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Meet our student-artists: Darrison Haftarczyk

Hello everyone, my name is Darrison Haftarczyk and I am one of the Artists of the VI4 Artist in Residence Program. I major in Kinesiology, the study of body movement, and minor in Dance at the College of William and Mary. Currently, I am home for the summer in Winchester, VA, and have so far been able to catch up with family and friends, volunteer with the Autoimmune Registry as part of an outreach program, and (thankfully!) catch up on some sleep. In my free time, when I am not writing or swimming, I love nothing more than to draw and that is why the resource I have shared today is the drawing app I have been using ever since Middle School!

I was first introduced to Medibang Paint in sixth grade, eight years ago now, by a friend in band camp and I have been using the program ever since. My favorite part about the app is that it is absolutely free and, even though there is a premium version, it only adds extra brushes and posting options but not any necessary features. I was finally able to shell up enough money to buy a drawing tablet at the beginning of college so, before that, I was drawing on my phone with my trusty pointer finger. I actually got surprisingly good at drawing with my finger, though I did often draw pictures out on paper before tracing them out with my finger on my phone. I will say that I am glad those days of having to draw with my finger are over, and I have been drawing a lot more ever since I got my tablet. Using both Medibang Paint and my drawing tablet, I was able to create the art that helped me to get accepted into the VI4 Artist in Residence Program. Continuing to use these resources, I have been paired with a research lab to help create art to facilitate scientific communication.

This summer I have been paired with the Hand Lab, which looks into how maternal antibodies help shape the microbiomes of their infants. The lab is currently working on publishing a paper on their findings that no two microbiomes of mothers are alike, and this is shaped by their life histories (Genetics, diet, disease, etc.) as well as the specificity of their IgA. This antibody makes up roughly ninety percent of the antibodies found in breast milk. In addition to this, the lab also found that the specificity of IgA present in breast milk remains the same between different pregnancies, which has led the researchers to believe that IgA-producing B cells remain within the mammary glands between pregnancies or that the same B cells migrate to the intestines and then back to the mammary glands upon subsequent births. In order to help communicate these findings to a wider audience, past other scientists, I have proposed my project to the lab to be a creation of a visual abstract in the form of a comic. Though this is just the initial proposal, I have already had the wonderful opportunity to work with the lab on this project. I am excited to see how we will collaborate further throughout the entire VI4 Artist in Residence program!

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