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BMEIS PhD students unleash their creativity at online public engagement workshops

In June, PhD students from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences had a chance to take part in Create Escape: a series of weekly workshops facilitated by artists, makers and creators to bring the community together during lockdown.

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Mandalas created by participants at artist Julia Vogl’s workshop

The sessions were held online, delivered by a different creative practitioner each week between 3 and 23 June. Participants created mandalas (geometric-like symbols) with Julia Vogl, learned new drawing techniques from Jenny Leonard, produced a soundscape with Anna Staufenberg and made their own zine with Hana Ayoob.

The virtual format came with its challenges, but according to Julia Vogl, it may have ultimately allowed for deeper concentration and enjoyment. She said: “With everyone in the comfort of their own home, there was another safety net for many, and while they could not share the experience physically, it was nice to see everyone working away and sharing via chat.”

The students’ background in science informed the content of the workshops. Anna Staufenberg said: “I found the experience of working with scientists particularly rewarding, as it meant I could get more into the nitty-gritty of the science of sound - in fact, I think they knew a lot of it already!”

Jenny Leonard's session prompted PhD student Virginia Fernandez to experiment with a technique she learned in her own time. She used a method taught by the artist for a piece inspired by her research in the CDT in Smart Medical Imaging, which is focused on developing a generative model of the diseased human brain.

Virginia said: “Thinking of Alzheimer and how some neurons degenerate, I made a drawing of our garden and then started applying sets of four alternating colours using a neuron pattern. Some of the colour sets are vivid, and some are greyish, conveying the idea of Degeneration.”

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Degeneration, a drawing by Virginia Fernandez
With each workshop, the students surprised me with their incredible artistic approach, innovative ideas and lateral thinking.– Bella Spencer, Public Engagement Officer and the organiser of the series

Public engagement plays an important role in student life at BMEIS, enabling mutual learning between the public and the academic community. Students in the CDT in Smart Medical Imaging and CDT in Surgical and Interventional Engineering benefit from a varied programme of public engagement activities and some take an active role in the planning and delivery of new projects as well.

Find out more about the CDT in Smart Medical Imaging and CDT in Surgical and Interventional Engineering!

In this story

Bella Spencer

Bella Spencer

Public Engagement Officer