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Meet our student-artist: Ereny Morcos

My name is Ereny Morcos, and I am a senior at Bowdoin College. This will be my third summer participating in the VI4 Artist in Resident program and my second year as a mentor for the program. I have always been incredibly drawn to science and art and, through this program, I have started to learn greatly about science communication and how this is integral for the future of scientific discoveries. This summer I will be working with the Alexander lab in creating figures for articles, hoping to be published soon. The lab is studying Hypertension and how the immune system affects the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. I will also be working on hopefully creating cover art for a project within the lab focused on studying Psoriasis and its effects on hypertension and increased renal dysfunction. Over the years, I have worked with traditional artistic tools and styles, including painting and drawing, and have started to weave into my work digital platforms to create digital art. My cover art may take on a more artistic and traditional look, and I hope through the different digital art platforms I use to create meaningful and accurate figures and representations for the lab to be published and used in their papers hopefully.  

During my first summer, I worked with Dr. Heaton’s lab at Duke University through Vanderbilt to create digital media for a research project focused on viruses and their infection of different human cells. After being matched to this lab, I created ten pieces of art over ten weeks over the summer through this virtual opportunity, ultimately working to create cover art to be published eventually when the research is ready for that phase. This was one of the most exciting and incredible experiences for me as a student incredibly interested in the intersection of art and science. Working with this lab was incredibly engaging as well as rewarding when I created work they loved and wanted to enthusiastically publish later on. Last summer, I worked with Dr. Nardhy Gomez to create a figure exploring maternal health and single-cell through RNA-sequencing, revealing unique cellular interactions in preterm labor driven by intra-amniotic infection. This was seen in the mouse model shown in the image and the communication among them through these different cells. 

My dedication to bettering healthcare while combining my passion for creativity and art has been something I have continued to combine throughout my education. My love for research has also been something that I have continued to want to pursue. The artist-in-residence program has been an incredible opportunity for me to emerge in research and understand a research paper all while helping illustrate the findings, diagrams and illustrations they need for their work. In this sense, I have developed a greater understanding of immunology, virology and infectious disease by reading and looking at the research different labs are working on. 

Working in Dr. Alexander’s Lab this summer, I continued to hone my skill in representing complex ideas through art in the chosen mediums. By studying hypertension and its impact on different immune and innate cells, I gained a greater understanding of this complex disease and truly explored how various art components, such as vibrance, space, and perspective, can be pieced together and delicately balanced to illustrate biological phenomenons. I have always been interested in the collaboration science and art have. I truly believe that science cannot be truly understood without the creative process that can bring findings to life.

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