Our Members

Co-ordinators of the UKSRN:

Alan Penny (University of St Andrews)

John Elliott (Leeds Beckett University)


Eamonn Ansbro (Kingsland Observatory)

Stuart Armstrong (University of Oxford)

Steven Baxter (British Interplanetary Society)

Ian Crawford (Birkbeck)

Matt Colborn

Lewis Dartnell (University of Leicester)

William Edmondson (University of Birmingham)

Duncan Forgan (University of St Andrews)

Colin McInnes (University of Glasgow)

Mark Neal (University of London)

Lewis Pinault (UCL)

Anders Sandberg (University of Oxford)

Stephen Webb (University of Portsmouth)

Eamonn Ansbro

Eamonn Ansbro is an astronomer, having specialised in Solar System science. He has an M.Ast from University of Western Sydney, Australia in infrared studies of the large planets in the Solar System. Also an M.Phil and PhD (ABD) from the Planetary Space Science Research Institute at Open University, on outer Solar System surveys for minor planets at high ecliptic latitudes. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of Society for Photo Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) and the European Optical Society (EOS). He has a number of patents and publications in astronomy and SETI specifically including OSETI and astrobiology, instrumentation, 3D imaging, spectroscopy and infrared optics for astronomy.
He is a member of European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) and a member of Management Committee European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research for the Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth and the Universe (ORIGINS)
He is Director of Kingsland Observatory and Space Exploration Ltd which carries out space surveillance within our Solar System. He developed and operates the all sky surveillance system (ala Super Wasp) with recent prototyping of a slit less multi object spectrograph to detect the composition of potential extra terrestrial intelligent probes within our Solar System.

Stuart Armstrong

Stuart Armstrong’s research at the Future of Humanity Institute centres on formal decision theory, the risks and possibilities of Artificial Intelligence, the long term potential for intelligent life, and anthropic (self-locating) probability. He is particularly interested in finding decision processes that give the “correct” answer under situations of anthropic ignorance and ignorance of one’s own utility function, ways of mapping humanity’s partially defined values onto an artificial entity, and the interaction between various existential risks. He aims to improve the understanding of the different types and natures of uncertainties surrounding human progress in the mid-to-far future.

Steven Baxter

By profession Steven is a science fiction writer; his first novel (Raft) was published in 1991. A number of his works have dealt with SETI issues and the Fermi Paradox, notably the novel series Manifold (1998-2001). His first academic writing on SETI was on the Zoo Hypothesis, published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society in 2001.

In 2008 he was invited to a SETI seminar at the Beyond Institute in Phoenix, Arizona by Paul Davies. At that meeting he was invited to join the SETI Post-Detection Task Group, a subgroup of the IAA SETI Permanent Study Group. Since then he has attended a number of SETI meetings, and has presented and published papers on SETI-related matters, some in conjunction with John Elliott, as well as featuring SETI in my fiction. Topics he has studied have included naked-eye optical SETI, post-detection policy options, METI, and the possibility of a first encounter with ETI by an automated interstellar space probe, a study developed as part of the British Interplanetary Society’s ‘Project Icarus’. He has also published a survey of the treatment of ETI and SETI in science fiction.

Ian Crawford

Personal website

Ian Crawford is an astronomer turned planetary scientist, and is currently Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is presently also Senior Secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a member of the European Space Agency’s Human Exploration Science Advisory Committee (HESAC). The main focus of Ian’s research is in the area of lunar exploration, including the remote sensing of the lunar surface and the laboratory analysis of lunar samples. His research interests in astrobiology mainly concern the study of terrestrial analogue sites for past and present habitable environments on Mars. In areas more related to SETI, Ian has long had an interest in the prospects for interstellar space exploration and the implications for interpretations of the Fermi Paradox. A more detailed summary of these interests, and a full list of publications, can be found on his personal website.

Matt Colborn

Personal Website

Dr. Matt Colborn is a science writer. His book ‘Pluralism and the Mind,’ has been out since 2011 (Imprint Academic), and includes some material on the anthropic principle in the context of consciousness studies. His SETI research interests include the philosophical problems of life and intelligence in the universe, and its relationship to consciousness studies. He has also written on the human future, on astronomical art and has published several Science Fiction short stories.

He studied History as an undergraduate, then completed an MSc in Cognitive Science at Birmingham and a PhD at Sussex on bee behaviour. He is currently completing a certificate in Astronomy at the University of Central Lancashire and has been an amateur astronomer since school.

Lewis Dartnell 
Personal website

Dr. Lewis Dartnell is a UK Space Agency research fellow based in the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester.  His field is astrobiology and the search for life beyond Earth; his research focuses on the planet Mars, and how long hardy microbial life, or signs of its past existence, might persist in the cosmic radiation of the martian surface. Lewis is the Secretary of the Astrobiology Society of Britain and a Senior Editor for Astrobiology journal. He also holds an STFC Science in Society fellowship and speaks regularly at schools and science festivals, as well as freelance writing for newspapers and magazines. He has published
three books, including Life in the Universe: A Beginner’s Guide and The
Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch.

William Edmondson

William’s SETI research started in 2003 when he attended a workshop in Paris to discuss the implausibility of message recovery from ETI – a view which he still holds (see the book edited by Doug Vakoch, Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication).

In addition he has been active in radio based searching, using the telescope at Arecibo, with a search paradigm based on a paper published in 2003. His current research focus is optical observation of distant planets, with ever more refined techniques, to look for life signatures.

John Elliott

John Elliott is a Reader in Intelligence Engineering at Leeds Beckett University in the UK. He is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics SETI Permanent Study Group and Post Detection Task Force, as well as the Acta Astronautica Special Editor for SETI and Searching for Life Signatures journals.

John has been an active member of the SETI research community, since 1999, where he has been the main contributor for research on communication [language] discovery, detection and decipherment, which includes message design and construction.

His research into computational modeling of communication crosses many boundaries and disciplines: from human language ‘universals’, dolphin communication, architecture of the mind and multidimensional models in space-time for countering crime and terrorism to an ethical decision engine for robot soldiers, and global impact strategies for post detection decipherment of an extra-terrestrial signal to manage dissemination and societal impact.

Duncan Forgan

Personal website

Duncan Forgan is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of St Andrews. He obtained his PhD in astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh, where he conducted hydrodynamical simulations of protostellar discs to answer key questions in star and planet formation. His SETI research focuses on improved estimates of the number of civilisations able to establish communication with the Earth using Monte Carlo simulation strategies, and deriving new observational diagnostics of intelligence using current mainstream astronomical observations, especially those used to detect extrasolar planets. Duncan is an elected member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy of Scotland, an interdisciplinary organisation of leading academics, civil servants and third sector workers, formed to give the next generation of leaders a coherent voice to address the most challenging issues in Scottish (and UK) society. He sits on the steering committee of the UK Centre for Astrobiology, and the editorial Board for the International Journal of Astrobiology.


Colin McInnes

Colin joined the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow as James Watt Chair, Professor of Engineering Science in October 2014. His previous posts were Director, Advanced Space Concept Laboratory and Director, Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications at the University of Strathclyde. As a Physicist turned Engineer he has long enjoyed the interaction between these two vibrant fields. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Academy of Engineering and was made MBE in June 2014 for services to Space Research, Science and Technology. Much of his work has centred on mathematical modelling of families of highly-perturbed spacecraft orbits, but he also has interests in large-scale, long-term ventures in Engineering Science including climate engineering, near Earth asteroid capture strategies and in-situ asteroid materials processing, with direct relevance to SETI.


Mark Neal

Mark Neal PhD is Senior Lecturer in International Management at SOAS, University of London, UK. He has published on risk controversies, and recently became interested in approaching the question of extraterrestrial life from a risk management perspective. His subsequent research into SETI-related issues has resulted in a recent journal article in the journal Risk Management. 

Lewis Pinault

Lewis Pinault focuses on the search for non-terrestrial artefacts in our solar system. Much as biological pre-cursors may make interstellar journeys across our galaxy, micron-sized bits of alien trash – the dust and remnants say of the asteroid mining operations of other technological civilisations – may too make this inadvertent journey. With advanced nanotechnologies, other civilisations might also have more deliberately, but without particular direction, seeded our galaxy with matter programmed to develop Bracewell-style probes upon contact with resources and locales of interest, such as our Moon. As a “collecting plate” journeying through interstellar dust clouds in its some 20 orbits of our galactic centre over 4 billion years, the Moon’s surface and any future deep core samples from it are of especial interest to constraining the probabilities for the existence of other technological civilisations in our galaxy. As part of a new doctoral programme I am therefore applying my background in mining engineering, meteoritics and planetary remote sensing to: 1) Working with nanotechnology specialists to develop methods for distinguishing micron-scale particles of exotic materials from e.g. lunar regolith; and 2) Working with computer vision and machine learning specialists, developing and applying automated search algorithms for discriminating non-natural artefacts, beginning with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter high-resolution image suite.

Anders Sandberg

Personal Website

Anders Sandberg’s research at the Future of Humanity Institute centres
on management of low-probability high-impact risks, societal and ethical
issues surrounding human enhancement, estimating the capabilities of
future technologies, and very long-range futures. He is currently senior researcher in the FHI-Amlin collaboration on systemic risk of risk modelling. He is research associate to the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. He is on the advisory boards of a number of organisations and often debates science and ethics in international media. Anders has a background in computer science, neuroscience and medical engineering. He obtained his Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from Stockholm University, Sweden, for work on neural network modelling of human memory.

Stephen Webb

Webb’s doctoral research was in theoretical particle physics, but he now writes widely on topics in astronomy and cosmology and has authored an undergraduate textbook on distance determination in these fields. He is involved in outreach activities, frequently giving talks to schools and local astronomical societies, and much of his writing is aimed for a lay audience. Webb is particularly interested in the so-called Fermi question. If intelligent life exists in the Milky Way then it seems probable that it could make its presence known to the rest of the galaxy – and yet we see no signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. Where is everybody? A second edition of his book, which has Fermi’s question as its title, discusses 75 possible answers. One of the attractions of Fermi’s question is that it demands an interdisciplinary approach: researchers from all disciplines – including, of course, SETI scientists – continue to contribute to the debate.

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