Scientists in residence – What’s the point of stepping out of the laboratory?

Scientists in residence – What’s the point of stepping out of the laboratory?

Author: Eleanor S. Armstrong – University College London, United Kingdom

Artists in Residence (AIR) schemes proliferated in the early 1900s, allowing artists time and space away from their usual obligations within other organisations. Along with the rise in cultural influence of sciences came a rise in artists being resident in scientific institutions from the late 1990s onwards. This provided an alternative lens for artists, scientists and the public to see the scientific research through than more traditional, scientist-lead outreach. Such host institutions included universities (eg. UCL, University of Oxford) and research institutions (eg. CERN).

More recently the framework of residences has been reversed, and scientists have been in residence in artistic institutions as Scientists in Residence (SIR). However, little work has been done to understand the purpose of the SIR, or the benefits of the SIR scheme to artists, scientists, institutions, and the public may be. Utilising two detailed case studies: Prof. Nicky Clayton’s residency at Rambert Ballet, and Dr. Daniel Glaser’s residency at the Institute of Contemporary Art; as well as supporting evidence from surveys with other SIR and information from the Gluon Foundation; this presentation will explore if we can understand the SIR as a mode of science communication to a cultural audience.

By using theories that interrogate the purpose of AIR in scientific institutions, and science communication theories including the Science Capital framework, this presentation will discuss what can illuminated about SIR and their role in sharing science to the public by repurposing these frameworks. Preliminary analysis indicates that outcomes of the SIR are different relative to what the aims and outcomes of AIR are in science institutions. These differences will be examined and discussed. This presentation will discuss to what extent the findings are a function of the type of institutions and scientists currently involved and who form the cohort for this analysis in a SIR schemes.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: nvestigating science communication practices