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Pint of Science 2017 spawns successful science/art collaborations

last modified Jun 28, 2017 11:48 AM

Members of the Department of Genetics, Aylwyn Scally, Sudhakaran Prabakaran and Ruchi Chauhan participated in Cambridge Pint of Science, 16-18 May 2017. Pint of Science events now take place annually in 26 cities across the UK, and in 10 other countries worldwide.  Scientists talk about their work in the convivial surroundings of a local pub, and interested members of the public can ask questions, and engage more closely with those seemingly mysterious activities taking place in labs.

Aylwyn Scally gave a talk titled 'Gene trees and ancestors - the evolution of human populations' at the Panton Arms.  Here's a summary:  ‘From their origins in Africa, humans have spread across the world in a series of migrations and mixing populations which have left a record in the DNA of every living individual. This talk will describe what genetics tells us about our evolutionary past and how we are related to each other, addressing questions such as whether the Neanderthals really died out, why 'race' is not a concept in genetics, and whether you are a Viking.’

Aylwyn also collaborated with artist Katie Allen as part of the Creative Reactions initiative, where an artist is assigned to a Pint of Science speaker. He talked to her about his research, and about genetics in general. This became the inspiration for her to create pieces which were displayed at the talk, and then later exhibited. The work, entitled ‘Facsimile Triptych’, is represented above. Given Katie's interest in typography, the pairing proved serendipitous.

Katie explains : ‘I work with typography and printmaking in my illustration (albeit usually in a very commercial sense). I was obviously very taken with the look of genome sequences. After discussing the way genetic information is passed on and reproduced, I was struck by how similar it is to the printmaking process; designed to reproduce mechanically and faithfully, but with inevitable small errors. I experimented with reproduction processes, and came to a method using clay to produce a tile, in which plaster was poured, creating a cast. I then inked the plaster cast and printed from it’.

Sudhakaran Prabakaran and Ruchi Chauhan  also contributed to Pint of Science. Sudhakaran was an organising member of the 'Our Body' team, who presented three talks on development, three on aging and three on epigenetics themes. Again, each speaker was partnered with an artist and each artist got to talk about their art. Ruchi was in the 'communication committee' responsible for writing, publicising, and tweeting about the talks.

>> Pint of Science

>> Scally Group

>> Prabakaran Group and Group blog

>> Katie Allen’s website