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Inspiring young women emerge from Chrysalis

An art exhibition exploring the link between women and science will launch this evening (Wednesday 23 March) at the University of St Andrews.

Chrysalis – an unusual combination of art and science – will highlight the role of women in science: the hurdles they face as well as the creativity and job satisfaction possible from a career in this sector.

The artwork will be based on hosted conversations between young female researchers and established female researchers, which will then be interpreted by professional artist Sophie McKay Knight. These pieces will form part of an exhibition entitled Elements, which begins on 23 March at the Byre Theatre.

Funded by the Biochemical Society Diversity in Science Fund and the Wellcome Trust’s Institutional Strategic Support Fund, this University of St Andrews project both celebrates the successes of women in science and reflects on what is still needed regarding diversity.

A key aim of the project is to examine how creativity and imagination are required as well as integrity and precision when pursuing scientific research.

Dr Mhairi Stewart, Public Engagement Officer, said: “A key legacy of this project will be the Chrysalis Conversation events which our staff and students have asked to continue.

“Many have said how incredibly useful these informal meetings are. This is pertinent to our aim of retaining and supporting women in science careers.”

Sophie McKay Knight has been working as a professional artist since 1997, regularly exhibiting throughout the UK. She has won awards for her paintings and has work in public and private collections locally and abroad. For Chrysalis she asked women to send her images that were significant to them and their work and she then tried to incorporate these into her artworks.

Sophie said: “’Working with female scientists has been inspirational for me and my work. I have really enjoyed learning about their particular disclipines and have been privileged to visit some of them in their labs and work spaces. The work I have produced for Elements is an imaginative interpretation of all I have learned and observed throughout the process, and I’m sure will yield many future works.”

Sophie previously teamed up with the School of Chemistry to present an exhibition, Molecular Self, which included an array of works influenced by the DNA molecule.


Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews, contactable on 01334 462530 or email proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk

The images are samples taken from the forthcoming exhibition at the Byre Theatre.

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