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 NeuroBead. Continue Reading
Last weekend, I attended the Eifman ballet in New York City Theater – “Tchaikovsky: The Mystery of Life and Death”. Unlike the vast majority of ballets I have seen before, that are centered around a fictional story such as the “Nutcracker” or “Swan Lake”, this production was quite different. It was an outsider’s view of the inner world of the great Russian composer.
This single word describes my current state quite accurately. In the beginning of April, an unpredictable event knocked the ground out from under my feet. Due to unfortunate external circumstances, the place I loved working at had to drastically downsize its staff in order to stay afloat. As my daughter likes to sing “like a small boat on the ocean”, I have been drifting ever since.
Last week I wrote about a slightly unexpected turn that my work has taken. I have been posting pictures of my work in progress and finished pieces on Instagram, where I found quite a few of like-minded individuals. Most of these people are trained as scientists and want to share the beauty of what they are doing with the rest of the world. But as would probably be expected, most of this work gets noticed and appreciated by people who do something similar themselves – other scientists and artists. Continue Reading
Last year, when I founded NeuroBead, I based it on the idea that scientists like myself would want to see beautiful images from their research commemorated as pieces of art, that they could display on their walls. Many academic institutions, especially neuroscience departments, decorate their hallways with enlarged photos of cells that were taken under a microscope. These images are both gorgeous to look at and representative of the great scientific discoveries achieved by the researchers. They deserve to be preserved and remembered. Many departments and microscopy facilities even send out calls for best image competitions. I wanted to take this process one step further and portray this integration of science and visual art in a more creative form. Continue Reading
I have recently received a suggestion from a fellow scientist to try making biologically inspired hair clips for young girls. This idea combines a few passions into one. First and foremost, it gives me a new avenue to explore in my artwork. Second, it allows me to makes smaller projects that will be easier to store in large quantities, allowing me to offer a selection of products without overloading our apartment. And last, but certainly not least, it gives a way to promote STEM education for young girls. As a mother of two young daughters myself, I want to see girls getting excited about science at an early age. And if their “sciency” hair clips will serve as a conversation starter about biology, all the better!
Here is my first piece in this series, titled “Filopodia”.
Neuronal Growth Cone turning assay
Filopodia consist of tiny projections of the cellular cytoskeleton, that protrude out and test the surrounding environment. During development and regeneration after injury, neurons send out their filopodia to test where they should extend, turn and connect with their target.
My older daughter was super excited to test out my most recent product!
Also, don’t forget to check out my Etsy Shop!
In October I wrote about a short getaway that brought me some peace. I wrote about the way I enjoyed that mini-vacation. The part I omitted however, was the highlight of my stay. It was right around the time that I started to spread the news about NeuroBead. I thought I had nothing to lose by contacting my my former mentor, who also works in the field of neuroscience. My first thought was a concern of how it would look to reach out to him about a hobby that I pursue on the side. But over the years I have taught myself not to be overly cautious about the impression I make on people. The potential payoff is worth the risk. And I think most of us highly overestimate the potential bad impression we would make on others. Little did I expect that he would actually be willing to buy my work. When I saw his email, I was thrilled! I really had to hold myself back from sharing the good news here before the sale would actually happen.
As I was savoring the news, which made my vacation that much more enjoyable, I had a flashback to the 3D printed reconstruction of microscope images of podocytes (kidney cells) that he had in his office. When I was a graduate student in his lab, another lab member took very elaborate images of podocytes under an electron microscope. He then went through the pain of generating a 3D digital reconstruction, which was then submitted for 3D printing. This sample was then prominently displayed in the professor’s office, and every new person who would walk in, would immediately get a mini-lecture about it. I was looking forward to his ability to talk to other people about NeuroBead after hanging it in his office.
And then the tag game began. When he agreed to purchase my art, I was in Virginia – unable to bring him the piece that I wanted to deliver in person. Then he left the country for a few weeks. When he came back, I had a time crunch at work – unable to leave early to catch him before the end of the day. This week I was finally able to deliver the art to him. It gave me a sense of true satisfaction, seeing how he was examining the details of my work, and even getting distracted by it from a more scientific discussion. While it may be difficult for an artist to part with their work, I was glad to leave it with him – it has found a good home.