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Published by

Kayleigh Renberg-Fawcett

21 April 2021, 4:30 UTC Share

Introducing the new UPEN Network Manager – Alex Clegg

As UPEN transitions to the University of Sheffield, UPEN welcomes the new network manager, Alex Clegg, to the team! Alex joined UPEN on the 12th of April on three-days a week (Monday-Wednesday). We catch up with Alex to find out a bit more about the colleague who will be helping to shape UPEN over the next couple of years.

Hi Alex! It’s great to have you join UPEN. Perhaps we could start with finding out what you’ve been up to in the past couple of years?

For the past two and a half years I’ve been working at Sense about Science, the independent charity that champions the public interest in science and evidence. One of my main roles was overseeing the public-led Ask for Evidence campaign which encourages people to ask questions about scientific claims they come across.

As part of this I managed a network of ambassadors from across the UK and different walks of life including a retired ships captain in Aberdeen, a parent-carer in Leicester and a small business owner in Cornwall. I was also involved in several public engagement partnerships with universities, working together to communicate their research to policy makers and the general public.

At the start of 2020 I began working part time whilst starting an MA in Anthropological Research at the University of Manchester. I’m a big believer that anthropology has a lot to contribute to the big conversations and issues facing society and am actively involved in promoting the discipline and its unique insights.

Fantastic! What made you want to apply to join UPEN?

What an opportunity! UPEN felt like an innovative and exciting organisation that was making an impact alongside democratising the routes to engagement. The range and number of institutions involved was impressive too. The more I’m settling into the role, the more I know that it’s the case. On a more personal level I’m intrigued how systems and infrastructures work. How policy is created and how it’s informed by evidence is complex. Being part of this is obviously appealing and I look forward to being in the thick of it.

What are you looking forward to most whilst working with UPEN?

First of all it’s got to be working with such a diverse group of people. As I said before that was a big part of what drew me to the role. The EDI report is also something I’m keen to get involved with and look forward to working with the EDI sub committee to embed its recommendations in the work of UPEN and the wider academic-policy engagement
ecosystem. Also, as UPEN grows and develops I feel privileged to be able to support that change and work with members to help the network make even more of an impact.

That’s great! And for a bit of fun, what are (3?) fun facts about yourself you’d be happy to share with our members?

1. My partner and I, who’s an experimental photographer, run community art projects and workshops. This has seen us build walk in camera obscuras in London parks and most recently photograph and interview people about their lockdown
experiences for a local paper in Sheffield.

2. At university I spent a year abroad in Kyoto, Japan. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and although my Japanese was pretty poor I took every opportunity possible and don’t regret them!

3. I love cooking for people (and eating with them too). At the moment I have a cupboard full of smelly fermenting experiments and look forward to trying them out on willing guests once lockdown restrictions have eased.

We really look forward to working with you – is there anything else you’d like to add?

Please do drop me a line if you have any questions or would just like an introductory chat.

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