Science Ceilidh is an award-winning social enterprise exploring science and traditional arts together, connecting communities and research through music and dance. Voted Community Music Organisation of the Year 2018 in Scotland, we have shared our science-themed dances with over 15,000 people and worked with over 12,000 learners in schools with our year-long education programme enriching the Curriculum for Excellence. We are particularly interested in building relationships with community members and learners who may not typically engage in science including arts community groups, New Scots refugee and migrants communities, youth groups and groups with support needs. Finally, we work with researchers to help develop methods of engaging with the public through training, support and developing resources that link with communities and teachers.
See more and access the free resources on the main website here.
I speak on science, public and community engagement and cultural participation - particularly reaching diverse communities beyond the converted, and learnings from different sectors I have also spoken previously on my neuroscience research.
17 Dec 2018: Building relationships, empowerment & capacity with grassroots communities. Explore Your Universe (ASDC, Bristol)
31 Jan 2019: Creative & Interdisciplinary STEM learning. Inspiring STEM Learning (Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh)
Selected Previous Talks:
Breaking the Walls of the Science Echo Chamber Through Arts. Falling Walls Engage (Berlin, 2018)
Engaging beyond the converted, Keynote. STEAM Conference, (Malta, 2018)
Learnings from Arts and Cultural Democracy, Diversity in STEM, Royal Institution (London, 2018)
Not running out of STEAM. Telegraphy Festival of Education (Wellington College, 2017)
What’s Left of, and Right about, the asymmetric brain. Pint of Science (Edinburgh, 2017)
Exploring the Mind Through Music, Conference Fellow (Rice University, 2016)
Global and local brain asymmetries. (ESHE, London National Museum, 2015)
Symposium on Pathways to Impact. (Physiological Society, London, 2014)
TEDxUniversity of Edinburgh Compere (Edinburgh, 2013)
See workshops here.
From 2017, I have been part of a UK-wide cross-sector action research project on supporting grassroots participation in culture (arts, science, heritage, museums and research) with the Fun Palaces campaign. Funded by Wellcome Trust and Paul Hamilyn, this involves sharing learning, reflections and practice with other ambassadors from different sectors and regions. As part of this, I am undertaking a residency with Voluntary Arts Scotland as their “scientist-in-residence”.
So far, this has involved:
- Supporting diverse communities across Scotland to engage with science, health and wellbeing, including through community workshops and trialing support through microfunding.
- Exploring the shared challenges, research and learnings around cultural democracy and policy to science communication, education and public engagement.
- Building partnerships with other organisations and working as a critical friend to support participation rather than access, and embed structural changes.
- Trailing long-term projects such as Leith Labs (science residency in a shopping centre) and working with refugee and immigrant community (New Scots)
- Developing an evidence-base, case-studies and best practice and feed this into larger strategic work including with funders, and the Scottish STEM and cultural strategies.
Current workshops that I run on request include:
Cultural Democracy Provocations for Public & Community Engagement
How can your public and community engagement be more equitable, empowering and sustainable? Using provocation, participation and place cards to encourage peer-led discussions and reflections, this workshop encourages researchers, public engagement professionals, community groups and stakeholders to think about power dynamics and involve different audiences and stakeholders.
Delivered At (Selected):
Culture, Community and Creativity Conference (ROTOR, University of Huddersfield 2018)
Engage Conference (National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement 2017)
Explore your Research Creatively
How can we use creative arts approaches from dance to poetry, visual arts to infographics, to communicate and start conversations around your research? This workshop can be done in-depth with fewer researchers to focus on one medium (dance, music and movements for Science Ceilidh for example) or for many through facilitated group work with lots of different mediums. This can fit within a conference session, half a day or even a series of workshops to go into real depth and develop further resources.
Delivered At (Selected)
Art & Science of Research (Arts Health Early Career Research Network, 2018)
Ceilidh on the Brain Project (Edinburgh Neuroscience, Centre for Regenerative Medicine, 2017)
Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (Oxford, 2016)
Leeds Science Festival, University of Leeds (2015)
Research Hooks - Public Engagement & Communication Training
How do you spark conversations with members of the public in a wide range of settings? This training is designed for researchers and students both with and without prior experience of public engagement, focusing on how to develop a "research hook" to start conversations in a “drop-in” settings and adjust your language, body language, and pitch to different audiences, developing better communication.
Delivered At (Selected):
Explorathon Training (Edinburgh Beltane Network, 2018, 2017, 2016)
ESRC Festival of Social Science (University of Edinburgh, 2017)
Interdisciplinary STEM Learning CLPL
Training session for teachers to focus on supporting interdisciplinary Strategies using approaches incorporating movement, traditional dance and other arts into science and other areas of the curriculum and then better interdisciplinary understanding summarising the research around the science of learning, creativity and health and wellbeing (particularly from a neuroscience perspective) to have better understanding of how to embed this into the classroom.
Delivered At (Selected):
Highlands & Islands PGDE residential (2018)
Inverness STEM Academy (2017)
ASE Scorland Conference 2016
Other Workshops I have been involved with include:
Code Crackers (World Innovation Summit for Education, Qatar Foundation, 2015)
OR Surgery (Abu Dhabi Science Festival 2015 - 2011, Edinburgh International Science Festival 2011 - 2009)
You can see my talks here.
As a science educator, I have developed and ran workshops for both primary and secondary pupils across Scotland, the UK and Internationally alongside curriculum-linked resources combining research with key learning outcomes.
I'm a member of the Association for Science Education's Scotland committee and am particularly interested in sustainable science education that supports teachers in being boldly interdisciplinary (including incorporating movement and arts in STEM), challenge neuromyths and stereotypes, and linking with family/community learning to build science capital through CLPL and our school projects including focusing on supporting students with additional support needs.
See more of our school programme here.
I have been involved in interviews and segments for TV and media, including the science of creativity on BBC 2 Artsnight, Secrets of the Brain on Sky and local press with STV, and I’m part of the BBC Academy’s Expert Voice programme.
I have also done many radio interviews, both in my role as neuroscientist, Science Ceilidh and with Fun Palaces for BBC Scotland, BBC Wales along with local radio across Scotland from Orkney to Stornoway.
Finally, I have taken part in many podcasts, including Level Up Human, Speaking of Science, MECOPP's Food for Thought, TeamRegeneratED, Little Atoms and Chats for You.
See more clips of this work here.
Awards have included:
Recipient of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Public Engagement Innovator Medal
Science Ceilidh was voted as Community Music Organisation of the Year in Scotland with Hands Up For Trad
Fellowship for the Exploring the Mind Through Music programme, Rice University
Creative Edinburgh Social Award for Science Ceilidh
National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), Engage Award, in the STEM category for contribution to the immersive science-theatre piece Deadinburgh
BNA Undergraduate Award
Ernest Walton Medal for Medical Science and Highly Commended Entrant in Psychology with the International Undergraduate Awards
Best Science Student Prize (Best overall grade in Neuroscience Honours class)
My research background is in using neuroimaging to look at anatomical brain asymmetries and how this may change in certain psychiatric or neurological disorders, through brain evolution and with musical training at the University of Edinburgh with supervisor, Profession Neil Roberts and collaborator, Professor Tim Crow (University of Oxford, POWIC), sharing this work in conferences at Sitges, London Museum of Natural History, Durham and Hawaii (HBM, 2016).
I won the British Neuroscience Association & International Medical Science Undergraduate Award in my undergraduate degree, and was a Science Fellow at the Exploring the Mind Through Music Conference in Rice University 2016.
Published Papers & Outputs:
Measurement of Sylvian Fissure and Occipital Bending Asymmetries in Humans and Pan Troglodytes. NeuroImage (Hou et al. 2018)
Brain structural and functional asymmetry in human situs inversus totalis. Brain Structure & Function. Vingerhoets, G., Xiang, L., Hou, L., et al. (2018)
BLAHB: the Better Looking Atlas of the Human Brain (Version 0.1) [Digital Brain Atlas] Noordanus, N. W., Dimitriou, P., Hou, L. (2013).
I’m passionate about supporting a more equitable, diverse & inclusive society and believe in the potential for culture, science and education to make change. I have been part of the STEM Gamechanger Programme at the Alan Turing Institute and have talked at events including at the Royal Institution on strategies and not reinventing the wheel.
I have run science and research communication training in many contexts - most recently, running the "Research Hook" communication training with researchers to get involved in the Scotland-wide Explorathon, focusing on distilling their research into a hook to start conversations for passerbys to engage in a wide range of contexts, including a shopping centre.
I have also run science communication training on behalf of Edinburgh International Science Festival in Edinburgh, Abu Dhabi, Bangalore, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for their festivals and workshops.
Finally, I have also run bespoke training exploring science and arts together, both working extensively with individual researchers and community groups to explore their work through the arts in the Science Ceilidh with University of Edinburgh researchers but also for the University of Leeds and young people across Scotland.
I have been very fortunate to have been able to consult & work on International Science Festivals and passionate about using different cultural contexts to explore science engagement.
Working with the Edinburgh International Science Festival, I have been heavily involved in the Abu Dhabi Science Festival since it's inception in 2011. Over the last few years, this has focused on managing and developing the Local Content (workshops led by local organisations) including liaison with Abu Dhabi Education Council (now ADEK), support and training of partners along with local science communicators to take further ownership, with the 2017 ADSF having over 50% local content.
As part of the ventures, I have also been involved in Bangalore Science Festival (2014), running both a workshop, stageshow and communication training of all the science communications, ran a DNA workshop for the Saudi Festival of Creativity and Learning (2015) and was part of the World Innovation Summit Education (WISE) 2016 with a cyber security workshop with local volunteers, and as a highlight, met Michelle Obama on her visit with the young people.
I have also helped support sustainability workshops in Thailand with Traidos Three Generation Community for Learning, represented Scotland at the first Science Show International Cup in 2016 held in Aha Science Centre in Estonia and ran science ceilidh workshops and talks in Texas as part of the Exploring the Mind Through Music Fellowship.
I’ve been involved in designing for posters, events and even menus from an early age and throughout my public engagement/science communication career and happy to consult on design aimed towards attracting audiences, evaluation and also training for public engagement professionals to be able to use free resources like canva to make their own designs.
I have supported and designed science communication evaluation not only for own projects (Science Ceilidh, Fun Palaces, Leith Labs) but have commissioned to support the evaluation for the Midlothian Science Festival and New Atlantis immersive theatre piece.
I set up Leith Labs at our local shopping centre, and it is now the longest running scientist-residency in a mall, running free regular activities and empowering communities to partner with researchers from the four universities of Edinburgh.
You can see more: www.scienceceilidh.com/leithlabs
I have been involved in two large-scale site-specific Immersive Theatre pieces exploring science with LASTheatre, and believe in the power of the immersive theatre space to empower audiences to explore the nuances of real research and the real-world applications.
One was the Deadinburgh, exploring the biomedical and ethical considerations of a zombie apocolaypse in Edinburgh which met much critical acclaim, and won the NCCPE STEM Engage Award 2014. I was involved as the last remaining neuroscientist, exploring the results of a brainscan from the infected, and what implications that had about the neuroanatomy of the disease.
This followed with a short piece run with National Museum of Scotland and LASTheatre led by young people in 2015 - Zombies in the Museum!
I was also involved as a science consultant for New Atlantis piece in London's The Crystal exploring climate change. My role was to support the scientist as Science Liaison and support the evaluation of the piece.
You can read my article on this here:
I have been a keen traditional Scottish fiddle player for many years, now performing all across Europe for dances and events! You will be able to check out videos and performances on our upcoming youtube channel!
I believe science should play a key part of society, and was one of the core organisers of the Edinburgh March for Science in April 2017, which led to cross party support and over 2000 people attending on the day in front of Scottish Parliament.
I have trained as a Scottish Country Dancer with the New Scotland team in Edinburgh, having competed in the annual prestigious Newcastle competitions and having won as a team the mixed category in 2013 (video is here). I have also some training in Highland Dance and remain a passionate folk dancer and teacher visiting festivals all across Europe.
I have trained as a Scottish Country Dancer with the New Scotland team in Edinburgh, having competed in the annual prestigious Newcastle competitions and having won as a team the mixed category in 2013 (video is here). I have also some training in Highland Dance (see here) and remain a passionate folk dancer and teacher visiting festivals all across Europe.