Brain-eating amoeba 

After hurricane Irma, Florida might have a greater risk of spreading infection. More specifically, brain-eating amoebas are more likely to thrive in the stagnant water.
These microbes can enter the body through the nose and reach the brain within a few days. There, they begin their feast, which in most cases is fatal.

This work in progress depicts an entry through which the parasite ingests its food – brain tissue.  The piece will evolve to include other elements of this tragic event.  Stay tuned! 

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Women in Bio SciArt event praise keeps rolling in…

Here is a summary of the SciArt event that was published in Women in Bio newsletter. Continue Reading

“Branching Out”

Here is the first piece I presented at the Women in Bio SciArt event and the story behind it. Continue Reading

Trade offs

As I have written in a couple of recent posts (here, here and here), life has been a bit hectic recently.  I have been feeling like I am having science withdrawal symptoms.  Last week, I have finally received an offer for a new position that I have accepted.  For the last 4 years, while I absolutely loved my job, it took me over 1.5 hours to commute in each direction.  I wasn’t the favorite part of my day and took a lot of valuable time away from my work, family and personal life.  Not to mention NeuroBeadContinue Reading

My adventure through social media

This Tuesday I published my next blog post about Sholl analysis.  Crickets.  For some strange reason it only got one view and no likes.  I guess people are taking off for their holiday break already and/or are busy with last minute gifts.

I also tried out the “Get followers” app, which sort of made me feel like I had to compromise my identity to get likes on Instagram.  Instead, I payed $0.99 and received 500 likes of my Neuron Astrocyte co-culture shadow box on Instagram.  Honestly, I don’t think that it made any difference.  Maybe word will get out a bit more for my work to be discovered by the right target audience…  It is similar to sending out “ships” that I just read about yesterday.  Maybe something will come back.

Neuron Astrocyte Co-culture shadow box

On Monday, I also had an interesting interaction on Instagram.  A scientist posting scanning electron microscopy images of insects contacted me about NeuroBead.  At first, I thought that he wanted to make a custom order from one of his beautiful images.  After a long and roundabout message exchange, it turned out that he just wanted to provide images for my work and charge a commission.  After giving it some thought, I decided that it was too early for me to do this.  I would much rather take custom orders from people who want to see their work rendered for their own aesthetic pleasure.

“Branching Out” – the story of Sholl Analysis

final-product

If interested please contact me directly – AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME!

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via Daily Prompt: Discover

“Branching Out” – the story of Sholl analysis 

I have always been attracted to symmetry.  Ever since childhood, symmetry and equilibrium have always put me at ease and gave me a sense of aesthetic satisfaction.

In graduate school, I studied the process of differentiation (read “development”) of nerve cells called neurons.  Neurons have beautiful architecture, but are never actually symmetrical.  Yet they still give that sense of balance.  One metric of neuronal differentiation is the measurement of their processes called neurites.  Neurons send out their neurites in all directions to sense the surrounding environment and bring information back to the mother ship – the cell body.  Their growth and branching can be measured using so called Sholl analysis, in which you draw multiple concentric circles around the cell body and count the number of times each circle intersects with a neurite.  That gives a good measure of neuronal branching, which is directly proportional to the cell’s capacity of receiving and integrating information.  

While my project primarily required calculating the percentage of cells that met a certain criteria of minimal differentiation, when I first found out about Sholl analysis , I tried very hard to find an application for it.  I was secretly hoping that the treatment I applied to the cells would have an observable effect on their branching, just so that I could get the aesthetic satisfaction of performing Sholl analysis.  It seemed a bit silly, but brought a different type of gratification.

Towards the end of this summer, I found myself in need of finding a few peaceful moments.   I sat down in a local park after work and sketched out a diagram of Sholl analysis with a beaded neuron in the middle.  This idea has been in the back of my mind ever since I started NeuroBead.

Weeks later, my daughter saw the sketch in my notebook and asked how I could draw out every single bead in the sketch.  I smiled.

sholl-analysis-5

The actual challenge came much later, when I began to brainstorm how to assemble the framework for this piece.  It need to be sturdy but floating, concentric but three-dimensional.  It reminded me of the spiral of knowledge I wrote about in my personal statement for graduate school.


side-by-side

Here is the finished piece that still pulls at my heartstrings.  It gives a sense of peace and balance, while leaving enough room for individuality, curiosity and exploration as the neurites project their tips in different directions to make sense of their surroundings.  They are pushing their limits to explore the unknown.

final-product

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This is a limited edition piece that has not been posted in my Etsy Shop.  For purchasing information, please contact me directly at yzorina@gmail.com.  The first person to re-blog this post will receive a 10% discount for their next purchase!

Morning Glory

This week has been a little slow and not particularly productive at work.  Plus my daughter got sick and had to be picked up from school in the middle of the day.  I always feel the weight of juggling work and family life and strive to find some time to be myself.  Artwork brings me peace of mind.

So I decided to take the lemons life gave me and make lemonade.  On Thursday evening, my sick daughter was taken to her grandparents and my husband had to work late.  After coming home and hanging out a bit with my younger daughter, I put her to bed and decided to dedicate some time to myself.  For years I have been carrying a box of unfinished beading projects from one apartment to the next.  I used to make a lot of french beaded flowers in the past.  So I picked up the box of my budding projects and found three beautiful flowers of morning glory that I have made ages ago.

morning-glory-work-in-progress-beadwork-1

They looked so bright and fresh and inviting.  Like something that could instantly lift up my mood.  They just needed a little more TLC to be ready for prime time.  They also offered a sense of a short, simple path to completion, which is so rare to come by in my daily life as a scientist.  I needed that sense of fast (though not instant) gratification.

Two evenings later the project was complete.  I connected the three separate flowers into a single branch, finished off the stem and added a couple leaves.  I had a frame that has also been lying around, waiting for the next project to be completed.  At first I wanted to put the floral branch on a completely black background of fabric, but then got inspired by one of my recent projects with neurons.  So just like the cyan hippocampal neuron I wrote about, this Morning Glory refused to be restrained by the limits of its frame.  Its flowers and stem reach beyond the enforced boundaries.  This concept speaks to the limitless beauty of nature, whether it is seen on the street or through a microscope.

morning-glory-french-beaded-flowersmorning-glory-angle

The item is now available at my Etsy Shop!   Come check it out and sign up for NeuroBead Exclusive!

via Primp