M-KEN infohackit 2015

Who: Marine Knowledge Exchange Network (M-KEN) brought together researchers and PGR students from the University of East Anglia, design students from Norwich University of the Arts and professional graphic designers.
When: February 19, 2015
Where: Norwich, UK

This innovative 12-hour event was hosted at the startup lounge at City College Norwich which was well equipped with computers, ideation stations and space to collaborate. Whiteboard walls were a magnet for scientists and designers alike and proved one of the most effective means of collaboration

The scientists and designers were put into three teams. They all brought their unique intellectual approaches to the table. By getting down to the basics and communicating with each other, the teams were able to find common ground and collaborate effectively. The scientists had the benefit of learning how to use Adobe Illustrator and absorb the designers’ expertise. Meanwhile the designers gained insight into complex scientific theories.

Independent judges were elected to give their verdict, with the A-Team winning the prize for their work on the biogeochemistry of the ocean carbon pump.

All who attended went away with an enhanced ability to collaborate and communicate, as well as a greater understanding of the science community.

The Marine Knowledge Exchange Network (M-KEN) is a professional network fostering a research and impact community. It aims to connect industry, SME, policy and NGO stakeholders with marine and costal scientists across East Anglia. It increases stronger industry-relevant marine science now and in the future. It is the only existing network in the UK which targets cross-sector marine knowledge exchange and developing impact from marine science.

The city of Norwich is perfectly positioned as a national hub to build stronger links between world-class research and creative industries. Drawing from the city’s vibrant digital and creative industries, the Norwich University of Arts and a strong tech startup presence, the network facilitates collaborations between research, technology, arts and media. This opens up new opportunities for collaborative research in the future.

The teams and the graphics

A-Team (winning team)

Leader: Chris Bennett, The Genome Analysis Centre

The A-Team was asked to communicate the biogeochemistry of the ocean carbon pump. This involved conveying the cycle of nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon in the ocean, including various organisms, inputs and outputs. The designers worked with the scientists to understand the complex science at work. They initially put all of the information on one side of paper and whittled this down to a more manageable set of data. A balance between readability and scientific accuracy was reached by working together and using the whiteboard to exchange ideas.


Lonely Robots

Leader: Darren Leader, Darren Leader Studio


The Lonely Robots’ task was to communicate how ocean gliders gather data from open oceans and which advantages this method of data collection has. Animation was the chosen medium for this team to reflect the robotic nature of ocean gliders. This built on the intriguing and fun aspects of robots which many people would find appealing. The scientists provided the content, storyboarding a typical journey of an ocean glider, while the designers made these ideas a reality using Adobe Edge Animate.


Leader: Andy Griib, Griib Inspirational Spaces


Team Two’s brief was to communicate the need for adaptation in the face of rising sea levels by using the example of the historical landscape of the Wash. The team decided to use an interactive 3D map of East Anglia onto which changing sea levels were projected. This was in line with the all-encompassing quality of the problem of rising sea levels. The scientists and designers worked together to produce a presentation which summarised the problem and offered potential solutions.