Keynote Speakers

Each day of the PhUSE EU Connect will commence with a keynote presentation.

Kirk Borne

Kirk Borne is a data scientist and astrophysicist who has been using his talents at Booz Allen Hamilton since 2015. He was professor of astrophysics and computational science at George Mason University (GMU) for 12 years, serving as undergraduate adviser for the GMU data science programme and graduate adviser on the computational science and informatics PhD programme.


Kirk spent nearly 20 years supporting NASA projects, including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope as data archive project scientist, NASA's Astronomy Data Center, and NASA's Space Science Data Operations Office. He has extensive experience in large scientific databases and information systems, including expertise in scientific data mining. Kirk was a contributor to the design and development of the new Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, for which he contributed in the areas of science data management, informatics and statistical science research, galaxies research, and education and public outreach.

Luke Simon

Luke is the Founder and CEO of School in a Bag.

Following a six-and-a-half-year career designing gardens around the world, Luke took a year out in 2004 visiting 10 countries and secured the position of Athletics Director in an international school in northern Thailand. During the Christmas break on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi, Luke was caught up in the Indian Ocean tsunami, where his brother Piers was tragically killed.

The Piers Simon Appeal (PSA) was officially launched at Piers’ memorial service to help disaster victims around the world and, to date, victims in 13 countries have been financially supported by the PSA, including funding 131 ShelterBoxes.

In 2009, the PSA created School in a Bag (SIAB), an initiative that distributes rucksacks filled with stationery, learning resources and eating utensils to disadvantaged children around the world, giving them an opportunity to a better education and a lifeline to a future free from hardship and poverty. To date, SIAB have delivered over 82,700 school bags to children in 39 countries.

Connect attendees will have the oppotunity to pack their own bag whilst at the PhUSE EU Connect and track it as it makes it way to those most in need.

Visit the School in a Bag website for more information.


Emma Lawton

When Emma was redesigning the Parkinson’s UK website she was diagnosed herself with early onset Parkinson’s, at the age of 29. Making it her mission to raise awareness about the condition and carry on her life as she planned, Emma continues to work as a creative director, as well as an award-winning charity campaigner and TEDx speaker.

She has also been a huge advocate of sharing her own story. Through campaigning on social media to publishing her own book on dealing with Parkinson’s, Emma has hugely helped to raise the profile of Parkinson’s disease.

In 2015 Emma won the CharityComms Inspiring Communicator award for her fundraising for Parkinson’s and in 2017 she was listed as one of MT’s 35 women under 35. She has also been featured in Cosmopolitan and in a BBC documentary.

Sharing her story on how her life changed from the moment of diagnosis, and how she has dealt with it with positivity and honesty, Emma is a truly inspirational and talented speaker.

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