The art of telling science stories during National Science Week

Garvan visual science communicator, Dr Kate Patterson, will talk at a National Science Week event to be held at the University of Sydney on the evening of Thursday 15 August. She will be one of three panellists discussing how visualisation helps create multi-disciplinary approaches to research, preventative health and clinical treatment.
The art of telling science stories during National Science Week
07 August 2013

Garvan visual science communicator, Dr Kate Patterson, will talk at a National Science Week event to be held at the University of Sydney on Thursday 15 August*.

Kate will be one of three panellists discussing how visualisation helps create multi-disciplinary approaches to research, preventative health and clinical treatment. She joins theoretical physicist Professor John Crawford, and psychiatrist Professor Ian Hickie, both from the University of Sydney. Professor Crawford will discuss complex living systems, in particular the inner space of soil. Professor Hickie will provide insight into the links between a person's inner space and sense of self and place in society.

Kate’s work is dedicated to the creation of awe-inspiring and scientifically accurate animations to engage and inspire a general audience. Highlighting the research at Garvan in this way will help to enhance public awareness and depth of knowledge about Garvan and the significance of its research endeavours.

 “Visualisation provides a unique way to communicate complex processes in health and human disease. Through animation, we can show how molecules interact in time and space,” explained Kate.

“We can draw on the vast knowledge of scientists who can show by experimental data how things happen at the molecular scale, and then we can represent our understanding through animation. As well as being an efficient communication tool, visualising these processes in context can also help to inform research questions.”

“One of the skills involved in animation is storytelling. Like any drama, you have to pick out the characters that tell the story, and then make them act.”

“Good storytellers are able to extract the key events and players from complex scenarios to represent the subject’s essence. That’s very important in science, because the reality is so complex that it is impossible to clearly show all the players and events that actually happen in the context of a cell.”

One aspect of Kate’s current project highlights the role of the tumour suppressor protein p53 in the formation of cancer. P53 is known as the guardian of the cell but is mutated in over half of human cancers.

“p53 is the hero in the story, and I am able to show through animation what happens in the normal situation and then how this changes when mutated p53 attempts to bind to DNA.” she said.

This p53 story is part of a larger animation about how cancer is not just one disease and will take a year to complete from start to finish, including research, and the final animation will be 6 minutes long.

*This event is part of the Sydney Ideas event series and supported by NSW Science Week and Inspiring Australia, a Commonwealth Government Initiative. It will be held at the New Law Lecture Theatre 101, New Law Building, The University of Sydney from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm on 15 August.

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