Inner Space: Visualising the earth, mind and body

A National Science Week 2013 event supported by Inspiring Australia

15 August, 2013

or over 2,000 years, artists have illustrated the intricate structure of the body, creating images to record its pathologies and represent medical procedures. Techniques for visualisation continue to revolutionise science and medicine when used in anatomy and pathology and applied to data and complex systems.

Join three leading researchers for a discussion about how visualisation reveals the unifying structures of nutritional flows between the earth, the body and the mind. Discover how visualisation creates multi-disciplinary approaches to research, preventative health and clinical treatment.


Professor John Crawford

Professor John Crawford, Head of Sustainability and Complex Systems, Judith and David Coffey Chair, Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney

Professor John Crawford is a theoretical physicist who has wondered about the origin of organisation in living systems for 25 years. His most recent work integrates mathematics, biology, ecology, medicine, and socioeconomics to seek solutions for environmentally and socially regenerative food systems. John will discuss how the geometry of nature has evolved over time through a common set of self-organising principles that help the resulting forms grow and adapt according to environmental cues. These principles optimise the packing of surfaces into volumes to optimise energy flow. Indeed, earth, mind and body are each organised in this way, and the use of visualisation provides clues to how this organisation comes about and how it can be restored if it is lost. In particular, John will show how visualisation enables understanding of the complex geometry of the inner space of soil.

Professor Ian Hickie

Professor Ian Hickie, Professor of Psychiatry and Executive Director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute, The University of Sydney

From 2000 to 2003, Professor Ian Hickie was CEO of beyondblue, the national depression initiative, and from 2003 to 2006, served as its Clinical Advisor. In 2003, Ian was appointed Executive Director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute. From 2008 to 2013, he was one of the first round of new NHMRC 2008 Australian Fellows and was appointed to the Federal Health Minister’s National Advisory Council on Mental Health and then, in 2010 to 2011, the Federal Ministers Mental Health Expert Advisory Group. From 2012, Ian has been appointed as a Commissioner in the new National Mental Health Commission to oversee enhanced accountability for mental health reform in Australia.

Ian’s presentation will provide insight into the links between a person's inner space and sense of self and those complex environmental and social systems in which they are embedded. While much of psychology and mental health throughout the 20th century focused on developing personal narratives, there has also been a very strong tradition of visual representations of both internal states and the relationships with external systems. There are excellent examples of this in Australia (often best represented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) and internationally. Scientifically, there is greater emphasis now on testing the ways in which these complex systems actually interact over the course of human development and the ways in which we may maximise mental health and wellbeing for all Australians in the future.

Dr Kate Paterson

Dr Kate Patterson, BVSc PhD, Biomedical Animator, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Dr Kate Patterson is a visual science communicator at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and a Sydney University graduate from the Veterinary Science faculty. Prior to completing a PhD in molecular biology and cancer research (human) at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, she practiced as a small animal veterinarian. It was during her time as a PhD student that Kate developed a passion for communicating science, and specifically, communicating science visually. For the past five years, Kate has worked with scientists, doctors and veterinarians to create images and visual stories about science and medicine. She is currently working on a 3D animation project called "Cancer is not just one disease” as part of the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia Initiative. Kate will discuss aspects of this project that is designed to create awe-inspiring and scientifically accurate animations to engage and inspire a general audience.

Inspiring Australia