Aarhus University Seal

Coltan Scrivner

Visitor Testimonial

On this page you may find brief testimonials or reviews from previous visitors to the IMC. Each consisting of just a simple Q&A, these are meant to give you an impression of the diverse effects a visit might have, depending on the visitor's background and purpose. 



Coltan Scrivner (website)


Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?

I am Coltan Scrivner, a PhD student in the Comparative Human Development Department at The University of Chicago. At UChicago, I am a Fellow at the Institute for Mind and Biology and a member of the Behavioral Biology Laboratory. I conduct research on human social behavior at the intersection of biology, psychology, and anthropology. Currently, I have two main research projects. The first is using a mixed-methods approach to study how people perceive, process, and make meaning from violence. The second project, which was the focus of my stay the IMC, is on the role of fear and horror in human interaction and behavior.

What were some highlights of your experience at the Interacting Minds Centre?

Many places pay lip service to interdisciplinary research, but the IMC is one of the few places where it truly happens. During my stay, I was able to interact and have meaningful conversations with people from philosophy, cognitive science, neuroscience, literature, and psychology who were all interested in the same topics. But, the IMC didn’t simply house researchers with similar interests. Rather, the researchers were engaged with their peers and open to insights from other disciplines, which led to the production of truly innovative work. Perhaps the biggest highlight of my experience at the IMC was seeing an example of how to foster interdisciplinary research in a way that produces innovative questions and novel approaches to answering them. 

What has the stay at Aarhus University meant for you and your research? 

My stay at Aarhus University opened my eyes to new ways of approaching science, including my own research. Any time you visit another university, especially in another country, you see how differently things can be done. However, Aarhus was more than this. The way in which research is approached was not only new and different from what I was used to, it was also convincing. I learned how to better shift my perspective on questions from a disciplinary-based view to a more topically-based view. Some of the most interesting questions about human behavior – and ways of answering them – are almost untouched because they don’t fall neatly within a single discipline’s purview. For example, I was exposed to an entirely new, and seemingly counterintuitive, way of looking at fear and human behavior. That is, how do people “play” when things are scary? To answer this, we not only needed a variety of expertise in our research group, but we also needed to take our lab to the field. All of this led to a very untraditional manner of asking new questions about human behavior and interaction, which is something I love to do, but often don’t have the infrastructure to carry out. More than anything else, my stay at Aarhus has shown me that it’s fruitful to ask the odd questions and use new approaches to answering them. You just have to find the right group in the right place!

What advise would you give to future visitors? 

Talk to people! Listen to what they have to say about their research and about yours. The IMC hosts researchers from all over the world and from all across academia in one area. It’s a magnificent place to receive fresh insight on your research, exposure to new ideas, and experience with new methods. One of the best places that this happens is during the Tuesday workshop/seminar, so be sure you attend those.