25 October 1980 |
|Alma mater||University of Oxford|
Angela Saini (born 25 October 1980 in London, England) is an English science journalist and author. Her first book Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking Over the World was published on 3 March 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK, and by Hachette in the Indian sub-continent in April 2011.
Saini is a former reporter for BBC London News, the BBC's regional television news programme covering Greater London. In 2008, she carried out an investigation into bogus universities which was broadcast on the BBC TV's flagship Ten O'Clock News, BBC News 24 and BBC World. The report won a Prix Circom Award for regional television journalism in Europe.
Quitting the BBC
Saini cites the changing landscape of journalism as a reason for her departure from the BBC, an organisation she has deep respect for. She notes that having a blog as one "immediate luxury" of being a freelancer. Her blog is titled "Nothing Shocks Me, I'm a Scientist." "Big broadcasters already understand that it's not only lone journalists, but also ordinary citizens who are easily creating mass media. I can't think of anything better than being at the front of that revolution, and I wouldn't be surprised if many others felt the same."
Investigation into bogus universities
Saini's award-winning article A Degree of Deception was based on an investigation in 2007–2008 centred mainly on the Irish International University, "one of the most notorious fake universities operating in the UK." This University is nearly a decade old, and still creating an illusion of credibility, mostly to foreign students who arrive on "campus" only to find the college was just a tiny office block in east London with no library and a handful of students, or in some cases, nothing more than a mailbox.
Other questionable institutions include: University of New Castle, Preston University and University of Leads, whose sole aim is to mislead students and make money.
Courtroom Statistics and Bayes' Theorem
Bayes' theorem is a mathematical equation used in court cases to analyse statistical evidence. Invented by an 18th-century English mathematician, Thomas Bayes, this formula calculates the odds of one event happening given the odds of other related events. In 2010, a judge ruled it can no longer be used. Saini brings this decision to light in her award-winning 2011 article in The Guardian entitled A Formula for Justice asking if it will "result in more miscarriages of justice."
"The impact will be quite shattering," says Professor Norman Fenton, a mathematician at Queen Mary University of London. In the last four years he has been an expert witness in six cases, including the 2007 trial of Levi Bellfield for the murders of Marsha McDonnell and Emelie Delagrange. Fenton and his colleague Amber Marks, a barrister and lecturer in evidence at Queen Mary, University of London, have begun assembling a group of statisticians, forensic scientists and lawyers to research a solution to bad statistics. He believes that the potential for mathematics to improve the justice system is worth these efforts.
Saini quotes Colin Aitken, chairman of the Royal Statistical Society, as saying, "It is usual for forensic experts to use Bayes' theorem even when data is limited, by making assumptions and then drawing up reasonable estimates of what the numbers might be. Being unable to do this could risk miscarriages of justice.”
“Until this complex bit of math can be simply explained," writes Saini, "chances are judges will keep rejecting it."
The Grandmother Hypothesis
In March 2014, Saini published an article in The Observer pertaining to recent scientific debate about infertility and menopause. She begins by defining the concept of "the grandmother hypothesis" as a possible explanation for the evolution of menopause in humans, and why it is seen an advantage for the species. Citing the work of Professor Kristen Hawkes, an anthropologist at the University of Utah, who studied the Hadza tribe in Tanzania, she demonstrates a division of labour in the tribe that not only included older women, but depended on them.
This point of view, however, has recently met with strong opposition who claim that the menopause is little more than a by-product of increased longevity or, more controversially, that infertility arose simply because men "don't fancy older women." Dr Rama Singh, at McMaster University in Canada along with two colleagues, published a controversial paper that claimed that men were the reason for female infertility; men were simply choosing to mate with younger women, eliminating the need for fertility due to lack of sex. His lab, which focuses on male sexual selection, is now working to find out when in history the menopause evolved.
Credentials and awards
- Masters degree in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford and is a former ITN news trainee.
- European Junior Science Writer of the Year in 2009 by the Euroscience Foundation
- Association of British Science Writers Award for best news story in 2012
- Awarded a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT in 2012
- Prix Circom Award for regional television journalism in Europe.
- "Angela Saini article list". New Scientist. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "Angela Saini". The Science Factory. Archived from the original on 7 June 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Saini, Angela. "A Degree of Deception". Jan. 7, 2008. The Guardian. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
- "Reporter wins European journalism award". AIM Magazine. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Saini, Angela. "Nothing Shocks Me, I'm a Scientist". Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- Oliver, Laura. "'Why I quit the BBC': Angela Saini, freelance science journalist". 10/10/2008. Journalism.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- Fenton, Norman. "Bayes and the Law: Guardian article". 10/03/11. Probability and Risk, A Blog by Norman Fenton. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- Saini, Angela. "A Formula for Justice". 10/02/11. The Guardian. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- Singh, Rama S.; Richard A. Morton; Jonathan R. Stone (13 June 2013). "Mate Choice and the Origin of Menopause". PLOS Computational Biology. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003092. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- Saini, Angela. "Menopause: nature's way of saying older women aren't sexually attractive?". 03/29/2014. The Guardian. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- "Awards 2009". European Writers Awards. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- ABSW. "Awards of the 21st Century". Association of British Science Writers. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- "Announcing 2012–2013 Knight Fellows". Knight Science Journalism at MIT. Retrieved 5 April 2014.