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I was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, near the East coast of England. I grew up in Skegness, by the sea where I attended Skegness Grammar School. Interested in space from a very young age, Physics with Astrophysics was the natural fit. I went on to earn a MPhys (Hons) in Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Leicester.
Since 2009, I have become more aware of international networks within astronomy and space. I have since met so many different people from various parts of the world; many of which I can call good friends. The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) selected me as the UK Student Representative for the Opening Ceremony for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), held at UNESCO in Paris, France. This enabled me to work with international students from far-reaching places, learning about so many different cultures. In fact, it is through the friends and colleagues I made through that event which led me to the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), where I was their UK National Point of Contact for and worked as their intern in the heart of Vienna. Most recently I attended the International Space University (ISU) Space Studies Programme (SSP) 2013.
I have long been involved with UKSEDS (United Kingdom Students for the Exploration and Development of Space), initially through the (then) Leicester branch, LeSEDS where in 2006 it hosted the UKSEDS National Student Space Conference at the National Space Centre. In 2012, I was elected Secretary and was re-elected in the 25th anniversary conference (2013). I served as Vice-Chair in 2014/15 and am now a trustee for the organisation since we formally registered as a charity.
I am a also #spacetweep and you can find me hanging around on Twitter @rjmlaird where I share my passion for science communication, education and outreach.