Last month we told you about HSRU Research Fellow Dr Heidi Gardner’s stateside adventures as part of her Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. Since then, Heidi continued her adventures in Singapore and Hong Kong, and she’s back to update us on what she got up to.
Heidi’s Fellowship began in January, and the first leg included visits to Canada (Toronto), and the USA (New York, New Hampshire and Washington DC); click here to find out more about the North American leg of Heidi’s journey. In today’s post we’re catching up with her after a quick visit to Berlin before she left Europe for Singapore and Hong Kong.
Between big Fellowship trips Heidi made a quick pit stop in Berlin to visit STATE Studio; a public gallery, showroom and event space that was established on the back of STATE Festival – Berlin’s festival for open science, art and society. The Studio is home to various exhibits that focus on cutting-edge scientific research, innovation, and creativity; two of the main ones being a large canvas made up of a living algae biofilm (Fara Peluso’s Living Canvas), and a photography exhibition exploring the potential future impacts of gene editing (Trajectories of Longevity and CRISPR by Emilia Tikka and Zuzanna Kaluzna). In the words of STATE, “It’s a place for creative synergies between science, art, and innovation to discover and explore the breakthrough developments that shape our future.”
Following a weekend in Berlin, the long haul flights started again – with the second leg of Heidi’s travels starting in Singapore. “This part of the Fellowship was very different to the first leg, as I was really trying to figure out what the science communication landscape looks like in Asia in comparison to the USA and Canada,” Heidi explained. Her highlight of Singapore was a visit to the Red Dot Design Museum, which currently houses an exhibition from design collective called SPREAD. SPREAD, established in 2004, is made up of two Japanese designers, Haruna Yamada and Hirokazu Kobayashi. Their ‘Life Stripe’ project aims to “find patterns in our everyday existence by using bands of colour”. Singapore is also home to the world’s first dedicated ArtScience Museum, which provides unique, immersive exhibits from teamLab that allow participants to interact with exhibits, reflecting the way that humans interact with the natural world.
Heidi’s Fellowship came to an end with a trip to Hong Kong, where she visited Hong Kong Science Museum; a huge science hall with over 500 exhibits, over 70% of which are hands-on. Heidi was also lucky enough to spend a day at Shenzhen Wildlife Park in Guangdong province in China, where she got to see giant pandas (which were on great form doing forward rolls and playing with bamboo). Giant pandas are no longer classified as ‘endangered’ animals, having been downgraded to ‘vulnerable’ on the global list of species at risk of extinction after their population increased by 17% in a decade. This increase in population is thought to be, at least in part, a result of increased public education and awareness that has facilitated significant volumes of research funding, and Heidi was therefore interested in how the team of panda specialists in Shenzhen are educating and engaging the public with these (super cute!) animals.
Heidi is now back at HSRU and working on new trial methodology projects, but she will be sharing her research findings in more detail through presentations – if you’d like to hear more about Heidi’s work, please get in touch, she’d be happy to present her research to other research groups.