Based at the University of Glasgow the Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies is dedicated to the scientific study of Zombieism. Our research is supported by the Wellcome Trust & University of Glasgow. This blog is maintained by the Institute & contains an archive of writings from Doctor Austin, now retired, who acted as Head of the Institute from 1996 - 2014.
Doctor Austin Head of the Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies 1996 - 2014
To all my
The time has
come for me to retire as Head of the Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies.
I want to thank each and every one of you for giving me the honour of teaching
you about a subject I care so very passionately about. I have been so fortunate
to have such a brilliant career, it has been wonderful. I know that all of you
will carry on the study of Zombies and Zombieism, and take it to places I could
only dream of. There are further details of my retirement in the official press
I know the
Institute is in safe hands, and will continue to deliver you all an excellent
dose of Zombie Science.
Stay safe out
WORLD-RENOWNED THEORETICAL ZOMBIOLOGIST DOCTOR AUSTIN
Theoretical Zombiologist Doctor Austin
is to retire from his post as Head of the Zombie Institute for Theoretical
Studies, at the University of Glasgow, on Monday the 25th of August 2014. Appointed
in 1996, Doctor Austin has been responsible for the development of the Prion
Zombieism Theorem as well as the Institute’s public engagement programme. The
latter took the form of the spoof lectures and tutorials, Zombie Science 1Z, Worst
Case Scenario and Brain of the Dead.
Supported by the charity Wellcome Trust, these events have been seen by over
40,000 people since their inception in 2010. Two of these shows are currently
taking place at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
has worked extensively on the subject of Zombiology, spending time researching
Kuru in Papua New Guinea during the 1960s and studying variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the 1990s. As Head of the Institute he has taken
awareness of Zombieism to an all time high. Of his decision to retire, Doctor
Austin has said, ‘I have enjoyed every moment of my time at the Zombie
Institute and have been humbled to work alongside a lot of truly wonderful
people. I am particularly proud of the public engagement programme through which
I met so many interesting and varied individuals. I’ve always believed that
science isn’t for a select few, it’s for everyone, and that’s what drove me
during my years touring the world.’
of Glasgow have yet to announce a successor for the Institute, which first
opened on campus in 1803. Doctor Austin has stated that he will remain on as
Zombiologist Royal to Her Majesty the Queen, until such time as an appropriate
replacement is selected.
will present his final public lectures at the Edinburgh Fringe, every night
until the 25th of August. The sixty minute shows’, Zombie Science: Brain of the Dead and Worst Case Scenario adopt Doctor Austin's unique combination of
comedy and science. Worst Case Scenario sees
the audience make decisions on dealing with a Zombie outbreak. The choices they
make alter the outcome - meaning no two shows are ever the same. Brain of the Dead allows the audience
to experience life as a Zombie.
this, and his future plans, the Doctor said, ‘the Fringe is a brilliant way to
end my career, it’s a fascinating place, full of terrifically talented people.
I have spent my whole life exploring strange environments, and this is no
exception. But after a long time on the move I look forward to spending my
retirement with my family and allowing the next generation to push the study of
Zombiology to exciting new levels.’
Notes to Editors
About Doctor Austin;
is a Theoretical Zombiologist at the University of Glasgow and has been Head of
the Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies since 1996. His theories on
Zombieism have been published worldwide in publications as diverse as The
Times, The Guardian (Las Vegas), The Daily Mail, Playboy (Russia), The Zombie
Times and The Metro. Doctor Austin has appeared on the BBC, Sirius XM (USA),
RTE Television (Ireland) and is the author of Zombie Science 1Z, a guidebook to
the science of the undead, first published in 2010.
Brain of the Dead – Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Thank you for stopping by the ZomBlog. Today I’ll be taking
a break from science to review Each New
Morn a post-apocalyptic thriller from L. G. Thomson. My usual caveat
applies, I am a scientist, not a critic, therefore I can only share my personal
thoughts of the book. I must also declare a conflict of interest, as I make a
special appearance in the story! In fact the book holds a special place in my
heart as the author found inspiration from some of our science in the creation
of her Zombies - a most humbling honour.
Each New Morn follows
survivors of a deadly prion disease named Falling
Down Flu. I can hear scientists grinding their teeth, as influenza refers
to a virus not a prion, but settle down, this is explained in the book. This
isn’t your traditional Zombie story, in fact the word Zombie is rarely used and
the disease has many unique factors that set it apart from the standard Romero
model. The outbreak begins with patients falling into a sleeping state for a
short period. Some wake up fine, some never wake again and others, well, they
come back different.
The story begins with Chrissie, a woman alone in her home,
where other members of her family haven’t woken up. Anarchy has overwhelmed the
streets and she makes the decision to take a car and seek safer pastures. As is
often the case, Chrissie discovers that the most dangerous element of the
apocalypse is not the infected but other humans.
In the second part we are introduced to Shaw, a man who was
trapped on a visit to his home village and like Chrissie, his family doesn’t awaken
with him. He does have a lovely dog, Toby, for company. It is here that we have
our first encounter with a ‘Zombie’. This doesn’t happen until more than 80
pages in, very unusual for a Zombie tale, however I found the story so
gripping, that I hadn’t even noticed. After dispatching the first of many
undead monsters, Shaw begins to assemble survivors and they struggle to survive
against the conditions of the remote Highland area.
I’m cautious not to reveal too many of the exciting twists
and turns in the book, spoilers I believe they are called. But I must discuss
the Zombies because I really loved (and was terrified) by them. Those who
awaken changed behave in some of ways
we expect of a Zombie. They are aggressive, relentless and difficult to kill.
In a break from the norm they do not moan – they scream. Nicknamed Screamers they roam the night wailing
horribly. This is a nice nod to the banshee, a fixture of Scottish Gaelic
mythology. These creatures are also vulnerable to injury in a more human way,
meaning it’s not just a headshot that’ll take them down. I liked that because
from a scientific perspective the lack of explanation as to how the body
functions without blood flowing, or consumed food & drink being transferred
to energy, is a bit confusing.
Overall the story is action packed – it covers a long journey
and a long period of time. It explores areas many other Zombie stories
overlook, such as the rise of feral animals, an explosion in the insect
population and the realistic decay of the things we humans leave behind. The
approach is different from other Zombies stories, making it a fresh and
surprising read – and as an avid fan of all things Zombie this doesn’t happen
to me often. It is set in Scotland, and being my home country, I liked that a
lot. There’s something exciting about being able to visualize these events
happening in your immediate world. My only slight confusion was why American
terms were used, such as ‘gas’ and ‘store’, as the characters were not
American. Perhaps this helps with international sales.
If you’d like a gripping, fresh take on the Zombie genre,
packed with tension and surprises that are equally pleasant and horrible then Each New Morn is for you.