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Top Tips - Justin Dillon

2023 Ecsite Mariano Gago Beacon of the Year Justin Dillon, is helping to ease us into the transition from summer to autumn with some of his favourite books, music and inspirational people.

Listening to –

My musical taste is eclectic – but rooted in my extended youth (Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello and the Human League). KD Lang’s Hymns of the 49th Parallel has been a long-time favourite and I use Sinéad O’Connor’s version of “On Raglan Road” when I teach about qualitative research. One plus side of the recent Coronation of our new King was that more people will be aware of Handel’s Zadok the Priest – one of the most electrifying choral works and all the more astonishing that it was written in 1727.

Reading –

Of the dozen books that I have started in recent years, the one that I’m most likely to finish is ‘Birdgirl’ by Mya-Rose Craig – the autobiography of the 20-year old ornithologist and activist who is the youngest person to have seen more than half of the world’s known bird species.

Following –

As chair of trustees of the Exeter Science Centre, I follow the activities of our two directors, Alice and Natalie, on their single-minded journey from outreach activities to a permanent base somewhere in the city.

Things keeping me up at night –

Ageing is not kind to the body, particularly at night.

Somewhere I’ve been recently –

I finally made it to Iceland this year. It was even better than I had imagined (and much cheaper than I was expecting). I managed to touch base with colleagues at the University of Reykjavik but for most of the time I was a tourist. As well as the Maritime Museum I visited the Icelandic Phallological Museum which has grown from a teacher’s collection of biological specimens to a major tourist attraction - fortunately it doesn’t have any hands-on exhibits.

Somewhere I’m planning to go –

I’ve visited around 100 countries including some that don’t exist now (such as Yugoslavia). I have a bucket list that runs from Cuba to Vietnam, although I would love to spend time travelling around Ireland – a much more environmentally responsible destination.

If you'd like to hear more from Justin, don't forget to join him on 19 September, along with the Responsible & Responsive winner The Natural History Museum, as represented by Camilla Tham, for a fabulous Insights Live! Mariano Gago Ecsite Award winners talk sustainability as facilitated by Heather King of Professor of Science Education at King's College London.