Co-founder of Guerilla Science & Professor @ Pratt Institute
What’s your historical San Francisco and New York connection?
My mother’s side of family is from New York, and although I grew up in London, I spent a lot of my childhood in NY. We would go to Fire Island in the summer. I have a lot of happy memories.
After my PhD I followed my partner to San Francisco where we spent five good years. We moved to NY last year.
Describe your experience in SF and your experience in NYC.
I love the good weather and outdoor lifestyle in SF. There are some amazing beaches, ocean views, and mountain hikes. Driving up the coast to Gaulala through wine country was a beautiful, somewhat surreal experience for a city-slicker like me. Professionally, my time in SF was a bit stilted though. I was simultaneously doing (remote) scientific research for UCLA, and running Guerilla Science, producing events for festivals, galleries and other cultural institutions. I never managed to get the two to quite mesh.
New York has been great for resolving that professional tension. Working at the Pratt Institute has been a wonderful opportunity for me to mix science and art, and there’s a huge amount of demand for the type of Guerilla Science events we’re producing here. For example, we just launched a really successful Sensory Speed Dating event series. I attribute a lot of my new found professional fulfillment to New York’s cultural diversity and engagement with both science and the arts. I love it. I wish I’d found a way to be more engaged in that scene while I was in SF. Oh, and I am very into NY pizza!
What was the biggest challenge of moving between NYC and SF?
By far the biggest challenge has been getting used to the NY winter. People had told me about it, but I was not prepared. It snowed this morning. There are other little things that I’m finding difficult. For example, there are far fewer options for letting your dog off-leash in NYC, and it’s much harder to get out of the city to access nature.
How can NYC and SF best engage with each other?
I am a huge fan of the co-living movement, as exemplified by the folks at the Embassy SF. It’s a bit like co-working spaces, except for living. Whenever I go back to SF I can stay there and hang out with super interesting people. Growing and integrating a network of these co-living spaces, in both NY and SF, would be a great way to build a bi-coastal community.
Favorite SF secret spot
The Sit and Stay cafe at Point Isabelle dog park, East Bay. (Only suitable for dog lovers.)
Favorite NYC secret spot
Robert, the restaurant/bar on top of the museum of arts and design. It’s an extremely classy place, without being stuffy or too moneyed.
If you were not where you are now, what would you be doing?
I’d be thinking up amazing ways to combine science and art: Cooking jelly brains, building a fire organ, selling vacations to other planets. You get the idea.
Roadtrip Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
Podcast – Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Review.