Science in Culture is one of the key areas of AHRC funding and supports projects committed to developing reciprocal relationships between scientists and arts and humanities researchers.

It is not easy to impress judges in any competition, but the 14 Early Career researchers who made the shortlist in the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Ignite event for the Science in Culture project, had a particularly difficult job. Allowed no more than 20 slides, they each had just five minutes in which to engage a public audience with their science, arts and humanities research.

The Ignite format is very demanding and necessitates finely honed communication skills to get over clear, and engaging, messages in such a short time. But the judges, who included Dr Chris Lintott (University of Oxford), Julie Harvey (Director of the Centre of Arts and Humanities Research, Natural History Museum), Dr Naomi Sykes (University of Nottingham) and Professors Colin Blakemore and Barry C Smith (School of Advanced Study) were impressed by the standard of entries.

From more than 50 entries, 14 were chosen to present their research projects in front of a public audience including their peers, leading academics and journalists at London’s Natural History Museum in March. They ranged from insights into data visualisation to art therapies, avant-garde technologies and how we interact with animals.

These presentations have now been made into a series of short films designed mainly to highlight awareness of the AHRC Science in Culture theme. An introductory film was also made at the event which introduces the three large grant projects being funded as part of the theme: Constructing Scientific Communities – Citizen Science in the Nineteenth and Twenty-first Centuries; Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions and Rethinking the Senses: Uniting the Philosophy and Neuroscience of Perception.

Rose Ferraby from University of Exeter, whose talk was entitled ‘Stone Exposures’ said: ‘I thought the Ignite format worked very well. All the talks were so stimulating- little snapshots into other worlds of thinking – and I met so many interesting people’.

‘The Ignite event for Science in Culture exceeded our expectations,’ said Professor Smith, Director of the Institute of Philosophy and also AHRC Leadership Fellow for the Science in Culture Theme.

‘It was a powerful example of how well one can present an idea in five minutes; what we got was the essence of the research. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from these Early Career Researchers in the future.’

The AHRC Science in Culture Theme Ignite event took place on 26 March 2014 in the Natural History Museum’s Flett Lecture Theatre. The films are available at the AHRC website or via an AHRC You Tube playlist. More information about the Science in Culture Theme can be found here.

Image: Professor Barry C. Smith, Director of the Institute of Philosophy, takes to the stage at AHRC’s Ignite event for the Science in Culture project