The aim of the Simonyi Professorship is to contribute to the understanding of science by the public. The chair is intended to be filled by a scientist of distinction in their field of expertise, and the Simonyi Professor may hold the post while also pursuing their scientific work. Just as important as scientific accolade is that he or she has a talent and interest in communicating science to a wide audience.

Primary goals

The task of communicating science to the layman is not a simple one. In particular it is imperative for the post holder to avoid oversimplifying ideas, and presenting exaggerated claims. The limits of current scientific knowledge should always be made clear to the public. Once done so, however, there is also a role for presenting speculative ideas, which can convey to non-scientists some of the excitement of doing true science.


Because of the importance of communicating with as wide an audience as possible, the Simonyi Professor is not expected to undertake substantial teaching and administrative duties within Oxford University: any such efforts should be directed primarily towards the education of non-specialists. The Professor should communicate scientific ideas through a variety of media, in order to reach a wide range of people. These include, but are not limited to, public lectures, writing articles and books, and television and radio appearances. The Professor's role in disseminating scientific knowledge is also expected to involve travel from Oxford to other cities and countries.


The Simonyi Manifesto gives a more detailed exposition of the intentions of Charles Simonyi in establishing the Simonyi Professorship at Oxford University. Simonyi Professorship was set up with the express intention that its first holder should be Richard Dawkins.