Science isn’t all lab coats and test tubes. Beautiful visuals can engage people—especially students—and inspire them to learn about science more broadly.
Scientists have often invited the public to see what they see, using everything from engraved woodblocks to electron microscopes to explore the complexity of the scientific enterprise and the beauty of life. Sharing these visions through illustrations, photography, and videos has allowed laypeople to explore a range of discoveries, from new bird species to the inner workings of the human cell.
As a neuroscience and bioscience researcher, I know that scientists are sometimes pigeonholed as white lab coats obsessed with charts and graphs. What that stereotype misses is their passion for science as a mode of discovery. That’s why scientists frequently turn to awe-inducing visualizations as a way to explain the unexplainable.
The BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition, administered by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology images with the public that are rarely seen outside the laboratory in order to introduce and educate laypeople about the wonder often associated with biological research. BioArt and similar contests reflect the lengthy history of using imagery to elucidate science.