As an undergraduate I studied zoology at Bristol University, and found I preferred to write about science than to actually do it. I completed a Masters in the history and philosophy of science at Darwin College Cambridge and then, following a few summers working in Islington playgrounds, decided to train as a school teacher.
During 13 years in London schools, I delved more and more into freelance writing. I wrote educational resources for diverse ages, especially contributing to the Nuffield Science Project, and then wrote a trilogy of radio plays for BBC World Service. One of these plays, Marking Time, is the story of the original Longitude Prize and the 18th century clockmaker John Harrison. I wrote a book introducing philosophy of science to undergraduates, (Thinking About Biology), and for a couple of years contributed to the Guardian newspaper's weather column Weatherwatch. In 2004 I became part of a Wellcome-funded team producing a piece of music theatre based on the life of Charles Darwin. I wrote the libretto and Graham Treacher wrote the score. Darwin's Dream was premiered in the Royal Albert Hall in 2006. My most recent book is a short biography of Darwin, published by the History Press (2014).
I became co-director of the Birkbeck diploma in science communication in 1995 and moved permanently to Imperial College in 1999. I have been director of the Science Communication Unit since 2009.
Apart from the question of how best to teach science communication, my research interests flow in a number of directions. Firstly, following my PhD on art-science collaborations, I have been looking at how scientists see benefits in such partnerships. Secondly I have a keen interest in the values expressed in the scientific identity - 'the scientific self' - and work on questions concerning the way scientific research incorporates cultural and personal values. From this work has sprung two series of radio documentaries on BBC radio 4. Science in the Making was broadcast in June 2008. The three part series What Scientists Believe was broadcast in December 2009. You can listen here:
On the science communication courses I teach the philosophy of science, and an ethics module. I also teach across the college, especially in the Graduate School for whom I teach a workshop on research ethics.
Mellor F, Webster S, 2017, The Silences of Science: Gaps and Pauses in the Communication of Science, Routledge, ISBN:978 1 4724 5997 8
Webster SB, 2014, Charles Darwin, The History Press