Creating Impact Together: Our Resilient Team
Shankar Srinivas is Shaping Destiny’s co-Principal Investigator, Professor of Developmental Biology, and DPAG’s Academic Lead for Public Engagement. Shankar founded his independent research group at the University of Oxford in 2004. His group focuses on two key questions: how movements of cells in the body help shape the early mammalian embryo and how the heart forms. Shankar is passionate about outreach and his group regularly takes part in science festivals. For Shaping Destiny, Shankar is exploring the concept of ‘determinism’ and how certain cells are destined to create the certain body parts to which they relate (for example, primordial heart cells are destined to form the heart). However, there are limits to the role of genes – through the project, and alongside the external partners, he is keen to learn how our external environments and social norms influence our destiny and embodiment.
Professor Wes Williams is Shaping Destiny’s co-Principal Investigator, Director of TORCH and Professor of French Literature. Wes joined Shaping Destiny after chatting with his friends Shankar and Tomoko about the project. He is a master storyteller whose book ‘Mighty Magic’ forms the basis for the humanities side of the investigation. In his book, Wes explores the power of the imagination, the concept of monsters, and what constitutes the human norm in different cultures. Wes is also a theatre maker and uses insights of his research to co-create a community engagement theatre piece for the Shaping Destiny project.
Dr Tomoko Watanabe is Shaping Destiny’s Project Lead. She joined the Professor Shankar Srinivas’ group in 2006 and works alongside Shankar with the group’s public engagement and community outreach. Alongside her work of studying dynamic changes in growing embryos and how genes affects their development, Tomoko oversees the project, enabling people to work together, working to connect different communities and ensure learnings from Shaping Destiny and messages from members of communities are shared across different communities.
Amy Hong is an experienced science communicator with a background in public engagement, research impact and researcher development. She has previously delivered the Royal Institution and Genetics Society’s Centenary Celebration digital collaboration project and the institutional launch video for the Francis Crick Institute. Working with NGOs and local communities, her work contributed to national policy change on rainforest protection in Malaysia, improved science reporting in Nigeria, and built capacity in Rwanda. Amy is a member of the London Public Engagement Network; she has won 4 awards for her science communication efforts.
Amy is conducting mixed-methods evaluation to capture outcome and impact of the Shaping Destiny project.
the Parasol Project
Sophie Stanley and the dancers from Parasol Project produced an inspiring performance for Shaping Destiny. The young people's joys and curiosities about life were choreographed into a mini play by Sophie. The dancer's movements were captured in 3D by Kostas and Alex for the VR experience for everyone to share. The Parasol Project is a charity based in Oxford which promotes inclusivity. They were set up to redress ‘the balance for disabled and disadvantaged children and young people experiencing, or at risk of, social exclusion’.
Body Politic Dance
Emma Jane Greig
Emma-Jane Greig and the dancers from Body Politic created incredible hip hop performance with her young people for the Shaping Destiny project. The dance company was founded by EmJ in 2012. They work with various communities in Oxford, and are ‘committed to creating issue-based work through performance and participation’. From their performances, Kostas and Alex extracted form and movements in VR to explore the perceptions ‘embodiment’.
Alexander Whitley Dance Company
Alexander Whitley is the founder and artistic director of Alexander Whitley Dance Company. He is bringing a wealth of experience of making technologically advanced and thought-provoking productions using new digital platforms. He joined the Shaping Destiny project to merge technology with art, using the essences of the movements of the dancers and his sensitivity to pick up on emotions and cues to express through motion.
Alexander trained in dance at the Royal Ballet School and started his career at the Birmingham Royal Ballet before moving into contemporary dance at companies such as Rambert, Michael Clark Company, Sydney Dance Company and Wayne McGregor Random Dance.
Andromeda Software Development
Kostas Pataridis, from Andromeda Software Development in Oxford, is a software engineer and virtual reality expert who led the 3D filming and crucial in the creation of VR experience of the dancers in the Shaping Destiny project. Through multiple technical developments, he created a virtual world and enabled the viewers to share a space with the dancers. Kostas brought with him a wealth of knowledge in software development, working for cutting-edge digital projects. Kostas is also a digital artist and has won prizes for creating demoscene productions, a computer-generated art form using real-time computing.
Man in a Hat Production
Gary Tanner is the videographer and documentarist for the Shaping Destiny project. Gary has worked in the creative industries for the last 30 years, producing visually stunning films of artists and dancers. He joins us to film, document and find a story developing in our project through partners discussions, community and live engagement sessions and, to show the viewers what it means to think and create together and enable us to celebrate the results of mixing ideas and inviting people into creative processes.
Adding Value to Our Mission
Phase 1 digital storytelling
Music for the Parasosl Project
Music for VR experience
Humanities project officer
Phase 3 site designer
Phase 3 community lead