What is Monash Sensory Science?

In 2017, Professor Jamie Rossjohn developed scientific outreach activities that embrace those in the community that are disadvantaged; namely he engaged the National Disability Network/Job Access/Vision Australia to employ people in his laboratory with disabilities. Within this initiative, Jamie has employed a project officer/artist in residence, Erica Tandori.

Erica is a legally blind artist, researcher and academic, exploring the intersection between art, vision loss and science.  She was diagnosed with a form of juvenile macular dystrophy at the age of 23, while in her first year of art school. Erica’s PhD focused on capturing the entoptic effects of macular dystrophy through art, conveying an ‘eye-witness’ account of blindness.

As artist in residence, she is generating tactile displays and multi-sensory, multimodal artworks that makes science including Jamie’s research accessible to the low vision and blind community.  Jamie and Erica have hosted a number of Sensory Science exhibitions nationally covering the fields of immunity, vision and cancer.

The Monash Sensory Science team have been recognised for their contributions to Diversity and Inclusion: Winner of the Monash University 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity and Inclusion Award, Finalist of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion 2019 and 2020 Breakthrough of the Year Finalist at the Falling Walls Conference and Berlin Science Week.

Read coverage of this work:

The Age: Science relies on light. What about people who can’t see?

The ARC: Australian Laureate Fellow launches Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery day

The BDI: Bringing the magic of biomedical research to the low vision community

ASBMB (USA): Unravelling the mind’s eye – science through a novel lens

We will be expanding these Sensory Science exhibitions and bringing them to schools. If you are interested in having us come to your school, please send us an enquiry at Contact Us.

Watch videos of our Sensory Science exhibitions as we create multi-sensory and multimodal artworks to communicate current biomedical research to blind and low vision audiences.

Monash Sensory Science Events

‘My Goodness’ Multisensory Science book, National Science Week

August, 2021

Read about immune system cells through your sense of touch or learn about food and nutrition through a 3D soundscape. ‘My Goodness’, a Rossjohn Sensory Science Multisensory Science Book, is an exhibition of 10 interactive ‘books’ designed for low-vision, blind, hearing-impaired, deaf, and non-disabled audiences.

The Books explore the relationship between infection, immunity, food, and nutrition. They make science accessible to more people by using large print text, braille, tactile artworks, haptic and 3DAudio, visual tracking and tactile sensor interaction technologies.

This initiative is supported by the National Science Week grant.

The books are created by Erica Tandori and Stuart Favilla.

AI for Good Global Summit 2020

September, 2020

Possible impossibles, National Science Week

August, 2020

Second Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery Day 

December, 2019

Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery Day 

May, 2018

Extrasensory, National Science Week

August, 2019

Sensory Science – An LEI Exhibition to Stimulate the Senses

October, 2019


HIV Capsid couscous Project

This is a 3D model making workshop with our artist in residence, Erica. The workshop explores how to build a high resolution model of the HIV Capsid molecule without a 3D printer, just using chicken wire and couscous.

Instructions to make your own tactile HIV capsid (document file)

HIV Capsid template

Multi-sensory ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) – Presented in ASMR for audiences with low vision and blindness (audio file)

HIV Capsid data projection Project

This HIV Capsid data projection project brings multi-sensory science to a whole new level. Here our artist in residence, Erica has collaborated with Dr Stuart Favilla from the School of Design at Swinburne University to create a video of viral mutation projections dancing on the surface of a giant HIV capsid sculpture.

The sculpture stands at approximately 1.6 metres high and 1.5 metres at its widest point, big enough for a teenager and a cat to climb inside!  Created with cardboard hexagonal shapes and smothered in millions of tiny foam balls, the life size HIV Capsid sculpture becomes a three-dimensional projection screen displaying computerised viral mutating lifeforms.
Watching the HIV Capsid dance in time to the music brings with it the effect of ‘cortical completion’, where the data movements seemingly dance in time to the driving beat. In rhythmical syncopation, music becomes the dominant sensory channel. During those moments and gestures, identifiable features in sound become ‘attention grabbing’ and the mesmerising (confusing and unidentifiable) visuals then suddenly synchronise and take form in the brain, creating a whole new sensory realm of visual and aural perceptions.