This week, I’ve been collecting photos around the lab to send to Richelle so that she has an idea of what to draw for our collaboration. I’m mostly sending photos of bottles, beakers, pipettes, and things around the lab benches. Seeing Richelle’s drawing from last week was so exciting! I’m amazed by how much science she incorporated into the image, and I love that both the human brain and a mouse brain are represented in the artwork. Can’t wait to see the next set of images!
Here are some photos that I sent Richelle so she can see what the lab looks like:
This is one of our lab benches. In the foreground, we have reusable Styrofoam containers that we use to ship brains to collaborators. When we’re not mailing brains, we use these containers as ice buckets to keep things cold. We also have lots of little bottles on the shelves that hold various reagents that we use in experiments.
This photo shows pink and yellow racks for holding tubes. We mix small amounts of liquids in these tubes. The shorter yellow rack is sized to hold 1.5 mL tubes. The pink and large yellow racks hold 50 mL conical tubes. We have a pH meter sticking out of the open tube in the tall yellow rack.
The plate on the left is a magnetic stirrer. The flask on top of the plate has liquid and a magnetic stir bar in it. When you turn on the plate and choose a speed, the stir bar spins and mixes the liquid. In the middle, we have a standard scale. On the right, we have a more sensitive scale with doors on each side so that fluctuations in air currents won’t affect the measurement.
I’m hoping that Richelle is finding the photos and captions helpful in creating her next artworks, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing her drawings! Check back next week for another update.
I am in the process of interpreting Dana’s text questions into visuals. I realize that as I make new drawings, my impulse is to add to other drawings. This process creates a more cohesive aesthetic among all pages of the science-art book project. The drawings below are not yet complete and are (potentially) the first layer of what will become more complex drawings. I anticipate I will add bolder colors, thicker lines, and more texture as these drawings evolve.
Question + Artwork Below…
Why do scientists use mice to study diseases?
What causes autism? The current scientific consensus is that autism is caused by both genetic mutations and some environmental factors. Genetics play the main role in causing autism. Many different genes have been identified as being associated with symptoms of autism, but researchers still cannot zero in on one causal gene. In light of recent autism research, many researchers who study autism now speculate that autism is the product of mutations in many different genes that work together. Since there are many types of autism (it’s a spectrum disorder), it seems plausible that there are different mutations in different genes that are responsible for each type of autism. When these genes are identified as mutated in autistic patients, researchers often create mice that model the mutation in order to study the gene. Some genes scientists are currently studying for their association with autism include: JAKMIP, Nlgn3, Fmr1, 15q11-13, Shank3, Tsc1, 16q2.2, and many more. In addition to genetics, many researchers believe autism can be caused by certain environmental factors. Environmental factors that researchers have connected to autism are based on the health of the mother. Infection, valproic acid (found in some medicines), and stress level of the mother during pregnancy may have an effect on whether or not the child will have autism. Numerous studies have concluded that environmental factors such as pesticides, GMOs, and vaccines do not cause autism.
Artwork not yet complete! I want to further emphasize how autism is caused by BOTH genetic mutations and the health of the mother (infection, valproic acid, and stress levels). I will somehow divide this page to indicate internal vs. external influences that generate autism.
Other drawings posted below have a similar aesthetic. For these drawings I am using graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, and ink. I may add in some watercolor paint as well. Finally, the drawings may even be scanned and manipulated graphically like the previous blog post. As you can see, I enjoy working on multiple artworks at one time and making changes as I go along!
Drawing for “How do mice show symptoms of autism?”
Drawing for “Why do scientists use mice to study diseases?”