This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Monday 14 June 2021, 1pm to 2.15pm
  • Location: Online only
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

How can science, poetry and imagination combine to enrich each community’s ideas?

Our expert speakers include poet-priest Malcolm Guite; violinist and composer Anna Phoebe; poet, historian and broadcaster Katrina Porteous; and internationally-recognised expert in interdisciplinary studies, Sam Illingworth of Edinburgh Napier University.

The event is chaired by Tom McLeish, a physicist, interdisciplinary leader and writer from the University of York.


This event is hosted live on Zoom Webinar. You’ll receive a link to join a couple of days before the event takes place and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.

Science, Imagination and Poetry is part of a series of events presented under the theme of ‘Science, Imagination and the Big Questions’ with the support of the John Templeton Foundation. You may also enjoy Extraterrestrial: Intelligent life beyond Earth on Friday 11 June; Narratives of Conflict and Warfare on Tuesday 15 June; and This Species Moment on Friday 18 June. 

Image credit: ECLAS project

About the speakers

Malcolm Guite is a poet and priest, working and Life Fellow of Girton College, Cambridge. He lectures widely in England and North America on Theology and Literature. His books include Sounding the Seasons; Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year (Canterbury 2012).  The Singing Bowl; Collected Poems (Canterbury  2013) and Parable and Paradox (Canterbury Press 2016) and Mariner: A Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Hodder 2017) After Prayer (Canterbury Press 2019) and David’s Crown (Canterbury Press 2021). Find out more at

Sam Illingworth is an Associate Professor in Academic at Edinburgh Napier University, whose research involves using poetry to engender dialogue between scientists and society. His poetry has appeared in several poetry journals and anthologies, and he has written extensively on the relationship between science and poetry, including in his book A sonnet to science: scientists and their poetry (Manchester University Press, 2019). His work has been featured by NatureScientific American, and the BBC, and he is also founder of the science and poetry journal Consilience. You can find out more about Sam and his research by visiting his website and connect with him on Twitter @samillingworth

Tom McLeish, FRS, is Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics and also in the Centre for Medieval Studies and the Humanities Research Centre at the University of York, UK. He was elected to the Royal Society in 2011, currently sits on its Council, and chaired its Education Committee from 2014 to 2020. He has won awards in the UK, USA and EU for his interdisciplinary research in ‘soft matter and biological physics,’ and also works across science and humanities on medieval science, theology, sociology, and philosophy of science. As well as over 200 specialist articles, he has written books for a general audience, including Faith and Wisdom in Science, The Poetry and Music of Science and Soft Matter - A Very Short Introduction. He also regularly appears on BBC radio.

Anna Phoebe is a violinist and composer working on cross-genre collaborative projects. Collaborations include the European Space Agency, writing music to Earth Observation data tracking climate crisis, and Cancer and Alzheimer’s research at the University of Kent, writing a choral and ensemble work responding to research images. Anna’s solo work is played regularly on BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 3 and Scala Radio. She released ICONS in March 2021 and will release her solo album Horizons inspired by the sea later this year. Her instrumental duo AVAWAVES is signed to One Little Independent Records (home to Bjork and Skunk Anansie). Anna co-wrote with Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement recipient Nitin Sawhney CBE, for his album released in March 2021 on Sony Masterworks, and she recently recorded with legendary musician and TV personality Jools Holland for his upcoming solo album on Warner Music. Anna presents a bi-weekly show Between Sea & Sky on Soho Radio. She features in Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's book Ladies Who Punch. Find out more at 

Katrina Porteous is a poet based in Northumberland. She is best known for poems of place, and more recently for cross-disciplinary work with scientists and composers. Her collection, Edge (Bloodaxe 2019), draws on work with electronic composer Peter Zinovieff, with whom she has created three performance pieces for a planetarium. The title sequence was a Poetry Please special on BBC Radio 4. Katrina has worked with Northumbria University’s NUSTEM to bring science to primary schools through poetry. Her latest collaboration with Zinovieff is Under the Ice, for NUSTEM's 'Exploring Extreme Environments' project, supported by STFC. It focuses on the work of Northumbria University researchers in Antarctica and premieres online for the Wordsworth Trust on 23 June. Find out more at



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