2021 Festival 8-18 July

Fireside Chat with Siouxsie Wiles

Join us for a fireside chat with New Zealander of the Year, Dr Siouxsie Wiles!

Over the past year, Dr Wiles has become a household name thanks to her public science communication efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. An Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, Dr Wiles has studied medical microbiology at the University of Edinburgh, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford and Edinburgh Napier University.

Dr Wiles spent almost a decade at Imperial College London, before relocating to New Zealand. She has won awards for both her commitment to the ethical use of animals in research and for her science communication. In 2017 she published her first book, Antibiotic resistance: the end of modern medicine? and in 2019 was appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to microbiology and science communication.

During COVID-19 Dr Wiles joined forces with Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris to make the science of the pandemic clear and understandable. Their graphics have been translated into multiple languages and have been adapted by various governments and organisations. In this talk, Dr Wiles will be discussing her experiences over the past year and answering questions on all things science.

Interviewing Dr Wiles will be Jesse Bering, an experimental psychologist and a leading scholar in the cognitive science of religion. He is also an essayist and science writer specializing in evolution and human behavior. His first book, The Belief Instinct (W. W. Norton, 2011), was included in the American Library Association’s Top 25 Books of the Year and voted one of the “11 Best Psychology Books of 2011” by The Atlantic.

This was followed by a collection of his Webby-award nominated essays, Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2012), and Perv (2013, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), a taboo-breaking work that received widespread critical acclaim and was named as a New York Times Editor’s Choice.

His most recent book is A Very Human Ending (Doubleday, 2018). Bering’s writings have been translated into many different languages and reviewed in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and many other outlets. He has also been featured in numerous documentaries and radio programs, including Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, Conan, Chelsea Lately, Q&A (Australia), and NPR’s All Things Considered. Bering is presently Director of the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago.

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