Drawn to…conferences? How sketching can enhance your science conference experience

A version of this article is cross-posted on the ESA SciComm Section’s site.


Everyone can sketch. Even you.

And there are plenty of reasons why you should seriously consider trying it like I advocated for on www.crastina.se last month.

Researchers have demonstrated that drawing (even without training) can:

There is even evidence that collaboration between scientists and artists may result in better science. Continue reading Drawn to…conferences? How sketching can enhance your science conference experience

Op-ed: Why scientists (even non-artists) should draw

Lots of data indicate drawing skills are:
a) good for scientists, b) good for science,
and c) something anyone can learn.

Crastina_sketching scientists_screenshot (07.2015)

A few months ago, I discovered www.crastina.se, which describes itself as “A networking platform for the exchange of knowledge, skills, experience and opinion regarding both scientific peer-to-peer communication and science dissemination.”

I learned about Crastina when its founder Olle Bergman invited me to write an op-ed. He asked me to write about my deep conviction that drawing skills should be part of the modern scientist’s toolkit, not just a bygone ability for which we are faintly nostalgic.

My op-ed was published in July. Building on the theme of my op-ed, Olle will be running a series of interviews with scientists involved with drawing as a professional process and outreach tool. You can also tune in to Crastina’s Facebook page for a series of art-drawing-science links I curated.

Despite being limited to a mere 3,000 characters, I wove together some of the more compelling research and scientist-artist quotes I have encountered in the past few years.

Entomologist extraordinaire E.O. Wilson, himself an accomplished illustrator, maintains:

“The description of species and the study of biodiversity requires hand-wrought illustrations,” affirms E.O. Wilson.

Other stand-outs include research and popular articles by Robert Root-Bernstein, essays by Jenny Keller and Jonathan Kingdon, and several more items; many are listed in this month’s edition of my newsletter.

My piece for Crastina closed with insights which we would all do well to heed:

John Lembach argues, “Today’s problems require creative solutions. Creative solutions require imagination. Art can stimulate the imagination and so develop that which is creative in individuals. We are thankful to science for making it possible to live longer, but what do we live longer for? Under what conditions do we live longer? The creative in art can make the longer life worth living in terms of quality. Art is not a frill.”



Workshop: ‘Drawn to Science’ teacher professional development session in Wyoming

20150121_Harvard Forest_student workshopmp4 (32)_c_wm
Participants build drawing skills ‘tool kit’ through practice.
20150120_Harvard Forest_faculty workshop (3)_c_cr_rs
Professors and researchers in a recent workshop practice drawing landscapes.

I’m delighted to announce a new collaborator, the Wyoming Department of Education! The WDE organizers of an annual ‘Roadmap to STEM’ conference are as excited about integrating art into science learning as I am. So, we’re teaming up to bring an arts integration training session to Wyoming’s science teachers in early August.

Continue reading Workshop: ‘Drawn to Science’ teacher professional development session in Wyoming

SciArt: How do I get into a career like yours?

What would you say to someone who asked you how to go about making your own career goals a reality for themself?

Is there a SciArt career road map?
Is there a SciArt career road map?

I’ve been pondering that question since the ‘Sketching for Scientists’ course I recently taught for the faculty at Harvard Forest. For a sense of context, that session was a highlight among the many SciArt workshops and classes I have taught in the past few years, for a few specific reasons.

  1. The participants – researchers, grad students, technicians, communicators, and policy-oriented folks – were one of the most fun and engaged groups I’ve worked with in a long time.
  2. We had extremely lively discussions about the role of visualization in their professional work, in science and SciComm in general, and similarly thought-provoking discussion about drawing and photography as complimentary (or not) tools.
  3. Our concluding discussion led to invaluable insights regarding professional applicability of the material I shared and how I can tweak it for future sessions with researchers.

Following the session, I received an email from a grad student who had been in the course.

I was asked a deeply nuanced set of questions about how to engage in SciArt in a way that effectively incorporates science, art, and education.

Continue reading SciArt: How do I get into a career like yours?

Upcoming courses at Harvard Forest, the Glacier Institute & more!

2013_bison summer sketches (1)_clean_robins_wmI’m absolutely delighted to introduce three courses I’ll be offering in 2015! Keep reading for info on these full-day sessions in Glacier National Park (MT) and Harvard Forest (MA). I also have a handful of workshops and classes in the planning phase, and if you’re looking for a teaching artist or artist-in-residence, feel free to get in touch! Continue reading Upcoming courses at Harvard Forest, the Glacier Institute & more!

Resources: Sketching, learning by drawing, and more

Des bateaus et Bassin Louise (10.13.2012)_factory & dry dock_c_sig_rsCross-posted at Advancing EcoComm

*This list is dynamic, and in-development. Feel free to make suggestions (use the comments section or contact me directly) re additional resources and great examples that should be included.



Continue reading Resources: Sketching, learning by drawing, and more

Drawn to Science & Sustainability workshop (Oct. 28)

I am really excited about this workshop – it’s taking the ‘Artful Science’ workshops I’ve been leading to a new level, by introducing and addressing the question of how to use drawing for professional work in sustainability design.

Please note: This is a late-breaking workshop, and is primarily for students at Chatham University. However, anyone in Pittsburgh, PA who is available and interested is welcome to join us.

Sketches of Mount Olympus cabinet of curiosities

Drawn to Science & Sustainability: a crash course in sketching and hand‐drafting tricks, tips, and techniques

Whether you are a trained scientist, a science educator, or a sustainability professional, you can enhance your work with a strong foundation in basic sketching techniques. This fast-paced, hands-on workshop will help you develop urban and/or nature sketching habits, visual note taking skills, and systems mapping tools. Join us as we look back at the historical connections between art and science and look forward to the usefulness of sketching for modern science and sustainability initiatives. Continue reading Drawn to Science & Sustainability workshop (Oct. 28)

Illustrating Ecology…conferences, that is

*Images are from the ‘drawing for scientists’ section I led in a scicomm workshop at ESA’s 2014 annual meeting.

Researchers have demonstrated that drawing (even without training) can help clarify what you know, assist instructors in assessing student knowledge, and enhance public communication efforts. And, there is evidence that collaboration between scientists and artists may result in better science.

Continue reading Illustrating Ecology…conferences, that is

3 reasons why we should tell stories about scientists, not just science.

1. Human details tangibly bring Conserving Quebec caribou_Ia story to life.

Being able to relate to a researcher is key to having an interest in what that person researches. When a science story includes the scientist, a reader can hope for a quirky anecdote, a personal revelation that is highly intriguing, or even a zany description of the scientist’s physical attributes. Continue reading 3 reasons why we should tell stories about scientists, not just science.