Dialogue as Perspective Shift

Sharing space and time with Professor Paul Wyatt, as the bookshelf frames him from behind like the elements of the periodic table, we talk about process, community and the challenges of perspective shift.


A watercolour illustration of scientist Paul Wyatt with many hands

Our two habitats are joined by a digital membrane connecting our physical bodies in space, and in this moment it has occurred to me that I’ve achieved my two desired super powers; the ability to move back and forward in time and to walk through walls. Amazing!


Paul, a chemist and the director of the Drug Discovery Unit, has much to hold and consider in this moment. Of great importance to him is community cohesion and he suggests to me, in a self-deprecating fashion, that perhaps I’m speaking to the wrong end of the age spectrum. I wholeheartedly disagree that there is a wrong end of this human life cycle. What I hear below the surface is a deep level of care and concern for the wellbeing of the WCAIR team, especially the early career researchers, those who have yet to develop their root systems to hold them planted in the wind.


Through this dialogue I’m learning to see the body as both a vessel and a habitat; accommodating the sophisticated needs of the parasite. The languages of biology, chemistry and physics being necessary to identify both the similarities and the differences in the machinery of both the body as host and the parasite as uninvited guest. These are not languages that I speak. If it weren’t for my newfound ability to move back and forward in this digital space, perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed how Paul sculpts the air with his hands, using yet another language of the body, one that I do understand.

The malleability of the body language in this drawing could also be akin to the soup of information and opposing opinion that the public are swimming in right now. Just as scientific advisory boards are positioned on the outside of organisations to keep research and ethics accountable to the societies they serve, interdisciplinary dialogue is a vital mode of perspective shift. We are all to some degree or another walking in the dark right now and being invited to evolve, however uncomfortable that might feel. Leaning into the unknown together with curiosity and vulnerability might lead us to unexpected places across the vast ocean of knowledge.