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

Dr Emma Yhnell


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

Associate Dean for Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), College of Biomedical and Life Sciences (BLS) and Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience

School of Biosciences

+44 29208 75135
Sir Martin Evans Building, Room C1.16, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


About me

I am an enthusiastic, energetic and award-winning science communicator and educator who is 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 enthusiastic 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 (





  • Carter, R., Drew, L., Ivan, A., Watt, S. and Yhnell, E. 2022. Simply the brain. Dorling Kindersley.









Book sections






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.


I am an award winning educator having won the Biochemical Society Teaching Award (Early Career) 2023 and been shortlisted for Biosciences Higher Education Teacher of the Year 2022. I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I am passionate about making teaching inclusive, accessible and inspiring for learners.

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 Public 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).
  • Module Lead BIT056 Science Communication (2021 - Present).
  • Deputy Module Lead BI2431 Brain and Behaviour (2020 - Present).
  • 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 am a module lead, lecturer and also conduct pedagogic research on teaching practices.


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

Biochemical Society Teaching Excellence Award 2024 (Early Career).

Cardiff University Personal Tutor of the Year 2023 - Enriching Student Life Awards (ESLAs).

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 2022.

Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales 2022 (youngest ever Fellow).

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

Finalist - Royal Society of Biology (RSB) Biosciences Higher 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

Bioscience Educators Network 

Member of Royal Society of Biology 

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, FHEA, SFHEA).

The European Huntington’s Disease Network (EHDN).

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

The Biochemical Society.

Academic positions

Senior Lecturer, Teaching and Scholarship, School of Biosciences (August 2021 - Present).

Lecturer, Teaching and Scholarship, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University (September 2019 - July 2021).

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)

Committees and reviewing

ALBA Board Member (Global Diversity in Neuroscience network)

Welsh Government Equity in STEM Board

Senedd Cross Party Group on STEM

Biochemical Society Policy Advisory Panel

Federation of European Neuroscience Societies Communications Committee

Grant reviewer Health and Care Research Wales 

British Neuroscience Association Committee - Equity and Diversity


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 (