in case you were wondering…

Ian Gibbins was born and bred in Melbourne, not far from Caulfield Racecourse. After completing a PhD in Zoology at Melbourne University, he spent two years in Pharmacology Departments in the USA, before coming back to live in a hilly suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. For 30 years, he was a neuroscientist and Professor of Anatomy for 20 of them in the School of Medicine at Flinders University. Along the way, he managed to pick up an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In March 2014, he retired from his academic position to spend more time to write poetry , compose electronic music, produce videos, build a few websites, windsurf, and cook… Nevertheless, he has been awarded Emeritus Professor status at Flinders University.


Ian has been internationally recognised for his research on the microscopic structure and function of the nerves that monitor and control the activity of the internal organs, with over 100 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. His work used sophisticated microscopy techniques to see directly how different types of nerves connect up with each other, as well recording the electrical behaviour of nerves as they communicate via these connections.


Education is an important part of being a scientist. Ian taught a wide range of topics to medical students, science students and anyone else who is inclined to listen. Topics covered include how the brain works, how we move, the biology of bone, and how we develop. He had a major role in the development and implementation of Flinders’ innovative Graduate Entry Medical Program. Students seemed to like his classes and occasionally gave him a teaching award.


Language helps makes us human. Yet it often fails to adequately describe things we know or feel. Much of Ian’s poetry explores this failure of language. He has only been writing poetry seriously since about 2007, but was well tutored back in student days by Chris Wallace-Crabbe, amongst others. Ian has been surprised to find his poems getting published and doing well in various national competitions. Highlights so far include being selected for Best Australian Poems 2008 and short-listed for the The Australian Book Review Poetry Prize 2007, Newcastle Poetry Prize 2010 and Ron Pretty Poetry Prize 2014. urban biology (2012) is his first full length collection. In 2014, he published The Microscope Project: How Things Work; Floribunda in 2015; and A Skeleton of Desire in 2018. Ian performs his poetry regularly around Adelaide and beyond, often accompanied by his electronic music and videos.

video art and electronic music…

Ian’s videos have been shown to acclaim in festivals, exhibitions and installations around the world. Several have won major awards. His electronic music / poetry mixes have ended up on ABC Radio National (All in the Mind; Poetica), Going Down Swinging, and Cordite and form a key component of The Microscope Project. He’s also picked up public art commissions for his videos and audio works, including for the Adelaide Convention Centre, the Adelaide City Council and the Adelaide Festival Centre. He has performed with his videos or music at various pubs, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival Fringe (2013), the Adelaide Fringe Festival (2014-2019), and the Queensland Poetry Festival (2014, 2018). In 2015, he won the Studio Instrumental section of the SCALA Festival Of Original Music competition, for his piece Caza. More recently, Ian has been collaborating with other artists on video and audio projects, including several gallery shows.


As Professor of Anatomy, Ian has been privileged to access, explore and explain the intricacies of the human body. The study of human anatomy has a long and complex social history, something he is often asked to speak about. Even now, how we understand our feelings for our own body and those of others is still full of mystery. For several years, Ian has been collaborating with artist, Catherine Truman, to document how we appreciate the body and communicate our representation of embodiment to others.

art, science and the public…

Art and science share much more than they differ. Both aim to explain the world and our place within it, even if they use largely complimentary approaches. Ian has collaborated with artists extensively in recent years to explore and reveal this underlying common ground. He regularly gives public lectures and performances on various aspects of neuroscience, anatomy and the arts in venues such as The Gov and RiAus. Highlights include the Australian Book Review lecture; not absolute and The Microscope Project, both major collaborative installations at the Flinders University City Gallery in Adelaide; contributing text to Australian Dance Theatre’s productions Be Your Self & Proximity; and musical performances with Ronnie Taheny.

For many years, Ian has been on the advisory group of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas (AFoI).  In 2015, the Adelaide Festival of Ideas Association Inc was formed as a not-for-profit group to run the AFoI. Ian is a member and Secretary of the AFoI Board.

For details of Ian’s creative work, follow these links:

Published poetry

Video art

Public art

Collaborations with other artists

Featured poetry performances

Anthologised and short-listed poems

Popular articles and reviews

Public lectures on art and science


For a public record of most of Ian’s scientific publications, follow this link to PubMed.