Dr Kat Arney

Dr Kat Arney is a science writer, broadcaster and public speaker. She is passionate about communicating complex ideas with wit and clarity, and has published two books about genetics: Herding Hemingway’s Cats and How to Code a Human.

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Expertise

Human biology, the body and disease (especially cancer), genes, evolution, genetic tests, heredity, reproductive technology (IVF, cloning, ‘designer babies’), genetic engineering, biomedical research, epigenetics, women in science, science communication, science myths and ‘fake news’, science in the media

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Dr Kat Arney is a freelance science writer, author, broadcaster and public speaker, and also offers science communication training and consultancy for charity and corporate clients.

Kat was a key part of the science communications team at Cancer Research UK for more than a decade, writing for the charity’s award-winning Science Update Blog, speaking to audiences up and down the country and regularly commenting in national and international media channels about the latest discoveries.

She is an experienced and accomplished public speaker and media performer. She specialises in presenting complex topics in an engaging and witty way for a wide range of audiences of all ages, and has spoken at events across the country and further afield. Kat has also hosted high-profile events and panel discussions in venues including the Royal Society, the Royal Institution, the Dana Centre, NESTA’s FutureFest, FameLab and Dolly the Sheep’s 20th Birthday party.

She has published two public-facing books about genetics – the five-star reviewed Herding Hemingway’s Cats: Understanding how our genes work (Bloomsbury Sigma) and How to Code a Human (Andre Deutsch). She is currently working on a third book investigating the latest research into cancer genetics and evolution, and has written features for a wide range of outlets including the Times Educational Supplement, BBC News Focus, the Daily Mail, Wired, BBC Online, The Guardian, New Scientist and more.

Kat co-presented the highly successful Naked Scientists BBC Radio show for 15 years, presents and produces the monthly Naked Genetics podcast, and has fronted several BBC Radio 4 science documentaries as well as the critically acclaimed series Did the Victorians Ruin the World? with her sister, science comedian Helen Arney.

She holds a first class degree in natural sciences and a PhD in developmental genetics from Cambridge University.

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If you have preferred subjects/speech titles – tiny précis i.e. a couple of sentences on each

General interest and educational (suitable for the general public and secondary schools):

  • Herding Hemingway’s Cats – With the help of cats with thumbs, fish with hips and wobbly worms, Kat unpacks the mysteries in our DNA and explains the latest thinking about how our genes work.
  • Who do your genes think you are? – Genetic tests are cheap and widely available, enabling anyone to delve into their health and ancestry, from discovering hereditary cancer risks to unearthing Viking heritage. There are even genetic tests for fitness programmes, skin care and wine recommendations. This talk explores the science behind genetic testing, and separates the facts from the hype.
  • Nature, nurture and the wobble: why everything you know about genetics is wrong – The history of genetics starts with Mendel and his pea plants. His work led to the idea that one gene is linked to one trait, and one gene fault causes one disease. But the recent revolution in DNA sequencing is revealing that it’s much more complicated. From strange patterns of inheritance to real life genetic superheroes living amongst us, whose DNA provides them with resilience against serious illnesses, Kat explains what we do and don’t know about how our genes work. [Alternative title: How to be a superhero]
  • Did the Victorians Ruin the World? – Based on the critically acclaimed Radio 4 series, this one-woman version is a romp through the best – and worst – of Victorian inventions, from flushing toilets to luxurious beards.
  • Pimp My Genome – Epigenetics is the latest biology buzzword, but what exactly does it mean? And can you really alter your genes with diet, stress or even positive thinking?
  • Cut, Paste, Clone – In the past few years we’ve seen exciting headlines about new genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR, allowing scientists to alter genes with pinpoint precision. This talk explores how these technologies work, how they might be applied, and whether we really will see designer babies any time soon.

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