Linda Conlon is responsible for managing the International Centre for Life, a £90m science village in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England. It brings together a University medical research institute, two National Health Service clinics, biotechnology businesses, science engagement and education, and ethics on a single site, all with the aim of promoting advancement of science. This unique project has fostered inter-disciplinary collaboration among the 550-strong workforce, achieving some spectacular results, e.g. the world's first cloned human embryo was created at the Centre.
Life aims to ignite and nurture a curiosity in everyone for science, technology, engineering and maths and to encourage the next generation of STEM professionals. It offers a comprehensive programme of science engagement; Europe's biggest programme of hands on science workshops for students in state of the art laboratories; lectures; debates; outreach to disadvantaged communities and under achieving schools; professional development for teachers and an annual science festival delivered with partners in the city. In 2014, it hosted Europe's largest gathering of makers at Maker Faire UK.
The Centre is financially self-sustaining through its own income generation efforts and does not receive revenue funding from central or local government.
Linda Conlon is Chair of the Association of Science and Technology Centres, a body representing science centres worldwide, and a member of its Executive, International and Finance Committees. She is also a member of the International Programme Committee, which is charged with delivering the next Science Centre World Summit in Japan in 2017. She is a former board member of the European Collaboration of Science and Discovery Centres (Ecsite), and a former chair of Ecsite-uk (now the Association of Science and Discovery Centres).
Linda Conlon is a governor of a major secondary school, Excelsior Academy, in Newcastle and is a business mentor for small charities and voluntary groups in North East England. She is an executive member of NE1, the Business Improvement District Company for Newcastle, and chairs its marketing task force.
She has travelled extensively, lecturing and advising other bodies setting up science centres in the UK, Europe, the United States and China.
Linda Conlon's career before the world of science centres was in regional development and urban regeneration, where she was involved in the creation of major high profile waterfront developments, helping to bring in £1 billion of investment. Before that, she ran her own marketing consultancy and in her early career, worked for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the multi-national company, Procter and Gamble.
My reason for wishing to join the board of ASDC is quite simple: I want to see science centres get the recognition and support they deserve.
Some progress has been made towards achieving this but much, much more needs to be done. I was involved in this quest some years ago and feel the time is right, after a period of absence from the board, to seek election and work with colleagues to keep climbing the mountain!