Why am I in Austin, TX?

For you to understand it all, I’ve got to reach into the past a bit…

Lately, I’ve been traveling a lot, bouncing from one place to another. I admit, I am a bit unpredictable, but it is with good reason (at least I think so). Following graduate school, I kept thinking about what I wanted to do, what I wanted to experience and what I wanted to commit to? Don’t get me wrong, graduate school was a wonderful experience for me, despite the stress. Sure, there were many times my experiments let me down, times when impostor syndrome consumed me, but at the end of the day, the overall research experience was meaningful for me. To me, scientific research was important, but how could I stay connected to science without pursuing the traditional academic route? There had to be a way. 


During my time in graduate school, I was involved in science outreach, challenged myself to talk to different audiences about my research and realized how disconnected from science the general public was. That’s when the idea of science communication dawned on me. I searched for a way I could hone my skills in communication and found the Science Communication program at Laurentian University (the only one of its kind in Canada!). But before, embarking on that path, I wanted to be a bit reckless, I wanted some new experiences outside the comfort of school to confirm or perhaps reshape my values as a person and to make sure it was the next move I wanted to make in my life. I started to work as a language assistant in Quebec city and improved my French along the way. In my spare time, I doodled, sketched, painted, crafted and it really helped me cope with stress, fueled my creativity and it brought to me impeccable focus. Hence the reason for exploring art avenues through volunteering with an art outreach group in Chiang Mai, Thailand and then a week long workshop in art therapy in Barcelona. In between that, I volunteered on farms, hiked and camped in France, Couchsurfed and explored cities on bike. As I met like-minded people in different contexts, the idea of community became ever more important. 


So as I headed into the Science Communication program, I knew that the value of art and community would be important in shaping my experience. Throughout the program, I looked for ways I could merge art and science together such as illustrating for blogs, sketching and developing designs for exhibits and learning animation skills. Time flies and now I am in the last trimester of the program. Currently, I am conducting research on the state of art/science initiatives in Canada while doing my placement at the Art Science Gallery in Austin, Texas. This facility has the goal of making science more accessible through science-related visual arts, supporting established artist-scientists and providing opportunities for scientists to become more engaging public communicators. My goal is to learn about the programming that Art Science Gallery does and how the organization has grown since it started in 2012. Hopefully, this experience and my research will help me build on the art/science community in Canada and foster the science culture in a creative way. Check out this video about Art Science Gallery or their website.


Austin itself is an interesting place to be, with a community of artists-scientists, local sustainable organizations and musicians. To my surprise, there’s actually quite a lot of green space here and the warmer weather brings a variety of plants and animals (especially birds and bats) that are foreign to me. While I’m not interning, I’ll be doing something that is also dear to my heart – learning more about bicycles! I will be volunteering at the Yellow Bike Project (founded in 1997), an educational facility open to anyone who wants to learn about fixing and riding bikes. Their goal? Get more people on bikes! So far, this community has welcomed me to the city and into their homes, which I am forever grateful for.


So, let this new chapter of my life unfold …

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