Envision, Issue 1

Page 1

Spring 2020

contents 4 Hunter Howell: A Photo Essay 6 Artificial Pancreas 8 Coral Disease 10 Coronavirus 12 Genome Editing 13 Art and Therapy 14 Climate Change 16 Frank Netter 17 Nanoparticles 2

ABOUT THE ISSUE letter from the it was while writing essays in English e d i t o r classWhether or throwing together a lab report in high school biology, “show, don’t tell” was a phrase I heard all too often throughout my early years in school. Fortunately, as I’ve continued exploring the nitty-gritty details of everything science-related, from public health to cancer biology, I’ve learned to never downplay the importance of the visual side of science—when it comes to science, showing is telling. The opportunity to take full advantage of our senses to discover and grow motivated us at Scientifica to publish an issue focusing entirely on the visual side of science, to ask the ever-so-valuable question, “how can art, design, and graphics teach us more about the world around us?” In this issue, we hope to shed light on some important scientific innovations, pay tribute to historical figures, and explore the characteristics of a dynamic new outbreak. I hope you enjoy Envision, this first-ever special issue of Scientifica!

Science is innately visual, and as art director for Scientifica for the past year and a half, I along with the Scientifica team have made a concerted effort to make the research at the university and current topics within the realm of science more accessible to our readers though our use of infographics, illustrations, photography and design. This first issue of Envision is the perfect example of where we are and hope to be as a publication when it comes to scientific communication through the visual arts and design. My personal interest in both art and science go back as far as I can remember, and I strongly believe that being able to combine the two in a way that is both compelling and accessible is what will move the field of scientific communication forward in the coming decades.

Anuj Shah Leila Thompson Editor-in-Chief Art Director

Core team Anuj Shah Shravya Jasti Carolina Mallar Aaron Dykxhoorn Leila Thompson Sneh Amin Mac Clifton Amirah Rashed Corey Fehlberg Trevor Birenbaum Wil Harris Kyle Alford Austin Berger Sofia Mohammad Victoria Pinilla Roger Williams, M.S. Ed

Editor-in-Chief Magaging Editor Copy Chief Design Director Art Director Director of Photography Webmaster Secretary Director of Finance Distribution Manager Director of Creative Writing Business Manager Director of Public Relations Director of Community Outreach Board of Advisors Liason Editorial Advisor 3

Hunter Howell: A Photo Essay by Leila Thompson


To most, the word “Everglades” conjures up images of alligators, massive flocks of wading birds, and the actual national park with its wide expanses of untouched nature and miles and miles of wilderness. For Hunter Howell, the word “Everglades” brings to mind a slightly different image; as a PhD candidate at the University of Miami, Hunter’s research focuses on the Everglades herpetofauna, or amphibians and reptiles, outside of Everglades National Park. The vast majority of Howell’s research takes place within the Loxahatchee Impoundment Land Assessment (LILA) area which is owned and managed by the South Florida Water Management District and serves as an experimental landscape that helps inform management decisions moving towards a warming future. Howell’s days are long and often begin before the sun rises and continue long after the sun has set. He works from sun up to sunrise setting out various types of traps, pulling traps set out the day before, collecting data on a number of different species, and tagging individual aquatic salamanders with Passive Integrative Transponder (PIT) tags to track growth and movement data over generations. Though the work can be sweaty, exhausting and mosquito-filled, Howell gets gratification in knowing that his research helps and will continue to help inform management decisions when facing issues of species decline and climate change.

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by Anam Ahmed

the problem

In Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), a patient’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin is an important hormone involved in regulating blood glucose levels.

the plan

The Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami is developing the DRI BioHub. Once implanted, the “artificial pancreas” should restore insulin production.



To reduce the autoimmune response, the killer T-cells are balanced with T-regulatory cells, which are deficient in T1D patients. This will ensure that the new supply of beta cells will not be killed.


Plasma from the patient’s blood and thrombin are used to create a scaffold. This 3D structure, implanted into the fatty tissue covering the intestines, will support cell growth.


New beta cells are grown from the patient’s own pancreatic cells that are not destroyed. These cells will produce insulin as a response to blood glucose.


Coral disease in the Florida Keys by Megan Buras

What is Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease?


tony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) affects many reef-building species found in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is thought to be caused by bacteria that can be transmitted by touch or simply through water circulation. SCTLD progresses quickly, and observations have shown colonies dying off only weeks after they initally begin to lose tissue. According to data from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the coral reef ecosystem in Southern Florida supports around 70,000 jobs, which bring in around $8.5 billion in sales and income each year. Scientists are collaborating to further investigate the spread of SCTLD. Through surveys, it is possible to get a better understanding of where and how quickly the disease is spreading. Others hope to identify the bacteria by obtaining and examining tissue samples from diseased coral colonies.

Normal Healthy Coral Tissue


Diseased Coral

2017 2016 2015 2014 2015 2016

2017 2018

Rate of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Spread in South Florida

2014 2015 2016 Data: sanctuaries.noaa.gov



Coronavirus by Anuj Shah

Data: World Health Organization

A coronavirus outbreak stemming from Wuhan, China, has affected thousands of individuals around the world, and will undoubtedly affect thousands more in the coming weeks. COVID-19, as it is known in the scientific community, originated due to an animal-

to-human transmission, and its effects have quickly surpassed those of previous coronavirus outbreak such as SARS and MERS. As a whole, this epidemic is showing once again that some of the greatest threats to humanity may be microscopic pathogens.

The origin

The virus is believed to have first transferred from an animal to a human in Wuhan, China.


China Hubei Province


Scientists are still unsure of the species of the animal that was carrying the virus, although potential suspects are pangolins, bats, and other mammals.

Virus structure and symptoms Spike glycoprotein

Spreads through aerosolized forms: sneeze, cough, etc


Envelope Hemagglutinin esterase


Symptoms • Fever • Cough • Shortness of breath In severe cases • Pneumonia • Severe acute respiratory syndrome • Kidney failure • Death

by the numbers

of total 53 Number countries to which the

11 Million

coronavirus has spread

Population of Wuhan, China, making it larger than New York City but only the 9th largest city in China.

60 Million Number of people affected by travel restrictions in Hubei Province alone


Number of days in which two entirely new, 1000-bed hospitals were built in Wuhan, China, to handle coronavirus cases. However, experts say these hospitals may not be functioning at maximum capacity.

14 for coronavirus symptoms

Number of days it may take

to appear, meaning affected individuals may infect others before experiencing symptoms

Tracking the spread

The first cases outside of China are detected at an airport in Thailand. China alerts the World Health Organization of “flulike” cases in Wuhan.

Laboratoryconfirmed cases



The number of confirmed cases increases by around 20,000 in Hubei Province alone, due to a change in diagnostic procedure.

The death toll surpasses 800, overtaking the 2002 SARS outbreak death toll in less than half the time.





The U.S. confirms its first coronavirus case, in Washington.


The first confirmed coronavirus death is a 61-year-old man in Wuhan.




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Interested in receiving updates on the number and distribution of coronavirus cases? Use this live dashboard, courtesy of the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Scan me!


genome editing: the science of the future

by Aaron Dykxhoorn

In the late 1900s, the first genome editing techniques were developed. These techniques, such as the use of radiation to induce mutations and the zinc finger nuclease, were primitive and led to high error rates. In 2009, the genome editing tool named CRISPR was created, giving a cheap and efficient way to perform edits on DNA. The importance of genome editing on the medical industry cannot be understated. It has given insight to many fields of research, allowing for new discoveries that have heightened knowledge on life as it was previously known. Although the methods of genome editing are currently not perfect, it is a step in the right direction.

CRISPR-Cas9 is a tool used by many researchers to perform genome editing. This includes replacing, removing and manipulating sections of the DNA sequence. CRISPR uses a guide RNA to find a certain DNA sequence, and the Cas9 enzyme to make cuts in the DNA sequence, allowing for the addition or subtraction of certain segments of code. This technique creates the opportunity to see the function and purpose of certain genes. The importance of CRISPR is seen in its uses for treating genetically related diseases, creating crops that are resistant to harsh conditions, and furthering research on the human genome.


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ometimes, words are not enough to convey the entirety of a person’s feelings, which explains the prominence of art in therapy. Regardless of a person’s artistic skills, art can be used as a form of alternative expression that a trained therapist can analyze to understand the person better than they could through a simple conversation. For example, in autistic children, art therapy has been shown to alleviate symptoms of overstimulation while redirecting formerly obsessive habits into a creative outlet. Often visual rather than verbal learners, autistic children can enjoy producing art without any societal pressure.

A common example of art being used in professional therapy is the HTP or House-Tree-Person test. In this personality test, a person is asked to draw a house, a tree, and a person from memory. A trained therapist can then examine their drawings and ask questions based off of what they see. The smallest detail can reveal potential aspects of the person’s personality, such as an oversized head suggesting a large ego. Of course, conclusions cannot be made from the drawings alone, so art is used in therapy more as a tool than a permanent solution.

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As glaciers melt, sea level rises. As heat waves become more frequent, water within our warming oceans expands. The result? Our coastlines shrink and floods grow ever-more frequent. While many Floridians are prepared for hurricanes, few are braced for the increase in flooding that may occur as a result of climate change. With our current technology, we have the power to reduce automobile carbon emissions to 0%, which, according to Kirtman, would be the first step to “leveling off” the temperature rise associated with climate change. But do we have the will to make such a leap from fossil fuels to renewable energy?

Flooding & Sea Level Rise

“If we don’t change our trajectory, we’re likely to have flooding everyday, twice a day at the end of the century ”

Waves and hurricanes of the two past decades Heat waves across Asia, Europe, & America

Hurricane Katrina


2005 2003



The European Heat Wave

Hurricane Maria

Australian bushfires


the legacy of

FRANK NETTER by Varsha Udayakumar


o science textbook, especially one regarding human anatomy, is complete without detailed illustrations. We can thank Dr. Frank Netter for being the most influential person behind these enlightening diagrams. He was a well-known surgeon but maintained a passion for painting, so in the 1950s, he began the quest to combine his talents. He had an uncanny ability to take complicated medical topics and illustrate them in a way that was much easier to understand than words. His magnum opus, the Atlas of Human Anatomy, was published in 1989 and stands as one of the most popular anatomy references to this day. The book is a must in all medical schools for students and doctors alike. With this, Frank Netter singlehandedly forged an unbreakable connection between science and art that remains a valuable insight to the medical field.


NAnoParticles by Megan Buras

Small nanoparticles (carbon dots) are synthesized from carbonrich precursors

The precursors are heated and then rehydrated into a solution.

Carbon dots exhibit fluorescence under specific wavelengths of light. 17 17

These nanoparticles have functional groups that allow them to bind to different molecules.

Carbon dots can be conjugated or combined with other compunds to form complexes.

Researchers today are currently using these complexes for cellular imaging, biosensing, as well as target drug delivery to prevent cancer cell 18

meet the artists Anuj shah

leila thompson

Anuj, a junior from Chandler, Arizona, is studying microbiology & immunology but also enjoys learning about public health and psychology. Anuj is a beginner at illustrations and art, but has always loved science and seeing it displayed in a visual way. Growing up, some of his favorite magazines were National Geographic and Popular Science, and he’s always appreciated how much emphasis they placed on their photography and infographics. Recently, the coronavirus outbreak has been a huge public health issue, and Anuj felt that creating models and infographics to describe the origin and spread of the virus was the best way to communicate the issue’s severity.

Leila grew up in Fairfax,VA and is a senior studying ecosystem science and policy. Her appreciation for both science and art date back to when she was a child, and have persisted throughout her high school and college engagements. She is currently the teaching artists for the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM+) program with the Wolfsonian Museum of Miami Beach and Nautilus Middle School, as well as the art director for Scientifica. Her photo essay on Hunter Howell, with whom she works as a Field Technician, was inspired by the field work they do at LILA.

leena yumeen

Leena grew up Canada but has lived in Ft. Lauderdale for the last 7 years. Leena is currently studying biochemistry and is on a pre-medical track, but is also considering dual majoring in political science or history. Leena has been interested in illustration since early high school, and has always loved digital design and drawing. Leena chose to illustrate and write about climate change to promote student activism and climate action. She also hopes the piece raises awareness about the implications of climate change for Miami-Dade county residents.

varsha Udayakumar

Varsha is a freshman majoring in neuroscience on the pre-med track. She is a commuter and has lived in Miami for over 10 years. Despite pursuing a career in medicine, Varsha has always had a passion for the visual arts. In high school, Varsha had multiple chances to illustrate and design professionally, including in her class’ yearbook. The topics she covered in this special issue involve connecting art to science in a meaningful way, which appeals to her interest for both art and science. Varsha especially relates to Frank Netter, who combined his medical prowess and artistic skills in illustrations, with a lasting effect on the medical field. Varsha hopes to one day forge a similar marriage between art and science in her own career.

anam ahmed

Anam Ahmed is a freshman from Davie, Florida, studying microbiology & immunology and public health. She became interested in art through henna designs and drawing digital illustrations for her science fair projects in high school. Anam has worked at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at UF and continues to work at UMiami’s DRI, furthering research to establish a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. This inspired her topic “Artificial Pancreas,” as the illustrations include aspects of her research in the context of the DRI’s overall goal.

aaron Dykxhoorn

Aaron is a biology major with a chemistry and psychology minor from Miami, Florida. Aaron became involved in Scientifica his sophomore year by making spreads as part of the design team, and now holds the position of design director. He has been interested in design since high school, and has always enjoyed putting together spreads, newsletters, and handouts, and says that “Scientifica has a special place in my life because it has allowed me to combine my love for science and design, and given me an outlet for creative expression.”

megan buras

Megan Buras is a second semester freshman pursuing a double major in biology and marine science through RSMAS. She grew up in Hawaii and has had lots of exposure to the ocean and was really interested in exploring and finding out more about coral disease here in Florida. As a freshman, she is currently enrolled in the HHMI combined biology and chemistry laboratory where she’s spent the past semester and a half studying carbon dots, and as a result, she wanted to present the things she’s learned in a unique way.

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