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For those of you who attended the Ecological Society of America meeting in Austin last month, you may have run into Liana Vitali in the ARKive.org exhibit booth. I had a great time chatting with Liana and attending the ARKive workshop. I’m excited to report that “my” study organism – the Barton Springs Salamander (Eurycea sosorum) – was featured on ARKive’s On the Road blog yesterday. I’m sure all of you on Field Trip 18 will recognize Barton Springs and the salamander! And, to make this a biocreative post, I’ll share with you one of my aunt Victoria Harrell’s paintings that appeared in my dissertation manuscript:

Victoria Harrell "Barton Springs Salamander" watercolor on paper

Victoria Harrell "Barton Springs Salamander" watercolor on paper.

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Thanks to Scott Chamberlain at r-ecology for sending me this article in the Guardian about collaborations between artists and scientists. The article opens, “Science and art are often considered opposites – so what happens when top practitioners in each field collaborate?”. Well, I think you know what I’d call it. Biocreativity! The article describes four very interesting collaborations between an artists and geneticist, a poet and speech scientist, a photographer and physiologist and theater director and neuroscientist. I think what I find most interesting about the article are the comments. This is probably the most intense discussion of the intersection of arts and sciences I’ve seen in a while. Interestingly, while I (and several of the commenters) tend to see this intersection as more of a continuum, many of the commenters seem to need to classify works as one or the other: artistic or scientific, and are staunchly defending their views. What do you think?

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And…I’m back from a quick bout of post-ESA 2011 exhaustion (a few more posts on the way from ESA by the way)!

Loved Julie Palmer’s quick post last month on Bioephemera about a recent NYT article featuring graduate programs. The commissioned art for the piece strikes me as a more “serious”, NYTimes-y version of Jorge Cham’s PhD Comics (which was also featured recently in the NYT). I don’t have to tell any of you graduate students out there how great Cham’s uncanny depictions of your life actually are. According to the NYT article, he started writing the comics as “therapy” for coping with grad school. Even with no formal training in the arts, he’s made a career out of his creativity, and I think we grad students are all in his debt for bringing a little humor to our strife.

On the one hand, cartoons have the potential to engage us in biology without worrying too much about being ‘serious’. Exhibit A, Natalie Dee:

Thank God I'm Not an Earthworm by Natalie Dee. Available from http://www.nataliedee.com/archives/2011/Jun/

Thank God I'm Not an Earthworm by Natalie Dee. Available from http://www.nataliedee.com/archives/2011/Jun/

Cartoons also have the potential to bring awareness to how science can be perceived (or be ignored) in our culture. Again, Natalie Dee:

It's Gonna Last Forever Because of Our Unlimited Supply of Dead Dinosaurs by Natalie Dee. Available from http://www.nataliedee.com/

"It's Gonna Last Forever Because of Our Unlimited Supply of Dead Dinosaurs" by Natalie Dee. Available from http://www.nataliedee.com/

They can also serve as commentary on the process by which scientific research is sometimes (but not always!) conducted, as Cham often does with PhD comics:

Independent Research Study (c) Jorge Cham 11/17/1997 Available from www.phdcomics.com

Independent Research Study (c) Jorge Cham 11/17/1997. Available from http://www.phdcomics.com

If you didn’t know PhD comics movie is coming soon, hold on to your freakin’ hats, because it’s almost here!

Comics can also help describe some of the more endearing qualities of we who practice science (Randall Munroe of xkcd.com is very good at this):

Finally, no post on biology humor would be complete without a nod to Gary Larson’s The Far Side. Out of greatest respect for my favorite comic of all time, I can’t post one here. Here’s why. I’m sure many of you out there know of some great bio-comics! Let me know about them with a comment!

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Here’s some humorous biocreativity for your Tuesday evening. Thanks to the Bug Girl for posting this on her blog (which quite often features biocreativity).

I had no idea that when bees were doing the waggle dance, they were actually booty krumping. Shake it like a bee, girl! BTW, the dancing beekeeper footage was lifted from this much more obnoxious Autotuned Bee Song.  The one redeeming feature is I’ve never seen a rasta dude in a bee suit before. … Read More

via Bug Girl’s Blog

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Ran across another cool biocreative WordPress blog today called eukaryography. Here you’ll find, “musings on biology, literature and the everyday.” I particularly enjoy eukaryography’s posts on poetryvisualization of biological phenomena and art + biology. I was also happy to have discovered DNATube.com (a scientific video site) through eukaryography’s blog. Enjoy!