The EPSRC and BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Synthetic Biology at Oxford University kindly invited me to create an afternoon workshop for their PhD students based on my own doctoral thesis that I’m writing/making at the University of Copenhagen. I gave a talk that explored issues and conflicts arising from interdisciplinary collaborations between synthetic biologists, social scientists, humanities scholars, artists and designers. We reviewed case studies and discussed the take away messages and suggestions that have been made from when things get a little strange/difficult/uncomfortable across disciplinary divides. We then moved into exploring the potential for experimental science media projects to try and address some of the recurring gaps in communication difficulties, as cited. The synbio PhDs heard, responded to, and debated some of the results from a current project of mine that features self-made recordings in the form of audio diaries from a variety of scientists, social researchers, artists, biohackers and watchdog critics. They were a great group full of really thoughtful ideas.
I was surprised by how wildly unequal the gender gap was in the students’ cohort there, as there was only one female in the room other than me! Although gender equality in terms of representation is a classic STEM issue, I didn’t expect it to be quite that stark.