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Dr Emma Yhnell BSc (Hons), PhD, PGCert, MRSB, SFHEA, FLSW

Dr Emma Yhnell

BSc (Hons), PhD, PGCert, MRSB, SFHEA, FLSW

Senior Lecturer

+44 (0)29 2087 5135
C1.16, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


About me

I am an enthusiastic, energetic and award-winning science communicator, passionate about making science more entertaining, inclusive and accessible. As a first generation academic and regular contributor to local radio and television as well as a commentator for the Science Media Centre, I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and changing the minds of people who nervously think science isn’t for them. I am able to bring my expertise in scientific research, public engagement, pedagogy and teaching to my work.

I obtained a BSc Honours degree in Biochemistry before completing a PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience and Huntington’s disease. I then obtained a prestigious research fellowship to work with families impacted by Huntington’s disease. I am passionate about teaching and learning, and have been accredited with a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. I also hold a Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Trials from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,  completed part-time via distance learning. I now work as a Lecturer in Neuroscience, teaching the next generation of budding scientists.

I am a keen public speaker and aim to inspire my audiences with my infectious enthusiasm and ability to deliver interactive and accessible sessions. I have built a reputation for untangling the academically technical and translating it into entertaining, relevant and accessible content. I believe that public understanding and engagement in research is essential. I am a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) ambassador and can often be found at public engagement and outreach events getting the public involved in science and research. I am a keen science communicator and have published several communication pieces, in addition to my primary research.

For my further information on my science communication activities see my Twitter feed (@EmmaYhnell) and my personal website (


Education and qualifiations

2016 - 2018 Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Trials, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (via distance)

2017 - Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

2012 - 2015 PhD Behavioural Neurosciences, Cardiff University

2009 - 2012 BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, Cardiff University

Honours and awards

Cardiff University Celebrating Excellence Awards - Rising Star (Academic) - 2021

Finalist - Royal Society of Biology (RSB) Biosciences Highr Education Teacher of the Year 2021

I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here National Science Communication Competition for School children Winner May 2021

Cardiff University Enriching Student Life Awards 2021 – Nominated by students as most uplifting staff member of the year

Cardiff University Celebrating Excellence Awards – Rising Star Early Career Academic 2021. Shortlisted

FameLab Science Communication Competition Winner for Wales 2019

British Neuroscience Association (BNA) Public Engagement Award 2018

British Science Association Charles Darwin Lecture 2018

Cardiff Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair (CITER)  Young Investigator Award, 2017

Womenspire Chwarea Teg Rising Star 2017, Finalist

Most Dedicated STEM Ambassador in Wales Finalist, April 2017

WeAreTheCity Rising Star Nomination, March 2017

SET for Britain Research Presentation at the Houses of Parliament, 2016.

The Biochemical Society Scientific Communication Writing Award Winner, 2015

Best PhD talk at Careers in Neuroscience Satellite Event for NECTAR, Galway, Ireland 2014.

Shortlisted Finalist for the Max Perutz Science Writing Award, MRC London, 2013.

Biology Researchers in Schools Certificate, Cardiff University, 2013.

Professional memberships

Fellow of The British American Project November 2021

Cardiff Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair (CITER)

The Federation of Neuroscience Societies (FENS)

The British Neuroscience Association (BNA).

The Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).

The European Huntington’s Disease Network (EHDN).

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador.

The Biochemical Society.

Academic positions

Health and Care Research Wales Fellow, Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute, Cardiff University (September 2016 - September 2019)

Lecturer at The Centre for Continuing Professional Education and Development (Jan. 2016 – Present)

Research Associate, The Brain Repair Group Cardiff University (Oct. 2015 – March 2016)

PhD Student, The Brain Repair Group, Cardiff University (Sept 2012 – Sept 2015)

Speaking engagements

I believe public engagement in science is essential and I am always happy to take up public engagement opportunities.

I am a STEM Ambassador and give talks to the general public, at schools and colleges as well as hosting visitors to the university.

I am a keen Twitter user @EmmaYhnell.

Invited talks

Going Live with the Global Science Show 16th March 2021

Bangor Uni Guest Lecture 1st April 2021 to Bangor Medical School SU

Manchester Medical School 27th April 2021

Wales Gene Park Genomics Showcase 2021 May 2021

Science By The Seat of Your Pants – 27th May 2021 over 400 school kids over America – A Beginners Guide to Brain Surgery

Merthyr Science Festival 16th July 2021

Innervate Conference Bristol and Cardiff University Neuro societies (BUNS and CUCNS) joint virtual international conference 17th July 2021

London International Youth Science Forum August 1st 2021

Invited contributor to the Federation of European Neurosciences (FENS) Regional Meeting August 2021 – Science Communication Special Interest Event

Genomics Conference invited keynote on commercial genetic testing 30th September 2021

Dunegal County Library Service – Science Week 2021. 8th November 2021

Invited panels

BNA International Festival of Neuroscience 2021 Equity, diversity and inclusion and the influence of prizes in neuroscience - The Brain Prize Special Session supported by the Lundbeck Foundation – Panellist. 13th April.

Invited to be a core member of ‘Health and Care Research Wales Public Engagement and Involvement Forum’ which aims to drive the work of the Welsh Government’s “Discover Your Role” action plan

FENS – communicating your science to non-scientists international event. Friday 23rd April 2021 attended by an international audience

FENS – communicating your research online Friday 7th May 2021 attended by an international audience

Invited expert for New Scientist Online Genetics Course running online for New Scientist Live 2021

For more information on my public engagement activities see the 'Engagement' tab or my website

Committees and reviewing

Grant reviewer Health and Care Research Wales (HCRW (2020 - Present).

British Neuroscience Association Committee - Equality and Diversity (2019 - Present).



  • Carter, R., Drew, L., Ivan, A., Watt, S. and Yhnell, E. 2022. Simply the Brain. [Simply the Brain]. USA: DK.









Teaching overview:

I lecture in a wide range of subjects within the School of Biosciences, covering neuroscience, biochemistry, molecular biology and disease mechanisms. I have an ongoing interest in pedagogic research which includes research into admissions practices, policies and procedures. I have received excellent feedback on my innovative and enthusiastic approaches to teaching.

My internal roles include:

  • Academic Lead for Engagement (2021 - present).
  • Academic Lead for e-Learning and Assessment Facility (eLEAF) (2020-2021).
  • Admissions Tutor (Neuroscience).
  • Personal Tutor.
  • Module Lead (CE5194 Diseases and Disorders of the Brain) 2016 - 2021.
  • Public Contributor Network Committee Member.

My external roles include:

  • Science Communication and Public Engagement of Science.
  • Public and Patient Involvement in Research.
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) Research Wales Committee (Early Career Representative).
  • British Neuroscience Association (BNA) Committee (Equality and Diversity).
  • Cardiff Science Festival Organising Committee.
  • British Science Association Biological Science Section Convenor.

I enjoy teaching and am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). I am a module lead, lecturer and also conduct pedagogic research on teaching practices.

Research overview

Alongside my teaching activities, my research largely focuses on neurodegenerative diseases, with a particular focus on Huntington's disease. It is really important to me that my research will impact real people and families. I am also interested in the implications that my work has for other diseases and disorders of the brain as well as the ethical, moral and societal questions that it raises.

Alongside traditional research I have growing research interests in pedagogy and research regarding science communication and public engagement.

Research funding

  • Science Stitches – communicating science through fashion. Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund 2019. A. de Almeida, M. et al.
  • Resources to EngAge Children from socially-deprived areas in environmental Health (REACH) Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund 2019. S. Morgan, E. Yhnell & K Berube.
  • The Society for Applied Microbiology 2019 ‘Microbiology Scrabble’ Z. Bayram-Weston, Y.Nigam & E. Yhnell.
  • The Anatomical Society Public Engagement and Outreach Grant ‘Snap Anatomy’ awarded to Z. Bayram-Weston and E. Yhnell.
  • Health and Care Research Wales Fellowship Award 1st October 2016 – 30th September 2019. Dr Emma Yhnell Principle Investigator.
  • Jacques & Gloria Gossweiler Foundation 1st April 2016 – 30th September 2017. Dr Emma Yhnell - Lead Applicant, Prof Monica Busse, Dr Claudia Metzler-Baddeley and Prof Anne Rosser.
  • Biochemical Society Scientific Outreach Grant September 2017 ‘Giant Genes’ awarded to Dr Emma Yhnell.



For my current public engagement and science communication activities see my Twitter feed (@EmmaYhnell) and my personal website:

Engagement and Outreach Activities

I strongly believe that we have a responsibilty to engage the general public in science, specifically research. In addition to formal academic talks, I have given over 100 talks at public engagement events to local, national and international audiences. This includes; the general public, school children, patients and elderly people.

I am involved in several science communication groups, events and committees including:

  • Cardiff Science Festival Organising Committee 2019 - Present.
  • FameLab 2019 Welsh Winner
  • Huntington's Disease Association Northern Ireland, Keynote speaker 2019.
  • #WhyWeDoResearch campaign Welsh National lead.
  • Royal Society Pairing Scheme 2018 (Paired with Kevin Brennan MP).
  • British Science Association Charles Darwin Lecture 2018.
  • Hay Festival 2018.
  • Soapbox Science Presenter 2018.
  • Pint of Science Speaker 2018.
  • Huntington's Disease Ireland - Keynote speaker 2017.
  • STEM Ambassador.
  • Wales Gene Park Speaker.
  • British Science Association (Cardiff Branch) SciCafe Presenter.
  • Cardiff University Brain Games volunteer and presenter (2013-present).
  • Cardiff University Directory of Expertise for Media Engagement.
  • Cardiff University Engagement Champion 2016 (