What I do
I am a freelance science writer and commentator with 22 years’ experience of working for the UK national media. I’ve interviewed people like James Watson, Craig Venter, Ian Wilmut, Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker. I’ve commented on such topics as pandemic flu, Ebola, human evolution and Facebook. I participate in, and also sometimes chair, public debates and discussions.
Who I work for
I am a Contributing Writer on science for the Financial Times, and also write features and comment for such publications as the Daily Telegraph, Prospect, Radio Times and New Scientist. From 1994 to 2010, I worked for The Times as a staff feature writer and science columnist, also putting in stints at the paper’s home and foreign news desks. I occasionally go on television and radio to review the papers or comment on scientific issues. I’ve reported on creationism in schools, Ebola and air pollution for BBC2’s Newsnight. In 2014, I delivered three masterclasses on science writing at City University in London. I also make the odd BBC Radio 4 documentary (confession: I love Radio 4). You’ll find my output on the ‘latest articles’ page of this website.
My professional background
I have a degree in physics and a PhD in space physics from Imperial College London. I have a postgraduate diploma in newspaper journalism from City University, London (the Guardian kindly sponsored me). Both sets of qualifications have served me well: I know my way around percentages, and I have yet to be sued (successfully) for libel.
My personal background
I had a modest upbringing and a state education in Essex. I was lucky enough to have immigrant parents who valued both education and free thinking. Mealtimes in the Ahuja household were as much about debating the issues of the day – okay, arguing – as about eating.
I’m married with two children and live in London. I’m an ex-school governor, and have variously advised the Royal Society, the British Council and the British Science Association. In 2016 I became a trustee of the charity Sense about Science.
I’m not grown-up enough to have written my own book yet but in 2010 I co-authored a book called Selected, on leadership with the talented Professor Mark van Vugt. It tries to explain, among other things, why leaders are usually tall and male. I am neither, but don’t let that put you off buying it. You can read more here: Selected.
I believe that science is a public good that generally adds value to our society. That does not mean I am a cheerleader for science, or that I accept uncritically what scientists tell me. Sometimes, I agree with scientists (on man-made climate change), and sometimes I don’t (I don’t believe that scientific evidence should be the ONLY basis on which to formulate public policy). I value intelligent debate and critical thinking.
As an independent journalist without political affiliation, I also believe passionately in freedom of speech and thought. The real test of whether you believe in free speech is your willingness to defend ideas that offend you. I take umbrage at lots of things – UKIP, tattoos, stupidity – but I generally don’t want to ban them.
I am not religious but I respect the rights of others to hold religious beliefs.
And I don’t mind you disagreeing with me, as long as you do it courteously.