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Scientist from MRC Prion Unit at UCL take part in Experimental Words

Scientists Madeleine Reilly, Jessica Sells, Luke Dabin, Julia Ravey with an actor and the poet Caroline Teague (right).

“Experimental Words”: a collision of art and science - 2017

On 4 December, researchers from the MRC Prion Unit at UCL took to the stage as part of “Experimental Words”, a high-energy collision of science and the spoken word.

The event brought together pairs of scientists and poets, who had the difficult task of transforming complex science through performance poetry. Jessica Sells, research scientist and public engagement coordinator at the unit, teamed up with poet Caroline Teague to write a poem about an individual experiencing prion disease. Their hard work culminated in “Fred’s Head”, a poem which was read by Caroline on stage, alongside a team of scientists from the unit who moved in synchrony to represent the process of disease progression, accompanied by music that was written and pre-recorded by musician Simon Dempsey. Throughout the performance, a video showing the structures of prion proteins that cause the disease was played.

The evening was a huge success and demonstrated that art-science collaborations can stimulate scientific creativity and reach new audiences, making science accessible to all.

For more information about this and other events please contact the unit’s public engagement coordinator Dr Cassandra Terry. For information specifically about this collaboration contact Jessica Sells (now currently working at King’s College London).

More about Dr Sam Illingworth and Dan Simpson, the brains behind “Experimental Words”, can be found on their website.

A podcast of the performance is available to download.