Bio and Artist Statement
Lilianna Watson is a writer, artist, and recent graduate of UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she earned a Master’s in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.
Lilianna comes from a writing and communications background. She worked in corporate financial and technology communications before making a career change towards ocean conservation and science communications. She believes that science must be accessible and create salient personal connections in order to drive change. She is particularly interested in the intersections of neurodiversity and science, and how the perspectives of individuals with sensory differences across a wide array of conditions can enrich the marine science field with their unique perspectives.
As a person on the Autism Spectrum, Lilianna has always been fascinated by creatures that may not be as immediately relatable or charismatic to most people. She is particularly interested in deep-sea jellies and other invertebrates. She hopes that her passion for art, writing, and video editing can combine with her new education in science to bridge gaps between the public and scientific communities to inspire future generations of scientists and conservationists. She hopes to use her art to spread a message to autistic and other neurodiverse individuals: Your presence and contributions are invaluable in marine science, or in any space where their passions lie.
In her digital multimedia story, Swim Down, Lilianna explores the connection between deep-sea conditions such as quiet, darkness, and pressure, and corresponding sensitivities to noise, light, and touch in conditions such as Autism and ADHD, and many others across the diverse experience encompassed by the term “neurodiversity”. She worked with illustrator Freya Hammar and a committee of distinguished Scripps scientists to tell the story of Mari, an Autistic teenager who is triggered into an episode of sensory overload at an aquarium. She embarks on a mystical journey through the water column that helps her learn more about the ocean, herself, and other people.
This story has been featured by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, MBARI, and the Deep Ocean Stewardship. Lilianna has given presentations at multiple venues about this project, such as the California State Capitol in Sacramento, the MBARI headquarters in Moss Landing, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It is available online as both a website and a video with sound mixing and light animation.
Feel free to contact Liliana at lmwatson [at] ucsd.edu
- Feature in DOSI/DSBSoc’s Deep-Sea life 21
- Swim Down: