Art depicting UI researchers’ work on display at Midway

Brightly colored pictures depicting a wide array of scientific research projects now cover the walls of Concourse A at Chicago Midway International Airport, allowing passengers to experience the “Art of Science: Images from the Institute for Genomic Biology” expose. It will be on display until Spring 2014.

The exhibit contains images that exemplify breakthrough research over a variety of scientific fields such as the environment, medicine and energy, demonstrating the diverse work done at the University’s Institute for Genomic Biology.

“We are a melting pot of science,” said Kathryn Coulter, multimedia design specialist and managing artist for the exhibition.

The exhibit has 12 pictures and two banners that display enlarged and enhanced microscopic images that researchers were able to capture using state-of-the-art equipment provided by the institute. The aim of this presentation is to spark a scientific interest in the general community.

“I think a lot of people are used to experiencing nature on their scale by looking at trees and plants and mountains, and these are beautiful things,” said Glenn Fried, director of core facilities at the institute. “But the reality is that nature is beautiful from a small scale to a planetary scale. And so you’re experiencing nature on a different level.”

One of the projects featured in the exhibit was worked on by Vladimir Kolossov, visiting assistant professor, and Jessica Beaudoin, senior in ACES. Their image portrays the structure of mitochondria in colon cancer cells, or HCT116.

Beaudoin explained that to show the mitochondrial structure, they made “a genetically encoded biosensor” that lights up the cellular structure.

“When we excite them with the correct wavelength of UV light, (then) we can use the sensors to monitor intercellular signaling and responses to different reduction and oxidation,” Beaudoin explained.

There is also an image of a research project conducted at the University regarding a bio-bot propelled by the beating of cardiac cells from rats. Additional projects display kidney stones, pollen, coral and a wide variety of others that faculty from multiple University departments have worked on.

“We want to thank the researchers in the labs,” Coulter said. “They have been really excited about this and sharing their work with the community at large.”

Pictures are also currently on display at the I-Hotel and Conference Center and at Willard Airport. “Science is Art 4.0” will be open from April 3-7, 2014, at the Indi Go Artist Co-op gallery in downtown Champaign.

“We thought that this was just going to be a one-day thing that after one year would disappear, but people are interested and people are responding to science through pictures,” Coulter said.

Edward can be reached at [email protected]