Lauren Arora Hutchinson Named Inaugural Director of Dracapoulos-Bloomberg iDeas Lab

June 6, 2022

BBC journalist and award-winning audio storyteller Lauren Arora Hutchinson has joined the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics as the inaugural director of its Dracapoulos-Bloomberg iDeas Lab.

“The iDeas Lab is the cornerstone of our new program in public bioethics, which we hope will serve as a model for academic institutions to more effectively share clear, accurate and timely information about issues in science, medicine, and public health,” said Jeffrey Kahn, PhD, MPH, Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Berman Institute. “As an innovator in developing new techniques and technologies for presenting scholarly information to broad audiences, Lauren is uniquely qualified to help guide this groundbreaking project.”

Hutchinson founded the immersive audio studio Sunday Blue to further explore the intersection between sound, story and interactivity and look at how intimate experiences can be shared. She has produced more than 20 independent features for the BBC, including talking to holocaust survivor Eva Schloss about becoming a hologram, speaking to Manfred Mohr about being one of the first people to use a computer to make art, and looking at how virtual reality has been used to explore grief.

Hutchinson hosted the first season of Stroke of Genius, a podcast about the history of inventions, and worked with the UK’s Institute of Art and Ideas to launch its podcast Philosophy for Our Times, taking it to #2 on the iTunes chart for Philosophy. She was previously the Creative Director of a boutique Augmented Reality company in London and has worked with new technologies to combine movement with the listening experience. She created and co-directed Pilgrim, the world’s first augmented reality podcast, in partnership with Bose AR.

Hutchinson holds a PhD in the History of Science with a focus on Oral History from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she taught in the Masters for Global Public Health program for six years, and completed a Wellcome Trust Imperial Media Fellowship to develop skills in science communication. Hutchinson is also an Artist in Residence at the Made in New York Media Centre where she runs workshops in immersive audio and is a Research Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Immersive Storytelling and Emerging Technologies lab.

“The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated how bioethics is a vital consideration in so many aspects of contemporary life: balance between personal freedom and public safety; allocating scarce medical resources; safely developing vaccines; using new contact tracing technology, and much more,” said Kahn. “We hope the Berman Institute’s public bioethics effort will lead to higher levels of engagement with bioethics issues that impact our communities, inform public discussion and ultimately impact policy decisions.”

The Dracopoulos-Bloomberg Bioethics iDeas Lab, named in recognition of Andreas C. Dracopoulos, a trustee of Johns Hopkins University and member of the Berman’s national advisory board, and former chair of the University’s board of trustees Michael R. Bloomberg, will enable the Berman Institute to pioneer new approaches for creating bioethics content, taking advantage of new media strategies, the latest media technologies, and innovative approaches to visualization of information and research results.

The $3 million contribution will support new physical space to house the iDeas Lab, provide new technology, and support new professional staff and faculty colleagues devoted to the creation and distribution of engaging digital, audio, and video content with a focus on dissemination professionals, policymakers, and critically important, the public. Dracopoulos previously funded creation of a similar and very successful lab at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, one of the nation’s leading national security think tanks. The CSIS iDeas Lab was an early leader in bringing together their scholars with content producers, developers and designers to create a compelling range of digital products of research.