Chris Smith (science communicator)

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Chris Smith
Born1975 (age 45–46)
Essex, England
OccupationMedical doctor, and science broadcaster
Notable work
Founder and presenter of The Naked Scientists BBC radio show and podcast

Chris Smith (born 1975) - "the Naked Scientist" - is a British consultant virologist and a lecturer based at Cambridge University where he is a fellow commoner of Queens' College.[1] He is also a science radio broadcaster and writer, and presents the Naked Scientists, a programme which he founded in 2001, for BBC Radio and other networks internationally, as well as 5 live Science on BBC Radio 5 Live.


In addition to his work with the Naked Scientists, Smith appears live every Friday morning on Australia's ABC Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly, supplying an update of the week's leading science news.[2] He has also contributed to Robyn Williams' The Science Show on the same station, and also appears on Johannesburg-based South African station TalkRadio 702 for thirty minutes every Friday morning with a half hour science news round up and listener question phone-in.[3] Between 2011 and 2017 when the programme was discontinued, Radio New Zealand National's This Way Up show, hosted by journalist Simon Morton on Saturdays, also included a Naked Science contribution from Chris; since 2013 BBC Radio Norfolk have been running a Naked Scientists Wednesday teatime science phone-in as part of their Drive Time offering.[4]

Until May 2014, Smith provided a weekly 25 minute science round up for BBC Radio 5 Live's Up All Night programme every Monday. [5] This was replaced by the new weekly one-hour 5 live Science programme, which is also produced by Smith and his colleagues and airs on Sunday mornings and sometimes repeated on a Sunday evening.[6]

Smith also founded and presented the first 100 episodes of the Nature Podcast for the journal Nature in 2005.[7] This show was the first example of an international science journal producing an audio programme to supplement its printed content.[citation needed] He has also contributed podcast content for the open access publishing group PLoS (Public Library of Science), he launched and hosted the Royal Society of Chemistry's "Chemistry World" Podcast for nearly 10 years and, in 2013, launched the monthly eLife Podcast for the open access online journal eLife.,[8] which he currently presents.

Naked Scientists podcast[edit]

Launched by Smith in 2005, it was the first BBC local and regional programme to be published as a podcast[9] within its first twelve months it received 2 million programme downloads.

In January 2010, Smith's The Naked Scientists group announced on Twitter that, just ahead of the 10th anniversary of the project's launch, the number of downloaded programme episodes had hit 10 million internationally. At a presentation at the 2011 AAAS Meeting in Washington DC, Smith showed that, by February 2011, over 17 million episodes of the Naked Scientists podcast had been downloaded globally. More recently, during a 2014 visit to Perth, Western Australia, where Smith holds a Sir Walter Murdoch Distinguished Adjunct Professorship at Murdoch University,[10] he announced that the number of downloads exceeds 40 million.


In September 2006 Chris Smith published Naked Science,[11] his first book, which is an anthology of science stories based on the material presented on The Naked Scientists. This was followed, in September 2008, by Crisp Packet Fireworks,[12] a collection of 50 science experiments to try at home using every-day ingredients found in the average kitchen. This title, which was co-authored with Naked Scientist colleague David Ansell and published by New Holland, was initially launched across in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. In January 2010 it was also published across South Africa by Struik and Random House under the title Maverick Science, and launched in the US in April 2010 as Spectacular Science. In December 2008 Chris also published a sequel to Naked Science, The Return of the Naked Scientist, with Random House in Australia and New Zealand. He released a fourth book, Stripping Down Science, also with Random House Australia, in December 2010.

COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic[edit]

Smith has been called upon during the 2019-2020 COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to contribute to international media, including television news channels, BBC Radio 4's PM programme, Jeremy Vine's programme on BBC Radio 2 and he co-hosted the "Commonsense coronavirus call-in" on Saturday afternoons with Colin Murray on BBC Radio 5 live, explaining the spread of the pandemic, answering listener questions and commenting on scientific and medical developments.

Awards and Honours[edit]

Smith's work on the Naked Scientists also won him the Biosciences Federation Prize for Science Communication, 2006,[13] the JOSH Award 2007,[14] the Society for General Microbiology's Peter Wildy Prize 2008, the Royal Society Kohn Award for 2008,[15] the Best Radio Show Award at the Population Institute's 29th Global Media Awards, 2008,[16] the European Podcast Award for UK Non-Profit podcast,[17] the inaugural Royal College of Pathologists Furness Prize for Science Communication, 2010 and the Society of Biology's Science Communication Prize, 2012. In 2016 Smith received and honorary doctorate (DSc) from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in recognition of his contributions to broadcasting and public understanding of science[18][19]


  1. ^ "Dr Chris Smith - Networks of evidence and expertise for public policy". Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  2. ^ ABC Radio National Breakfast Science Reports
  3. ^ Naked Scientist, Talk Radio 702
  4. ^ Naked Scientist on BBC Radio Norfolk
  5. ^ 5 live Up All Night
  6. ^ 5 live Science, BBC Radio 5 live
  7. ^ "A science podcaster bares all". The Scientist Magazine®. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  8. ^ The eLife Podcast
  9. ^ "A science podcaster bares all". The Scientist Magazine®. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  10. ^ "The Naked Scientist is headed to Perth!". Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  11. ^ Naked Science
  12. ^ "Crisp Packet Fireworks". Archived from the original on 22 December 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2009.
  13. ^ Biosciences Federation Science Communication Award 2006 Archived 13 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Biosciences Federation
  14. ^ And the winner is... Archived 18 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Manchester Science Festival, 25 October 2007
  15. ^ Royal Society Kohn Award for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science, The Royal Society
  16. ^ 29th Annual Global Media Award Winners Announced Archived 24 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, The Population Institute Press Release, 31 October 2008
  17. ^ "European Podcast Award 08/09 Winners announced". Archived from the original on 31 December 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  18. ^ "QMUL Honorary Degree recipients, July 2016". Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  19. ^ QMUL List of Honorary Degree holders

External links[edit]