landscape – but the opposite was true. I now have a louder and more independent voice than when I was working to further just one organisation. So here I stand, independent, honest and ready for the next challenge.

2. The sentence I never thought I’d say…

I’ve written a book. I thought writing a 350-page thesis had put me off writing forever but when the opportunity arose, I decided it would be a good challenge for me. So, this summer I set about tackling the Chemistry of Cola and produced a book of experiments, puzzles and stories which will be out next year in America, Australia and the UK. It wasn’t easy but I enjoyed tackling something outside my comfort zone. I might even consider writing another…

3. Science on stage

This year over 13.5 thousand people came along to my shows. I love being on stage and it is such a privilege to have so many opportunities to so. There are two secrets to being on stage that has allowed me to continue to learn and improve. The first is that I’m very comfortable on stage, for me it is the safest and most controlled environment possible. This allows me to relax and be a “person” instead of “presenter. The second is that I’m never happy with what I do. After every performance I work out what I could have done better so I continue to change, develop and grow in terms of performing.

4. Consultancy

One of the most rewarding parts of 2019 is also the part I can speak the least about. I’ve loved working one on one with individuals and groups. This is something I struggled to find time for when I was working in central support at a university. I’ve been able to help shape projects, ensure robust evaluation and help researchers write their REF case studies.