Looking Thru the Nano Lens: Art, Science and Nature

Chiara O’Reilly, Alice Motion, Chiara Neto

Abstract


In 2018, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the School of Chemistry, Sydney Nano and the Department of Art History at the University of Sydney set up a pilot project called the Nano Lens. Our project set out to examine and experiment with what it means to look closely at the natural world and inviting us, as colleagues, into a discussion and collaboration, drawing on our different perspectives. The Nano Lens also gave agency to a group of scientists in training (undergraduate and postgraduate students), and a sense of ownership of the science, which was then transmitted to the public. Taking inspiration from the artwork of the prominent Australian painter Margaret Preston (1875-1963) and the flora she depicted, the Nano Lens has opened up new research that intersects science and the arts; celebrating the value of collaboration and offering opportunities for staff and students to engage in and lead interdisciplinary discussions with the public. This paper will discuss our pilot project and the initial findings of our research together and discuss the benefits that our alliance has had in fostering collaboration and outreach activities where academics and students work together to share their research with the public. We seek to reflect on what we have learnt from the project and from opportunities to share our work and approaches. What does it mean to look like a scientist or to look like an artist and how has this enriched student learning? What value is there in opening up opportunities for informal learning about science and collaboration outside your disciplines?

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