UF Arts & Sciences Collaborations

There’s a great article, “Experimental Palette: UF scientists and artists are blending their unique talents to mutual benefit”  by Donna Hesterman in the most recent Explore Magazine. The article is about collaborations across the arts and sciences for great benefit for both traditional ways of doing arts and sciences and for innovating and finding new ways and methods. The article includes quotes from a discussion with Jamie Gillooly, an associate professor of biology at UF,  who “says arts training is an imperative for educating scientists.” The article explains how Gillooly spent a year with UF’s School of Art and Art History in 2011 “co-teaching courses with art school faculty and creating venues for artists and scientists to work together” and that he did so because of the benefits from art as art is taught and practiced for science:

“Studio artists get just the sort of training that researchers need to be successful,” Gillooly says. “The arts have these well-developed models and practices for teaching the creative process, and students are expected from Day One to wrestle with open-ended questions. They also learn how to deal with setbacks and failures early on.”

Gillooly says that young scientists get no such training, and that can be a problem when they reach graduate school.

“The hardest day for a new Ph.D. student in science is the one when he or she is given the keys to their cubicle and told go come up with a research project,” he says. “The last time they did something that self-directed or creative was probably in the sixth grade science fair.”

Artists can help scientists learn to approach their research in a less linear fashion, says Richard Heipp, director of UF’s School of Art and Art History. And artists can learn a lot from scientists, too, he says. Sculptures use engineering principles to make their structures sound, chemistry can be used to engineer new paints and pigments and digital technology is an increasingly important tool for artists to master.

[…] “I can teach a student the facts about ecology or genetics,” Gillooly says, “but I can’t hand them a deep-seated sense of curiosity or confidence that leads them to ask their own questions about the natural world. Arts training, however, can give them that.”

This is another great example of how UF ( as a comprehensive public, land-grant) supports collaboration across and among its many colleges for the benefit of all research fields.