Roger M Jones Fellowship

Did I ever tell you the story of how I moved to Edinburgh?

The short version goes something like this:

Once upon a time, Sara was a college student in the grips of terrible ennui. Her chosen major was not shaping up as she expected. Life ahead seemed terrifyingly uncertain.

Her freetime was consumed with a love of theatre, film and art – producing shows, creating events and being heavily involved in the student arts scene took up all of her time and energy [she even brought a show to the Fringe one summer], but it didn’t seem like a realistic life, just a passionate hobby. So she kept at the degree, morphing it into a hybrid program of arts and sciences, merging film studies with production technologies and engineering, hoping it would all make sense.

To many an untrained eye, it didn’t.

Until one day, on entering the last year of University, she was emailed about a Fellowship.

A program to fund one engineering graduate for a year’s study in the humanities, at any UK institution of their choice.

It was memorial fund for a former professor who passionately believed scientists needed poetry as well as physics. [He was a very clever man.]

At once it seemed perfect. Art and science! International learning! Intercultural dialogue! Living in Britain!

An opportunity to merge her scientific interest and artistic passions. To more fully explore the science which enables artists, and the experimentation and imagination required for visionary leaps.

A haggard semester was spent applying, interviewing, shedding veils of doubtful tears, hoping beyond hope, and dreaming of a blissful year abroad.

And at last, as senior year went out like a lamb, Sara Grady was awarded the 2004 Roger M Jones Fellowship.

That year was fundamentally life changing. I began my first public blog for one thing, and spend a good deal of time writing about the philosophy of culture and the consumption of art.

I became immersed in Edinburgh’s cultural scene – which would shape my career for years to come.

I still do create events and produce shows, many of them steeped in science, and now I get paid for it. Developing new programme content at the blissful Edinburgh International Science Festival has been a highlight of my year [and total aside – Have you seen my new baby? New fangled cutting-edge technological art installations celebrating architecture and literature! What joy!]



When people ask me how long I’ve lived here I blithely reply I came for 9 months and stayed for 8 years.

I lived abroad everafter, and as my twenties rolled on, I became my own woman thousands of miles from where I was born.

And it never would have happened without the vision of a long dead professor, and the Committee which took a chance on a mediocre engineer, in possession of far more passion than sense.

This weekend, the next recipient will take up the mantle at a sedate banquet, complete with gilded certificate and handshakes and polite clapping.This autumn will see them ensconced on some campus somewhere, hopefully doing what they love and discovering the wonders of this country and themselves along the way.

And I wish them every possible joy.


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