Louise Whiteley – Associate Professor
My work at Medical Museion
I’m an Associate Professor in Medical Science Communication at Medical Museion and the NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research, and my position involves research, teaching, and museum work. One of my key research interests is how biomedical research that implicates the mind affects peoples’ understandings of themselves, in part through its representation in popular culture. A second key research interest is how museum exhibitions, artworks, and performance can engage with and illuminate the relationship between science and the subjective experiences it invokes, acting as a form of public research that allows different disciplinary practices to ‘make something together’.
My current project is a combined exhibition and research study, focusing on how science has attempted to understand our ‘gut feelings’ over time. In particular, the implications of contemporary research into connections between the brain, gut, and microbiome for understandings of mental illness. The exhibition we are currently producing, Mind the Gut, is supported by the Bikuben Vision prize 2015, and involves a ‘co-curation’ process that invites artists and scientists to join the curatorial team. We are also researching this process, investigating how the co-curation methodology might push the boundaries between science, art, and cultural history exhibitions.
I’m also interested in the ethics of science communication as public engagement, and the conflicts of motivation that can occur when public engagement draws on or intersects with artistic methods.
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 I co-directed a Wellcome Trust funded 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