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Get to Know Our Presenter: Emma Yhnell

Happy New Year! As we all start settling back into the rhythm of work & school, we thought it was a great time for Braintastic! Science founder Ginny to sit down with the newest member of Braintastic!, Emma Yhnell and find out a bit more about her. Emma is a lecturer in Neuroscience at Cardiff University, where she completed her PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience in 2015. But her other passion is science communication.

Why do you think it’s important to help young people understand their brains?

Braintastic! Science presenter Emma with a group of primary school students sitting around a table with a pink squishy model of a brain on it

There are so many myths about the brain and I think it is important that we discuss them openly and honestly. Our brains are so important to us, they not only keep us alive but they give us our identity so we should all know more about them. The interesting thing though is that even scientists don’t know everything about our amazing brains, there is still so much to learn and that is such an exciting prospect.

Have you always been interested in science?

Yes, but I don’t think I knew it! I have always been inquisitive and interested in the world and I think that is probably the beginning of lots of scientific journeys.

What is your earliest science memory?

It was probably making electrical circuits in primary school, pegging crocodile clips on to each other to complete the circuit and make the lightbulb work. Strangely, I remember more physics than biology, maybe that is because I had to concentrate more because I found physics a bit harder!

Are there any women in STEM you are particularly inspired by, and why?

Without a doubt, Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She completed some revolutionary work on radio pulsars yet did not receive the recognition she deserved. Rather than feel bitter and sad she has forged her own way and now gives back to the scientific community. She has famously said that not being awarded the Nobel Prize has done more for her career than if she had been awarded it.

Do you have a favourite quote?

My favourite quote is by R.S. Grey: “She believed she could, so she did.”

I think self-belief is so important, especially in a world which can be quite critical.

What are you looking forward to about being a Braintastic! Science presenter?

I love seeing the excitement on the faces of audience members when they understand a topic and become excited about it. I am a massive fan of interaction and getting audience members involved and on stage with me, I think it makes it so much more memorable and interesting.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I have two cats, Peter a shorthaired black cat and Peggy, a medium haired tabby, they are siblings but they do not look like it! We adopted the cats in lockdown and they provide wonderful entertainment as well as keeping me busy asking for cuddles and food! I also enjoy getting outside and seeing the wonderful countryside that we have around us in Wales. I try and go running as much as I can and play netball socially

What one big question about the brain would you like to know the answer to?

I would love to know why different people respond in completely different ways to the exact same scenario. That's one of the big unanswered science questions around human behaviour and psychology.

A brain expert who is curious, passionate about science, and loves cats- I'm sure you can see why Emma is perfect for our team! If you would like to book Emma for a spectacular science show or workshop just get in touch via our website. And while you are here, why not join our mailing list to keep up to date with all our latest posts and brain based tips to boost learning and support mental wellbeing in schools.



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