Case study: Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow (2004-2007), University Research Fellow (2007-2016)
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London

Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s work on teenage brains has brought her into the public’s consciousness in a variety of ways. A professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London (UCL), Blakemore has received a number of awards for her academic work.

She is active in public engagement and often gives talks at schools, and public lectures. She acted as a scientific consultant on the BBC series The Human Mind in 2003 and co-wrote a book called The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education with Professor Uta Frith in 2005.

But it was Professor Blakemore’s 2012 TED talk on the adolescent brain that sparked a lot of public interest. She went on to work on a play called Brainstorm, written and performed by teenagers at the Islington Community Theatre, which then went on to run at the National Theatre in London.

Her latest book, Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, won the 2018 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize and has stimulated much public discussion on issues to do with the adolescent brain, such as risk-taking, sleep and mental illness. The book has gained widespread media attention, with excerpts running in the Sunday Times Magazine.

Professor Blakemore is also a member of the Royal Society’s Public Engagement Committee and has recently been elected a Fellow of the British Academy.