What a year 2021!

This has been a hard year. I began this year with hopes and aspirations, but the pandemic has been a mind-bender and mind twister that clouded ‘unbridled hope’ with exhausting socio-political as well as personal realities. Since it is a matter of practice, here is me documenting my reflections of the past year with the idea it gives me direction for what’s next.

Making

Corporate shenanigans

This job (which I am no longer pursuing) has been one of the most surprisingly intense experiences of my life. I felt I did the work that some people might do across a couple of years, in less than a year. It is no surprise that I was exhausted and burnt out when I decided to quit it.
While it might sound like a complaint, there is so much I gained from that experience working on brilliant projects. From creative work to team management and project management, I picked a lot of skills that would be helpful in the long run.

I learned that I am a good team enabler (if the team is small, at least). I worked with a team of four lovely folks. We did a lot of creatively challenging work together. My favorite team project was an internal newsletter. In one of the issues, we documented how we helped each other and this is what the whole team said.

Snapshot of the learning map. Note, how confidence has improved for all.

This image is my badge of honor!

A book!

During my postdoc work at inStem, Minhaj and I started working on a book. It is finally going to make its way for the public eyes. Spent a fair amount of this year working on it. The project has been made richer by our amazing editor Somdatta Karak and brilliant designer Rabin Jacob. More soon!! It comes out in Jan 2022.

A glimpse into the theme of the book. Take a guess!

Drawing for iTHINKBio

This ebook is meant to be open-source, for enabling students with critical thinking, reading, and analyzing skills in a way that connects them to the way science is done, biology is practiced. My contribution is minuscule to what the whole project is, but I got to make the diagrams and drawings for the book! So happy that I got to be part of it and also very proud of the outcome.
My favorite image, and a social media post with my thoughts on it.

Cover for iThinkBio ebook

My amazing intern also deserves a mention for laboriously working with me on this project- Pearl D Souza.

CCMB videos

I worked with my ever-so-fav collaborator Somdatta at CCMB on a series of videos. We worked on visualizing science that happens at the institute with the Mokshar team.
It was fun to develop the storytelling universe, keeping the audience and other logistics in mind. Watch them here.

Zines

Have adopted zine-making as a part of my identity now.

Zines

Here is a zine on fate and development with CCMB https://www.ccmb.res.in/docs/zines/Fate_cells_molecules.pdf

This year I read Why Trust Science by N. Oreskes. For me as a science communicator, the book enriched ideas on how to build bridges with people who don’t believe in science or specific parts of science and technology. In response I am making a series of zines, part one was realized in collaboration with TLOS. This participatory zine invites the audience to gauze their relationship with science.


A zine on lichens, which inquires how associations between algae and fungi are formed.

A poetry zine with Somdatta Karak on ideas of the observed and the observer. Purchase here.

Sharing

Workshops and talks

As always this year was filled with sharing ideas, including at the India Science Festival, the IUCCA sciomm workshop, workshops with Scirio, IISER Kolkatta, and IIT Jodhpur. I shared different aspects of drawing, science, zines, and science communication at these spaces. I was also part of the instruction team for the scicomm course at IISER Mohali. This year I also gave a lot of talks at colleges in two-tier cities. This time, the challenge was to get out of the science bubble and host a workshop for the public, not based on a science theme. It was a gratifying and fun experience.

In another first, I collaborated with the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum for a session on Dinosaurs with really young students. Such joy!

Screaming made up dino sounds and drawing with participants

In the most flattering experiences, Binita, a participant in one of my zine-making workshops made a zine on me!

Mentorship

I also did a formal mentorship for a talented up-and-coming illustrator Pranjal Gupta. It was a great learning experience. I attempted to help him navigate his current problems with an eye on future plans. Here is what he said about the experience:

So in past three months I have learned a lot of value. Organized my first workshop. Practiced some digital illustrations. I think it is still a long way for me to create a more space/networks for myself in the community. But I have become bit more confident on various aspects e.g. client handling etc. Identified focus areas for coming months. Became a bit more clear headed about my approach and what to focus on and what not to. Thanks for extremely extremely helpful advices all through.

Pranjal Gupta

Discussions

There were a few conversations with student bodies that gave me opportunities to speak to young people about my experiences. SciRio, Kitchen lab, IISER Tvm, Midday.

Growing

This year was slow for personal growth, I managed to do some new things. One, I was able to make some hard calls, say NO despite the appeal and glamour of some opportunities. Next, my (perceived) success at the corporate job helped me erase some of my imposter syndrome issues, by affirming my talent, skills, capabilities.

I need a personal revolution and evolution in the coming year.

Evolving path for what’s next

Hope the new year (for all of us) is fuelled by ambition, by hope, in our pursuit of beauty and joy.
Happy New Year!

Painted wall for a friend. Maybe more murals in the coming year. Give me a wall.

2 thoughts on “What a year 2021!”

  1. Wish you a personally, professionally and creatively fulfilling 2022, Ipsa. Always a joy to come across your creations.

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