James McKay




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James is an artist and science communicator regularly collaborating with researchers in many different fields to bring new discoveries and ideas to life. He is the manager of two EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training in Low Carbon Technologies and Bioenergy and drives the centres’ outreach programmes enabling PhD students to engage with the public on subjects such as climate change and other environmental issues and the advantages and disadvantages of various energy technologies.

James has a background as a comics artist and illustrator, having worked for 2000AD magazine on the sci-fi comic ‘Flesh’, books about ‘How to Draw… Fantasy Creatures’ and computer game character development. James was shortlisted (one of four artists) for Best New UK Graphic Novelist in the Arts Foundation Awards 2009.

James’ work within science communication involves illustrations for textbooks (for example: ‘Dinosaurs of the British Isles’), websites, exhibitions, magazines and peer-reviewed journal papers.

James’ work with the Centres for Doctoral Training led to the production of two colour graphic novels: ‘Dreams of a Low Carbon Future’ funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2013, which was shortlisted for a national award (NCCPE Engage Awards 2014) for ‘Engaging Young People’, and ‘A Dream of a Low Carbon Future’, launched November 2016.

As part of these projects, James also facilitates art/science crossover activities and futurecasting sessions and has led such activities at the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, Cheltenham Science Festival and the Cartoon Museum London.

Work w/ CUSP

The objective of James’ fellowship is to establish a collaboration between CUSP and Centres at the University of Leeds in the area of Engineering and Interdisciplinary Climate Science, mainly through a public engagement project, entitled: ‘A Dream of a Low Carbon Future’. It involves a graphic novel that has been put together in collaboration with artists, writers, school children, and a wide network of academics. Visualising a sustainable, prosperous society in the UK in the year 2150, it is the sequel to ‘Dreams of a Low Carbon Future’ which was a Royal Academy of Engineering INGENIOUS project, shortlisted for an NCCPE award for ‘Engaging Young People’.

The collaboration with CUSP will firstly take the form of workshops, using the graphic novel as a resource to inspire and facilitate discussions with school children. The first of these workshops will take place in January 2017 in Stoke-on-Trent.

During the project, we aim to engage directly with SME owners, managers and intermediaries in an effort to deconstruct the contested language of ‘sustainable’ growth. We will also seek to examine both the capacity and willingness of practitioners to engage with these alternative visions, and to clarify the implications for policy and practice.