Dr Murdo Macdonald

SRT Project, Church and Society, Church of Scotland

Photo of Murdo MacdonaldDr Murdo Macdonald took up the position of Policy Officer in March 2008. He trained as a molecular biologist, studying at Glasgow and St Andrews Universities. Murdo has significant international work experience having spent 8 years as head of a leprosy research laboratory in Kathmandu, Nepal.
 

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Rev Peter Johnston

Church of Scotland

Currently minister at Aberdeen Ferryhill Parish Church with a long interest in science and the intersection between science and religion. Before training for the ministry studied biology and gained experience working both in a rheumatology research centre and in environmental research with the former Central Electricity Generating Board.

Worked in IT support for an oil consultancy before moving to the parish in 2001, with a first charge in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, and now in Aberdeen.

Editor of the worship and age group resource, Spill the Beans, used widely across Scotland and further afield.

Married to Carolyn, a primary school teacher, with four teenagers at home. Love to talk politics, film, music.

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Prof Douglas Blackwood

Douglas Blackwood is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatric Genetics at Edinburgh University. Before retiring, he combined ward and outpatient work in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, with research into the genetic risk factors contributing to common mental disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.  A better understanding of the biology of these complex illnesses is a promising way forward to finding new treatments and novel preventative strategies.

He is an elder in Mayfield-Salisbury Parish Church, Edinburgh. As part of the “Scientists in Congregations” project, he has edited a booklet on faith and science, with contributions from several other members of the congregation with a background in science.

He is a trustee of the Scotland Malawi Mental Health Education Project, a group of psychiatrists who organise and deliver Mental Health teaching to under- and post-graduates in the College of Medicine in Blantyre, looking for ways to develop quality mental health care in a low-income country.

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Dr Tom Russ

NHS Lothian and University of Edinburgh

I am a consultant psychiatrist in NHS Lothian, an honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Dementia Prevention, University of Edinburgh, and Co-Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre, University of Edinburgh. I divide my time equally between NHS clinical work and research. My clinical work is in three HBCCC (hospital-based complex clinical care, i.e. long-term care) units, two for people with dementia and one for older adults with functional mental illness. My research began by examining geographical variation in dementia risk in Scotland and Sweden (and later Italy, Chile, New Zealand, and Japan) and now focuses on environmental risk factors for dementia, such as sunlight (and consequently vitamin D levels) and air pollution. The aim is to identify and understand how the most important factors affect dementia risk with a view to delaying the onset of symptoms and, ultimately, preventing dementia.

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Dr Caroline Cowan

Scottish Government

Caro has spent most of her career working on environment and science issues ranging from climate change, to fisheries, to being Director of Science and Innovation at the British Embassy in Brazil. Much of this work has been focused on how to bring science into effective policy-making and how to break down barriers between science and government, and to promote co-operation on science between different countries. Prior to starting work in Government she did a PhD looking at the history and politics of nature conservation in Kenya and has a Masters in Environment and Development. She is a member of Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh and wasmarried there, enabling her and her husband Patrick to walk up the Royal Mile to their reception, causing much bemusement amongst the many tourists. In her spare time she likes to walk up hills, especially when it is snowy, swim slowly, occasionally run around Holyrood Park and bake cakes to fuel all these activities.

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Prof Kirsty Ball

University of St Andrews

‌Educated at Birmingham University (LLB, MSc) and Aston Business School (PhD), and having held positions at Aston, Warwick, Birmingham and The Open Universities, Kirstie is Professor in Management. She is co-director and founder of CRISP, the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy. CRISP is a joint research centre between the Universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh and Stirling. Kirstie also co-founded and co-ran the journal Surveillance and Society and the charitable company Surveillance Studies Network, an educational charity which supports the journal.

Over the last 20 years Kirstie's research has been funded by ESRC, EPSRC, SSHRC (Canada), The Leverhulme Trust, The British Academy and the European Framework Programme. In 2015 she published 'The Private Security State? Surveillance, Consumer Data and the War on Terror', the first empirical study, from an organisational perspective, of private sector involvement in government surveillance regimes. She is also co-editor of a new Routledge book series addressing surveillance and society and edited 'The Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies', a key resource for those who teach about surveillance. She has consulted to the UK's Information Commissioner, authoring 'A Report on the Surveillance Society' in 2006, which prompted two parliamentary committee enquiries, and its follow up in 2010. She has also advised numerous NGOs, research funding bodies and news media organisations about surveillance, privacy and security. She frequently appears in the broadcast and print media and at public events to speak about surveillance as a contemporary social phenomenon.

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Rev Alexander McAspurren

Church of Scotland Minister at Edinburgh: Leith North Parish Church

Born in Glasgow and raised in the new town of Cumbernauld, I grew up an atheist.  During school years science and technical subjects were my speciality leading on to working at technician level in the construction industry.  After coming to faith in Christ, a sense of call took me first to the University of Glasgow (BD) and then, via selection school, to Edinburgh for post-graduate study (MTh & Certificate in Pastoral Studies).  Throughout my undergraduate education was the constant study of ethics, with the opportunity to study bioethics taken at postgraduate level.

From my first days in university I developed an interest in the interface between science, technology, and faith, and was fortunate enough to be able to study this.  In more recent times this has proven to be invaluable in my role within the local secondary school in my current parish.  Here I am able to contribute to RMPS classes from National 5 through Advanced Higher levels; with the school management we are also exploring the idea of studying ethics within the context of science education.

My interest in engineering continues to this day though through model making rather than full size structures.

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Dr Armand Léon van Ommen

University of Aberdeen

Léon earned his Ph.D. from the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit in Leuven (Belgium), on the topic of suffering in liturgy. In 2016 he moved to Scotland with his wife and two children. He works as Christ’s College Teaching Fellow in Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen. Working in the area of Practical Theology he is interested in the empirical and theological reality of (religious) practices. Much of his work is focused on pastoral needs, especially the needs of marginalised people who are stigmatised and whose voices are not heard. His research interests include liturgy, ritual, suffering and healing, (mental) health, narrative, and peace and reconciliation.

Léon is an active member in St. Ninian’s Scottish Episcopal Church in Aberdeen.

In his spare time Léon likes to listen to music, to play the piano and (bass) guitar, walking in the beautiful Scottish countryside, and to read, preferably with a good cup of coffee.

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Prof Bill Buchanan

Cyber Academy at Edinburgh Napier University

Professor Bill Buchanan is a Scottish computer scientist. He leads The Cyber Academy at Edinburgh Napier University and has published 27 academic books and over 250 research papers. Along with this he has been involved in a wide range of innovation and enterprise activities, including three successful spin-out companies, and many awards for teaching, research and innovation.

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Barry Watson

Studied Geography at Strathclyde University.

Member of Castlemilk Parish Church in Glasgow, where I serve as Elder, Treasurer and Eco-Congregation Scotland Representative. In May 2016, I became a member of Church and Society Council.

Long involvement in community action. With many others, played a part in transformation of local housing over two decades, including tenant groups, various forums and the setting up of Castlemilk Tenant's Housing Association and serving as Vice Chair for eight years. Involved in setting up local support structures for dispersed Asylum Seekers, liaising between churches, local community groups and statutory bodies.

Member of Global Justice Now, Friends of Earth Scotland and Cloud Appreciation Society. Eco-Congregation Glasgow Network is currently working with Friends of the Earth Scotland Glasgow Group on air pollution issues in Glasgow. Have also indulged in Philosophy, especially its application in politics, religion and environment.

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