Laboratory: Eric Skaar
Jessica Mo is an undergraduate sophomore who took the Commons iSeminar Communicating Art Through Science with Dr. Oliver last semester. Her artistic process for both scientific and non-scientific endeavors involves finding visual metaphors that communicate the main findings of the work. Visual metaphors are similar to analogies in that they both use simple, widely understood relationships to help communicate a more complex idea. However, visual metaphors use images to convey the message, while analogies are typically written or verbal.
To brainstorm her project, she begins by makes notes of the “main players” of the relationship that she is trying to depict and think of qualities that one might attribute to these “main players.” For a scientific publication, she trys to demonstrate the findings of the paper. Then, she finds symbols that embody these qualities.
Importantly, these symbols need to be easily recognizable. Then, she draws the relationships between these symbols in a way that is similar to the relationship between the “main players.” She created this artwork for Dr. Erin Green of the Skaar lab by creating simple vector shapes in Adobe Illustrator. She wanted to show that the regular MumR in the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii is important in combating manganese starvation and contributes to H2O2 resistance, promoting virulence. Additionally, she wanted to depict the relationship between MumR and the ability of A. baumannii to invade a host. For example, in this art for Dr. Erin Green of the Skaar lab, we wanted to show that the regular MumR in the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii is important in combating manganese starvation and contributes to H2O2 resistance, promoting virulence. Mo wanted to depict the relationship between MumR and the ability of A. baumannii to invade a host.
In her art, A. baumannii is shown as an alien in a spaceship invading a planet. Because A. baumannii is a bacterial invader, she depicts the bacteria as space invaders, hence the spaceships. Additionally,
in popular culture, bacteria, like aliens, are often depicted as slimy green organisms. Because MumR helps combat manganese starvation, Mo decided to make the backdrop a desert, as deserts are known to be places of scarcity. Manganese can be seen as a few gray blobs in the sand. It can be seen that despite the rarity of manganese in the desert, the aliens are still able to invade the planet.
The planet’s defense system is represented by immune cells and H2O2, a reactive oxygen species. The immune cells are shown as a white fighter jet trying to shoot down the alien spaceships with bubbles of H2O2. However, just as MumR contributes to H2O2 resistance, the shieldlike forcefields around the alien spaceships help protect them against the assault.