I covered my eyes with my hands, at first too afraid to look. “That is so gorgeous,” I heard Jessica Mark Welch say.
Mark Welch is a microbiologist who uses fluorescent probes to generate images of bacteria, such as those on our teeth. These images help her investigate the structure and composition of human microbiomes, a growing research area in biology. Slowly peeking through my fingers, I looked at the computer to see, well, a picture of the inside of my mouth.
And, yes, the image truly was gorgeous.
Mark Welch conducts her research at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass., where I had the opportunity to attend the University of Chicago’s new September course, “Visualization and Biology: Science, Culture, and Representation.” In this History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science and Medicine (HIPS) course, my classmates and I explored the question: “How do scientific images get made?” Through ethnographic and archival research—as well as hands-on excursions with faculty experts—we unpacked this seemingly simple question, even producing scientific images of our own. Read more …
“Visualization and Biology” is the first HIPS course at the MBL. The remainder of the September courses at MBL are upper-level biology electives. The new Spring Quarter at MBL is also now accepting applications. Deadline: December 1, 2019. See https://college.uchicago.edu/academics/mbl-spring-research-quarter for more information.
Photo: A University of Chicago student’s dental plaque bacteria, imaged with assistance from MBL’s Jessica Mark Welch in the Visualization and Biology course. Photo courtesy of Ege Yalcindag