Adventures in Micro-Atlantis

The artist

Taylor Hopkins - 2019 AiR Student

Art has been part of Taylor Hopkins’ life for as long as she can remember. Hopkins took art classes throughout high school and currently take courses and work as a studio assistant at Vanderbilt’s Sarratt art studio. Science, on the other hand, hasn’t always come so easily. While she has always been interested in knowing how everything in the world worked and why animals did what they did, she was intimidated by the more complex concepts and numbers she saw as science. When Hopkins heard about the VI4 Artist-in-Residence program, she was excited at the prospect of exploring science through art and blending these two seemingly different fields. The main goal of her project was to produce something entertaining and fun for kids that would help get them interested in microbiology, science in general, and a potential future STEM career. Hopkins began working on her project by reading through Dr. Hadjifrangiskou’s story, looking over her rough sketches and looking up real images of the microbial organisms the characters were intended to represent. Before taking on this project she didn’t know much about microbiology aside from a few facts she remembered from high school biology, so she was excited to learn more about these microbial organisms and microbiology in general. Hopkins felt it was important to learn more about these creatures so she could understand her creative process and then branch out from there. Hopkins wanted to both remain faithful to Dr. Hadjifrangiskou’s interpretation and expand upon the characters in a fun and creative way. When Hopkins read the story it reminded her of an adventure-style comic book so she chose to create a cover in the style of old-school comics. Since she usually doesn’t do animation or illustration work this project allowed me to not only explore a new field of science, but also a new style of art. Her goal for the cover was to blend the style of comic books with the type of whimsical illustrations commonly found in children’s literature. For Hopkins that meant using the shadow comic style font common on comic book covers and adding small details like drawing some characters with clothing, making all the characters eyes bigger and using bright colors. Since her project’s target audience is children, Hopkins wanted to make sure it was fun and colorful enough to attract and keep their attention. Through her experience as an artist-in-residence for the VI4 ArtLab Hopkins has learned that art and science aren’t so different after all. Both express ideas, foster curiosity and creativity and most of all encourage people to think about themselves and the world around them. Hopkins’ hope is that her art alongside Dr. Hadjifrangiskou’s story can help inspire kids to be curious about the world and pursue science both inside and outside the classroom.

The Maria Hadjifrangiskou Lab

The Hadjifrangiskou Lab (or in short, the H-Lab) is a diverse group of scientists fascinated with how bacteria make sense of  their surroundings. We leverage our efforts to   pick apart how bacteria do  the equivalent of “thinking”  by using small sensory devices called two-component systems. We  want to  understand how two-component systems work, because they allow pathogens to effectively avoid threats while trying to colonize the human host. We want to understand how two-component systems work because they are absent in humans and present in bacteria that cause disease and therefore make great targets for drug discovery. We focus our attention on bacteria that  cause urinary tract infections and specifically on uropathogenic E. coli, which accounts for the majority of community- and hospital-acquired UTIs worldwide.

Suggested Learning activities 

K-5

MORE COMING SOON! 

In the meantime visit: 

MEGAMicrobe

VI4 Science at Home

The World of Viruses 

6-8

MORE COMING SOON! 

In the meantime visit: 

MEGAMicrobe

VI4 Science at Home

The World of Viruses 

9-12

MORE COMING SOON! 

In the meantime visit: 

MEGAMicrobe

VI4 Science at Home

The World of Viruses