Bio-Artography – Science meets Art

Photo credit: Bioartography

Photo credit: Bioartography

These stunning images look like something out of an art exhibition. As a matter of fact, they are on exhibit and for sale, but they are actually scientific images of tissues and cells captured using microscopes.

The images are part of a project called Bio-Artography founded by the University of Michigan’s Center for Organogenesis. In this research group, scientists study organ formation, function, and disease in hope of finding cure for organ diseases and developing better treatment for organ damages.

Bio-Artography is “…a fascinating combination of art and science,” which was initiated as a fund-raiser for providing students with travel grants to attend scientific meetings. It also serves a dual purpose as a perfect tool for public outreach to tell (or show) the public what the scientists are studying, how, and why.

Belly Bubbles by Li-Jyun Syu (Photo credit: Bioartography)

Belly Bubbles by Li-Jyun Syu (Photo credit: Bioartography)

One of my favorite images is Belly Bubbles by Li-Jyun Syu, a research laboratory specialist from the Department of Dermatology. This is an image of mouse stomach viewed under a microscope, with fluorescent stains identifying different cells and structures. DNA is colored blue, acid-producing cells in green, and rapidly dividing cells in red. When Li-Jyun Syu manipulates the mouse stomach to produce more molecules involved in stomach inflammation (called interferon gamma), the number of dividing cells, or red “bubbles,” increases.

The images can be purchased from Bio-Artography website, starting at $25.

References:
BioArtography
University of Michigan: Out of the Blue: Episode 213: Bio-Artography (video)

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Filed under Art in Science, People in Science, Science communication

A fairytale — How to (or how not to) give an effective PowerPoint presentation

If I asked you to think of a scientist, you probably imagined a madman wearing a dirty lab coat and holding test tubes. Another cliché is a scientist giving a boring and mind-numbing presentation. (By the way, being a researcher myself, I dare say that both examples here are quite often true…)

I came across a video recording of a talk sponsored by TEDxSingapore, which might help scientists beat the ho-hum-talk stereotype. This also would help anyone giving a presentation at school or at work. In the talk entitled, The Princess, the Witch, and the PowerPoint, Coleman Yee uses a fairytale analogy to show us how people often misuse PowerPoint.

Coleman Yee’s talk is quite amusing and worth watching. Enjoy!

The key message here is simple, yet striking: “PowerPoint is there to help you. Remember, YOU are the presenter, not PowerPoint!” With so many cool features, it is easy to get carried away when preparing the slides. Let’s remember to keep it simple.

Happy presentation! :)

TEDxSingapore Speaker Coleman Yee

TEDxSingapore Speaker Coleman Yee (Photo credit: TEDxSingapore)

Coleman Yee is a web consultant and the self(?)-proclaimed Web Shaman. He also has worked as an educational technologist, leading classes on how to incorporate technology in teaching. In his blog, he notes, “No, I don’t think technology is necessary for effective education, but it sure can be useful.”

References:
TEDxSingapore talks:
http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxSingapore-Coleman-Yee-The-P
μεταcole:
http://metacole.com

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Filed under Art in Science, People in Science, Science communication, Technology

5 Reasons to Blog Science

Where do you get science news? Two decades ago, you probably have answered “TV news,” “newspapers,” or “magazines.” Now, science blogs—written by wide range of authors, from journalists, science buffs, to scientists themselves—have emerged as the go-to source for science news.

Historically, researchers strictly restrained their communications to either formal talks given at conferences or publications in peer-reviewed science journals, with the latter as the end-goal. This method tends to be one-way discussion that only shows the polished, final product, with a lot of things omitted along the way. The process also takes time to reach the reader, and in turn, reader response takes time to relay back to the scientists.

Although the publish or perish principle still holds true in research today, increasing number of scientists participate in science blogging as an additional—not alternative…yet—method of communication. Some post a day-to-day research progress, like Dr. Rosie Redfield in RRResearch, while others like to discuss various topics that the bloggers found intriguing, like my blog here.

So why blog about science? A scientist, science-communication enthusiast, and herself a science blogger, Eva Amsen interviewed scientists and science writers to find out why.

Reason 1) Meet other scientists
Blogs work like a bulletin board, where people with similar interests can find each other. This is a good way to share their knowledge and, for scientists, to collaborate on future projects.

Reason 2) Keep up with current topics
Most blogs are updated frequently, if not daily. This motivates both the blogger and the reader to stay on top of recent developments.

Reason 3) Bring together science enthusiasts
Similar to Reason 1 above, blogs bring together people who are passionate about science.

Reason 4) Outlet for interesting topics that didn’t make it to paid work
This is mostly for science writers. Sometimes (or often?) writers find topics that are fascinating but not quite fitted for paid work. So they post on their blogs instead. After experimenting and exploring the topic in collections of blogs, it could end up in a book or magazine article.

Reason 5) Contribute to the discussion of science
Blogging is a great way to promote discussion. While not many readers send a letter to the editor (which is the traditional approach for science journals), many readers are willing to leave comments on blogs. This allows for the instant feedback for the bloggers and other readers.

Reference:
Who Benefits From Science Blogging?

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Filed under People in Science, Science communication