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Thinking Spaces: “Improv for Scientists”

February 8, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Thinking Spaces poster. On the left is a black and white photo of Joanne O'Meara, and on the right is a black and white photo of Shoshanah Jacobs. Above them is the title Thinking Spaces.

Thinking Spaces: The Improvisation Reading Group and Speaker Series is pleased to present “Improv for Scientists”: Joanne O’Meara in conversation with Shoshanah Jacobs. This event will take place on Wednesday, February 8 at 1pm (ET) in-person (MacKinnon building, room 103, University of Guelph) as well as streamed online (via Zoom). A moderated Q&A will follow the talk.

If you are interested in attending in-person or online, please register via this link: https://uoguel.ph/thinkingspacesimprovforscientists. A Zoom link will be sent to your email the day before the event.


Improvisational exercises have been a key element of theatre training for decades. With minor modification, these same exercises can be used in training scientists (and future scientists) to be better communicators. I’ll discuss my use of improv with our physics majors at U of G and give some examples of the science-y twists we throw on the activities to suit our purposes.


Dr. Joanne O’Meara has been a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph for more than 20 years, serving for almost 10 of those years as the Associate Chair (undergraduate). Joanne earned her PhD in Medical Physics from McMaster University and has since transitioned to a focus on Physics Education in her scholarly work. She is an award-winning educator with a deep commitment to her students.  Her most recent project involves the launch of a non-profit organization, Royal City Science, with the ultimate goal of building a new, state-of-the-art, science centre for southwestern Ontario.

Dr. Shoshanah Jacobs takes a systems approach to answering questions that are relevant within the communities that they work with. It means that they spend a lot of time learning about other disciplines. Their research expertise includes eco-physiology and biomimetics (aka biomimicry) and they apply this training to help communities develop nature-inspired solutions to challenges. They have worked with the community of Guelph in identifying ways to accessibly reduce the use of single-use plastics, and have tracked the way that personal-protective equipment (PPE) moves through and away from the waste stream to affect wildlife around the world. Dr. Jacobs started the BioM Knowledge Access Lab research group in 2012 to make science knowledge more accessible to community members and to engage the community in designing more inclusive ways of collecting information. They are an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology. Ask them why Gentoo Penguins are simply the best. 


February 8, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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University of Guelph, MacKinnon Building
87 Trent Ln
Guelph, Ontario N1G 1Y4 Canada