Archive for June 4th, 2008

A scientific career in animation and graphic design

June 4, 2008

Andre alerts us to some nice videos (and, sort of, profiles the maker of the same) at Biocurious:

Janet Iwasa has had an unusual scientific career. After finishing her PhD with Dyche Mullins at UCSF she started a postdoc in Jack Szostak’s lab at Harvard but not to do bench work or even simulations like her postdoc colleagues. Instead, Janet is a full time animator and graphic designer. She takes the current work done in the lab and translates the experimental results and speculated mechanisms into beautiful animations. For more on her story, check out this post at Nature Network.

One of the results of her efforts is a recently completed web site on the origin(s) of life called Exploring Origins. It’s full of striking images and animations that depict RNA enzymes folding into their active structures, the dynamics of lipids in micelles and vesicles, and also more speculative processes like how micelles could have formed around an ancient geyser. And best of all, she’s used a creative commons license so her work is available for educational use including in presentations. If your interests overlap at all with hers then your future audiences are in for a treat because these videos can be used to quickly and entertainingly get across complex ideas.

Of course, this is just one of Iwasa’s projects and you can find more examples of her work on her website. I especially like the illustration of clathrin-mediated endocytosis.