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Face of the 'average' Dundonian to be revealed at Abertay

4 November 2014

Ever wondered what the average Dundonian looks like? All will be revealed at Abertay University on Thursday, November 6 when Dr Chris Watkins will unveil the ‘Face of Dundee’.

The project began back in September when Dr Watkins - who runs the Human Relationships Laboratory at Abertay - turned photographer and tried to convince as many people as he could to have their picture taken and donate their face to science.

The aim was to find out what the ‘average’ Dundonian looks like by creating an image made up of the eyes, ears, noses, lips, cheeks and chins of as many people as possible.

After hours of processing the images and morphing them together in the lab, the final image is complete and, in his talk on Thursday, Dr Watkins will reveal not only the image, but also how it was created and what made scientists start studying faces in the first place.

Dr Chris Watkins explains:

“Our physical appearance is a product of both inheritance and the lives we lead. Lots of scientific research from the 90s onwards has used computer graphic technology to capture the average - or prototypical - appearance of a set of faces, inspired by composite portraiture from the 19th century.

“On Thursday evening, I’ll explain how we created the image and why, exploring current and historical scientific research about the relationship between appearance and behaviour, looking at the judgements we make about other people based on their physical characteristics, and whether these judgements are accurate.

“Everyone is welcome to come along and see if they can spot any familiar features in the final image we created, and it would be particularly great to see everyone whose picture we took back in September!”

The ‘Face of Dundee’ event will take place in the Main Lecture Theatre at Abertay University on Thursday, November 6 at 7pm.

To find out more about Dr Watkins’ research, please visit the Human Relationships Laboratory website.

The photographs that make up the final image were taken in the Overgate Shopping Centre during two weekends in September.

Malcom Angus, Overgate Centre Manager said:

“We were more than happy to help Dr Watkins and Abertay University with this fascinating project.

“Overgate is a great place to catch people, especially over the weekend. I believe the team found people were more than happy to take part and I’m sure they will also be very interested to hear the results which will be announced soon. As a fellow Dundonian I know I am!”


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

Notes to Editors:

Dundee Science Festival, which will run from Saturday 1 until Sunday 16 November 2014, is a two-week city-wide celebration of science, providing fun, entertainment, inspiration and curiosity for all ages. With a new ‘personality’, the festival will host a staggering 112 events this year, twice as many as last year.

Audiences will have the chance to explore everything from the world of forensic science and dementia to the role of optimism in sporting success and the wonders of the night sky. Meanwhile, families can try their hand at making bat boxes in Dundee’s Baxter Park, building brush robots in the Wellgate Shopping Centre and getting fully immersed in science fun at free family days at Dundee Science Centre. The festival will also fuse science with food, music and art, with an opportunity to enjoy wine-tasting and dine out in a completely darkened restaurant.

An array of exhibitions have also been lined up, exploring everything from dinosaurs and animations to brains and beauty, available to view at venues across the city from Centrespace, Visual Research Centre and the University of Dundee to Roseangle Arts Café Gallery.

As well as taking place in over 20 different venues throughout Dundee, festival events will branch out well beyond the city centre, with the science behind the perfect brew being held in the stunning Old Course Hotel in St Andrews, with ‘Around the world in 80 teas’.

Dundee Science Festival is supported by the Scottish Government, Dundee City Council, University of Dundee, Homecoming Scotland and EventScotland. Other supporters include Skills Development Scotland, The Gannochy Trust and Royal Society of Chemistry.

For more information on Dundee Science Festival, and to book events, visit, email or telephone 01382 228800.

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