Simon makin – biography

Originally from Liverpool, I did a B.Eng. in Electronics at the University of Reading, before working in the psychology department there, investigating how human hearing compensates for environmental distortions. I then did a master’s in Speech and Hearing Sciences at UCL, before moving back up North to do my PhD at the University of Sheffield. My thesis was in computational auditory scene analysis, specifically modelling how the auditory system exploits pitch differences to separate mixed speech. I then went back to Reading psych dept., introduced my boss to my PhD supervisor, and together we assembled a project researching how human hearing copes with room acoustics in order to improve machine listening in the real world.

In short, I have degrees from engineering, phonetics and linguistics, and computer science departments, and spent several years working in a psychology department. All of which gave me a great multi-disciplinary background for a science writer and means I understand how science works, from methods through to culture. Writing has always been my biggest passion though, so…

At the start of 2012 I jumped ship on academia and moved to London to retrain as a journalist, doing a fast-track NCTJ Diploma in Newspaper Journalism at Lambeth College, including brief stints at the Independent and The Lambeth Weekender. Once set loose upon the world, without ever making a conscious decision to specialise, I naturally drifted into my current brain-themed beat due to a mixture of interest, contacts, and opportunity. I will always be grateful to the editors who commissioned and nurtured me along that journey. You know who you are.

I am a member of the Association of British Science Writers, from whom I won a bursary in 2016 to attend the Centre for Investigative Journalism’s summer school – an exhilarating experience I’d recommend to any journalist of any stripe. I am also a member of Neuwrite London, a science writers’ group, and am one of the mentors in their mentorship scheme for individuals from underrepresented groups in science journalism. Details here.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss a writing project, commission me for science news or feature writing, or hire me for copy editing work. I’m always interested in working for new outlets. I am now based in SE London.

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