The symposium is organized within the ‘Sensation and Perception to Awareness: Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme’ directed by Jamie Ward and Anil Seth at the University of Sussex. It brings together researchers from across neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, robotics, and the arts, with the aim of advancing our understanding of interactions between sensation, perception, and awareness in humans, animals, and machines.

The organisers of Life Perceives are:

George Kafetzis

Pronouns: he/him
George Kafetzis is a doctoral researcher in the Vision and Visual Ecology lab at Sussex University. Working with Prof. Tom Baden and slowly building a ‘shark guy’ reputation, he is interested in neural design and evolutionary constraints on it. By focusing on vertebrates that have been around for, well, many hundred million years and by studying neural circuits that morphologically have retained the same, ancient blueprint, he is interested in how the function of such circuits has been shaped in evolutionary time.

In a nutshell, he spends most of his working time, when not despairing, trying to figure out what shark eyes encode and then communicate to the brain.

Sharks aside, he is currently the host of the very successful Sussex Vision seminar series as part of the WorldWideNeuro initiative, and throughout his 10-year radio show career he has been trying to communicate science (and great music) to anyone even remotely understanding Greek. And more often than not, he is pleasantly surprised and genuinely puzzled with the frequent presence of international listeners among the audience.

Jonathan Reus

Pronouns: he/they
Jonathan Reus is a musician known for his exploration of novel digital instrumentations and interdisciplinary arts-led research in live and theatrical performances. He is co-founder of the instrument inventors initiative [iii] in the Hague, and of Netherlands Coding Live [nl_cl], and a recipient of the W. J. Fulbright Fellowship for his research in digitally-mediated performance at the former Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music [STEIM] in Amsterdam.

He has received commissions from Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Slagwerk Den Haag percussion ensemble, and Asko-Schönberg contemporary music ensemble, including composing original music for and designing robotic tape machine instruments in Brave New World 2.0, a nationally-touring ensemble production. In 2022 he received the CTM Radiolab commission for the year-long generative radio project In Search of Good Ancestors / Ahnen in Arbeit, airing on Germany’s national broadcasting service, Deutschlandfunk Kultur.

Jonathan is a doctoral candidate in music composition at the University of Sussex, where he is part of the interdisciplinary “Sensation and Perception to Awareness” doctoral programme. His doctoral work explores the uncanny umwelts and unstable perceptual mechanisms of artificial intelligence systems through music and performance. He is also an affiliate of the Intelligent Instruments Lab (Reykjavik) and the Sussex Humanities Lab (Brighton).

Mikkel Roald-Arbøl

Pronouns: he/him

Mikkel Roald-Arbøl is a doctoral researcher in the Evolutionary Computational Neuroscience laboratory at University of Sussex. His doctoral work explores sleep in beetles; do they sleep? what environmental factors affect their sleep? what happens in the brain of a sleeping beetle? This work brings together diverse disciplines; behavioural ecology, neuroscience and, ultimately, consciousness.

With degrees in human biology and sports science, he has previously done research in human biomechanics, motor control and learning at University of Copenhagen and University of Queensland. His curiosity changed in the direction of evolution of brains and the widespread use of bioelectricity across multicellular organisms, with his first project exploring perception of self-motion in ants, using virtual reality.

Mikkel is also an ardent open science advocate, actively engaged in ways in which technology can make science more open, fair and equitable. He is a recipient of the “Sussex Doctoral Open Research” award for his development of both open source software and hardware.

Will Roseby

Pronouns: any
Will Roseby is a doctoral researcher in the Neuroscience department of the University of Sussex. His current investigations focus on the processing of sensory information in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, using genetic tools to understand the contribution of RNA regulation to the development and maintenance of the sensory nervous system. From genes, to cells, to networks, and finally to behaviour, his research aims to unify the diverse approaches in neuroscience to interpret the model organism in a holistic fashion.

Despite an inclination towards genetic studies of Drosophila, Will’s interests and experience span various fields in biology and neuroscience. Initially training in Biochemistry at Imperial College London, his first research project examined disparities in the photosynthetic process of different species of cyanobacteria. He subsequently specialised in neuroscience, staying at Imperial to complete a research Masters in which he studied how psychedelic drugs affect perception and mental well-being. It was during this time he also developed a proclivity and expertise in advanced statistical methods for data analysis.

Whether it’s examining brain network modulation in human studies, or single-cell sequencing of mouse neurons, Will finds enthusiasm in any inquiry into the nature of perception. He is also a lover of the natural world and an advocate for environmental policy in the broader science community.