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Dr Jenny Rock

Jenny Photo

Senior Lecturer

Email jenny.rock@otago.ac.nz
Tel 64 3 479 5014

Jenny's background is diverse, including a BA in Human Ecology and a long track record in the arts and humanities (from poetry to intaglio printmaking). She is also a biologist with a PhD in Zoology and > 20 years interdisciplinary research in environmental physiology, molecular ecology, and evolutionary genomics. The binding link is that she finds these fields cross-fertilise and integrate productively; our understanding of the world is only limited by our reluctance to think outside our box!

Her research in science communication merges theory and practice around the intersection of scientific and artistic research with a focus on participatory practice. Frequently it tackles transdisciplinarity, aesthetics, sensory cognition, and traditional knowledge around environmental issues including biodiversity, often in a marine space.

Ultimately her work investigates science and society interaction towards finding a common ground without "us vs. them" (public vs scientist, scientist vs artist, etc.) divides. Essential to her approach is understanding the historical conditions and cultural ideologies/aesthetics that influence our conceptualization of scientific ‘problems' in the first place. This requires a philosophical approach to understanding our human impact on science, the processes that shape our knowledge, and our structures of thought, learning, and valuing.

Current Teaching


Research interests


  •  Aesthetics and science (how aesthetics shape the paradigms of science, and how they influence values that affect interactions between science and society)
  • Crossing the science-humanities divide (Sci-Art and ArtScience through convergence and transdisciplinary approaches)
  • Participatory science & society (citizen science, TEK, co-creation and co-management)
  • Socioscientific/philosophical aspects of biodiversity (ecology, evolution, conservation values)
  • For more see research page http://JennyRockOTAGO.wordpress.com

Potential Postgraduate Projects


  • Methodologies for best practice and evaluation of ArtScience vs Sci-Art,
  • Paradigms and visual narratives in science
  • Synosia/haptics and sensory cognition
  • Facilitating place-based marine co-management
  • For more see research page https://jennyrockotago.wordpress.com/research-project-ideas/

Current Postgraduate Student and Student Research


Current PhD students:

  • Sally Carson – Turning the Tide of Citizen Science: From data donors to critical questioners in marine science
  • Adele Carson – Strategies for engaging youth in environmental communications and fresh water health
  • Leida Dos Santos – Using Environmental Education to prevent Further Amphibian Declines
  • Sunkita Howard – Applying a multidisciplinary framework for developing shark bycatch reduction

Current masters students:

  • Katharine Marino - Understanding marine noise pollution through participatory art
  • Charlotte Paton - Perceptions of sustainability and green-lipped mussel aquaculture
  • Lucy Coyle - StoryMapping local marine knowledge
  • Gini Letham- Normalising the cat conversation
  • Tegan Good- Film and Biodiversity
  • Jeremy Anderson - From Pets to Pest: A cultural review of cats and conservation in NZ
  • Vanessa Marshall - Communicating marine mammal stranding science through film
  • Nicki Atkinson - Phosphate: Trap or Treasure?

For previous students’ research see research page https://jennyrockotago.wordpress.com/students/

Select publications


  • Rock, J. and Julia Siebert. 2018 Narrative, Rhetoric and Science: Opportunities and Risks. In Visual Rhetoric, O. Kramer (Ed.) Parlor Press (Anderson, SC, USA) (in press).
  • Rogers, A. and J. Rock. 2017. Testing a mobile platform for community co-created exhibitions. Curator: The Museum Journal. 60 (3): 335–349.
  • Rock J., A. Sparrow, R. Wass, and H. Moller. 2014. Building dialogue on complex conservation issues in a conference setting. Conservation Biology 5:1428-33.
  • Rock, J., and S. Howard. 2014. Art and Anatomy: The structure and function of an art-science collaboration. Scope: Contemporary Research Topics in Art & Design (9):142-151.
  • Rock J. 2014. Natural History in the Digital Age? J of Natural History Education & Experience 8:9-11.
  • For complete list see publications on research page https://jennyrockotago.wordpress.com/events-and-publications/