Creative Science Communication

Image of Lauren Cook - London National Park City Ranger

I’m an ecologist, PhD student and freelance artist and science communicator. 

As an ecologist, I believe it’s essential for everyone to understand the three key things about biodiversity. Firstly, we rely on biodiversity for water, food, and the air we breathe, as well as a range of services such as flood defence, disease control, medicine, and shelter. Additionally, biodiversity plays a significant role in physical and mental health, breaking down waste for new growth, and capturing carbon dioxide to fight climate change. 

Image of flowers within an urban area

Secondly, it’s alarming that biodiversity is in massive decline, with a 41% decline in the UK alone. 1 in 4 mammals are at risk of extinction in the UK, and 40% of insect species are at risk of extinction globally.

Finally, I believe we can all make a difference, no matter how small, to protect and enhance biodiversity. 

As an artist, I believe that art can play an essential role in promoting sustainability and environmental issues. I try to incorporate the value of visual learning and storytelling in my work, collaborating with scientists and other artists to spread my love for nature and inspire others to take action to protect it. My stop-frame animations are designed to be short, digestible, and to provide information with a bit of humour and colourful visuals, making it more accessible and relatable.

Nature is my biggest inspiration and informs my creative process. I love drawing and sketching from nature or taking photographs as a reference for my work. I incorporate my feelings and impressions of the place or the animal/plant I’m drawing into my art, trying to express them through animation. I believe that spending more time outdoors and experiencing nature is essential for our well-being. It grounds us in the present, puts our worries into context, and makes us feel better, body and soul. 

Considering that the majority of people live in cities, it’s vital that city dwellers have access to high-quality and safe green and blue spaces. To educate children about the benefits of the outdoors, we need to involve them and show them that their actions can make a difference. With a group of Rangers from London National Park City, we plan to conduct workshops with schools to create a wildlife garden and teach children about how fruit grows with fruit trees. 

Schools are doing well in educating children about plastic, but more could be done with educating about biodiversity loss. The National Park City Rangers programme is an excellent initiative that we plan to magnify and expand to other cities, recruiting more volunteers to improve nature in cities across the world.

At the moment, I’m in the last year of my PhD research, and I have some exciting art projects in the works. I’m creating scientific diagrams for my thesis and journal articles, collaborating with a wildlife charity on an animation, and I recently worked with the Natural History Museum to create art to inspire people to make pledges towards the climate and nature crises.

The museum is using my artboards at events that bring together activists, artists, and scientists, which makes me very proud. I’m also thrilled that several of my animations have been selected for national and international film festivals, and I even won a couple of awards. Recently, I published my first scientific paper on the use of eDNA in parasite and pathogen surveillance. In addition, I’ve been spending time down at the Solent Oyster project, where I’m taking samples from the ocean that is being rewilded with native flat oysters. It’s an exciting time for my research and art, and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities that have come my way.

There are so many ways to get involved with urban nature conservation and I hope to see some of you out and about in our beautiful parks and green spaces!

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