Spotlight on Dr Evangelos Himonides
5 September 2017
This week the spotlight is on Dr Evangelos Himonides, Reader in Technology, Education and Music, UCL Institute of Education (IOE).
What is your role and what does it involve?
I am Reader in Technology, Education and Music at the UCL IOE. I lead a number of postgraduate modules and courses in technology, music and education, and I have been supervising a number of doctoral and postdoctoral research projects.
A new and very exciting role I have undertaken has been designing and leading an innovative module under the Arts and Sciences undergraduate programme (BASc) called 'Interactions of Music and Science'. I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to create UCL's first ever course in music in more than 190 years, working closely with Andrew Burn from the UCL Knowledge Lab and UCL Digital Arts Research in Education, and Carl Gombrich, who leads the BASc, as well as current BASc students as collaborators.
In tandem with teaching, I try to be active with exciting research under a number of 'umbrellas' such as information engineering, psychology, perception, psychoacoustics, education and research design.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
My first position at the IOE in 2004 (a school/faculty of UCL since December 2014) was for an Arts and Humanities Research Board (now Council) funded research project called VOXed, although, technically, I was employed by the Department of Electronics at the University of York. This is also when I started my doctoral research, which concluded in 2008. I became a member of the IOE faculty in 2005, and a full-time lecturer in 2007.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
I continually take pride in my own and my team's work; this is what drives me, actually. I do not like to 'release' or publish work that I am not proud of.
But I think in terms of service to the society and public engagement, I am most proud of the development of all technologies, media and materials for Sounds of Intent, the world's biggest resource in supporting children and young people with Severe (SLD) and Profound and Multiple (PMLD) Learning Difficulties, with and through music. Since the official launch of the platform, Sounds of Intent has seen 7.4 million unique visitors the world over, with an approximate number of support material downloads (including unique video streams) of 1,356,432 items. Currently, 680 registered practitioners from more than 217 different schools are actively engaged with the platform.
Tell us about a project you are working on now that is top of your to-do list.
I have just finished a very exciting UCL Culture-funded public engagement project that focused on supporting laryngectomy patients through creative group music activity (beatboxing). This was an incredibly successful project in collaboration with the charity Shout at Cancer, and we are currently working on structuring new research activities and funding bids.
I am also delighted to report that we have just received positive news about our bid for a small-scale project titled "Can software engineering be taught by making (and) music?" under the UCL Computer Science Strategic Research Fund, in which I will be collaborating with Dr Nicolas Gold.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
My favourite album has to be Purcell's Dido and Aeneas (Chorus and Orchestra by the Academy of Ancient Music, directed by Christopher Hogwood). While conducting my doctoral research on the psychoacoustics of the singing voice, I collected all publicly, commercially (and some privately!) available versions of Dido's Lament; Catherine Bott's Lament is, to me, the finest!
Although not a film per se, Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth miniseries is, for me, a celebration of cinematic brilliance, where stellar casting meets inspired direction.
It is interesting that you are asking about a 'novel' and not a 'book' in general...
This is very tricky as, to me, sometimes it is the aftertaste or (apologies if I might sound a bit 'homeopathic' here) the 'memory' of emotions evoked by a novel that stays, and not the text itself. In that sense, my favourite novel is My Sweet Orange Tree by José Mauro de Vasconcelos. But Pearl Buck's The Mother is a very close second.
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
My favourite pre-watershed joke comes from my favourite pre-watershed TV show, The Big Bang Theory:
"There's this farmer, and he has these chickens, but they won't lay any eggs. So, he calls a physicist to help. The physicist then does some calculations, and he says, 'Um, I have a solution, but it only works with spherical chickens in a vacuum'."
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
B.B. King, Bertrand Russell, Leonardo da Vinci and William Morris.
What advice would you give your younger self?
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I am passionate about typography, carpentry and making in general. I make guitars and auction them for charity.
What is your favourite place?
On campus, the UCL Institute of Making... my jaw dropped when I discovered its existence! I love the place, the people and the opportunities that it offers.
Outside UCL, my favourite place is where my wife and daughter are, especially if my tools are nearby ;-)