In Conversation with the Leonardo Group: Aleks Krotoski

The Leonardo group are a group of future thinkers who advise Science Gallery London. They are exceptional people from a range of backgrounds – science, technology, the arts, media, education and business. This is where themes for Science Gallery's exhibitions are inspired and where collaborations are sparked. We spoke to Aleks Krotoski about her work outside of the Leanardo group.

Aleks Krotoski is one of the leading national broadcasters of her generation. She has won Emmy, BAFTA, Radio Academy and Royal Society awards. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s The Digital Human, BBC World’s The Virtual Revolution and the Guardian’s Tech Weekly podcast. She holds fellowships at University of Oxford and the London School of Economics. 

Describe yourself for someone who has never met you before.

I’m a bit of a nomad, compelled by my fascination with people and culture. Which means I’ve chosen the right two jobs for me: social psychologist and journalist. Please excuse the accent; it’s not an affection. 20 years in the US and 20 years in the UK means I drop and add r’s on a whim.

What will you be working on today?

I’ve just finished a gruelling speaking tour of Europe, and am preparing for the next one, which starts in 4 days’ time. In the midst of that, I’m thinking about a radio series I’m developing, a radio series that’s in production and a podcast episode I’m editing.

Where do you work best?

On airplanes. The worst travel day for me was the day wifi arrived on planes.

Tell us about one thing that is challenging in your field of work, and one innovation that you think is exciting?

I work on my own from home, and on a time zone that’s 8 hours difference from my colleagues, but I can live in a time zone 8 hours away from my colleagues because technology connects us in a seamless way.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

I’m quite proud of my PhD.

What keeps you awake at night?

Everything. I’m not the best at compartmentalising.

What music do you enjoy listening to either for inspiration or relaxation? Could you give us a short play list of 3 songs which we could share on the blog?

Honestly, I mostly listen to podcasts and talk radio! If I want to go for a run, it depends on what kind of release I’m looking for.

I’m partial to a bit of Gershwin or Scott Joplin. But I’m a big fan of St Vincent too.

Which podcasts and radio shows do you enjoy?

I'm a hungry consumer of podcasts, particularly the usual stable, This American Life and Radiolab  

How do you go about finding a topic for a radio show, and what makes it a good show?

I always have my eyes and ears open for a good topic, but key for me is to be able to raise up the voices who wouldn't otherwise be heard. What makes a good show? It needs to be more than just a good theme or topic: it has to have a good hook and reveal as well.

Science Gallery London will be a space where art and science collide. With that in mind, what, in your view, are the similarities of Art and Science? What are their differences?

Both are driven by serendipity and sagacity. Science is the creative application of precision. I see art exactly the same way.

Why do you think Science Gallery London is important?

Absolutely anything that communicates science to real human people is important. Pulling the shroud off the mystique and bringing wonder to the world. Test! Experiment! Delight! Engage! Science is brilliant for curious minds. And, it helps solve the world’s problems too. What more could you ask for?

What question have we not asked you?

There are too many.

Have a listen to Aleks's podcasts on her soundcloud here.