Agriculture, life sciences researchers examine intersection of art, science

Protein nanosheets curling into rosettes resemble a blossoming bouquet of black and white flowers.

Microscopic muscle fibers of a bovine fetus evoke a swarm of fireflies soaring through the black of night.

And the inner-workings of a tobacco plant call to mind the birth of a star in a far-away galaxy.

The images in the narrated slideshow “The Art of Science” and its accompanying gallery exhibition are simultaneously works of art and glimpses into the innovative research happening daily in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“In splendid detail and vibrant colors, these beautiful images tell the story of the research we are undertaking to curb pollution, feed a growing population, and help people lead healthier lives,” said Saied Mostaghimi, associate dean of research and graduate studies. “They are not only beautiful, but they also highlight the hard science we are tackling daily.”

Jon Eisenback, a plant pathology, physiology, and weed science professor, displays an image of what looks like a field of hot pink flowers blowing in the wind. The picture is actually a microscopic detail of Penicillium sp., a fungus that is similar to the pathogen that causes Thousand Canker Disease on black walnut trees. His research will lead to a better understanding of how such species are damaging trees in the eastern United States.

Each image from 11 departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences illustrates how, even at the most microscopic scale, nature is a thing of beauty.

“When I first look at these images, I think about all the data and information each one carries,” said Justin Barone, an associate professor of biological systems engineering who is researching the molecular building blocks of our world to create renewable materials.

“But then I think what my 6-year-old daughter would see. She would bring the child-like wonder and curiosity that is at the core of every researcher’s journey of discovery,” he said.

“She wouldn’t see strands of vascular tissue or curling nematodes,” he said. “She would see dragons’ backs and exploding fireworks.

“What she would see,” he said, “is the art within the science.”

  • For more information on this topic, contact Zeke Barlow or 540-231-5417.

A building for the future

    Human and Agriculture and Biosciences Building 1, the first of four planned buildings in the new Biosciences Precinct for researchers in the College of Agric

Construction of the Human and Agriculture and Biosciences Building 1 is on schedule for completion in November 2013. 

The 93,860-square-feet building will be home to researchers from the departments of biological systems engineering and food science and technology, who will be examining issues ranging from food safety to biofuel development.

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    Trichomes of an arabidopsis plant look like tiny hairs as scientist examine the beta-glucuronidase enzyme by staining the cells blue.

Trichomes of an arabidopsis plant look like tiny hairs as scientists examine the beta-glucuronidase enzyme by staining the cells blue. Guillaume Pilot, an assistant professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, is trying to identify the genes responsible for amino acid distribution between the organs and cells of the plant and how the synthesis of amino acid is controlled in response to the environment.

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