The Scotia Scholars Award provides financial support to research trainees with exceptional potential who are engaged in a health research project at participating Nova Scotia institutions. Funding for this award is provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.
Taking marine data and turning it into video and music
Data visualization artist Brigitta Zhao received $10,000 for her project “Marine Data Sonification and Visualization as Educational Public Art,” which takes marine data and turns it into video and music.
“I moved here the first day of September and three weeks later, [hurricane] Fiona happened,” says Zhao, who is originally from China and received her undergrad degree in the US. “I didn’t know how to prepare for a hurricane, I didn’t even know what a rain jacket was.”
Through her internship with DeepSense, an AI and machine-learning organization based out of Dalhousie University, Zhao has access to ocean data from marine researchers.
She uses it to demonstrate things like the highest wave data during Fiona in large-scale video installations.
“I truly believe public art can be a form of science communication,” she says. “Not many people are willing to read a 50-page academic paper, but if I make things interesting enough, will people dive in and do their own research? It’s using art and social media platforms as scientific branding—advertising not a product, but scientific research.”
A lab that uses dance as a medium to explore the ‘social body’
Dancer Lauren Runions received $10,000 from Research NS for their project “Social Choreography Lab,” a six-week series of workshops that will “use dance as a medium to explore the social body. ‘Social’ being an expansive word that means ‘in relation,’” says Runions.
Partially inspired by the pandemic and the idea that the entire world has experienced the past three years collectively, they aim to offer collaborative opportunities to folks aged 18 to 21 (a public call will go out) in which they’ll explore broad concepts under the banner of “social” and simply see what emerges.
“I got an award for health,” says Runions, “and just being in the room and sharing experience with people is ‘health.’ And the goal is to share it with the people who weren’t in the room and have it ripple out. To explore how socially we’ve been affected by the past three years. Everyone has gone through that, so it’s in us all, and where can we go from there? What are creative strategies for returning back to our own bodies? Anyone could participate in this project.”
Exploring how social media affects mental health
Photographer Fanny Desroches received $5,000 for “Alternative Imagery as a Frame of Repair,” exploring how social media affects mental health. Phones are daily tools, says Desroches, on a break from prepping her fall undergrad class “Social Media and Identity.”
“There is this interval between the phone and us—what is making us want to register imagery and share that? What is the complexity of choosing the images that define us?”
Desroches is interested in how social media imagery manifests traditions of prejudice and privilege exacerbated by conventional aesthetics and the desire to be seen.
“Why are we recording our life so much and for whom, really? I believe articulate art and discussion around this can support mental health issue” she says. “I am interested in examining and subverting the mythology of social imagery through the visual exploration of imperfection.”