Science and culture

It drives me mad that when people use the word ‘culture’ they invariably mean the arts. The sciences are as much an expression of human culture and civilisation as music, dance or painting. Here are some examples of things I’ve done in pursuit of this ideal.

For the Wellcome Collection’s ‘From Atoms to Patterns’ exhibition I contributed a short video about the history of X-ray crystallography.

For the Science Museum I wrote headings and short text panels to orient visitors to the new, permanent Information Age gallery.

I was Writer in Residence at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History during its 150th anniversary year in 2010: I started a blog, Dodology, wrote a new guidebook and edited text panels for the British Birds display. More recently I collaborated with designer Claire Venables and several academic departments, as well as the Museum’s curators, to create the exhibition BioSense in 2015. In 2018 I wrote the text and again collaborated with academics and museum professionals to produce the exhibition Settlers: Genetics, Geography and the Peopling of Britain.

The Oxfordshire Science Festival invites people of all ages to find out how science affects our lives

From 2010 – 2019 I was Trustee and deputy chair of the Oxford Trust, which supports science and enterprise through activities under the name Science Oxford. Science Oxford runs a programme of hands-on activities for young people, educational outreach and exhibitions, talks and debates for adults. From 2018 the Trust will have a new education and enterprise centre set in 17 acres of woodland in Headington. It’s a great project and I’m very proud to be part of it.

From 2015 – 2019 I was also a Trustee of the IF Oxford Science + Ideas Festival (formerly the Oxfordshire Science Festival), which in 2019 presented ten days of activities across Oxford . I’m a member of the Advisory Board of the Oxford Centre for Life Writing at Wolfson College, Oxford, and have chaired a number of sessions at the Oxford Literary Festival. You can find out more about talks I have given on my Events page.

From 2004-2009 I was on the board of Oxford Inspires, the cultural development agency for Oxfordshire, which explicitly included scientific activities and arts-science collaborations in the events it promoted. Oxford Inspires has now been absorbed into Experience Oxfordshire.