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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Erinma Ochu MBE

Lecturer in Science Communication and Future Media


I am a media maker and curator with expertise designing immersive and participatory experiences to engage people in science.

I am guest curator, critical friend and creative advisor to several festivals and cultural initiatives, including:

Sheffield International Documentary Festival (

Manchester Science Festival (

Creative Scene (

The Sick of The Fringe (

I joined the University in July 2016. Prior to this I held a 2-year Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowship in residence with The Museum of Science and Industry and The University of Manchester, to explore innovative ways to immerse people in health and environmental challenges through games, interactive storytelling and temporary exhibits.

Between 2008 and 2012 I was a cultural practitioner, action research mentor and consultant on social change initiatives in informal learning in primary and secondary education and public engagement with research in Higher Education, specialising in digital and citizen-led innovation, including citizen science.

During my degrees in Applied Neuroscience at The University of Manchester I undertook industrial placements at Pfizer and Merck Sharpe and Dohme before turning to science communication, working behind the scenes on The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures with Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, my PhD supervisor.

As a medical and science writer, I freelanced with The British Library and The Parkinson’s Disease Society and spent a year as a medical communications writer before taking up a Sci-Art fellowship. This led me to work as curator, filmmaker and digital executive for five years with London-based agency, B3 Media ( where I curated exhibitions and talent development initiatives in partnership with The V&A, The ICA, The BBC and Film4.


I lead modules, with Professor Andy Miah, on the MSc Science Communication and Future Media ( programme, which we designed to support people to work as they study part-time and online. 

I specialise in digital communications, citizen science, art-science collaborations, project management and investigating global challenges, teaching across Environmental Health, Biomedical Science and Wildlife and Conservation at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I lead on an undergraduate Science Communication module.

Research Interests

My research and creative practice explores the harmonies, tensions and contradictions between nature, science, technology and culture. Collaborating with scientists, artists, designers, curators and activists, I co-create participatory experiments and immersive experiences to stimulate debate, multi-modal inquiry and action around global challenges.

I evolve creative concepts to create the possibility of new identities, rhythms, diverse cultures and social enterprise. I work across a range of disciplines, media and cultural forms including performance, video, games and hackathons. I am particularly interested in mixed reality work that blurs fact and fiction, often using technology. 

I am interested in what we might learn from past social movements, such as the US civil rights movement, to unearth hidden pioneers and evolve 21st century identities to address climate injustice and colonial legacies. Specifically I am interested in the role of the science communicator in the face of social and environmental crises.

I am interested in post- and interdisciplinary research projects that facilitate socially produced research and collaborative learning that can contribute to sustainable development goals ( 

Qualifications and Memberships


2017 Manchester International Festival – Jerwood Fellowship

2013 - 2015 Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowship

2001 – 2003 Sci-Art NESTA Fellowship

Qualifications and Memberships:

2008 European Audiovisual Entrepreneur

1999 PhD Applied Neuroscience, University of Manchester

1995 BSc Hons, Biological Sciences, University of Manchester

Board memberships, committees and advisory roles

2017 Invisible Dust

2016 Do It Together Science, European H2020

2015 Centre for Healthy Ageing, Copenhagen University

2015 Creative Scene, West Yorkshire

2015 Centre for Health Ageing, University of Copenhagen

2015 BBSRC Bioscience in Society Panel (Deputy Chair)

2015 Manchester Histories

2014 Museum of Science and Industry

Research + Enterprise

Creative Director, FarmLab - HEFCE UnLtd Award Winner: Outstanding Innovation

Creative Director, Squirrel Nation, 2011


2016 Outstanding Innovation, SEE Change Recognition Awards, HEFCE UnLtd

2015 MBE, Services to Public engagement with science, technology and engineering


Gold, M., & Ochu, E. (2017) Creative Collaboration in Citizen Science and the evolution of ThinkCamp events - An ECSA 2016 Case Study. In: Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy.  London: UCL Press, (in press)

Swinton, J., & Ochu, E., The MSI Turing’s Sunflowers Consortium (2016). Novel fibonacci and non-fibonacci structure in the sunflower: Results of a citizen science experiment. Royal Society Open Science, 3(5), DOI:10.1098/rsos.160091

Ochu, E., Vis, F., Rivlin, P., Miles, A., & Jackson, P. (2014). Cultural Values of Digging. Communities and Culture Network+

Ferrario, M.A, Southern, J., Simm,  W. and Ochu, E. (2013) On the Other Edge of Innovation: community-university partnerships disrupt the mundane. Int. Journal of Community Based Research, 16–17

Ochu, E. (2012) Turing’s Sunflowers. FutureEverybody Report

Whittle, J., Ochu, E., Ferrario, M.A. (2012) Beyond research in the wild: Citizen-led research as a model for innovation in the Digital Economy. Proc Digital Futures

Ochu, E. E., Rothwell, N. J., & Waters, C. M. (1998). Caspases mediate 6-hydroxydopamine-induced apoptosis but not necrosis in PC12 cells. Journal of Neurochemistry, 70(6), 2637-2640. DOI:10.1046/j.1471-4159.1998.70062637.x.

Priestley, T., Ochu, E., & Macaulay, A. J. (1996). Time-dependent changes in NMDA receptor expression in new-ones cultured from rat brain. Molecular Brain Research, 40(2), 271-274. DOI:

Priestley, T., Ochu, E., & Kemp, J. A. (1994). Subtypes of NMDA receptor in neurones cultured from rat brain. NeuroReport, 5(14), 1763-1765.

Conferences & keynotes

Ochu, E. and Ward, C. (2017) The Purring Chamber. Paper presented at Science in Public conference, Sheffield University.

Ochu, E, and Ward, C (2017). From the Wild. Keynote, TedxManchester, Home, Manchester.

Ochu, E. (2016). The Social Life of Data. Keynote, Repository Fringe 2016 Conference, John McIntyre Centre, Edinburgh.

Ochu, E. (2015). Citizen science for community development. Public Keynote, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh.

Ochu, E. (2015). The brave new world of citizen science – circular science: stories from the edge. Paper presented at the Citizen Science Association conference 2015, San Jose, California.

Ochu, E (2014). Citizen-led perspectives: bridging the gap. Paper presented at Alpach Forum 2014, Austria

Ochu, E (2014). Real human being. Keynote, Postgraduate symposium 2014, MMU, Manchester

Ochu, E (2014). The social life of archives. Keynote, Cornerhouse, Manchester

Ochu, E (2014) Citizen-led social innovation. Seminar, Open University, Milton Keynes

Ochu, E. (2014). The Creative Life of Citizen Science. Keynote, Citizen Cyber Summit 2014, Royal Geographical Society and University College, London. 3489f976-834f-47f4-88b6-a84df6e2a68e

Ochu, E. (2013). The Catalytic Museum. Paper presented at Museum Next, Amsterdam

 Ochu, E, (2013). Everyday Growing Futures. Keynote, TedxCity2.0, Leeds


The Purring Chamber, 2017, Re-making Nature, Wellcome Collection

FarmLab at The Allotment of The Future, 2016, European City of Science and Manchester Science Festival. Supported by Wellcome Trust

Nature’s Switch, 2015, Lumen Prize Longlisted, Award winner, Shuffle Festival and Award nominated, London Short Film Festival 2015, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, 2015, screened at Imagine Science Festival, 2016; commissioned by Wellcome Collection and supported by Arts Council England

Souvenir of a City, 2014 Brighton Digital Festival, commissioned by Short Circuit

Somewhere in the Middle, 2012 as part of 3 Days Without Water exhibition with The Life Friendly Collective

Cote D’Azur, 2012, Abandon Normal Devices Festival, Cultural Olympiad Big Screens, Sounds of The Other City (Video Jam) and Branchage Festival. Commissioned by BBC

Oxford Road, 2011, Walking Artist Exhibition. Commissioned by Accentuate, Arts Council England