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VI4 AiR Sum22

Welcome to the Summer 2022 program guide!

We are very excited to have you be a part of this year's programming. This summer we have an exciting program planned aimed to increase the impact of the artistic products. For faculty and students participating it means that you will work with us to

design, prototype, and test your art products using

human-centered design principles. 


The Artist-in-Residence program is an opportunity for artists and scientists to explore innovative means of science communication. We characterize the residency as the inclusion of an artistic collaboration within a research environment, exclusively occurring through remote interactions. Artists will create artwork or other creative projects related to the laboratories’ research and scientists will develop graphical abstracts for specific projects. Ideally, art will be included in manuscripts, submitted as cover art, and/or used to promote the laboratory on websites, social media, and other public-facing platforms. In addition to the laboratories promoting the artists’ work, these collaborations may also be featured at VI4 events (e.g. MEGAMicrobe, VI4 Annual Symposium) and other exhibitions sponsored by BWF, ArtLab, VU, and/or VUMC. Final pieces must be completed by the end of the 10-week program, which will run from June 13th through August 19th, 2022.


The goals of the program include:

  • Defining a science communication problem that can be addressed using a visual or digital product

  • Creating visual scientific art or digital products based on cutting edge research 

  • Receive feedback on images and products and their ability to address the problem statement

  • Present final product and process in a Fall 2022 digital exhibition



Project Outline Timeline and Benchmarks 

The Artist-in-Residence program occurs over a short 10-week period. This rapid timeline necessitates setting clear expectations to maximize productive interactions between participants. With this goal in mind, participants will be expected to reach the benchmarks and provide progress reports each week (see schedule below). Faculty and students will meet on a weekly basis to discuss question prompts for each stage in the process and will contribute to a shared program whiteboard. These deliverables will serve as nucleation points to facilitate discussions regarding the artistic process, scientific methodology, and the meaning of the artistic works or products developed during this program. 

From previous year's evaluations we know you want:

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Improved communication between student and faculty 

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Opportunities for more authentic interactions between participants 

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Clearer and appropriate timelines for completing projects



To improve communication between faculty and students, we will have simple weekly questions for both faculty and students to complete for each week of the program. We will collect questions on a shared virtual whiteboard to keep track of each collaboration's progress and for participants to see the work of other collaborators. 

Check back here once the program starts!

We will be hosting three large workshops for both faculty and students

Workshop 1: 
Trendy tools

There are many different tools that scientists can use to create visuals. This workshop will explore three tools in particular; PowerPoint, Biorender, and Adobe Illustrator. In this workshop, we will provide an introduction to all three tools and provide resources for those interested in learning more. 

Workshop 2: Human-centered design of science visuals

Human-centered design is focused on empathizing with people. In this workshop, we will cover the basic design principles that will make for impactful science visuals for humans... including paper and grant reviewers. 


Workshop 3: Science Aesthetics 

In this workshop, we will talk about science aesthetics. This will include discussions about the concept of beauty, how it is employed by practicing scientists, and how aesthetic factors play into the scientific practice. From this workshop participants will gain a better understanding of aesthetics and its application in science communication. 



Program schedule by week


Product definition

Empathy is the first step in design thinking because it is a skill that allows us to understand others' needs. In the first week, faculty and student partners will meet and discuss their interests and needs as related to the AiR program. 



With our problem statement in hand, during Week 3 of the program, we will generate ideas. We will research current solutions, think creatively about new solutions, and look for alternatives. 



After reviewing the first draft of the prototype with the faculty member, the student will continue to develop their prototype and be prepared to submit a mid-fidelity or semi-completed version of their product by the end of the week. 



After testing, week 7 will be used to make further iterations, alterations, and refinements to the product. 



In week 9, the student and faculty members will analyze the result of their test and make any final alterations to the artwork or product. During this time the student will also compile a 5 slide deck to present in week 10. 


Product definition

Now that the faculty members and students have an understanding of the needs and skills, it’s time to define the project. This week you will define the core problem that the student artist will tackle and develop a problem statements. We will also be creating narrative personas use human-centered design. 



In Week 4 we will start making. This will begin an experimental phase where the student artist will begin to create the artwork of solution that addresses the problem statement. During this week student will create drafts or scaled-down versions of the product.



Now it is time to test your prototype. Using the mid-fidelity prototype created in week 5, students will test and create a list of adjustments for their art piece or product.  During this time the student and faculty member will also reflect on their problems statement.



Now it is time for the real test! Now that the faculty and student have iterated the product it is time to test the product "in-house." Either within the programs participants or within the laboratory members, student will get feedback from now fewer than 10 people using either interviews or surveys. 



To wrap up the program, students will present 5 slides on their design process completed during the program. 

Faculty Mentor Expectations

From this experience, unique artwork will be created specifically based on each laboratory’s research area. This artwork can be: included in a poster or other printed material, used in presentations at conferences and speaking events, added to any multimedia and videos, sent to your local press office to spotlight your work, emailed to your colleagues and peers, or shared on social media, and make your website more visual. The use of this image should be discussed with the artist and agreed upon. Students are provided a stipend to help cover time and supply costs. If additional funds are needed, we can't guarantee funds but please contact   When agreeing to participate in this experience, one person from each laboratory will be designated as the artist’s mentor. This person will:

•    Meet with the artist via video conference on a weekly basis

•    Clearly describe the intended purpose and utilization of the art

•    Help the artist learn the concepts that will be covered by the artwork

•    Give helpful feedback on the artwork

•    Use the art for its intended purpose

•    Help to promote the artist’s work

•    Foster the creative, intellectual, and professional growth of the artist 

Undergraduate Artists Expectations

From this experience, the artist will have an opportunity to interact with a research laboratory and their work will be promoted by VI4, ArtLab, and the individual laboratory. This is an opportunity for the artist to gain experience working with medical and science researchers to create artwork. The artist will be required to:


•    Meet with a faculty members to discuss weekly questions

•    Develop a problem statement that meets the faculty's needs

•    Produce at least one piece of final artwork

•    Provide a brief description of any artwork produced and discuss their artistic process while creating the work

•    Develop several sketches or concept drawings early in the program

•    Test and implement your visual product through constructive feedback and iteration

•    Engage professionally with all laboratory personnel

•    Discuss process and laboratory’s interests with other students

•    Positively represent the laboratory’s research

•    Be a collaborative member of the laboratory

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