Beagle3 Consultant Team

Professor Mike Benton FRS, Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, UK.

Michael Benton is a palaeontologist who has made fundamental contributions to understanding the history of life, particularly concerning how biodiversity changes through time. He has led in integrating data from living and fossil organisms to generate phylogenies — solutions to the question of how major groups originated and diversified through time.

This approach has revolutionised our understanding of major questions, including the relative roles of internal and external drivers on the history of life, whether diversity reaches saturation, the significance of mass extinctions, and how major clades radiate. A key theme is the Permo–Triassic mass extinction, the largest mass extinction of all time, which took place over 250 million years ago, where he investigates how life was able to recover from such a devastating event.

Michael has written engaging books for children on the theme of dinosaurs, as well as a significant number of palaeontology text books for university students. He founded the MSc in Palaeobiology at Bristol in 1996, from which more than 300 students have graduated. He has supervised more than 50 PhD students.

Dr Ravinder Bhatia, Associate Project Manager, Thirty Meter Telescope, Pasadena, California.

The Thirty Meter Telescope will be constructed on the summit of Maunakea in Hawaii, to enable astronomers to study objects in our own Solar System and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighbouring galaxies, along with new galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe near the beginning of time.

Ravinder holds two major responsibilities: first, supporting the co-ordination and deepening of the international partnership, particularly in Asia; and second, the co-ordination of the technical, financial, schedule and legal aspects of the work packages for all design, development and construction activities by all members.

Ravinder has previously worked on other international collaborations in technology development for over twenty years, in astronomy, Earth observation and oceanography. Previous assignments have included Project Systems Engineer for the $1.2 billion Atacama Large Millimeter/subillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. He was Senior Thermal/Cryogenics Engineer for the European Space Agency in The Netherlands, working on the Planck Space Telescope, the MIRI camera for the James Webb Space Telescope (the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope), and serving as Technical Officer for a number of technology research and development contracts with industry in Europe.

Ravinder is also the founding director of the Fundación Beagle, a charity in Chile, fostering educational and introductory scientific outreach objectives.

Dr Simon Boxall is a Lecturer within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.

Simon Boxall is an oceanographer who has a broad overview of ocean processes, from oil spills to climate change. He heads up the science on the Cape Farewell programme and has a strong focus on media and public understanding of the oceans. He has worked on secondment for projects for UNESCO, The EU Research Centre, The World Bank, The British Council and the European Space Agency over the years.

In media he has been involved in over 100 documentaries, both behind and in front of camera and has covered over 1000 news appearances for radio, television and the press. I work closely with public bodies such and the National Science Museum, the National Maritime Museum, The Royal Institution and the South Bank in promoting science events.

He co-ordinates the departments summer schools for post GCSE and AS level students from across the country and is involved in writing curriculum material for GCSE and A level science.

David Crellin, CEO of ScienceScope, originating data-logging software and hardware for schools.

The company has won three SMART awards and was involved in innovative developments in electronic sensing systems including: a novel Arsenic monitoring system for testing ground water; ‘Participate’, a £3 million collaborative research and development project demonstrating and evaluating how new technologies can help people to take a more active role in creating and sharing digital content; a novel GPS based environmental monitoring system for measurement of atmospheric pollution.

In 2013 ScienceScope won an £800,000 Technology Strategy Board funded project (DISTANCE) to develop an Internet of School Things (IOST) demonstrator. Partners include Intel, xively along with UCL, the OU and Birmingham. ScienceScope is currently working with the IDA in Singapore to carry out a proof of concept project for the IOST.

ScienceScope is a key partner in the BBC micro:bit project, a nano computer designed to inspire kids to get involved in coding. We made a substantial contribution to the technical design as well as delivering the iOS app and supporting the distribution of the devices throughout the UK. micro:bits are now in all schools in the UK so that every student in year 7 (aged 11) has their own coding device in school.

Gina Fucci, MD, Films@59, Bristol

Films@59 is the South West’s leading post-production company, twice nominated for Broadcast Award’s Best UK Post Production House. Gina came to the UK from America in 1988, after gaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Cornell University (USA). She joined Films@59 in 1989 and, in 1994 her considerable experience and knowledge of the media industry, on both sides of the Atlantic, made her a natural choice to join Jeanne Thomson as a company director.

Gina’s passion for the film and television industry, together with her enthusiasm and dedication to the day to day running of the company, has greatly assisted its expansion into sites at ITV, Bath Road and Cotham Hill where cutting edge post production technology takes place in extensive Online, Offline and Dubbing suite facilities. Films@59 has invested hugely in new equipment and training in order to stay at the forefront of new technology.

Dr NEIL INGRAM, Senior Lecturer in Science Education (Biology), Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, UK

Neil Ingram has taught Biology, Psychology and ICT in a range of secondary schools, most recently at Clifton College, Bristol, where he was Head of Science. He is the author and co-author of a number of important textbooks for secondary Biology teaching, often in collaboration with the Nuffield Curriculum Trust. He joined the Graduate School in September 2008 as the senior biologist on the Science PGCE course.

Neil is interested in the teaching of evolution in schools and authored a paper entitled THE ‘ATTENTIVE AND REFLECTIVE OBSERVER’: Darwin-Inspired Learning and the Teaching of Evolution (in Boulter C.J. et al. (Eds.) (2014), Darwin-Inspired Learning, 221–235. 2014 Sense Publishers, London.

Neil has worked with computers in schools since the early days of Windows 3, and is a fellow of the Hewlett Packard Academy. He researches how schools use Web 3.0 tools in their teaching and learning. He works with teachers in schools in the UK and Kenya and Universities in Chile. He is currently collaborating with Microsoft on the use of OneNote in schools.

Victoria Kaye, member of the Bristol Disability Equality Forum and the Bristol Physical Access Chain.

Victoria is principally concerned with issues surrounding disability and inclusivity. As a wheelchair user herself, she has a particular interest in the concept of access for all and is a member of the Bristol Disability Equality Forum and the Bristol Physical Access Chain.

Her background was initially in law and insurance but the last twenty five years have been spent working in the voluntary sector. Amongst other charitable interests she is currently Chair of the Board of Trustees of a Bristol charity running a residential home and supported living service for people with learning difficulties.

Returning to higher education in recent years, she gained a BA in Drawing and Applied Art followed by a Masters in Fine Art at the University of the West of England. She is a member of two Research Groups and continues to maintain an art practice alongside her charitable commitments.

Simon Pugh-Jones MBE, The Orchid Project, Writhlington School, Somerset

The 2015 New Year’s Honours list included an MBE for Simon Pugh-Jones for Services to Education. Simon, who has been teaching at Writhlington since 1989, has become well known for innovation in science and enterprise especially through his development of the Writhlington School Orchid Project. The Orchid project has involved students in global conservation, research and horticultural excellence for more than twenty years with highlights including gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show and expeditions to some of the world’s most remote tropical habitats. Simon’s students have explored the forests of Central and South America, the Himalayas, South East Asia and Africa and worked with community groups and schools to support effective conservation through raising orchids from seed in laboratories.

Simon’s work with orchids also contributes to the curriculum at Writhlington and scientific research carried out by Simon’s students has been recognised with a host of national awards including the British Association’s European Science Prize and the Society of Biology Science Prize. Students at Writhlington have also benefited from the enterprise aspect of Simon’s initiatives.

The Orchid Project is recognised as Britain’s foremost school enterprise funding student work in tropical countries and supporting a host of other enterprise initiatives at Writhlington and elsewhere.

Dr Baruch Felix Spiro Natural History Museum, London

Baruch is a geologist-geochemist with a wide scope of interests. He investigates the natural abundance of the stable isotopes of common light elements such as carbon, oxygen hydrogen and sulphur, and also the stable and radiogenic isotopes of strontium and lead. These results help characterise, identify or trace sources and processes affecting compounds, both natural and man-made, that contain these elements. This information is used, in various disciplines, such as: geology, environmental sciences or life sciences.

Baruch was the Head of the Isotope Geoscience Laboratory of the Natural Environment Research Council UK and supervised numerous Doctorate students and Post Doctorate fellows from the UK and other countries. He took part in numerous large UK, European and other national and international academic and applied research projects. These lead to close professional links in many countries in Europe, South America and Asia. A welcome challenge, during his own university studies, was the participation in an extracurricular science-geology education project for high-school pupils who found the classroom activities and demands too boring.

Baruch Spiro is now a Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum London, Department of Earth Sciences. He has active research and teaching links in geological environmental and marine sciences with numerous universities and research institutes in several countries.

Dr Bevis Watts.

Bevis was Chief Executive of the Avon Wildlife Trust for three years. AWT manages 35 nature reserves across the former Avon area, including Portbury Wharf and Willsbridge Valley. The trust, which is supported by more than 16,500 members, owns the education, conference and events venue, the Folly Farm Centre, and runs initiatives including Wild Schools and Feed Bristol.

The charity provides advice and guidance to farmers and landowners through Living Landscapes and other projects. Among its current work is the encouragement of butterfly breeding at Bathampton and It is also heavily involved in education work and bat protection schemes in and around the city.

He is also a founding trustee of a Warwickshire-based conservation charity and volunteers for three international marine conservation projects. He has a Ph.D. in Management Science from University of Swansea. His experience includes Head of Business Support for WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) he was the Divisional Head of Market Development for the Wales Environment Trust.

Previously he was head of Business Banking of Triodos Bank, and has now returned to the bank as Managing Director of Triodos Bank UK.


Norman WilkinsonNorman Wilkinson (“Norm”) will be our consultant looking after Australia. Based in Melbourne, he is an experienced documentary producer with his own production company, Visionquest, and is also currently involved in the application of media, new media and technology to education initiatives in Australia. He is also experienced in – and well placed to investigate – sources of Australian funding.

As an Executive Producer, Norm has raised more than $22 million in production funding. Other types of productions include The Amazing Adventure of Daniel Doohickey a series of children’s animated interstitials for the Nickelodeon Channel in Australia and USA along with numerous sell-thru videos, training films and television commercials.


Nick is the current Curator of the University Botanic Gardens, Bristol, and when the garden was relocated in 2001, he worked with a small team to help plan the move through an intensive four year period, which culminated in the gardens successful transplant in 2005.

Within the area of horticulture Nick has served as a Board member of Plant Network [1998-2002]; he was the South African plant consultant at the Eden Project from 1998 to 2002, where he developed the ideas for and design of the South African zone of the Mediterranean Climatic Biome.  He has also worked as a horticultural presenter on local radio and TV and for three years [1993-1995] alongside Geoff Hamilton as co-presenter on BBC Two Gardeners’ World.

He has served as a judge at RHS shows including Chelsea, is a past Member of the RHS Tender and Ornamental Plant Committee [1998-2012] and is currently a Member of the RHS Herbal Advisory Group, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

In 2016, Nick was awarded the RHS Associate of Honour for his distinguished service to horticulture.