Cellulart bridges gap between science and art

Twenty-nine illustrative posters demonstrating scientific research hung in the Center for Performing


Arts representing the work of artists and scientists from around the region. 


The Department of Biological Sciences used a creative approach to draw artistically-minded people into the world of scientific research.


Through Cellulart, scientific and artistic communities of northwestern Ohio, southeast Michigan and northeastern Indiana converged to explore the relationship between science and fine art.


The event featured 13 speakers and artistic renderings of what’s known as the “cytoskeleton,” or pictures of cells taken with a microscope. 


Cellulart, originally conceived by graduate students in UT’s Department of Biological Sciences, encourages exploration of scientific concepts by laypeople.



The two-year old showcase is funded by a grant from the American Society for Cell Biology. 


Gabriel Letterman, a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, explained how the images of cells produced by microscopy could help draw interest towards scientific concerns. 


“These images are very accessible and easy to appreciate by anybody, so even if people don’t understand initially what you’re looking at, it catches their interest,” Letterman said. 


This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Kenneth Yamada, a distinguished investigator from the National Institutes of Health, demonstrated research on how cells behave in environments where the tissue is changing. 


Yamada and his team study how the cytoskeleton behaves during embryonic cell development or cancer. They use 3D modeling to understand these processes. 


The night’s final speaker was Dr. Edna Cukierman, associate professor and co-leader of the Pancreas Research Interest Group. During her research, Cukierman was the first to clone an ARF GAP protein. 


Cukierman and her team primarily study pancreatic cancer. They observe the chemical reactions that occur in pancreas cells effected by the tumor and compare them with normal pancreatic cells. 


The event focused on biological research, but not the only scientific field represented.

“It’s mainly biology, but we also have some bioengineering, modeling using mathematical equations and we also have some chemists using pharmacology,” organizer of the event Louis Angel Cedeno-Rosario said. 


A poster created by scientists from the University of Toledo, University of Michigan and Northwestern University examined paternal centrioles during sexual reproduction. 


The research of this poster mainly focused on how centrioles, which are organelles found within the cell, are formed in the zygote, which is the embryonic stage of cell development. 


Letterman, emphatic about this event benefiting scientific and artistic communities on campus, explained how Cellulart can facilitate future collaboration. 


“It benefits science in that it really draws peoples interest,” Letterman said. "It benefits artists in that it allows them to use their art to promote awareness about diseases."

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