Louise Whiteley – Associate Professor
My work at Medical Museion
I’m an Associate Professor in Medical Science Communication at Medical Museion, and my position involves research, teaching, and museum work. My focus in the museum is on events surrounding our collections and exhibitions, and I teach primarily graduate courses in science communication, critical neuroscience studies, and the responsible conduct of research.
My main research interest is in how biomedical research is entangled with popular culture; from newspaper headlines that over-extrapolate laboratory research, to the use of brain scan images in advertising or the uptake of scientific vocabularies into everyday speech. In particular, I’m interested in the role of popular cultures and artworks in negotiating the relationship between biomedical research and the subjective human experiences it invokes. At the moment I’m developing a project applying this interest to neuroscientific studies of metabolism and disordered eating.
I’m also interested in the ethics of science communication as public engagement, and in the conflicts of motivation that occur when public engagement draws on or intersects with artistic methods. I’m a co-organizer of an upcoming Lorentz workshop on The Future of Art-Science Collaborations, and am working on a series of events exploring how the use of laboratory and museum objects might affect the kinds of engagement with research that take place, by attending to often-overlooked material and affective dimensions of encounters with science. I’m also fascinated by the challenge of investigating projected futures of biomedicine in public spaces, which informs my involvement in Medical Museion’s Studiolab Project: ‘Biohacking: Do It Yourself‘, and my interest in the use of fiction and performance to generate engagement with the ‘what it’s like’ of biomedical research.
My academic history is interdisciplinary, but throughout I’ve been focused on the relationship between human experience and the embodied brain, which I approached as a philosophical and empirical problem during my BA in Psychology and Philosophy at Oxford University and my PhD in Theoretical Neuroscience at University College London. I then became increasingly interested in these disciplines as sites where the relationship between body and mind is itself shaped, and in the use of science communication to open up these discussions in public domains. With writer James Wilkes and Prof. Geraint Rees I co-directed a Wellcome Trust project, Interior Traces, which used multimedia drama and debate to explore how different ways of looking at the brain have affected how we think about the mind.
In 2009 I completed a Masters in Science Communication at Imperial College London, and wrote my dissertation on fMRI brain scans in popular culture. This course also introduced me to museum studies and exhibition design – a new window on a lifelong passion. Before coming to Medical Museion, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the National Core for Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia in Canada, where I contributed to a large qualitative interview study exploring the perspectives of mental healthcare practitioners, clients, and parents on the potential use of neuroimaging and genetics in psychiatry. I was then employed for two years as an Assistant Professor at Medical Museion, in the Science Communication Section of the Novo Nordisk Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR), before taking up my current position in the Department of Public Health.
Supervision and Event/Art Collaborations
If you are a University of Copenhagen student interested in doing a Bachelor or Masters thesis in any of my research areas, or are interested in pursuing a PhD at Medical Museion, do get in touch about supervision possibilities.
If you have an idea for an event or artistic collaboration or project, I’d love to hear from you.
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Phone: +45 21126712
E-mail: louise.whiteley at sund.ku.dk