Louise is a part-time Lecturer in the Institute of Health at Cumbria University.
She has over 25 years’ experience in healthcare, most recently as a Director at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust where she led communications and marketing for the Trust and Charity. Prior to this, Louise worked at GlaxoSmithKline for 15 years, latterly as Vice President of Communications for research and development and global commercial franchises. Her skills include change management, business strategy, communications, public relations, marketing, fundraising, people development and employee engagement.
Since returning to academia in 2017 to conduct research in the area of her professional interests, Louise gained an MRes and a PhD. Her research focuses upon how scientific and medical organisations communicate and engage with the general public on controversial subjects of science, in particular vaccine safety.
Louise is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and she has a particular interest in initiatives which widen access to higher education. She taught on the Foundation Year for Medicine at Edge Hill University Medical School during her PhD and currently lectures on the Foundation Year at the Institute of Health at Cumbria University.
Qualifications and memberships
2019-2021: PhD. Thesis title: Clash of the lifeworlds: How scientific and medical organisations communicate about controversial science. Edge Hill University, UK.
2018: Masters by Research: MMR Vaccine: A counterfeit controversy? Science scepticism and science denialism in public discourse. Edge Hill University, UK
2019: Post Graduate Cert (distinction). Teaching in Higher Education. Edge Hill University, UK
1992: BA Hons. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2:1. Oxford University, UK
Academic and research interests
Louise's academic research examines how organisations communicate about controversial scientific topics such as vaccine safety. Communicating and engaging effectively with the public during a public health crisis can save lives, prevent harm and reduce the impact in terms of social and economic costs, as exemplified during the COVID19 pandemic. Louise's research focuses upon the approach of UK scientific organisations to communications and engagement with the public about controversial issues of science. She argues that the ideal conditions for rational discourse around science are far more difficult to achieve than academic commentators have previously acknowledged, for a variety of cultural, political and organisational reasons. A variety of factors are inhibiting co-ordination across scientific institutions and reducing the effectiveness of engagement and communication to the public from reliable and authoritative sources during a scientific controversy. Louise's research provides insight into the underlying and perhaps unacknowledged cultural and social influences that place constraints on the ability of scientific organisations and scientists to engage in meaningful scientific discourse with the public. These observations could inform professional practice as well as provide avenues for further research
Dunn, L. PhD Thesis (2021). Clash of the Lifeworlds. How scientific organisations engage with the public on controversial science. A study based on the theories of Jurgen Habermas.
Recent external roles
- Trustee at Calvert Lakes, a charity which provides outdoor adventure holidays to people living with disabilities and their families as well as rehabilitation services to people with acquired brain injury.
- Ambassador for Sense About Science, a charity which campaigns for a higher quality of debate about matters of sceince in the public domain.
- Former advisory panel member at the Science Media Centre, a charity which works with the media to provide accurate and evidence-based information, particularly on controversial news stories where the most confusion and misinformation occurs.