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Science Writer

Biography

I am a freelance science writer based near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and occasionally in Edinburgh, UK.

I have a bachelors degree in geology from the University of Edinburgh, and masters degrees in palaeobiology from the University of Bristol and science communication from Imperial College London. I also carry a PhD in the palaeontology of Jurassic sea urchins for which I studied at the University of Birmingham and the Natural History Museum, London.

During my studies I wrote a number of academic papers, including a 160 page taxonomic monograph, before making the move to science writing.

As a science writer, I have written for New Scientist, the Daily Telegraph, the BBC website and the ATLAS project, part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland. I designed the ATLAS e-News website and edited it between November 2007 and May 2008.

In May 2008 I began covering technology news for New Scientist, working out of the magazine’s London office. From May 2010 I took on a locum editorial role within New Scientist covering technology news. In January 2011 I moved away from New Scientist‘s technology desk to take up an editing post covering life sciences and biomedicine news. I turned freelance in October 2012.

During my spell at CERN in 2007 and 2008 I met Kate McAlpine, a US science writer with a passion for rapping. I put Kate in touch with my brother, Will Barras, an amateur music producer. In spring 2008 the pair produced the Large Hadron Rap. Kate and I encouraged some friends to join us in recording a music video to accompany the song. The Large Hadron Rap became a huge hit in the build-up to the 10th September 2008 switch-on day at the LHC, and has amassed some 7.6 million hits as of March 2013.