New Engagement Fellowships include first joint fellows

Wellcome's Engagement Fellowships for 2016 have been awarded to Professor Lois Weaver, Professor Anil Seth and our first joint engagement fellows, Jessica Thom and Matthew Pountney. They will take up their fellowships later this year. 

Matthew Poutney, Jessica Thom and Anil Seth
From left, Matthew Poutney, Jessica Thom and Anil Seth, three of Wellcome's new Public Engagement fellows.
Credit: Thomas S G Farnetti, Wellcome

Over the next three years they will be exploring the topics of consciousness, disability and inclusive spaces for public discussion.  

Lois Weaver, artist and Professor of Contemporary Performance at Queen Mary University of London, hopes to use her fellowship to find ways that might help more of us come together. She plans to experiment and create comfortable spaces for public discussion, such as Long Tables and Porch Sittings, which resist hierarchies, foster inclusion and value lived experience as expertise. 

Anil Seth is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at University of Sussex, where he is also Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. He aims to use his fellowship to explore new ways of combining cutting-edge research into the biological basis of consciousness with innovative approaches to public involvement.

Artists Jessica Thom and Matthew Pountney co-founded Touretteshero in 2010 as a creative response to Jess's experience of living with Tourette's syndrome. They plan to work with leading centres for disability studies, as well as running a series of creative exchanges bringing together people with professional, scientific and learned experiences. Their fellowship will inform new collaborative performance and participatory artworks. They hope these will act as catalysts for debate, helping to turn assumptions about disability into constructive conversations.

Our Engagement Fellowships scheme has been running for six years. It supports emerging leaders in science communication or public engagement who are looking to develop their practice.

Recipients have used their fellowships to explore new ways of thinking about science and its wider cultural contexts.

Previous fellows have explored surgical simulation, poetry, citizen science, art, TV presenting and writing.