Who's Who

Dr Rita Gardner CBE FAcSS

Chief Executive
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Dr Rita Gardner CBE FAcSS is a professional geographer. She was appointed Chief Executive of the Academy of Social Sciences to succeed Stephen Anderson from 28 January 2019. Rita was previously Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), the UK’s learned society and professional body for geography, from 1996 to 2018. In that role, she developed and led a sustained, strategic programme of modernisation and expansion of the society, advocacy for geography, and public and policy engagement. Dr Gardner has extensive experience in advisory, trustee and committee roles, including Personal Advisor for geography to Lord Adonis (Schools Minister, Department for Children, Schools and Families); Chair, Exhibition Road Cultural Group; Non-Executive Director, British Antarctic Survey; and Member, ‘Finch’ Review Group on Open Access to Scholarly Publications. Dr Gardner pursued an early academic career in geography from 1979 to 1996 at London University after studying at Oxford University (DPhil) and UCL (BSc). Her work is recognised with three leading geography awards, five honorary degrees and a CBE for services to geography.

Nick Bibby

Director, Scottish Policy Innovation and Research Exchange (SPIRE)
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Nick is responsible for establishing and leading SPIRE, which works to develop and stregnthen links between the academic and policy communities in Scotland. He started his career in political journalism and worked more recently for the ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change and the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh.

Marta Kask

Campaign Manager
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Marta joined the Campaign for Social Science as Campaign Manager in December 2017. Prior to that she managed a list of academic journals and partner relations for Springer Nature, an international academic publisher in New York. She has held a variety of roles in academic publishing and has a MA from University College London and BScEcon from Aberystwyth University, both in Politics.

Sharon Witherspoon MBE FAcSS

Head of Policy
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Sharon is Head of Policy at the Campaign. She was at the Nuffield Foundation, a grant-giving endowed charitable trust, for 19 years, first heading its programmes of social research and social policy, and then for three years as Director. Before that, she was a practicing social researcher at NatCen and the Policy Studies Institute, designing and analysing large-scale social surveys on various topics. She was awarded an MBE for services to social science in 2008, received the British Academy President’s Medal in 2011, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by University College London in 2015 for services to social sciences and law.

Dr Ashley Thomas Lenihan

Senior Policy Adviser
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Ashley is Senior Policy Adviser at the Campaign. She is a Fellow at the Centre for International Studies at the London School of Economics, a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Law, Science, & Global Security at Georgetown University, and has undertaken a variety of consultancy work in the international policy arena over the last five years. She has her Ph.D. in Government, and her B.S. in Foreign Service, from Georgetown University. She works on a range of projects for the Campaign, and has led our work on Brexit and Positive Prospects.

Colin Lorne

Policy Officer
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Colin is Policy Officer at the Academy. He is a geographer with a commitment to placing inter-disciplinary social science inquiry at the heart of policy-making and social transformation. He has a PhD and Undergraduate Masters in Geography, both from the University of Birmingham. He was previously a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, as well as working on projects at the University of Bristol with the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the University of Birmingham. When not talking about space, politics and policy, he will most likely be found listening to jazz, soul and rocksteady.

Aarti Basnyat

Communications Manager
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Aarti Basnyat is the Communications Manager at the Campaign. She was with the United Nations University - Institute for Environment and Human Security for over three years as their Communications Officer. Among other things, she helped revamp their website and establish their social media presence. Before that Aarti was the Global Communications Officer at ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. She brings with her extensive experience in media engagement, website management, social media content creation and campaign development. As a former journalist, she possesses excellent writing skills and has a strong interest in topics related to social sciences. Aarti holds a Master in Media Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a diploma in Print Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism and a Bachelor in English Literature (Hons) from St. Stephens' College, Delhi University.