12 February 2020

Science and maths are on the line-up for this year's WOMAD festival

Move over music. It's time to make room on the WOMAD stage for some maths and science.

In a new event being introduced at WOMAD this year, speakers from a range of fields will take to the Steam Lab stage.

The speakers are from a range of backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM).

They are inventors and innovators who are at the top of their chosen fields, who will share with the audience their personal journeys of discovery and problem solving.

The four Inaugural speakers this year are Dr Nicoline den Breems, Shayne Gooch, Dr Simon Taylor and Suranga Nanayakkara.

As well as being a scientist with research interests in the intersection of mathematics, computation and molecular biology, Dr den Breems is a board member of the Taranaki Pioneer Village in Stratford.

Dr Nicoline den Breems is one of the inaugural Steam Lab speakers at WOMAD this year. Photo / Supplied
(Dr Nicoline den Breems is one of the inaugural Steam Lab speakers at WOMAD this year.)


Dr den Breem's current research involves developing project complex system models to simulate cell signalling cancer-immune interactions and gene network regulation in biological systems.

Shayne Gooch is the academic Dean of Engineering at the University of Canterbury and has been involved working with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery via the Len Lye Foundation on the design of Len Lye sculptures since 1996.

Dr Simon Taylor lectures at Waikato University and was awarded the Kudos Science Educator award in 2014 in recognition of his contribution towards encouraging an understanding and appreciation of science to youth and the wider community.

Dr Taylor has publicly lectured in astrophysics, nuclear fusion, cosmochemistry, the beauty of physics and music, the physics of surfing and learning futures.

Suranga Nanayakkara founded the Augmented Human Lab in 2011.

This was to explore ways of creating "enabling" human-computer interfaces as natural extensions of body, mind and behaviour.

An Associate Professor at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, the University of Auckland, Suranga's work helps people with sensory deficits in hearing or vision.