BRIEF PERSONAL PROFILE
I am a creative and productive person who enjoys designing, innovating and building ideas at home and at work. I particularly enjoy using the things I create to explore my own thinking and the world around me. My interests range from electronics, painting and juggling, to mountain trekking and meditation. In addition to my demanding work I try at home to make at least one new thing a week (from radios to art) and have done for the last fifteen years or so. I have TV and Radio experience and was one of the five scientists chosen for a forthcoming (April 2000) castaway science BBC TV series (formally called the Castaways but now in the process of being renamed). I originated The Creative Science Centre (CSC) who's aim is to get more people to make things within science. I particularly enjoy the opportunity to create projects and give talks and workshops to a wide range of people in the community. I feel this is a very positive experience in my development.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND REQUIRED ATTRIBUTES
I have always had a great desire to experiment and try to understand better the things around me. In particular my imagination and energy was, and still is, captured by electronics. I worked part-time for years at GWM Radio (Worthing) repairing a range of instruments and electronic apparatus as well as learning to work with a wide range, and type, of people. I spent a year at the National Physical Laboratory where I built Time Standard apparatus, which I believe is still in use daily today. I achieved a First in physics at Surrey and then went on to Sussex for my PhD with Sir Harry Kroto. This work lead to a method of producing Buckminsterfullerene (C60) for which Sir Harry was co-awarded the chemistry Nobel prize in 1996. I have made a direct contribution to this field and have co-authored over 40 scientific papers in leading journals. In 1999 I was awarded an ISI citation certificate for these achievements in the physical sciences.
I have been involved with a number of 'Tomorrows World' programmes as well as being on a Horizon programme that won a number of prizes ('Molecules with Sunglasses'). I have co-produced four 'Reflections of Science' VEGA Science Trust TV programmes. I was also one of the five scientists chosen for the forthcoming four-part BBC2 TV science series.
I originated the Creative Science Centre (CSC) in order to provide a unique experience of science through exploring, planning, designing and making things. Activities include projects, workshops, consultancy work, hundreds of talks as well as others (see web site www.cpes.susx.ac.uk/csc/index.html). This has involved schools, colleges, universities as well as links within the community. My motivation is to use my skills to help people experience something of the scientific process. The activities are a healthy two way process because I get the opportunity to diversify my skills and experience a close interaction with new people, while they get a unique opportunity to learn and play outside of the constraints of the normal educational system. It is my wish to be able to extend this work further throughout the community. I feel I have already made significant progress in enhancing my ability to work and interact with people as well as to be creative and innovative under a range of different situations. However it is a constant learning process. I believe I have the right temperament, preliminary skills, experience and motivation to be able to build on, and explore, the development of my personality through the aims and objectives of this application. This would help my interaction with people, and help me use my creativity more effectively, for example through the CSC activities.
ANY SUPPORT IN KIND REQUIRED?
The diversity of the NESTA contacts and the wide-ranging advice and expertise at hand would be extremely useful to me. I also envisage that NESTA support might put me in contact with 'just the sort of people' that can contribute in many other ways.
OTHER SUPPORT FROM OTHER ORGANISATIONS
There is no other support for the particular activities described in this application.
WHEN SHOULD NESTA FUNDING START?
DURATION OF SUPPORT
Real development takes time. Three to five years is probably the minimum time that any worthwhile personal development can be observed. It might be that over this period the development of a one-day a week person is not very far off that of a full time person because learning is also going on in the time that we are away from the training. The brain is constantly rearranging and going over things. On this basis I would ask for five years of support.
AREAS OF WORK:
Design, innovation, Creative thinking, Physical sciences, Crafts, Meditation
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DEVELOPMENT PLAN AND EXPECTED PROGRESS
The three stands of the NESTA support are as follows:
1) Creative thinking (Mentor - Edward DeBono)
Innovative thinking and creativity are useful to anyone adapting to change or new situations. A number of people have stressed how important thinking skills are and how crucial they will be in the future - a future that is changing at an ever increasing rate. My own development and work requires innovative and creative approaches. My achievements show that I have some preliminary skills but I know I need to develop them more. NESTA funding would be used to cover the costs of training, travel and expenses to attend creative thinking courses each year.
2) Creative Time
These last few years I have chosen to take unpaid 'working days' to pursue my own thoughts, ideas and designs. This includes painting, juggling, creative electronics as well as time to freely follow instincts. These 'creative' days are very precious to me. I have been extremely productive but perhaps not as creative as I would like. It is essential to have the opportunity to have consecutive, rather than just single creative days at key points in the development of an idea in order to follow it effectively. Despite my current excellent working conditions, consecutive days for my own creative thinking are difficult. NESTA funding would give me more control of my time and therefore allow me to use it more effectively. I ask for a salary equivalent to one day a week so that I can plan 'creative time' periods.
The way we think forms the basis of all that we do, value and believe in. Creativity, innovation and positive attitude depend on our mind's. Mindfulness is the deliberate attempt to watch the minds activity. Meditation is a person's attempt, while being mindful, of leaving the mind in a state free from activity. It is not the suppression of thoughts, or concepts, but rather the relaxation from chasing after them. In this state the mind can rest. For most of us this rest state does not last for long and a new thought arises and the mind is once more active and taken away from its basic rest state. It can however be 'brought back' and this is the practice of meditation. Meditation and concentration are linked by the desire to want to do something. This can only really be effective if one has some understanding of the basic operation of the mind. Meditation reveals this and also develops concentration and focus. Over the last five years I have practised meditation daily. Meditation has helped me use my energies more effectively as well as develop in me the wish to use my skills to help others. NESTA funding would enable me to attend regular meditation retreats run by the Rigpa society (travel and subsistence costs for ca. 1 month a year) which I have belonged to for some time but have not had time to attend any of their activities.
HOW CAN NESTA HELP FULFILL CREATIVITY AND PROMISE?
Creativity and innovation are useful in all aspects of my work (The Creative Science Centre, Fullerene Research and The Vega Science Trust). The Creative Science Centre is probably the most demanding because I need to be able to communicate, innovate, design and plan as well as interact with children, adolescents, students, university lectures, administrative staff, etc. In addition to this it needs to be done with limited resources and time. Therefore ways in which I can develop skills, creative thinking and an ability to rest when I need to, are useful and relevant. NESTA is the only funding that can support me in my development over these interests and activities. I have already discovered for myself the advantages of meditation, design, painting and creative thinking techniques. Over the last three years I have incorporated into my working life a four-day 'working' week, the fifth day being for these activities. I have happily done this without pay because I love doing them and realise their importance. If NESTA were to fund me I could develop each of these creative strands more deeply. NESTA support would also vindicate these activities as valuable and positive creative additions to my career.
HOW WOULD I PREFER TO BE ASSESSED?
I think my enthusiasm would come over well by giving a presentation or through an interview situation. Some kind of assessment could also be made through my contribution to the new TV series (April 2000). This shows my ability to work with, and get on with, people as well as my ability to problem solve to a deadline and generate new ideas under unusual situations. There is no doubt in my mind that meditation and creative thinking helped me enormously during the making of these exciting programmes.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE THIS SUPPORT NOW?
The three particular strands of development I have asked NESTA to support would compliment my work with the Creative Science Centre. The CSC is in a transition stage between being a small scale pilot venture to one firmly established at the university and community. Plans are being negotiated with the university for a new CSC laboratory / Centre that will expand the CSC activities and scope enormously. The NESTA support would complement these changes by stimulating my own development. I therefore ask for the NESTA support to start as soon as possible so that I can plan it into the development of my work.
ANY CONSTAINTS OR DELAYS TO NESTA FUNDING?
Positive negotiations with the university are underway. This will not be finalised until the spring (2000). However I do not envisage any reason why this delay should constrain or delay the NESTA support.
HOW DO YOU INTEND TO MOVE BEYOND THE DURATION OF NESTA FUNDING?
I have asked NESTA for five years support. I plan to have the CSC self supporting by this time (from university funding as well as industrial support) and will build into this the creative aims that are contained in this application.
I have received funding and support for the CSC from a variety of sources including: Vega Science Trust, Sussex University, The Royal Society, The Salters Institute, Esso, Hewlett Packard, Sony UK and most importantly a COPUS development grant. I also raise funds from talks at the larger institutions, conferences etc. I have also put in a substantial amount of my own time and money into the CSC (for example some of the TV series wages) which shows my commitment and enthusiasm for my work.
HOW MIGHT SUPPORT TRANSCENDING BOUNDARIES?
One very useful but artificial restriction in our learning and education is our ability / tendency to categorise and 'put things into boxes'. It is true that Physics is quite different from History but when you start talking about innovation and creativity (in the work of the Creative Science Centre for example) there are few clear-cut boundaries. Boundaries are essential in our learning of Science Engineering and Technology (SET) but in innovation (my CSC work) they can often limit what is possible. The more scope I have to develop myself the more creatively I can design the CSC projects, workshops and talks so that these limited boundaries can be left behind. Because the CSC activities are about making things, tackling problems and ideas (rather than course based work aimed at answering exam questions) boundary limitations only make the activities less interesting rather than wrong.
Perhaps the two most important books I have ever read are; 'The Tibetan Book of the living and Dying' by Sogyal Rinpoche and Edward DeBono's 'A text book of wisdom'. They have influenced me greatly and are directly relevant to my work. I believe their influence would compliment each other. The meditation strand of my NESTA application will already directly involve a teacher or guide and so as my NESTA mentor I would chose De Bono. For information on Edward De Bono see: www.edwdebono.com and for information of the RIGPA see: www.rigpa.org.
WHY DO YOU NEED THIS PARTICULAR SUPPORT?
Time is one of the most precious things. NESTA support would mean I could plan and use my time more effectively. A continual frustration is that I am not able to develop my skills deeply. For example it often takes me a day to get into painting and a meditation retreat may well take weeks. NESTA support would mean I could plan consecutive days and learn more effectively. This is presently impossible. NESTA would also enable me to make better use of my time and enable me to explore much more deeply.
OTHER INCOME DURING AND AFTER FUNDING
I currently have funding and support from the Sussex Fullerene group as well as from a COPUS development grant. It is expected that I will be funded by the university when the new plans are finalised and this will include part-time salary to compliment the NESTA support. The Dean of Chemistry has also informed me that Industrial support will be forthcoming for the CSC.
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