29 November 2007

Colin Barras

Nationality: British
Position: ATLAS e-News journalist/editor

I am from Kendal, a small market town in the north of England. At school, I specialised in science subjects for my A Levels, and went on to study geology at the University of Edinburgh in 1997. I won a number of academic awards, including three class medals in geology.

After graduating from Edinburgh, I moved to the University of Bristol in 2001 to undertake an MSc in palaeobiology. During my time at Bristol, I began my academic research with a study of Early Jurassic trace fossils (footprints, trackways and burrowing marks left in the fossil record). My research took me to Austria, Nevada... and the south coast of England.

In 2002, I began my PhD, looking into the origin and early evolutionary history of a large group of sea urchins during the Jurassic. I worked with Dr Andrew Smith at the Natural History Museum, London for three and a half years and also studied at the University of Birmingham under Drs Phil Donoghue and Alan Thomas. My research was successful, and I published a number of academic papers during my time at the Natural History Museum, including a 160 page taxonomic monograph.

In 2006, I began a second MSc, in Science Communication at Imperial College, London. During my time at Imperial College I wrote a number of articles for the student newspapers and magazines, including an interview with Queen guitarist Brian May. This summer, I secured work experience places at New Scientist magazine and on the BBC technology website.

In September, I was placed second in the prestigious Daily Telegraph young science writers award, the pre-eminent science writing competition in the UK with a judging panel including author and BBC presenter Sir David Attenborough, author Fay Weldon, president of the geological society Professor Richard Fortey, and the science editors at Nature, New Scientist magazine and the Daily Telegraph.

In November, I was named one of the UK's 500 brightest new stars by The Observer magazine.

You can find more information about my writing at my website.