Creative connections: Drawing inspiration from science and art
Picture shows three people in individual photos, from left Madeline Kwek who plays the asalato, data scientist Liu Nan who paints watercolour and on the right features Tom Coffman who is a scientist and guitarrist

This episode's three guests: Madeline Kwek, Liu Nan and Tom Coffman talk about science and art // Credit: Madeline Kwek (left image) and Dukemedalumni (right image, from YouTube)


In the latest episode of MEDICUS – the Podcast, three scientists talk about what art brings to their lives, how the two interplay for them, and whether they really are two sides of the same coin.

In the history of science, Leonardo da Vinci stands out as a giant who mastered both art and science. But there are many more scientists—past and present—who draw on the two, seemingly unrelated, disciplines to help them create something new or express their understanding of the world around us. Albert Einstein painted. Biochemist Linda Long translates protein structures into music. Rock band Queen's guitarist Brian May is a published astrophysicist, while astrophysicist Fiorella Terenzi is best known for converting recordings of radio waves from distant galaxies into music.

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Joining us for this jamming session on music, art and science are:

  • Associate Professor Liu Nan from the Centre for Quantitative Medicine and the Health Services and Systems Research Programme, who gleans inspiration from scenes in Singapore, and his favourite painting is a bird’s eye view of the Singapore harbour
  • Professor Thomas Coffman, Dean of Duke-NUS and Blast Crisis lead band member, who eventually chose a career in science over music but enjoys the very different dynamics of the two
  • Ms Madeline Kwek, a research assistant from Professor Wang Linfa’s lab, who thrives on collaborating whether that’s with colleagues in the lab and fellow musicians in creating new rhythms and sounds 

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Show credits:

Music by:

  • Madeline Kwek on the asalato
  • Excerpts of Autocool written and performed by Blast Crisis // Studio recording – Durham, North Carolina

Produced by:

  • Nicole Lim, Senior editor
You can also listen to MEDICUS - the Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.

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