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Univ’s Poet Laureate

Univ welcomes poet and cognitive scientist Pireeni Sundaralingam (1986, Experimental Psychology) as the College’s inaugural Poet Laureate. The position will be for three years, beginning in Hilary Term 2023.

A multiple award-winning poet, Pireeni’s work has been published in over 30 literary journals and translated into five languages. As a scientist, Pireeni is particularly interested in cognitive rigidity, how humans filter information through specific frames and metaphors, and how we can support deep shifts in thinking patterns and behaviour change. Pireeni has served as an advisor to the Irish Government’s Minister of Art, Culture & Heritage, and as Principal Advisor on Human Potential at the United Nations Museum, leading the “nudge unit” for mobilizing action on the Sustainable Development Goals. She recently led research at Silicon Valley’s Center for Humane Technology, evaluating the harms of algorithm-driven technology on human cognition.

During her time at Univ, Pireeni will be exploring the power of interdisciplinary spaces, examining how bringing the different methodologies of the arts and sciences into conversation with each other can spark new patterns of thinking. This will include running workshops on unlocking innovation and problem-solving at Univ,  as well as facilitating art-science panel discussions and hosting creativity salons. In her own creative work, Pireeni will be writing about Univ’s rich history as an incubator for art-science collisions, from Shelley’s experiments with electricity and poetry to Christopher Wren and the world’s first neuro-anatomical drawings.

Pireeni Sundaralingam said, “I’m deeply grateful to Univ for inviting me back as inaugural College poet laureate and I’m looking forward to working with students, tutors, and staff to expand poetry and creativity at the College. It will be exciting to follow in the footsteps of Shelley, exploring the workings of the human mind using the tools of both science and poetry.”

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