Podcast: Science <> the arts

What might science and the arts have to say to one another? Plenty! Here is a podcast of a conversation about this interaction with scientists, artists and those with multiple identities at this interface.
Published in Protocols & Methods
Podcast: Science <> the arts
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In some labs, science and the arts celebrate a constant interaction and conversation. Some labs offer fellowships for artists and welcome them into the lab. I did a story about this for Nature Methods  called Science meets art, which is here and here and thought I would follow up with a podcast. It's a discussion between the interviewees and a few additional people all about science and the arts.  

Here are fellowships mentioned in the podcast: 

Art of Science Fellowship at the University of Colorado.

"The Art of Science fellowship provides an opportunity for students to work with a mentoring team to learn the science of their interest and pave a path towards new artistic expression. We aim to break down the barriers of science to the principal components that are expressive in nature as they can be in art."

Artist-in-residence on board the schooner Tara with the Tara Ocean Foundation

"To encourage exploration and sharing, each of the schooner’s missions creates a meeting and exchange between sailors, scientists and artists. Via our expeditions, the Tara Ocean Foundation not only helps build scientific knowledge. The boat also supports creative endeavors by welcoming artists-in-residence aboard."

In this podcast you will meet: London-based artist Charlotte Jarvis, CJ, who spent a residency with proteomics researcher Albert Heck at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

I think there's often this concept that it's going to be the artists and the creatives who are like, front of the vanguard, like for rethinking, you know, existential questions and like rethinking humanity, or what we are, who we are or why we are. And actually, I found those discussions are happening in laboratories all the time, says Charlotte Jarvis

Here is her website. And here is a video about one of her projects called Blighted by Kenning. 

Blighted By Kenning: Apples Infected with Knowledge from Charlotte Jarvis on Vimeo.

And here is a video from the lab of Albert Heck: it's proteomics and dance. 

if you study the world's protein molecules, and you see how they move and what they do, it's so beautiful ...it's as beautiful as when you see a great piece of painting or a great piece of art, says Albert Heck. 

Catherine Musselman and John Rinn,  genetics researchers art University of Colorado invented and run the Art of Science fellowship.

photo of Dr. Catherine Musselman

I think research is a really creative pursuit. I don't consider myself an artist in any way, shape, or form. But I really think art is super powerful for kind of capturing and communicating our shared experience, says Catherine Musselman, University of Colorado.

photo of Dr. John Rinn

Mika Futz who did an Art of Science fellowship. Her website is here and she is now a medical student in Philadelphia. 

I think art has a really powerful role at the provider-patient interface. And that's what I hope to be working on going forward.

Co-moderator of this podcast is  Jean Mary Zarate, senior editor at Nature Neuroscience. She is also an actor and a singer. 

...you're using your creativity every day. So it really does take the interactions with your fellow scientists and non-scientists, the artists, people that don't have any scientific training, but are curious about that to kind of spark your own internal creativity to communicate something in a way that you normally don't speak about or think about.

Here is the podcast. You can listen here or on the streaming services of your choice, here are some links to this episode of Conversations with scientists on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts and Spotify.

A pile of colored chalk

(Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt Pink Sherbet Photography/Getty Images) 

Transcript of Science <> the arts 

Note: These podcasts are produced to be heard. If you can, please tune in. Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition software and there’s a human editor. But a transcript may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.

Science < > the arts

Charlotte Jarvis

The best projects, the best points of the projects that I've been involved with the scientific the best points, have been when it's gone wrong or not gone wrong but like when something unexpected as happens and I think that is like a real parallel with art.

That was Charlotte Jarvis CJ,  an artist based in London talking about parallels between science and art. She teaches at the Royal College of Art in London and works with scientists in a special way. You will find a link to some of her work in the show notes and you will hear from her and about her in this podcast,  and from quite a number of others. https://cjarvis.com/

Vivien 

Hi, I'm Vivien Marx and welcome to Conversations with Scientists. Today, an episode that is a conversation between scientists and artists, between scientists who foster the arts and artists active in science and people who live in both worlds science and the arts, which all makes for interesting and sometimes challenging groups of identities. I did a story for Nature Methods recently about science and the arts and felt it would be fun to do something more on this subject. So I invited a few of the interviewees, and then some, to a chat to talk about this together across multiple time zones, cultures and viewpoints. 

Science and the arts have plenty to say to one another.To foster this interaction. Some labs offer fellowships for artists and welcome them into the lab. Charlotte Jarvis spent a residency with proteomics researcher Albert Heck at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, he is in this podcast too. A while ago, I spoke with Romain Troublé, executive director of the Tara Ocean Foundation, or since it's based in France Fondation Tara Océan, which is an organization devoted to the ocean and to ocean research. A link to that podcast is in the show notes. https://ecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/podcast-speaking-for-the-ocean

and https://share.transistor.fm/s/ff625fab

He talked about the expeditions he and his colleagues organize, and the work done on the boa  Tara, and the fact that they have artists in residence on board: Here is Romain Troublé:

Romain Troublé:

Also, we have an artist residence on board Tara. And so we are gathered, we have welcomed so far 10 artists on board for three weeks each in residence. But we have application, you have usually 300 applications for eight or ten places. So it's a lot of people who want to come here. I think art is really, really good we need to think the future. We need art to show us ways that we have never think about we should we need utopia to go forward I think in this world. We underestimate a lot the power of the arts to show us the way to show us new thinking. https://fondationtaraocean.org/en/others/artist-residence-schooner-tara/

Vivien

The power of the arts to show us new thinking. Let me share some new thinking about science and the arts in this podcast from multiple people who care about science and the arts. My co-host is Dr. Jean Mary Zarate who is a neuroscientist, an editor with the journal Nature Neuroscience and she is a musician and an actor. Because there are a lot of people in this podcast I thought you might like to get to know them as they dialed in. 

First you will hear Dr. Albert Heck, the proteomics researcher who has had artists in residence in his lab and he has worked with dancers, too, to produce videos about proteomics links to these videos are in the show notes. Then you will hear Dr. Catherine Musselman from the University of Colorado Boulder. She and Dr. John Rinn, also at University of Colorado Boulder, who is also in this podcast, invented and found a way to offer an Art of Science fellowship. https://www.lncrna.io/art-of-science-fellowship

https://musselmanlaboratory.com/art-of-science-fellowship

Mika Futz was one of the fellows in the program. She was an environmental designer and is now in medical school in Philadelphia. And you will hear more from her and about her too. First up, Albert Heck. 

http://www.meikah.com/about

Vivien [4:05]

Hello, Albert.

Albert Heck

Long time no see. 

Vivien

Yes, exactly. Oh, I love your background.

Albert Heck 

This is a picture I took while cycling in the Netherlands. But it's also during COVID time so I sometimes say these are a spike proteins sticking out of the virus but

Vivien 

yeah, but I guess it was early spring or it doesn't look like

Albert Heck 

You know, I don't know if I don't know the English name of these trees but they are cut every year. They get new. The sprouts are off and then they get caught every year. We call them Knochvilchen but I don't know what the English name is actually.

Vivien

Oh it might not be that way in English but I actually don't know my my trees. I should look that one up. Hi Catherine. hi Jean, we were just talking about the trees that look like spike proteins. 

Catherine Musselman 

So glad to meet you, thank you so much for setting all of this up. It's very exciting.

Vivien 

It could be, it depends on you all and what you have to say to one another. 

Catherine Musselman

No pressure.

Vivien 

No pressure at all. And actually, if you're just quiet, I think there's like a meditation thing that I could do where I just broadcast 30 minutes of quiet, that's fine, too.

Catherine Musselman 

I think we could all use that, right? 

Vivien 

Yes, I think. I see Mika is in

Catherine Musselman 

Mika, it's so good to see you. 

Mika Futz

Good to see you, too. Hi.

Catherine Musselman 

How are you? So Mika and I haven't seen each other for quite some time. So this is an exciting reunion.

Vivien

This is awesome. So Albert, Mika was an artist in residence with I guess John and Catherine. You all will explain how that works. There is John. Alright.

Catherine Musselman 

Mika, how's school? 

Mika Futz 

It's good. It's crazy. 

Catherine Musselman 

I bet. But that's awesome. I'm so glad. 

Mika Futz

Almost wrapped up first year. So around our last last little stretch and then summer break.

Vivien

And here we go. Charlotte from London. Oh, my goodness. All right. So where we're all set. Well, thank you everyone for dialing in. And thanks, Albert, I know it's late for you and for you, Charlotte as well. Thank you for being here. Whoo. Art and Science? What on Earth do they have to say to one another? So since you all some of you know one another, but I thought we would do one round of you all where you talk about your identities, it was Jean's idea to talk about these multiple identities that you have. So please feel free to do that in whatever way. Should we start with no, I'm not gonna pick you just you start.

Catherine Musselman

I think you'd better pick or nobody will say anything.

Jean Zarate [6:55]

How about to get the ball rolling? I can start. So it's great to meet all of you. My name is Jean Mary Zarate. I'm currently a senior editor at the journal Nature Neuroscience. I am trained as a neuroscientist, specifically an auditory cognitive neuroscientist, and I am also a musician and an actor. 

John Rinn

Wow.

Vivien 

Here we go. That's why I thought it would be great for Jean to take part. Hey, you're on my screen. John. You're next.

John Rinn

Okay. Hi, I'm John Rinn. I'm a professor at CU Boulder. And our research is sort of multidisciplinary to understand how the human genome works as a whole. And as I've always been obsessed with. I'm very simple minded. And so art has come into science for me to figure out how to make complicated data seem really simple so that I can understand it better.

Vivien

I don't believe a word of that. But okay. But and so the the and maybe we should add afterwards a little bit about the Art of Science fellowship that you offer, and also tell people if they can apply and all that stuff listeners out there and Listener land. So Catherine, you are next on my screen.

Catherine Musselman 

All right, perfect. So I'm Catherine Musselman. I'm a professor at the University of Colorado down on the Anschutz Medical Campus. My lab studies, really epigenetic regulation and kind of mechanisms of epigenetic regulation. And I well, I think research is a really creative pursuit. I don't consider myself an artist in any way, shape, or form. But I really think art is super powerful for kind of capturing and communicating our shared experience. And I'm very interested as a scientist in also facilitating you know, better communication with non-scientists and I think art provides a really fantastic way of doing that. So happy to kind of facilitate that bridge even though I don't think I would cross it myself.

Vivien

Facilitating is a big deal, right? Albert you're half artist, I would say 100% scientist of course, which doesn't add up I'm sorry for that. But

Albert Heck

Yeah, but I think so I'm Albert Heck I'm from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. I study almost all my life, the worlds of proteins in ourselves and in our body. To me, there is no such big division between art and science. Because if you study the world's protein molecules, and you see how they move and what they do, it's so beautiful that yeah, it's as beautiful as when you see a great piece of painting or a great piece of art and I also maybe as a scientist in this field, like Vivien asked in my back, you see, I looked it up Pollard willows is the English term.

But thank you for that. 

You know, in that I see actually also despite proteins sticking out of a virus. So for me everything always comes together and also in art what I find find interesting, it's the artist makes something. But it's your interpretation that makes it beautiful or ugly, or you do something with it. And I think that's a bit the same if you look at the world of molecular science, and especially how all these molecules move in our body. So I see almost no difference between artists and scietists, although maybe I would not call myself a real scientist, but also not a real artist, I just enjoy what I see.

That's beautiful. I will talk more about this whole dance of proteins and beauty and things like that. Charlotte, you spent some time in the Heck lab and you're a, I think, very full time artist, I appreciate the time that you took. So if you want to say a few words about yourself and mica, you're next just a warning.

Charlotte Jarvis [10:40]

You're on deck, Mika. Thanks. It's so nice to be here. And lovely to see it see Albert. Yeah, so I'm CJ and I am an artist,  I'm also a research tutor at the Royal College of Art, all of my practice involves collaborating with scientists. And the beginning of that was actually a project that I did with Albert  many, many moons ago. And I suppose I would make the distinction. But perhaps this is something that we could talk about later, that I don't describe science in my work. So I don't illustrate science, I use science to make art. 

And I would make that, for me, that's an important distinction. Not that I don't love a lot of work that is descriptive. But for me, that's important. So the easiest way to explain what I do is to just give you an example. So project that had been making for about four years, with another scientist in the Netherlands. Professor Susanna Chuva de Sousa Lopes is called Impasse and we're trying to make the world's first female in inverted commas, semen. And we're trying to do that using my stem cells. But a combination of actually trying to make the spermatozoa from my stem cells, and then equally making up kind of artificial seminal plasma, using, amongst other ingredients, the blood of multiple women, trans and non-binary people. 

John Rinn

Wow, kind of. 

Charlotte Jarvis

That's a typical piece of work for me. Yeah, that's, that's me.

Vivien 

Very cool. You'll say more about that very cool work. So Mika, you have to you don't have to top that. But I know that you're a full time student now. But you're also an artist in your heart. So talk about that a little bit.

Mika Futz

Yeah, that's correct. I don't think I could follow that up. I really do consider myself a professional dabbler. I'm a current medical student, I was an environmental designer previously. And that's what I studied. So I worked in the architectural field. And then for me, it's been always really intuitive to link science in design, and art, but really just convincing other people that that's a valid relationship and a really beautiful intermarriage. 

So I'm personally interested in neuroscience, neurology, demyelinating diseases, and that's where I hope to bring these together. I think art has a really powerful role at the provider-patient interface. And that's what I hope to be working on going forward.

Vivien 

Wow I wanted to ask and Jean, you should, you know, steer me in the right direction, too. I thought I would ask a little bit the patrons of the arts, right. So Albert, Catherine, and John in the series of my screen, why you feel and how you got about fostering the arts because you know, you're busy. You have other things to do. And you could also say, not my deal, right. But obviously, you're very engaged in this. And in the transcript, I'll put links to your labs and things. Why do that? You have other things to do.

Albert Heck [13.50]

Yeah, if I can say, you know, it feels differently. You know, I don't think that I mastered Charlotte, or whatever you how you call it, you know, she, she came in, and she took over and she did her thing. And I really enjoyed it. I could never think of the things that she thinks about. And if she didn't, like what she just told about, you know, getting female sperm cells. I know, it's doable. So I think, wow, there's someone really seeing it as an aim and as an art project. Yeah, that's not something I would come up with. So I'm more it's like, you all know that it's good to get people in in your lab or in your working environment that have a totally different way of looking at things. And I think that is certainly true. If you let an artist get into your lab, so, and it's not done on with a big plan. At least in our case, it was more sort of also not a coincidence but it happened and I can only say, wow, it was great that it happened. And I'm also happy that it happened.

Vivien 

I mean, you're open to it what happens, right, which is different. And it's also taking a risk, right? Because people, you're letting them into your lab and they're looking around and doing things. That's not so conventional. So it takes courage, I think, to do this. And so just so so people can apply. Do you still offer this, by the way, you still offer a artist in residency in your lab? Right?

Albert Heck

No, at that no, that the honest answer is no. Because it was part of a research program that we got funded for almost 10 years or so. And, you know, it also needs a little bit of money. And that's always an issue here. I would, if I had say about the money, I will directly do it again. But but you know, you need the right settings for it. So at the moment, we don't have it anymore. But I would certainly do it again, if it was possible.

Vivien 

And I mean, you did these dance videos and things like that, which are very cool. And of course, last forever. But it's sad to hear that you don't have that right now. But I hope it comes back. So Catherine and John, you have a fellowship that you still are offering, I think.

yeah, yeah.

Vivien

Why? And how? And I guess Mika, you can chime in on whether or not you find that find that. Cool for others to join it on.

Catherine Musselman 

Well, John, you should take the lead. I'll follow you. This is sort of our dual brainchild.

John Rinn [16:40]

It came out of actually not anything to do with art, but more of like, how do we get people, how do we give back to science, we're kind of getting old in our careers. And science is fun and whatever. But we really wanted to encourage people who otherwise might not have the means to be able to support their hobby, like, some talent that they have in art. We talked about, it kind of stuck pretty quick. 

And then we talked to some artists. And they're like, Yeah, that's a good idea. And it kind of just, it worked out. And then we got these applications. I remember all of us crying. That like Mika's introduction, very humble. She's not only a remarkable artist- scientist, but human being. And so to get the chance to meet these people and foster I think Catherine said best with facilitate their talents and know that there's a way to incorporate it into science and maybe have it as a career, I think was our goal. Yeah, I got it funded.

Well, you funded it to start with funding. Yeah. 

Vivien 

Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. Money Matters. Yeah.

Catherine Musselman 

It does. No, I think that that really sums it up. Yeah, we, we both kind of come from non-traditional backgrounds. So I think speaking to, and really trying to recruit people from non-traditional backgrounds has always been a passion of mine. That, and equally, I think, can be again, communicating science to non-scientists, I think is really important. And so as we were kind of brainstorming this, I think this came up as something that might bring together all of those things, we could, you know, reach out to people who who otherwise wouldn't have the means to pursue this and, and kind of foster bringing them into the sciences, but also help hopefully foster a bridge between their interest in art and science. 

And then at the same time, like, really build a generation of of people who are using art to communicate science. And I think, you know, Mika is such an amazing example of that, because, you know, she's now in medical school and is really using art to help communicate to patients right, then in some difficult situations. I think it's just a really beautiful example of what we were, you know, hoping what we envision but really, it comes down to you know, the fellows I think they have to do the work. 

Vivien

I mean, I guess also with art and with the arts in general, they don't only help to explain science, but they also ask questions of science right? Sometimes they might and I mean, Albert was very tolerant about having art you know, rattle the cage a little bit and I know that Charlotte or maybe you prefer CJ, do correct me if I do that wrong 

Charlotte Jarvis

Either is fine. 

Vivien 

Okay. You know, it's about kind of drawing some things into question or just kind of going off and doing something very different. The dance routines also in the protein videos are not they're not trying to be proteins, right.

Charlotte Jarvis [20:00]

I just wanted wanted to just speak to someone just said that, I think in my experience scientists who are really engaged with their fields, so scientists generally who are quite successful, Albert, are really interested in engaging people with what they're doing. 

Like, I haven't found a scientist yet who doesn't want to communicate what they're doing. And actually, the higher up those scientists are, like, I found the trick to collaborating with scientists is actually just to write to the person right at the top. Because they are really engaged with sharing about their work. Right. But also, in often, you know, I think our you know, it is a big position of trust, right? And you're completely right to mention that earlier. Because you know, you can't, well, you're never going to collaborate with a second scientist, if, if you like, really, you know, miss, you know, if you make something hypercritical, let's say, of the practice, or the work in the first instance. 

But what I do find is that I find actually, with works that could be seen as a bit more edgy and controversial, that the scientists I've collaborated with are desperate to have that debate happen, because they don't want to be the only person thinking, Oh, I wonder where this research is gonna go, or what, They really want the public and politicians and the media to be having that debate and really engaged in that. And so I kind of think, yeah, I actually think it's kind of quite a natural fit with, with people who are just really super engaged in their field.

Albert Heck 

Maybe if I can add to that, and Charlotte, here is how I remember it. So correct me if I'm wrong. But you know, there are plenty of people in my lab that work with what we call cell culture. So these are cells that you grow in the lab, and you have to go back in the weekend to feed them and they live on forever. And there was never anyone in my lab till I met Charlotte who really asked me, What does that mean? Immortalized cells? 

And then she asked me "Oh, so I can also immortalize my cells." There was never a PhD student or postdoc who had that ambition or that thought. And so I think it also shows that people from a different background, people from different culture, maybe, they raise questions that make you think, because I also must admit that I never thought, oh, maybe I can also immortalize my own cells or so and, and then, and that's really Charlotte. She said that 'I'm going to do it'. And and so yeah, that I think is just amazing. So I don't see, you know, I think in our case, Charlotte took as much initiative as I did, in defining the projects and raising the right questions.

Charlotte Jarvis [22:50]

I think it's also super important to say that that happens the other way around as well. Like, I think there's often this concept that it's going to be the artists and the creatives who are like, front of the vanguard, like for rethinking, you know, existential questions and like rethinking humanity, or what we are, who we are or why we are. And actually, I found those discussions are happening in laboratories all the time. 

You know, the, the lab that I was just talking about with the sperm project, you know, I really remember Susanna saying to me, we don't feel that we can define sex biologically, at all, you know, and her saying that to me and being like, and as scientists, we've kind of known that for some time. And, you know, of course in my mind, I was like, well, it's the artists who are going to be all about, you know, speaking about gender fluidity or speaking about, you know, sex fluidity in this in this circumstance. And, and you'd think that would be something that would come from a thinker or a writer or an artist. But actually, that's, that was me being schooled by the lab. And I think it's really important to recognize that that's a two-way street. Like, it's not the stereotype of like, oh, the forward-thinking artists, you know, coming into a laboratory and like, actually, I think it's a massive like, it's a conversation like, it definitely goes both ways.

Vivien

You are listening to Conversations with Scientists today a discussion about science and the arts with Catherine muscleman of the University of Colorado Boulder, John Rinn, also of the University of Colorado Boulder, former fellow of their Art and Science fellowship, Mika Futz, now a medical student. You're hearing from artist Charlotte Jarvis, CJ. Albert Heck, a proteomics researcher from Utrecht University and Jean Mary Zarate from Nature Neuroscience who is also an actor and a musician.

I mean, Albert, you did also tell me that you felt that your science, you then looked at your own science differently from the engagement with artists, right with Charlotte, but you also like the arts in general? Because that I mean, that's kind of special, too. It's not something that everyone will do as a scientist,

Albert Heck [25.00]

No, I think, you know, you have to be careful. As a scientist, you're often know, you're a specialist, so you know a lot about your topic. And that also gives you sometimes, you know, too close view on your topic, and so it's already good to talk to other scientists that tell you other things. But it's good to talk to anyone, even if they're not a specialist on your topic, they can make remarks that make you think differently about your topic. 

And, and it's so important for scientists to engage a lot with each other. And, you know, that's also I don't want to bring it up. But during COVID, yeah, people didn't go to the lab, but also for scientists, it's so important to be in the lab, not just to pipette, but also to have these discussions, to challenge each other, to talk about now all subjects in life, but also about the science. And so you see, this creativity that are this, I think, you know, they can also not do it in their room, I think so you really need to have input from your environment. And if this environment is broader than just the people who do exactly the same as you do, that can really give you new insights is my feeling.

Jean Zarate 

Right, if I may, just to jump onto what Albert and and CJ have said, I think yes, I think it's important for scientists to speak to other scientists not only within and outside of their specific areas of expertise, but I think there's something that we're glossing over is that scientists use creativity every day anyway.

And I think that's why the interactions between scientists and artists and amongst themselves, scientists are useful because there's something that sparks that creativity, and it comes down to sometimes the most mundane things of problem solving, something goes wrong on your rig, something goes wrong in your, in your cultures, in your setup, you have to think on the fly to fix that. And you're using your creativity every day. So it really does take the interactions with your fellow scientists and non-scientists, the artists, people that don't have any scientific training, but are curious about that to kind of spark your own internal creativity to communicate something in a way that you normally don't speak about or think about.

John Rinn

Yeah, I completely agree. And I think one thing I see all the time scientists doing is making analogies. And I feel like an analogy of science then in print or art, it's become some form of art, where you sort of take it from the curious, you know, the basic curiosity that's always going and trying to make it. I always think of it as like a snowboard trick. Like, they get judged on style points. And everybody can do a 12-whatever nowadays, but it's how you do it and how you make it other people react to it. And I've seen a lot of analogies in science. Do that.

Catherine Musselman 

Yeah, I think that's completely true. And I think Mika would be really curious to hear how you feel that, like the creative aspect of art is helping you communicate with patients outside of just simplifying complex topics. But if there's like creative aspect. Your art is really beautiful and creative. So

Vivien

You're an illustrator I gather, right? Mika?

Mika Futz

Oh, yes, I do that on the side. I'm not professionally trained by any means. But that is how I like to practice. But let's see that I would say that it's just part of the conversation. It just seemed to reframe once thought and speak to the individual point of view and meet them where they're at and with what they need. So some of the patients that I particularly like to work with maybe nonverbal or choose to communicate differently.

So having alternative means of communication, whether it be visual, whether it be some other sort of digital interface, I think it's really important to be able to nimbly navigate those as a provider or just individual is something I think that makes science more accessible to the broader community and it allows for interaction between different scientists in different styles of information and specialties. So that's what I'm really interested in excited about. As of right now, it happens to be more of that illustration style, but I and hoped to in the future explore different means and mechanisms and methods.

Vivien

Would it also be helpful, do you think of for patients to draw, like their emotions or their fears? Obviously, being a patient is kind of a fearful experience, and it's overwhelming. And I don't know, maybe just finding a way to put that into a drawing of some kind that they do or they do with you could be helpful. I don't know if that's completely off the chart.

Mika Futz

Oh, actually, I don't think at all. So again, I'm not a provider yet. I'm just a student at the moment. But one of the projects I'll hopefully be working on over the next year is having that more or less exact same opportunity, having some sort of digital whiteboard some sort of digital mechanism through which patients can choose to communicate, whether it be written script, whether it be an actual drawing, so they can communicate their needs and fears and relay what they're feeling if they're undergoing a behavioral crisis, for example, or overload and relay that information to their provider in a more efficient manner than verbalizing it would be. Alright, does that make sense?

Catherine Musselman

That's really cool.

John Rinn 

How did it come up when you were interviewing for med school? Did it ever come up? Like, oh, you're an artist? Tell me about that, or how did that come to play.

Mika Futz

I think everyone was very confused about the time. So part of the reason I have a website, just so I could send the link out. Today, I make some kinds of art. Take a peek. So I still have that up currently, but it was it was an ongoing process. That was honestly the majority of my interviews was centering about what exactly I am, what I do, what I've done to get to that point.

Catherine Musselman 

I think that's so interesting, though, because it shows you where there can be such a divide, right? Because really, people put you in a box, right? And it's sort of like I don't understand how you can be in both of these boxes. That's very confusing to me, which is really not. But I think that it really kind of does speak to why sometimes there's this divide. And I think what's come up so nicely is the creative thought process really is a shared experience between all of us. But we often feel like we have to box ourselves in to to one side or the other. And I think that's detrimental in the long run.

Mika Futz

Absolutely. And that was one, maybe one benefit of the pandemic is that all of a sudden, our lives were shifted, and we had to be nimble, and we had to adapt collectively. And so that was really the first time where I was like, I could actually speak to people in a more intuitive manner about what I did and why it's necessary to have this mindset when approaching new challenges. Oh, cool. Yeah.

Vivien 

I mean, I know that you all live in this arts-science bubble, right. But then around it are people who really don't see where the connection is. So you probably have some interaction, particularly you who are working scientists, with people who are saying, why are you even doing this? Or this isn't really helpful? Do you have those kinds of discussions? I mean, not hate mail, necessarily, but just sort of people who are challenging you and saying, This isn't part of your remit as a scientist, and Jean and I have been talking about identity issues. And, you know, a scientist isn't a, you know, monolith. Obviously, none of you are, are monoliths, but it does seem like the outside world kind of wants you to be a little bit of that, right? 

John Rinn

Yeah.

Albert Heck [33:00]

I could say, you know, how many scientists who sort of believes that everything has to be very factual, and, you know, the artistic freedom that you sometimes put into, you know, drawings or into little movies, there are sometimes not that much appreciated by people who say, Oh, you showed it like this, but actually, it's like that, and you didn't do it 100 percent correct. And, and so or, you know, you don't tell the whole story or, and this is true, because the details of the whole story are very detailed and very difficult to explain in one minute or so. 

So you get that sort of criticism. But you know, I think, yeah, I think it's the same with art. If I think there's no piece of art that people don't like, and people do like, you know, so So I think you don't do it for those people. You do it just because, for me, it's still I really love when artists are inspired by what we are doing. But also they inspire me and that's the main reason that I find it so much fun. And yeah, that comes with that some people don't like it and some people don't understand it or whatever. Yeah, that is I think I take for granted

Catherine Musselman 

I think we haven't really gotten any negative feedback about the fellowship. But what's been interesting is that people are just confused by it. They're often like, what? What is this? And then they naturally assume that both John and I must be like artists in our spare time. Right. And that's what drew us to it. So I think it's just a lot of confusion as to why we would want to pursue this. And it is a bit freeform, I would say, like, we're still building it. And I think that's actually a strength of it. That, you know, it's not very rigid, but, and I find when they ask that, it's sometimes it is kind of hard to describe sometimes. So because you are trying to like, again, put it in this little box. And that's, it's hard to do, right?

Vivien 

Just so I understand it could be, it could be a filmmaker, or an illustrator, or a tattoo artist or a musician, right? You are open to sort of all of of the arts, right?

Catherine Musselman 

Yeah, any of them. In fact, one of the submissions that we had last year was for, like fabric design and garment making.

John Rinn

It was really cool. It could switch like if you twirled, your whole identity switched in a second. And it was really, very interesting. But I think one thing I, Tom Wolfe of all people, the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, he came to give a seminar on how to write. And he said, all of you scientists have been trained to speak to five people. If you want to speak to more people, you're going to have to go outside the intellectual-sounding framework that you. That's all you've been taught.

I found that really inspiring as a student to be like, cool, so I can talk the way I want to talk about science and not, and I'll reach more people. And then I do feel like it was met a lot with, maybe because I was a student of like, Oh, that's not proper. And you know, that kind of like, oh, people aren't going to take you seriously, if you keep making jokes about stuff. And maybe to some extent, that's true. But I think that we're taught to speak to too few people in our field. And working with artists allows you to see like, how much more can unpack from these otherwise seemingly, erudite statements?

Vivien

Yeah, I guess there's some rigidity. Sometimes if you're told you, this is the only way to do it. Right. And this is the only way to be so this multitude language, or how you express yourself, or maybe the figure one in your paper is different from other ones kind of thing.

John Rinn

Imagine a paper where it starts out saying, like, I had no idea what we were gonna find. But we ended up doing that, like, if you actually communicated a paper in the way it actually happened. We're so constrained of like, oh, the introduction has to be three paragraphs, and it has to have like, this kind of flow and you get, it almost becomes required. But I would love to see a journal maybe Nature Neuroscience can have some, like, freeform thing of like, what really happened, what were you after? What came out of it? And how did you adapt to the problem solving along the way as Jean was mentioning,

Charlotte Jarvis 

I wrote a paper with a scientist, it went into a creative journal. But it was fun. This was with, Albert, that was with Hans Clevers. 

John Rinn

Oh wow 

Charlotte Jarvis 

And he was really into writing in a more like, discursive discursive, is discursive the word I'm looking for,  in a more narrative way. Was really interesting. So we kind of wrote like a chapter each chapter each, passed it kind of back and forward. 

And a scientist in Argentina I'm working with at the moment is really into the idea she really wants to do a paper about the collaboration and to try and kind of find a way of, yeah, what you're saying. It's like different languages, isn't it as of like, kind of translating between these languages or bridging these languages somehow? I think that's super fascinating. And it gets you into so many interesting topics, like with the scientist in Argentina, a lot of what we talk about is how, or all of science or not all of it, but nearly all of it is has to be written in English, and how that's a major problem. 

John Rinn

Yes. 

Charlotte Jarvis

And a lot of what our discussions are about now, she's Argentinian, and I'm British, you know, the politics of that relationship is like pretty, pretty spicy. And then we're talking about our project about collaborative wombs, but a lot of what we're talking about is kind of colonialism and the taking of space and then we ended up talking about that language of science and how colonial that is. You know how colonized, that is that language. And I think that's kind of super fascinating.

And actually, these spaces where what you're describing like these, these opportunities to break out of the traditional molds of speaking and communicating these like little gaps, are where you can kind of really find something extraordinary and poetic and beautiful. I think that those like, spaces between. Like the in-betweens, right, yeah. Yeah. And I think that's what you're describing, like, I love the idea of starting a paper with like, well, actually, we didn't find anything that we thought we were going to. We're gonna rehash it. So it looks like we've done something significant. Just in question that got raised in the end. 

Albert Heck

Mainly  what, I'm a bit, you know, we write papers, and then we think, or we, you say they are factual. And I think if you make a piece of art, then you allow 300 years later, someone to make a new interpretation of the art or, and describe it new. 

I actually would love to write a paper with you, Charlotte, but you just interpret what I wrote in your way. And, you know, it's again, it's also the movie we made, with Sensu with these dancers, you know, that started with me, bragging on our research again, and telling how beautiful it was that we found antibodies that started the COVID spike protein and and then the person asked, Why is it called antibody, whereas the other body? 

Proteins at work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G6jTGAfgUc&list=PLEJAhOXGqlS9TmJ88NFKqqq9nWGXjYFFM

Quest for antibodies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tnb0MdCF280

And this never would have come to my brain. And then I thought, Oh, yes, in, in German, it's Antikoerper. In Dutch, it's. It's there, the vocabulary, I don't know what it is in Spanish, but probably also something like that. And but still, for us, this is an antibody, and you go on. And then you talk to artists, or maybe to other people, and they say, antibody. Where is the other body? You know, for me, interpreting maybe data in a different way, or maybe even a results in a different way, is something beautiful of art as well that you can get something from it by yourself. 

And I think in science, that's a little bit the case, we try to make it more factual. But really, when you and I think that's the other thing that was also highlighted already, if you go really into depth, you always come to this point that you think, Oh, actually, we don't understand anything. And that's what Charlotte said about sex. And it's also about other things that we work on the immune response. For instance, at the moment, we think we know everything, and the more we know, we think, Oh, still a bit more difficult. And, and I think it's also that beauty that complexity that you want to I don't want to convince people from my science, I want to convince them from the beauty of life. And that's what I think I tried to do with these things with artists, or also when I talk to people.

Catherine Musselman 

I think it's also really cool to think about writing, we tend to write papers, as John mentioned, in a very linear fashion. It's also very detrimental in training young scientists, I think, because they read papers, and they think that's how it went chronologically. And that at the end, you come to some very specific conclusion, and you draw a model and it's all, you know, beautiful tied up with a bow and, and so then when their science isn't going that way, which it never does, they get really discouraged. And so I think it would be really also very nice in training to show them how things really go. You know, from from the get go.

Charlotte Jarvis

Completely, like the the best projects that the best points of the projects that I've been involved with the scientific, the best points have been when it's gone wrong or not gone wrong, but like, when something unexpected has happened, And I think that is like a real parallel with with art. You know, like, in, in, in art, we have, you know, process is practice is like, you know, the one that gets touted out, like a million times, but it's so true of science, I think, you know, and and I think. 

I had a project where I was trying to get a colonoscopy for a project, and and I couldn't get it and it became this like, it became the project. 

John Rinn

Interesting 

Charlotte Jarvis

This ridiculous situation where I could literally book into like private clinics to get extensive plastic surgery. Like I could have booked to have like a tit job tab like the whole lot, and nobody would have questioned the medical ethics of it. Nobody was questioning the medical ethics of it. But when I asked them for a colonoscopy because I needed a biopsy of my colon, tyhis was work with Hans. No, I needed a biopsy of my colon. 

And they were like, No, we can't because of medical ethics, we can't do that. And it was so fascinating because it just revealed this whole thing. And it was a major problem. Like we spent two years finding a doctor to put something up my bum. And in the end, we found one in Paris who did it, cash in hand, like under the table, kind of like. Anyway, that's a whole other. That revealed, like this whole kind of area of medical ethics that that project kind of became about, and that was kind of part of that creative process. But I think like, always, right, it's when it goes wrong. And you're like, oh, maybe this molecule would do the same thing to a tetranoma? You know, I don't know, I think they're so similar in that way. But the process being the kind of whole point. And actually, the thing that a lot of scientists that I've worked with talk about, is this kind of real focus and push on applications is really problematic, right? Because, actually, it's the process by which you get to something. And it's the fun and the fundamental science, which is revealing all of these things, and you don't know what their application is going to be. And again, I think the creative industries, kind of recognize that too, or people who work within the creative industries that you kind of have to let the process happen to find the value in it.

John Rinn

So where does it so that's really interesting. And there's so many things that you just made me think about, but so for us, sometimes it seems really boring to go through our process and write a paper. As an artist, it sounds so good on the other side of the fence to be like, Oh, you're everybody supports the process and not the product. Where do you find in in the art world, where it's kind of like, oh, I have to do that again? Or it kind of stifles your creativity? Or do you not feel that?

Charlotte Jarvis [47:00]

No, I mean, I guess if I see.  The kind of work that I make is probably not typical of the art world. But if you're exhibiting the same thing over and over again, and that could be quite dull, I guess. But, again, I think this field is great, because the people who have galleries that put on this kind of work, and who patronize this kind of work and who support it, tend to be really into the process. 

And certainly as well, something that I would say is like, as I've got older, I'm a lot more confident in saying, you know, for this exhibition, I want to try something different. Or for this exhibition, the project is not going to be ready, it's not going to be finished, it's never finished. And in fact, it may never work like that. I may never be able to do this thing, it may fail completely. But I can say with confidence, there will probably be something interesting along the way. 

And I'm willing to risk like exhibiting the process and exhibiting it before it's finished and to not exhibit something as a finished piece of work. However, if you're working in, so I work exclusively in like publicly funded galleries, my work isn't commercial, it doesn't get bought in like commercial galleries. And there is I think the difference because if you're working with a commercial gallery, they need a product that they can sell. 

And that's hard. If it's like a living thing. It's not conceptually impossible. But it's pretty hard to sell. And it's pretty hard to sell the process. Because you can't put the process on someone's wall. Right? Right. You can give value to the thing on somebody's wall by talking about the process. But ultimately, the value needs to be somehow encapsulated into that object or that thing. And for me, that's not the case. It's almost like a performance. It's like, it's like the four years that it took me to get there are the work and the thing that happens to end up in the gallery at the end. That's just a way of communicating it. So I'm not even sure if that really I mean, come on, there's loads of boring things like you know, writing a bloody list of the ingredients that have to go into. It gets quite boring after like

John Rinn

Yeah, I think I think where the brain drain similarity is between the two is funding. So you know, you're, known for something, they're going to fund you for that but they're not necessarily going to fund you if you all of a sudden like oh my gosh, I want to make sperm out of eggs. Like that's so cool. Let's do that.

And I'm known to be like, 'study DNA, go  away' don't think, you know, you can't really deviate out of your funding, because that's such a critical part for us. So it's interesting how that's core between such different worlds.

Charlotte Jarvis 

I think you can deviate. I mean, arts funding is slightly different, like, that would be like, if you get funded, like in a residency or like to make an art work, generally there is, I think, a bit more wiggle room there than then perhaps. 

John Rinn

in science 

Charlotte Jarvis

Well, yeah, maybe? I don't know. It's difficult. I mean,

John Rinn

Albert, have you found that you can kind of reinvent yourself outside your standard?

Albert Heck 

Yes. And no. You know, for me, it's slightly different. My expertise is in a certain technology called mass spectrometry, it still gives you the freedom to one day, you know, we did some work about circadian clock in bacteria and how it reads time, and swims to the ocean when it's light and goes to the, to the back of the ocean when it's dark. And now we work on clinical samples and study antibodies in blood cells. 

So in that sense, I have a lot of freedom, but I fully agree with you, we should give each other more freedom. And, you know, I think what is so nice about the American system that we don't have is this rotating scheme of graduate students when they come in, right, almost think. Why don't we set a lifelong learning and then instead of when your sabbatical, you have to go where you should go on this rotating scheme, and maybe then have the freedom not only to go to your lab neighbor, but maybe also to an artist, or, I don't know, to a lawyer or whatever, so I think that will be extremely good. Also, for your work on DNA, just to to have some inspiration from another area. 

But I fully agree, we are all so much restricted in what we can do, because of our funders, but you know, and I don't want to blame them, we are the system we also put it in place. It's also with the big journals, you know, they also have topics in fashion, and then we all start to work on them. And I don't know if that's chicken or egg, but you know, it's that whole system that that we all keep alive. Although we all know that it would be much better if you spent some time in my lab and I would spend some time in your lab who knows what would happen? And I think we are all creative enough to know that something good would happen. So why don't we do it? That's that's a bit I think that goes beyond scientists. I think that goes for almost everyone.

Vivien

I guess being in an environment where you can feel free to draw yourself into question but also to see those things about words. I love that antibody anecdote. In the March for Science a long time ago. I remember seeing two people carrying two signs. One says I am pro-biotic and the other says I am anti-biotic. Got a lot of giggles I have a photo of it somewhere. 

You are listening to conversations with scientists today a discussion about science and the arts with Katherine muscleman of the University of Colorado Boulder. John Rinn, also of the University of Colorado Boulder. Mika Futz, former fellow of their Art of Science fellowship, now a medical student; you're hearing from artist Charlotte Jarvis, CJ. Also from Albert Heck, a proteomics researcher from Utrecht University and Jean Marie Zarate, from Nature Neuroscience, who is also an actor and a musician. 

What would you say to people who are trying to find their way in incorporating arts, the arts, whether it's music or art into the science that they do, but they're not as successful and in the stages that you are particularly you more senior scientists, right? I know that Mika is going to find her way. But it does sound like it's going to be hard for her perhaps in the medical community to really convey that. I mean, what kind of advice do you have for people who are, you know, trying to live those multiple identities and skills, of course.

Catherine Musselman [54:30] 

I think the biggest thing is to, to just not limit yourself by your identity, right? I think you have to be willing to just say, you may not understand this, but this is my passion and this is what I want to do. And I think Mika  really was willing to do that right. I mean, Mika, I think you went to your medical school interviews with some trepidation that, yeah, people wouldn't understand. But you were just willing to do that. And it obviously worked out beautifully. You know, so I think you just not limiting yourself out of fear is really the best advice.

Albert Heck

I don't know if it will work, but maybe we should have a matchmaking page in Nature Methods. We had a system like that in the Netherlands at some point, I don't know if Charlotte, if you were involved. as well, where, you know, where tens or dozens of scientists could pitch what they were interested in and what they were doing. And also, a dozen of scientists could pitch where they were interested in. 

It was a sort of matchmaking, there was also a bit of funding. And I think relatively nice things came out of that. And maybe I see it only as a seed fund. And maybe after that. I also, you know, what Charlotte said, just approach people directly. I think that is for scientists also difficult, you don't know. I don't know if I can send a mail to a famous painter or whatever, and say, Oh, do you want to work with me because I have this idea. But maybe you should just do this, then because it helps, I think. 

Charlotte Jarvis

Yah. 

Albert Heck

But finding ways to encourage that and to make the barriers go away, would be really helpful, I think.

Charlotte Jarvis

 I think there's some really like practical things as well, like, like Albert just mentioned, it's called the Designers and Artists for Genomics Award. When we did it, it was called the BAD award. And it's still, because it was the Bio Art and Design Award, it's still going and schemes like that do exist. And I think if you're a younger researcher, perhaps without, you know, your hands on the resources to practically say to an artist come and do this in the lab, if you're a younger researcher getting your group, so getting your lab to enroll or get involved in one of those is like, would be like the number one thing. 

And also to bear in mind that a lot of the funding that scientists get now have an aspect where you have to communicate what you're doing, right, an outreach aspect. And artistic funding, it's so tiny in comparison to science funding, that actually, if you really wanted to set something up, if you if you can access that part, it takes a very small amount of money to, to kind of get something like that going. And I think practically that's kind of what you have to do. 

Because until you're running your own group, you don't have your hands actually on the resources. Like once you're running your own group, then you can say to a PhD student: actually, for the next week, you're going to be growing Charlotte's stem cells, would you mind taking her urine from from her? You can do that. And that has its own problems. For me anyway, I always have to work out the person who's actually doing the work. But yeah, I think if you were  then that would be the way to do it. Like practically it's to try and access that like outreach funding, and to get involved in those kinds of schemes that do exist, like Catherine and John are talking about it to get your lab involved in those kinds of things, I think would be the way to do it from the science side of it. 

But I also really think that Albert, you could have 100% write to artists, you just have to be careful about the way that you word it. But I've kind of think if you are like, you know, your work inspires my practice. I'm, I find the poetry in proteins then yeah, like, you know, write to Hockney, Hockney would do great protein paintings. 

Albert Heck

Even mine.

Vivien 

I think it's hard to find that language too, right, and to fight to kind of step out of the language that you're maybe, you know, entrenched in because of the papers and the grants that you're writing, so I guess it's good practice in general, even if you maybe don't send it immediately. You might send it one day though.

Charlotte Jarvis

Also Albert, I can hook you up with painters like to a penny.

Vivien 

Yay, matchmaking is happening.

Jean Zarate [58:00]

Sorry, I just, you know, I wanted to comment on some of the things that I've heard so far, because there I think for those of us who are squarely in both, I don't I would imagine, Mika, I could rope you in with me on that. When I was training, it was very hard for me to identify as both. 

We're talking about languages and so I had a very specific way of speaking. The way you hear me speaking now is my scientific speak, right? And people often detect a slight Canadian accent with it because I trained in Montreal, even though I'm a New Yorker, I'm a native New Yorker, and you'll hear that when I speak with my friends I grew up with when I speak with musicians, and whatnot. So I tend to transition in. 

Then it was just 'No, I'm a very serious PhD student. I'm very serious postdoc, and though I'm a serious musician, I'm a serious actor, et cetera, et cetera.' I think now for those of us right at the intersection, it behooves us to just like Mika is doing and like what I'm doing, embracing it, and just putting it out there, because we are the examples. 

Vivien is very aware of this, I told a story five years ago now for Story Collider, where I told a 30-year arc of my life where I ping ponged between science and art. And then the end, they informed each other because my PhD is on the neural correlates of controlling singing pitch, because I'm a singer. And so I ended up using my own musical expertise to design my experiments to recruit my musician friends into my experiments, and they fed each other. So for me, that was the best part of my life because I could, and I was surrounded by fellow scientist musicians. And we geeked out on on equipment and whatnot to get that done. 

When I told that story, I got emails and direct messages from students now, saying, that's inspiring to hear that, because I often thought I had to hide that away, because the end of that story is like, I need both. I cannot put one aside, I actually have to do both. And we'll find a way to do both. Even if I lack sleep for it. 

That's the story, right? Well, we were talking about stories of the actual research before the polished paper in journals like mine. But there's also a parallel track, there are behind the paper posts where you get to tell the story of what went wrong before you see the polished paper. There's also a paper in Nature Human Behavior, I believe it's from Paula Croxon, Daniela Schiller, and a third author that I do not remember right now. So forgive me, they are talking about the art of storytelling in your scientific writing. Because you are telling a story, we're forced into a template of, I think it's called IMRAD, introduction, methods, results and discussion. 

The language you use in each of those sections do not have to be the erudite language that we've read all the time. We can use the language we're speaking right now. So it's us, we start the examples moving forward. You want to have more less formal language? Well, I'm sure they're gonna not let us use a lot of slang in it. But we don't have to speak so high and mighty about any of this, honestly. 

And as for funding, like, I'm listening to this, I just had this conversation this morning with my fellow editors. Because this past weekend, I made my debut on an off-Broadway venue for a concert version of a new musical. This thing is four years in the making, in development, and they were looking for investors. Because I think it takes an average of seven years for a brand new musical to make its way to a full production. So we're halfway. So it's, and they my editor-colleagues were saying it's like scientific funding. It's the same, it takes multiple years. And I don't know, maybe CJ can speak to it, but what we all need to realize is we are actually very much along the same paths, the negative feedback, the criticism, the self-doubt, the imposter syndromes. We're really all the same. It's what we focus on it as our expertise.

Yeah, I think you said it perfectly. It's the we haven't really touched on the criticism and impostor syndrome, but I'm sure that's present in both worlds. That's a very real thing for everybody.

Vivien 

But then, I guess talking about it, so that you can resolve it for yourself and for others, particularly, you know, trainees, as you see people in your groups or as Charlotte comes across, people are like, I really care about science, but my art teacher, not you, but the other art teacher is saying no, it's not interesting, you know, don't don't go there. Right. So you need to I guess not be with those people. I really.

Charlotte Jarvis [1:03:00]

I don't think many art teachers are saying that. I mean, like cross disciplinary practice is like the absolute, like, buzz of arts-academia anyway. I don't know if it's the same in, in the scientific community. I mean, I remember when I was making like little films, actually with the Netherlands proteomics society. There were lots of people there who were talking about that then but it was more cross disciplinary across like departments like, yeah, it's super.

John Rinn

Yeah, it's all the rage, it's the buzz term. There's a new graduate program here called integrative biology. Yeah, so everybody's trying to use the word integrative and cross disciplinary. What I find a little is they, everybody wants to say that. But nobody wants to talk to the people about how do they want to be in that's a ongoing process where you can't just say, our program is this. It's how do you facilitate each individual and work with them and what they want. Like, so how you and Albert work together was, hey, I want to do this. Cool. All right, that's for you. But it's not for everyone. 

And then how do you build a scientific program that adapts to a specific student's talents, the structures of these programs are very rigid, even if they try and say we're integrative and multidisciplinary and and all that it's still not person based. And I wish there was more of that in science, I think that's what really liked about the art of science thing is just saying, What do you want to do? Like we want to network for you, we want to use our resource how and then I think it it worked well, when you focus on what the person wants, rather than what your program wants to be. And I wish there was a little more of that in science.

Vivien

Hint hint to funders. Yes, yeah, definitely. Definitely. That's awesome.

Charlotte Jarvis

It can also just be institutionally difficult content, like I have, I had a potential PhD student come the other day. And she had set up a supervisor at my institution and a supervisor literally over the road at the scientific institution in London, both supervisors had agreed and the project was looking really great. 

But she couldn't find a way of doing a PhD across both institutions. Because those institutions are not, even though actually, we have a program that runs between them, but they're generally not used to working together and some very boring stuff, like, you know, well, who does she pay fees to? Or like, does she have access to both institutions? Like, does she get a library card for both, all this stuff was just like a complete roadblock on it. And the only thing that we could really come up with was, you know, you, you'll have to just do it with one institution and then collaborate with people from the other institution. And I think this is kind of what you're talking about, is that like, we're saying, Yeah, we would love you to come and do this cross-disciplinary PhD with us. But actually, we don't have the system for you to fully do it. We have the system for you to do an art PhD. bring in experts and collaborators. But we don't have the system for you to matriculate at both.

John Rinn

Yeah. Yeah, there's like, because it's like, it's also as a professor, you know, I was recruited to a very, and I think they're doing a good job on interdisciplinary, but I had to pick a department in the end. So then when I picked that department that I have to teach that subject, and then it's like, the library card thing. There's literally cards that won't work on the same floor in two different labs. And it's like, yeah, but I guess there has to be some structure. I just not a big fan.

Vivien

But you're reviewing the applications from people in the arts. Right? And or do you think you also are working with people in the arts at Colorado, at University of Colorado, or I forget how that works, the mechanics.

John Rinn [1:07:30]

We just kind of did it very grassroots where we said, You know what, you have to be American, it turns out because the funding is from the National Science Foundation, so we're just like, whatever you got through it our way. And so that really broke down any of these things. And it was really nice that the school is a state school, and they were fine. When I originally, the money did from University of Colorado Boulder, and there was no strings, they were like, you can do it. I think if it was a lot more, they would have had issues. I think it snuck under the cracks. But and then now with Catherine's grant, getting the National Science Foundation to say that's great, we want we want to do that. And I think they're pretty flexible, right? That just had to be American?

Catherine Musselman

just as a US institution, so not an American citizen. But yeah, at a US institution. And I think we could expand that through an international kind of component of the application. But we would have to have a target. You know, we would have to say like we want to fund this person or nationally or work with this institute. It can't really just be freeform because you really have to justify that unfortunately.

Vivien M

Yes, I was just going to ask, we should just I'm sorry.

Charlotte Jarvis 

I was just saying we should do something with the RCA.

Catherine Musselman

Absolutely. I think that would be wonderful. Just to open it up. Because, you know, then I think we could just justify that that because the National Science Foundation is there opened about it, I really love about them. I really love their funding model. But of course, at the end of the day, it's the taxpayers paying the bill. And so they just have to be accountable to that. So. But yeah, so we did, we just put out kind of an open call and, and we review the applications that come in. But it was it was great in the first round, because we ended up with local people who really fit the bill. And that was really fun. But actually we got applications from all over the world. And so I think that, yeah, we just kind of see them as they come in.

Vivien 

So it could be a student at Royal College of Art, who has an idea, and who wants to do something with you, independent of carbon footprint and how far London is from Colorado. But in general, I see.

John Rinn

We did it during the pandemic, so we did it all on. 

Catherine Musselman

It was all virtual

John Rinn

I think it was kind of fun. It was like my favorite Zoom meeting of everyone month, to just kind of it was very, you know, casual. And I think like, we've been talking about process is so important, I think, a really important thing and processes, nurturing the process, giving it ingredients of time, space, no deadlines, and kind of just getting to know and use your networking resources to help other people get their thing because there's no way one person is going to be able to like know, like everything to help you with anything.

Vivien 

I hope you Albert can get funders to do something similar to that would be fun. Because you're so open to the arts. So maybe you can resurrect a something because they know your track record on this. But it just sounds like it means lobbying, which you all don't have a lot of time for. But sounds like you can be successful, right?

Albert Heck [1:11:20]

It sounds like a great scheme. I was thinking a little bit, you know, I think it's also, I think, as an artist, but also as a scientist, you need to be specialized, and you need to really go into your topic, if you really love it. And I think it's also important not only to say, okay, you know, I was just thinking if Charlotte and I had to have the same education, it would have never worked. 

And so I think the sort of residentships or fellowships to go to another house where they speak a different language and where they do different things, that is really good. I'm not 100% sure, maybe for some people, but I don't think you should put all students from day one in the same house and think that will solve the issues or so. 

I think it's, it's really nice if you have people who are really good at what they do, and a good scientist or good artists, and then have this open mindedness to also be open to work with. And I think that's also an important aspect also of science, or you think you're a specialist, but you can only collaborate if you trust the other specialists in doing his or her thing. And the scientists that cannot collaborate that are the ones that, you know, they don't trust what the others do, because they think they are better in his field or her field than the expert in the field. And that's a bit the same in these collaborations. 

You know, if I, if I was going to tell Charlotte each time that her interpretation was not 100% Correct. And she should do this experiment, that experiment, that will also not work. And that's the same if I have a scientific collaboration, so I think we are specialists because it's very difficult to know everything and I'd rather see two experts, you know, cross fertilize each other that we all get into the same framework of taking bits of everything or showing that that's a bit my reservation.

John Rinn

I mean, the worst thing that's gonna happen is you're gonna get to know somebody. Whether the project works or not, or creative art, like amazing art or not. I just think the more you engage with, like you're saying people that are different, the more you can make the spectrum of the rainbow. But if you just stay within your your hue, you're never gonna really get the bigger picture. 

But I would love to follow up and see if there's a way we could work together because we all have some, like documentable art and science to see if we can get more collaborative like start a snowball effect of you know, people building on other people's successes and or attempts and see if we can get more funding because I would love to just hang out in Albert's lab for six months.

That's hard to do. And CJ, I think your project is absolutely brilliant. And I think it like to me it's special because I think gender is a really hard topic for a lot of. It really struck me when I saw a psychologist talk that what do you do if your three-year-old says they're the they're not what their genetics is, like, do you trust a three-year-old or not. And I remember she did a really artistic talk. And ever since I've always just been like, I wouldn't want to name some somebody gender-neutral, because they can choose later and never not do the whole blue cake, pink cake. You know, all these things society does to enforce it. 

But when you do something like take an egg and turn into a sperm that like defines, like how fluid it literally is That you can make, you can be whatever you want. And so I think that art will get more people thinking about topics that are otherwise harder to maybe, maybe it's safer for some people to be like, Oh, that's scientifically possible if we put these genes in, then and then they can, you know, have a safer ground to think about those kinds of things. But for me, that topic, I didn't think about it much until I saw an artist give a talk about it. And then it's stuck with me ever since. And now she's a friend. Catherine met her, too.

Vivien 

This is how these interactions kind of work. And it takes special people to do this. Not everyone can do this. But it sounds like you've all met people who have been open to your science, art and both. And that's really special and congrats on the musical Jean. I think this was lovely. I don't know, if you all want to add anything, you're welcome to add anything. But I thought there was a lot of poetry, a lot of advice, a lot of honesty,I'm  just wowed by what you all talked about.

Jean Zarate

I guess if I could just have a small question. Because we're talking about cross pollination or cross interactions with scientists and artists. What would you say to the people who are right at the intersection? Do you need to specialize in one or the other to excel at either,

Charlotte Jarvis [1:16:30]

I don't think you need to. But with a big caveat. And this is slightly speaking to what Albert was saying earlier, you do need to respect that people are experts, because they've put in the time and the commitment into those fields. And I think the place where it can get a bit, the place where the quality can go down is, is if you kind of expect to suddenly be able to dip into the other side without having put in, you know, the 20 years that the next person has. 

And I think that's the bit which is challenging. And it's an it's respecting that the people that you're with have got the expertise and the time that you have in your field. So this is where I think and I imagine, Jean, people probably question that when, and you obviously have been doing them both for all that amount of time. But like, I think that is actually the bit which which is important is the like that it's not just a kind of casual picking up of like, you know, I can't casually say, Oh, I'm just gonna go and, you know, I've had this great scientific idea. 

You know, of course, I haven't, like, you know, like, I don't, because I don't, because I haven't been being a scientist for, you know, 20 years, but I have done 20 years of arts education. And I am a real expert in that. And equally I wouldn't expect a scientist that I'm working with to say all I could be an artist tomorrow, because that's disrespecting my expertise and the time that I've put into it. And so that's it is that I think you absolutely can but it that's predicated on, have you put in the commitment in can you commit to both sides? Probably yes. But yeah,

John Rinn

Yeah, I don't know how you did it. Jean, like being an editor sounds like more work than my job alone plus having other job. So I think you're a super human example. That will be a role model for a lot of people. But I think one thing that it comes back down to this funding thing that if you become an expert in something, but you're open to encouraging that other half, you can get funding through your expertise to you to enable other people or facilitate for most of us that do sleep. 

Like I find this to like because I'm not going to pretend I'm an artist, but I do know that I care about it and have scientific advice to impart to people. So yeah, I think there's got to be some balance is a really good question because if you do two things you And it's hard to be 100% in either. But you've already accomplished both. So you can, you know, have that expertise in both. But for the normal human, I don't know, I think it's just being open to other people's skills and talents and being drilled, whatever you're drawn to, I think, naturally becomes somehow you way you can facilitate other people's expertise.

Catherine Musselman

Yeah, I think that's why collaboration is so important, too. And I think it depends on the level that you want to go to and your chosen pursuit, you know, I think we run into those even within the sciences, there is such a push to be multidisciplinary, and you run the risk of spreading too thin and, and not doing things well. And so I think it is important to know, like, what level do I want to get to with this? Do I want this to just kind of complement? Or is it better for me to find a true collaborator that really is an expert, I really think it kind of depends on that level that you want to go to.

John Rinn

I think I'm actually the best example of somebody with such a narrow expert, the only thing I know is how to find genes. But it doesn't do any good to say what they're there, you have to work with. We've worked with people from fertility clinics to brain to blood, because the genes are going to do whatever they're going to do. And I'm not an expert at any of those things, but I'm good at finding them. So I can like, find dirt and then figure out who can make a sandcastle out of the dirt. So I think it's yeah, like Catherine said, collaboration is the key to being multidisciplinary.

Mika Futz

Yeah, I would agree with that. I think these different components of our personalities and who we are as creatives and scientists, and whatever else, they can elevate, and really enhance other aspects I think doing a 50:50 provide is really challenging to maintain. And so for that reason, really, it is collaboration, it's the willingness to lean into that kind of uncomfortability. And to reach out to other people, where we can really tease out those areas that we would like to further develop ourselves.

Albert Heck

And I don't think I had much to add to this. I really also like what Charlotte answered, but I think it also, you know, everyone is who they are. And you could also ask you, John, can you do one without the other. Because I think you can also get the energy from your second life or your first life. And maybe you cannot be such a good editor if you couldn't do your music. 

And for me, it's very simple. My science goes, not so well, if I come from, has nothing to do with each other. But if I can't do the running, I feel less happy. And I cannot think clearly about my science. And so that's me. 

But indeed, I cannot be both in the Olympics for marathons and be a scientist, but I need both to, to excel in one of them. And I don't excel in  running, but I need to do it. And I think that's for every person. You know, scientists are also just human beings. We all need our we are not, you know, 24 hours a day a scientist, we also do other things. And that could be inspiration through something to arts, and this could be sports. And so I think it's everyone's own question and everyone's own answer. I think there's no recipe for this. So I think if this makes you feel happy, then go for it.

Vivien

And I think John once explained to me the YOLO move, let's just call it that, because it's probably not called that. And in snowboarding,

John Rinn

There's only a couple people who can do it, you only live once, if you try to trick but it's I really think I'm the same with Albert. I'm embarrassed to say how much time I spend cycling. And I'm very proud that I'm the slowest cyclist in Boulder, but I need it in order to do my other stuff. And I'm just surprised you don't cycle in the Netherlands. I thought all there is. 

Albert Heck

I also that as well. And maybe we should do a cycle trip in Boulder.

Catherine Musselman

Absolutely 

Vivien 

Well, lovely. Did you have anything else? Jean or Charlotte? I know you have to run.

Albert Heck

Yeah, I also have to break up, I think.

Vivien 

Thank you so much, everyone. This was a lot of fun. And this was very informative. Thank you. Thank you for the time, the energy, the ideas and all this cool stuff.

Catherine Musselman

Thanks so much for organizing. 

Cheers. Bye, bye.

That was Conversations with Scientists today, an episode about science and the arts with London based-artist: Charlotte Jarvis CJ. Dr. Albert Hecht, proteomics researcher from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Dr. Catherine Musselman of the University of Colorado Boulder, Dr. John Ren, also of the University of Colorado Boulder, Mika Futz  former fellow of their Art of Science fellowship, now a medical student in Philadelphia. And Dr. Jean Mary Zarate, senior editor at Nature, Neuroscience, also an actor and a musician. 

I'm going to compile a list of the fellowships mentioned in this podcast, and others and try to work on that matchmaking idea we talked about. If you have suggestions about how to turn some of the ideas mentioned in this podcast into reality, do please get in touch. 

The music used in this podcast is David Gives: Views from Palermo licensed from artlist.io. And I just wanted to say because there's confusion about these things, sometimes nobody paid for this podcast and nobody paid to be in this podcast. This is independent journalism that I produce in my living room. I'm Vivien Marx. Thanks for listening

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