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UCL announces pioneering Scientist in Residence Initiative at Slade School of Art

9 January 2017

UCL is delighted to announce the establishment of a pioneering new Scientist in Residence at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Recent years have seen an explosion in artistic residencies, hosted by a range of academic disciplines. It is widely accepted that an artist’s view can provide fresh insights into all areas of life, and that the artist can gain inspiration from new interactions and experiences across different areas of scholarship.

We recognise that many scientists might interact with an artist in residence, but that it is usually only the artist who benefits directly from the interaction. UCL’s Scientist in Residence programme will address this imbalance, with scientific insight being brought into a wealth of artistic endeavours. In addition to highlighting some of the intrinsic beauty in the processes and materials involved in creating art, a genuine cultural exchange based around the discipline of experimentation in the arts will develop new understanding of their scientific methods.

Artistic residencies

Professor David Dobson joins Slade School as Scientist in Residence

UCL has a successful tradition of hosting artistic residencies, and our scientific residency is a pioneering new venture within UK higher education. It reflects and develops UCL’s strategic commitment to the integration of our education, research, innovation and enterprise for the long-term benefit of humanity.

The first UCL Scientist in Residence will be David Dobson, Professor of Earth Materials in UCL’s Department of Earth Sciences. Professor Dobson will be based in the Slade School of Fine Art for one year from January 2017.

Since its inception in 1871, the Slade has been at the forefront of developments in the field of contemporary art, and is one of the world’s leading art schools. The Scientist in Residence initiative has been promoted within the Slade by Jo Volley, Co-Director of the Slade’s Materials Research Project, which spearheads the role of materials within the creative process. Commenting on the announcement, Jo said:

“… of course, David is no stranger to the Slade and we are all very excited at the prospect of his residency and the potential impact it may have on students and staff alike. I would also like to thank those who through their generosity and forward-thinking have made this possible. It is an innovative manifestation of the multidisciplinary and imaginative thinking that is part of UCL tradition.”

Disruptive thinking

Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research) said:

“UCL is once again leading the way with this ground-breaking appointment. This kind of disruptive thinking is exactly the sort of initiative that sets UCL research apart. I am excited to see what comes from a scientist spending time outside his own discipline: we know that interdisciplinary research and collaboration can have fascinating results, leading to previously unforeseen breakthroughs.”

To find out more about Professor Dobson’s residency at the Slade, you are welcome to attend a talk on Wednesday 11 January from 1-2pm in the Haldane Room, Wilkins Building (booking not required).