People: Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group

The Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group is a multidisciplinary research team whose work spans a diverse range of subjects including history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and education.

Professor Fern Elsdon-Baker 

Fern Elsdon-Baker

Chair in Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society and Director of Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society Research Group

I am transdisciplinary sciences studies researcher whose work encompasses philosophical, historical, sociological and psychological approaches. My research focuses on public perceptions of the relationship between STEMM and religion within religious, non-religious and spiritual groups; STEMM communication and engagement; and theories of inheritance from 1800 to the present.

I am currently the Director/Principal Investigator on three projects:

Dr Will Mason-Wilkes

Will Mason-Wilkes

Research Fellow in Popular Culture and Media

I am a Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholar with interests in popular and media representations of science and religion. My work on the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum of Global Perspectives project will involve co-editing a volume, along with Dr Alexander Hall, on global historical and contemporary media representations of evolutionary science and religion. Alongside my work on the SRES2 project, I continue to be interested in the relationships and interactions between science, media, religion and democracy.


Dr James Riley

James Riley

Research Fellow in the Quantitative Social Science

I have a background in science communication and the public understanding of science. I am currently researching public attitudes to evolution, and the social dimension of debates around science and religion, across six countries for the Science and Religion Exploring the Spectrum of Global Perspectives project. I completed my PhD in 2019, which focussed on Catholicism and evolution in England.

Dr Carissa Sharp

Carissa Sharp

Research Fellow in the Social Psychology of Science and Religion

I am a psychologist of religion whose research focuses on the intersection of belief, identity, and intergroup relations across cultures. At the University of Birmingham, I am a Co-Investigator on the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum of Global Perspectives project. My research addresses several interconnecting aspects of the psychology of religion using methodologies largely drawn from the wider field of social and experimental psychology. These aspects of the psychological study of religion have wide-ranging implications including personal well-being, diversity/inclusion, and stereotyping/prejudice.

Dr Rachael Shillitoe

Dr Rachael Shillitoe, Research Associate in the Department of Theology and Religion

Research Fellow in the Sociology of Religion

I am a Research Fellowe on the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum of Global Perspectives project and focus primarily on the qualitative research undertaken in this study. As a sociologist, my primary areas of interest are (non)religion, childhood, education and family life. My background has mainly focused on children’s experiences of religion and nonreligion across both the school and home and how beliefs are encountered and transmitted across these spaces. My work in the Research Group complements and builds on these interests. As well as carrying out research for Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum, I work with schools and the British Science Association (BSA) to create resources about science and religion that can support students to gain accreditation for the BSA’s CREST Award scheme. I am also leading on an evaluation study of REToday’s Understanding Christianity resources for schools.