Drawing Scientist

As a scientist who traded the pipette for a pencil, it is imperative to think about what drawing means to scientists, to the process of science, and scientific discovery. The realization is that drawing can be both, a means to do science and a means to share science. Also see, Drawing Science.

TEDx Talk

In this talk, through historical examples and my work, I argue how and why a pencil can be powerful in all stages of scientific thought. The talk borrows from the four steps of thinking postulated by Graham Wallas in his work ‘Art of Thought’ (1926) and draws parallels to the scientific thought process.

Drawing scientist

Workshops 

I encourage scientists to draw and when given the opportunity I make them draw, both silly and science. It has been argued that drawing can augment creative thinking for scientists.

At the Young Investigators Meeting 2023 organized by IndiaBioscience, I had the opportunity to make scientists draw. The scientists drew their science and shared it with the neighbors at the table, in a way that led to laughter and discussions. The process of making images and sharing images can be distinguished, similar to the distinction between the process of discovery and the process of sharing discovery.

Audience during interactive talk at YIM 2023, IIT Gandhinagar. PC: IBS team
Participants and doodles from Draw your science workshop at YIM, IIT GN 2023

In one activity, they drew words/phrases they/we collectively made up or they were very familiar within their subject domain. This exercise allows for discussion on the separation between words and imaginations for individuals and on symbolism in scientific representations.

Participant work from science illustration workshop at inStem, 2023
Participant work from science illustration workshop at inStem, 2023
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In a novel workshop at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, ‘How to be a Scientist’ we used drawing as a way of doing science. We used the act of drawing to observe, measure, understand the knowns, and ask the unknowns. In one of the activities, I encouraged the participants to image the 3D volumetric form based on microscopic observation of tissue cross-sections.

participant drawing imagining 3D form based on 2D data
participant drawing imagining 3D form based on 2D data
Observation drawings by participants at CCMB, Hyd
Observation drawings by participants at CCMB, Hyd

In a course called Art of Seeing and Observing at Saint Joseph’s College, Bangalore, we used drawing to understand the spatiotemporal nature of biological processes. Using GIFs, we understood how to think about and represent the pace of time in fast and slow biological processes.

Student drawing through direct microscopic observation at SJC, 2020
Student drawing through direct microscopic observation at SJC, 2020
Students working with clay and timelapse photpgraphy at SJC
Students working with clay and timelapse photpgraphy at SJC

In a workshop at Curiosity Conference at IIT Gandhinagar, 2023, I explored drawing as a way to foster imagination, ideation and storytelling. We used different sensorial impressions to craft images, stories, sounds and more.

Participants in drawing workshop at Curiosity Conference, IIT GN 2023
Participants in drawing workshop at Curiosity Conference, IIT GN 2023
Drawings by participants
Drawings by participants
Participants sharing work with peers
Participants sharing work with peers

Zines

This series of zines is based on the ideas and sketches developed from various drawing projects and workshops with scientists and science students.

Zine: Codex scientia
Zine: Codex scientia
Imaginary creatures
Imaginary creatures

Testimonials

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session3 Monday

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