The New Generation

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Dr Sarah Dillon

An academic at the University of St Andrews has been named one of the brightest minds in the UK.

Dr Sarah Dillon is one of just two researchers in Scotland to be hailed as a New Generation Thinker after a nationwide search.

She joins just nine other academics across the UK to be recognised by the BBC Radio 3 and Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) initiative.

New Generation Thinkers 2013 aims to find the academic broadcasters of the future – the brightest minds who have the potential to turn groundbreaking ideas into fascinating radio programmes.

The initiative is aimed at academics at the start of their careers, who are passionate about communicating modern scholarship to a wider audience.

Dr Dillon beat hundreds of applicants in a six-month process that involved a workshop at the BBC and being judged by a panel of senior staff from BBC Radio 3, BBC Television Arts and the AHRC.

Dr Dillon, a Senior Lecturer in the University’s School of English, commented, ‘I’m delighted to have been selected as an AHRC/BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker for 2013. The scheme presents a brilliant opportunity for young researchers who have a passion for communicating their research to a wider audience.

“It’s going to be a busy and exciting year with appearances on Night Waves and an Essay at the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival in the autumn. I’ll be on a steep learning curve getting to grips with a media world very different to academia, but I can’t wait!’

The 10 winners will spend a year working with Radio 3 presenters and producers to develop their research and ideas into broadcasts. Dr Dillon will make her debut appearance on Radio 3’s arts and ideas programme, Night Waves in June, and will be invited to make regular contributions to the network throughout the year.

Dr Dillon, who lectures in Contemporary Literature, is constantly exploring the many answers to one apparently simple question: how does literature help us to understand the world?

Her early work focused on literature and philosophy, while her current research concentrates on the relationship between contemporary literature and science.  She has interviewed scientists across Scotland in order to uncover the secrets of literature’s influence on science, as part of her collaborative ‘What Scientists Read’ project.

Dr Dillon has appeared on BBC Radio Scotland’s The Book Café, at the Edinburgh International Science Festival and, in 2011, took part in the Scottish Crucible initiative which encourages young researchers to see the world beyond academia.

Dr Dillon and her fellow Thinkers will also have the opportunity to develop their ideas for television, including working with BBC Television Arts to make short taster films.

Matthew Dodd, Head of Speech programming for BBC Radio 3, said, “Radio 3 commissions and nurtures new talent across music and the arts – and the New Generation Thinkers scheme is an integral part of that. Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinkers is a unique scheme: It’s a partnership that helps academics begin thinking about the public dissemination of their work at the very start of their careers and make broadcasting integral to what they do.

“This year’s applicants showed a sharp sophistication about how their research might make strong programmes – and a real willingness to reach beyond academia into the lives of our audience, and to find new formats to do that.”


Note to Editors

Dr Dillon is available for interview via [email protected].

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Communications Manager on 01334 467227, email [email protected]

Ref: New Thinkers 210513

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