Wellcome Trust announces 2014 Engagement Fellows

The Wellcome Trust is pleased to announce three new Engagement Fellows for 2014. Alex Julyan, Brian Lobel and Dan Bird will be taking up their Fellowships in September, with plans to work on projects on healthcare environments, patient experience and informal science learning.

Now in its fourth year, the Engagement Fellowship scheme supports people involved with science communication or public engagement, who are looking to develop their practice, over two years.

Previous and current Fellows have explored surgical simulation, poetry, citizen science, art, TV presenting and writing. This year’s newly awarded Fellows are just as varied, spanning the worlds of visual art, performance and science education.

Alex Julyan is an artist, curator and producer, with a background in fine art. She also produces interdisciplinary live events and site-specific work across cultural venues and public spaces. Her focus for the Fellowship will be on healthcare environments as potential places of wellbeing, and the ways in which public health messages are communicated and received by their many audiences. On receiving the Fellowship she said: “Audience plays a huge part in what I do and what I believe in. This Fellowship will give me the opportunity to explore the interaction between the architecture of the medical environment and its users; it will allow me the space to shape projects in exciting and surprising ways with amazing support behind me.”

Brian Lobel’s work centres on patient experience. During his Fellowship he will be embarking on a nationwide tour of his exhibition, 'Fun with Cancer Patients', which reflects on the genuine issues and experiences of teenagers with cancer, and was supported by an Arts Award. He also plans to explore illness in terms of performance. He said: “Like many artists, I have often found myself responding to requests; surviving rather than thriving. I am ready to begin creating contexts for my own work, developing projects that reflect on the experience of illness, without being reactive, and this Fellowship provides a truly unique opportunity to do that.”

Dan Bird, who is currently Exhibitions Director of At-Bristol, is making plans to “change the world of informal science learning as we know it”. He will be working in consultation with a network of science centres to understand how people learn, and how to extend the science centre experience to connect with visitors beyond venues and walls. He said: “Science is already advancing the study of learning, and I will be finding new ways to implement this in and out of the science centre environment. I am looking forward to being challenged by new projects as well as the entire experience of making this exciting step-change in my own career.”

Clare Matterson, Director of Culture & Society at the Wellcome Trust, added: “A great strength of the Engagement Fellowship scheme is the flexibility and freedom that it offers. With their impressive and varied backgrounds, I have no doubt that Alex, Brian and Dan will all be making the most of this, and I very much look forward to supporting them as they establish their pioneering public engagement projects.”