PE Team

The Public Engagement Team are based within the University of Birmingham’s External Relations team, working closely with the Research Planning team. As well as our recent move within the organisation to better align our working with other relevant teams, we also underwent a restructure to incorporate what was previously the Cultural Engagement Team. This page will be updating in the near future to include all of the new team members and their remits, but in the meantime please do feel free to get in touch with those listed below.

Dr Leah Fitzsimmons, Public Engagement with Research Officer

Dr Leah Fitzsimmons

Leah is Public Engagement Officer at the University of Birmingham and in a previous life was a research fellow, interested in deciphering how Epstein-Barr virus drives cell survival in cancer. Leah has a range of media and engagement experience, having spoken at events all over the UK such as TEDxBrum, consulted on Trust Me I’m a Doctor, written and blogged for Wellcome Trust, Lancet journals, and Voice of Young Science and is an Ask For Evidence Ambassador. She’s also trained researchers around the UK, been involved in policy events like Evidence Matters and refuted the Post Truth myth at the Northern Ireland Science Festival.

Email: / Tel: 0121 414 8481(PER Office)

Lauren Deere, Research Engagement Officer

Lauren Deere

Lauren Deere is a new recruit to the University and is joining the Public Engagement team as Research Engagement Officer. Lauren is a dedicated engagement specialist with 14 years of experience working in museums and heritage organisations in the midlands. She is passionate about diversifying engagement experiences, ensuring audiences are at the heart of the development process.  Lauren joins the team from Birmingham Museums Trust where she was Museum Manger for Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum. Here she was responsible for the day to day management of the museum, the development of new displays and exhibitions, and strategic lead for STEM engagement projects.

Lauren has experience of working in partnership with a range of organisations in the cultural sector and was a member of the board of trustees for the Association of Science and Discovery Centre.


Holly Pyke, Community Engagement Coordinator

Holly Pyke CEC Bio Pic 040620

Holly was recruited to the newly established role of Community Engagement Coordinator in June 2020 after spending the previous 17 years working for NHS services and third sector organisations. Holly previous roles were in managing and delivering services to support vulnerable or marginalised groups from diverse backgrounds to help address needs including: mental health problems, physical disability, sensory impairment, learning difficulties, substance misuse, gang affiliation, domestic abuse, homelessness, abject poverty and other housing crises. Holly’s extensive experience across both front line and managerial roles enabled her to make positive changes to the community, supporting vulnerable groups to achieve greater social inclusion, personal empowerment and autonomy. She is now looking forward to transferring these skills to support the University of Birmingham to reach a wider public audience than ever before and to enable them to engage with research, collections and other University assets and activities.


Rebecca Orleans, Public Engagement & Research Planning Team Administrator

Rebecca Orleans

Rebecca has worked at the University since 2017, starting by supporting the Centre of Precision Rehabilitation for Spinal Pain, before moving to the Executive Support Division to support the Public Engagement with Research Team and Research Planning Team. Rebecca’s previous background includes working in public sector customer service, events and the sports/leisure industry.

Rebecca also volunteers within the sport of Basketball and Wheelchair Basketball, as well as being a keen photographer.