SWURL Offers Sweet Prize to Creators


The Outeniqua Prize is combining art and science to create a research masterpiece.

Will Macaulay, Staff Writer

CALL TO ARTISTS: SWURL is hiring a creator to bring their research to life, and just like its name suggests, the Outeniqua Prize will be a sweet reward for your efforts. 

If you’re an aspiring artist searching for an opportunity to apply your work, look no further than a collaboration with our very own Space Weather Undergraduate Research Laboratory (SWURL) team. This partnership is offering $1,000 toward creative supplies and compensation as a part of the Outeniqua Prize, an award administered by Dr. James Wanliss, Professor of Physics and Director of SWURL. 

This would be a great project for any student passionate about art that wants to grow an impressive portfolio. The Outeniqua Prize is a collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Presbyterian College’s SWURL team, a program funded by the National Science Foundation. 

In the spring, SWURL will be conducting research on various aspects of space weather and how it affects Earth, our solar system, and humanity’s space exploration. 

This collaboration includes creating promotional artwork inspired by space weather for the research team and developing skills in data visualization and communication. The student(s) will spend 24 hours over 12 weeks participating directly with the research team in the lab. 

“[The goal of our research is] to understand space weather, particularly phenomena called magnetic storms. These are planetary-scale storms that knock out satellites, communication systems, and power grids; think in terms of a hurricane the size of a planet,” Wanliss said. Interplanetary wonders such as these are exactly what the research team hopes will inspire artists to apply for the program. 

The application will be available to students until December 1st, and the contents include a brief survey and a portfolio of artwork that are exemplary of the student’s creative ability. The portfolio can include artwork in the form of animation, sculpture, painting, poem, short story, or anything the student feels demonstrates their artistry. 

As the residency comes to a close, the artist chosen must produce a piece of art within their discipline that reflects their experience and the overall research conducted by SWURL. To apply for the position, no previous knowledge of SWURL, science or engineering is required. The only request from Wanliss: “curiosity and a willingness to explore!” 

With a name as charming as it is puzzling, one may wonder of the significance of the name Outeniqua. 

“The word means ‘those who bear honey.’ I chose the name for several reasons. It is a shout-out to my home in South Africa and is a word from the Khoisan original peoples with whom I share precious heritage. Second, honey brightens the eyes (1 Samuel 14:29),” Wanliss said. “My hope is that Outeniqua can be a campus catalyst to develop interdisciplinary communication and recognize that artists and scientists can learn from each other and that the best solutions are often made within a very diverse group of individuals.” 

To apply for the role of resident student artist, follow the link and complete the application, which includes the appropriate contact information.