Dr Hannah Critchlow (BSc Cell and Molecular Biology 2003) has been named as Brunel’s University's Alumna of the Year. She will collect her award as one of the guest speakers at this year’s Summer Graduation ceremonies
Hannah is a neuroscientist with a background in neuropsychiatry. In 2014 she was selected as one of the UK’s Top 100 scientists by the Science Council for her work in science communication.
Inspired through her work as a nursing assistant at St Andrews Psychiatric Hospital, she went on to work as Strategic Manager for Cambridge Neuroscience. On secondment she helped steer and coordinate the re-launch of the British Neuroscience Association between 2010 and 2011. She credits her eye-opening experiences on the ward with leading her to pursue a career in neuroscience and educate the public. “I got quite attached to some of the patients there and could see the medication and therapies for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were not really working – yet I could see glimpses of their personality and character,” says Hannah. “It made me realise there were maybe other ways we could help in treating them”
Hannah is best known to the public for her role in the Naked Scientists, who describe themselves as a media-savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University who use radio, live lectures, and the Internet to strip science down to its bare essentials, and promote it to the general public. Their award winning BBC weekly radio programme reaches a potential audience of 6 million listeners across the east of England, and also has an international following on the web.
Since joining the team in 2011 Hannah has found herself in a range of experiments; from being whipped by birch leaves in a sauna to demonstrate how the brain regulates temperature, to teaching sheep how to play football in order to test cognitive skills.
In 2013 she was named as one of Cambridge University‘s‘ Inspirational and successful women in science’. During her PhD she was awarded a Magdalene College, Cambridge University Fellowship and as an undergraduate at Brunel received three University Prizes as Best Biologist.
Hannah has just started working with Headcase, a new mental health awareness project, empowering people through open discussion and knowledge about the brain. When not being enthused by all things brainy Hannah spends her time splashing about by the river and living the houseboat dream.