A Scottish folk dancer and science collided to give you Science Ceilidh! An evening of dancing, music and culture at this year’s festival.
Lewis Hou is a neuroscience researcher, science communicator, fiddle player and founder of the Science Ceilidh Band. He will be coming to the Lancashire Science Festival hoping to get everyone on the floor, dancing, and learning some science through Scottish folk dance!
After Lewis graduated with a background in biological sciences and neuroscience, he continued to work using brain imaging analysis to try and understand how brain shape is different in different psychiatric diseases as well as in other species. Alongside this, he began working with Edinburgh International Science Festival leading a biomedical surgery workshop “ER surgery.”
After a few years he then developed his own engagement activities which combined his own interests to engage people in the sciences. As a fiddle player and folk dancer with his own ceilidh band, eventually his two passions converged, leading to the Science Ceilidh!
He currently spends his time working in neuroimaging with Professor Neil Roberts (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Tim Crow (University of Oxford) looking at structural brain asymmetries and their relationship to language, evolution and mental disorders.
Most of the engagement projects Lewis does are based on biomedical sciences using different immersive and creative methods. This includes using music and dance (Fiddling in the Brain and Dissect the Beat shows, Science Ceilidh), immersive theatre (Deadinburgh, New Atlantis theatre shows) and comedy (Famelab).
He said: “I enjoy getting to meet and engage people from all walks of life and places in the world! I’ve worked in science festivals and workshops from Thailand to Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi to India, and I love the fact that everyone, no matter what background, is interested in understanding the world around them through the universal languages of science, music and laughter!”
Lewis believes that science communication is all about breaking stereotypes and the key message is that everyone can engage in science on some level, and even enjoy it! He told us, “Too often do I hear people say ‘Oh I don’t do science’ as much as ‘Oh, I don’t dance!’ As the science ceilidh tries to show, everyone can do both!
We asked Lewis what he is looking forward to at this year’s festival and he said that although Scotland is his home, he was actually raised in Liverpool and so is excited to be bringing the Science Ceilidh to the North West of England, where there is such strong science and indeed, folk music traditions too!
He also said: “I’ve heard that there’ll also be the science of cocktails straight after our ceilidh, so definitely will be looking forward to a wee tipple….for science of course!”
Tip for anyone wanting to get into science communication:
“See what’s out there! There’s so much great, innovative science communication out there, go out and experience it and be inspired. When you’ve done that, think about your passions, and see whether there’s anyway of combining your passions with science communication in new, personal and unique ways. Don’t try and work out what the world needs, work out what makes you awesome, because what the world needs is more awesome people.”
Below is one of his neuroscience songs, check out his work on Youtube and keep up to date with Lewis on Twitter.