Meet the Team: Education and Public Engagement Manager

Published on 9th April 2019

This week we learn more about the Education team as we speak to Joe Burton, our Education and Public Engagement Manager.


What are the key parts to your role?

I coordinate the Society’s educational activities and lead the development of new projects. I also manage the new public engagement space in Burlington House, known as the Discovery Room.

What do you like most about your job?

There is lots of freedom to create new activities, events and bigger projects for people of all ages and walks of life. Plus the remit of the Society is really wide, so there is so much content to play with!

How did you end up in this job?

I studied Biomedical Science at Sheffield University, and then did a Masters in Science Communication. I worked at a lot of science festivals (a lot!), spent some time in a couple of education projects in Uganda and Ghana, and then bagged a great job at the Royal Institution running fun science workshops. When that job came to an end, I was looking for a position where I could flex my creative muscles and this job came up!

What is your favourite species of animal or plant?

© Wikimedia Commons

I love a good tardigrade. They are known as water bears, teeny organisms that waddle around, and are often found on lichens and mosses. They are tough cookies and can survive super-high and super-low temperatures and you can even fling them off into space and they will be okay. There are more than a thousand species of tardigrade so I will give give you the phylum instead: Tardigrada.

What is the most interesting item to you in the Linnean Society collections?

My favourite item in the Linnean Society right now is the portrait of Carl Linnaeus that is hanging in the meeting room. Last year we ran a competition with 9-11 year olds to create a new portrait for Linnaeus, while the original went away to be conserved. The selected portrait was made by Leo who was 10 years old and it is just amazing. You should come and see it before the old one comes back!

Leo with his family under his portrait of Linnaeus
Leo with his family under his portrait of Linnaeus

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a trustee and volunteer for a couple of educational and social projects. I go swimming a couple of times a week and I am part of a theatre-club so I try to get myself to a few amateur plays a month. Beyond that I am fairly social so I like to get out and explore the city and beyond with friends (pizza 🍕 is always a good too).