We’re delighted to introduce the 15 Early Career Researchers who have been selected to present their cutting edge research at the AHRC Science in Culture Theme Ignite event on 26th March 2014. The event will be held at the Natural History Museum and limited tickets are still available.

The third Science in Culture Theme Ignite Speaker is:

LAURA FOGG ROGERS, University of the West of England, ‘The Neuroscience, Art and Therapy of Music’

Fogg Rogers PhotoIn the spirit of Ignite can you describe your topic in 140 characters?

Song is a powerful medium – choirs bring joy, connect communities and may rehabilitate speech for people with communication difficulties

What would you like people to take away from your Ignite talk?

Song is an ancient and innate form of human communication. We all know the joy we feel with our favourite songs, but singing together is what human societies were meant to do. My research with choirs looks at the science and art of singing as a therapy. Working with speech language therapists, music therapists, psychologists and the community, we are developing group singing as a way to reduce social isolation and improve communication for people who don’t have a voice. We could all benefit from singing in a choir! However, it is especially powerful for people with voice or language problems, and the isolated elderly.

How did you get involved in interdisciplinary research across Sciences and Arts and Humanities?

As a communications professional with a background in journalism and events I am experienced at working with people from all walks of life – in fact connecting people is my forte! While working at a neuroscience research centre in New Zealand, I set up a choir for people with brain disease, with the aim of bringing patients into the research environment. However, the choir members soon pushed for research into their experience, and so I brought together the multi-disciplinary team. Our varying experiences gave us a wide and varied view of choral singing, which added to the research insights. Meanwhile my love of interdisciplinarity was born!

Tell us a bit about your academic background.

I have worked in journalism and communications for ten years, following a First Class BSc in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Manchester. I trained in science journalism at City University with support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the BBC. Experience in local TV and radio, along with prime-time environmental programming, has given me a broad base to progress and disseminate my research career. I then spent four years in New Zealand establishing a neuroscience research centre in Auckland, which became well known for its public patient involvement and public engagement events. Following the establishment of the Celebration Choir, I undertook a First Class MSc in Psychology on choral singing therapy at The University of Auckland. I am now progressing this into a PhD, which I will undertake at the University of the West of England in Bristol. My current role as a Research Fellow in Science Communication allows me to explore the relationships between involvement and engagement in research, along with the impact of education outreach for young people.

A film of Laura Fogg Rogers’ presentation at the AHRC Science in Culture Theme Ignite event is available here.