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Getting Shirty with science

Tara Corcoran

21 August 2018: University of Canberra academics have teamed up with design students and local artists to spread the word about their research.

Shirty Science sees researchers paired with artists to collaborate on a t-shirt design as a novel way of promoting the research work.

Six researchers from the University went ‘speed dating’ to find their designer partner. The pairs then had three weeks to work on a design, with topics including genetics, robotics, ecology and psychology.

Shirty Science founder and director, Madison Hartill-Law, says the project is a unique opportunity for researchers and designers alike.

“Shirty Science is fantastic for researchers to promote their projects and think about how to communicate the key points in a different way – the shirts are like a walking billboard,” Ms Hartill-Law said.

“For artists, it’s fun to try and get creative with a research topic and try to make it visually appealing.”

University researcher Kathleen Miles used the initiative to promote a project in which she analysed the sleep patterns of elite female athletes over the course of their competitive season to see what factors influenced their rest. When she first read about the Shirty Science project, she was keen to find out more.

The prospect of being able to collaborate with an artist to communicate my research to a broader audience was very exciting,” Ms Miles said.

“The collaboration process has helped me articulate my research in a clearer and more engaging way. Being involved with Nathan's artistic process has also had a positive influence on the way I think about my work.”

The shirts are available for purchase online and a pop-up event will display each University of Canberra design on Wednesday 22 August at 5pm at the Bruce campus.

Voting is now open for favourite design.


Team Sleepy – Kathleen Miles and Nathan Pauletto
Team Body Image – Vivienne Lewis and Nhat Tran
Team Epigentics – Jenny Dunn and PAW
Team Tympo – Stephen Sarre and Brooke McEachern
Team Robot – Damith Herath and Saskia Morris
Team Erratic – Duanne White and Ryan Venner