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Andrew G. Farrer Credit: J. Soubrier

Andrew G. Farrer is science communicator, biological anthropologist, and web developer. Having completed a PhD in 2017, he currently works as a science communicator at the Cambridge Science Centre. At the Centre, Andrew works directly with the public, particularly school children, to achieve the charities goals of providing interactive experiences to engage the public with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths; giving school children hands-on experience with topics covered theoretically in the national curriculum; and helping produce a science literate present and future for the UK. Andrew has a strong interdisciplinary background, having studied in the UK and Australia and worked in construction and retail, and as a freelance web developer and a science communicator. His research has focussed on ancient DNA, which he used to explore the impacts of culture and environment on the human microbiome through time in his PhD.

In 2010, Andrew gained an Honours degree in Zoology from the University of Manchester, UK, where he did his first ancient DNA work in Prof. T. Brown’s laboratory, extracting and analysing ancient human mitochondrial DNA. A year working as a labourer on a flood defence construction project provided an interesting contrast to theoretical biology before he subsequently gained an M.Phil. in Human Evolutionary Studies (Biological Anthropology) from the University of Cambridge, UK in 2013. His thesis used statistical analysis of genetic data to infer how baboon troops (sub-populations) interacted. In 2013,

Sampling dental calculus from an ancient British individual at the Museum of London for microbiome analysis. Credit: J Bekvalac, Museum of London

Andrew started a PhD at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD). His research looked at how the human oral microbiome (bacterial community) is impacted by cultural and environmental shifts through time, and what this means for health and disease, past and present. His thesis was awarded the Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence in 2017.

Science engagement was a key part of Andrew’s PhD project. He helped develop and coordinate the ACAD outreach program, which included forming collaborations with the Children’s University and COMPASS initiatives to get research into schools, short videos discussing research, a blog, and social media presence. Andrew has personally presented his research to various public and specialist audiences. In 2015, he entered the

Presenting at the University of Queensland as part of the final 10 of the Trans-Tasman competition. Credit: University of Queensland

3 Minute Thesis competition and was judged the University of Adelaide’s Judge’s Winner and People’s Choice, going on to place in the top 10 of the international TransTasman event.

Andrew is currently working on projects with Vegan Festival Adelaide, the academic conference “Quality in Postgraduate Research”, and developing a short film aimed at high school students to demonstrate the process of a PhD from beginning to end. He currently lives near Cambridge in the UK.

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