Meet Our Students
Click on a student below to read their bio.
Class of 2018
About Chelsea Canlas
My interest in science and art developed very early in my childhood. My father encouraged me to be curious – to find out what things are made of, and how things work. While he taught me how to observe the world, my mother taught me how to appreciate it through the visual arts. After attending an art academy, I was dead set on pursuing a career in art and design. In 2006, I began an undergraduate program in Illustration at OCAD University. It wasn’t until my second year anatomy course that I was introduced to the field of medical illustration. I was intrigued by the idea of communicating scientific concepts through visual means. My professor urged my enthusiasm and recommended the BMC program.
Shortly after my graduation, I worked as a graphic communications designer and worked on many projects, including creating print and environmental graphics for cultural institutions. Although I had found the work interesting, I felt the most fulfilled creating conceptual diagrams and illustrations for science museums. I enjoyed the challenge of taking complex ideas and finding an engaging and universal solution that can be communicated to all audiences. With this realization, I took a leap of faith and went back to school to further my science education.
Now as a student of the BMC program, I am so honoured to be a part of a community of scientists, artists and innovative thinkers. My goal is to create opportunities for others to be curious and constantly learn, and ultimately advance the public’s education of health and medical science.
About Nati Chen
I was first introduced to the idea of using art to communicate science during an invertebrate zoology course at Brown University. For my final project, I created a stop-motion animation explaining the mechanics of a stomatopod’s strike. This experience was challenging, but it jump-started my interest in the intersection of art, animation, and science.
Throughout university, I noticed how important visuals tools are in science. As a TA, I often drew parasite life cycles or dogfish shark nerves on the blackboard. Moreover, I learned how art could be used to inform research. For my honors thesis, I used x-ray motion capture technology to visualize bass suction feeding as 3D animations in Maya.
After completing my ScB in Marine Biology, I had the opportunity to draw kangaroo bones for a journal publication. The experience of working with Professor Janis solidified my decision to pursue a career in scientific communications.
Since I had never received any formal art training, I enrolled in VanArts’ 2D animation program to develop my observational drawing skills and learn how to animate in Harmony.
I am thrilled to be a part of the BMC program because I believe the experience will be an invaluable next step for my career. I am especially excited to learn how to use different media to communicate scientific information. I also look forward to learning from such a diverse, talented group of artists and scientists!
About Sarah Crawley
I fell in love with animation and illustration in my senior year of high school. I applied to art college, but did not want to give up my interests in history, math and physics. So instead, I decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in East Asian history at the University of Toronto. On the side, I edited and illustrated campus publications, such as the Victoria College student newspaper The Strand, the Victoria College journal Acta Victoriana, and Juxtaposition Global Health magazine. The more I worked on these projects, the more I realized that illustration was the field I wanted to go into. Moreover, I searched for a way to pursue an illustration career that would include projects involving challenging emotional and intellectual topics.
While I had previously been aware of the work of medical and scientific illustrators, I had not really considered the field as a distinctly trained group within the illustration community. The more I learned about the practice, and about the Biomedical Communications program in particular, the more deeply I was inspired. The practice seemed to encompass all of the aspects of learning and creating that I cared about, so after finishing my undergraduate degree in history I began to take the necessary science foundations in biology and anatomy. With each course I took, I gained appreciation for the beauty of medical artwork and its importance. I am excited by all of the many branches of biomedical communication, but am extremely passionate about pursuing animation as a tool for patient communication, particularly in how such applications can be used in the context of neuropathology.
About Jerry Gu
As a child, I have always had a keen sense of artistic curiosity and control; but it was not until my high school visual arts classes that my illustration interests began to flourish alongside academia. I went on to study biochemistry during my undergraduate endeavours at McGill University, during which I immersed myself in various student visual arts groups and newspaper illustrations as well.
Subsequently, I propagated my academic interests into graduate research at University of Toronto, under Dr. Cordula Enenkel’s supervision. With her guidance, I investigated the dynamic intracellular localization of proteasomes – conserved macromolecular complexes responsible for targeted protein turnover in cells. I also had the immense privilege of both co-authoring and illustrating for the review article ‘Proteasome assembly’, published 2014 in Cell Mol Life Sci.
Looking forward, one of my primary interests in biomedical communications is to empower the general public in health and scientific awareness, by engaging their interests and bridging the communications gap between non-translational research and lay audiences. Also of interest to me are the untapped potentials of next-generation media such as virtual / augmented reality, as rich interactive interfaces for exchanging various biomedical concepts.
About Nancy Ji
Ever since I was a child, I have always been a girl with a restless mind. I enjoyed reading all kinds of books, with my favourite one being the Encyclopedia. I developed many hobbies and many dreams, and some of them still have a strong impact on me to this day. The wild imagination that was nurtured by my love of reading could find no better outlet than the world of art. Although I have never received any trainings in drawing, this passion has stayed with me for as long as I can remember.
In the subsequent years, school has expanded my horizons and opened my eyes to new parts of the universe. Because of this, I developed a deeper interest in the biological sciences, and decided to pursue Neuroscience as my undergraduate education. In the midst of a full studying and working schedule, I struggled to make time for drawing, to keep my artistic side alive, but when I discovered BMC, this dilemma of choosing art or science no long exists. BMC gives me the niche in which I can place both of my passions, and everyday I am motivated by a group of intelligent and inspiring people. Perhaps along with my interests in travelling and language-learning, one day I will be able to bring the knowledge of biomedical visualization to more places around the world.
About Andrea Lam
Growing up, I had always been drawn to art and sciences. I graduated from McMaster University with a degree in Biology (Physiology Specialization), taking courses that focused on human anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, as well as exercise physiology—however, I often put art as a second priority to my academic studies.
Since a child, I greatly admired digital art and animations, and picked up a tablet partway through high school. Since then, I taught myself through internet tutorials and kept drawing as a hobby throughout my undergraduate years—though I often felt guilty for not using my time to study. Regardless, I found excuses to keep practising through school assignments, various personal projects ranging from t-shirt designs to an iOS game. As graduation pended, I considered various careers in the healthcare field, and ultimately discovered the field of medical illustration. Like many of my peers, it was eye-opening; I had never imagined that I could combine two of my interests together.
Currently, I’m beyond excited to be a part of this program at UofT, and to be surrounded by very talented and like-minded peers. I have high hopes and look forward to improving my skills as a biomedical communicator.
About Aileen Lin
I completed my undergraduate degree in cognitive science with minors in physiology and computer science at the University of Toronto. I was interested in the psychology and physiology of the human mind, and this interdisciplinary mix allowed me to draw together knowledge and viewpoints from diverse fields. I’ve also always had a passion for drawing and painting. During my degree, this interest only grew—there was (and is) always a sketchbook and a well-used drawing tablet on my desk. When I heard about the BMC program, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to use my artistic skills to explain and communicate scientific concepts. I aimed for it.
While preparing for this program, I dissected various animals, including a harp seal, a dogfish shark, and a cat, and had several opportunities to create children’s illustrations used in education and healthcare. These experiences gave me a taste of the field of biomedical communications and convinced me that I wanted to be part of it.
I’m thrilled to finally be part of this program, and I’m so excited to spend the next two years further developing my artistic skills and scientific knowledge with such a diverse and talented group of peers.
About Lucas Lin
As a child, I could spend a whole afternoon in my backyard, stalking dragonflies and hornets with cheap butterfly nets. When night fell, I would retreat back to my room and sketch drawings that told stories about the world full of invertebrates that we lived in. I have always used my love for art as a medium to communicate my passion for the sciences. However, I found myself at a crossroads when it came time to decide which of the two seemingly polarizing career choices to pursue. At the end of my undergraduate Biology degree at the University of British Columbia, I excitedly discovered the BMC program. I began to seek opportunities to allow me to integrate my skills in the sciences and the arts, such as creating exhibition posters at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and Entomological diagrams. Now, I am thrilled to be in a program surrounded by inspiring, like-minded individuals, and can’t wait to learn and grow with this community of Biomedical Communicators.
About Maiko Matsuda
My love of art comes from my elder sister. From a young age, I had always enjoyed watching her draw my favorite cartoon characters. It was mesmerizing to watch lines of graphite magically form into familiar figures one by one. I too, wished to recreate my them on paper. From then on, I spent time drawing and observing artworks. It didn’t take long until art became an integral part of my life.
Despite my lifelong interest in art, during my final year of high school, I made my decision to pursue biological science at the University of Toronto. Biological science was my newly found passion, ever since taking a biology course during my sophomore year at high school. While I greatly enjoyed my four years of learning Life Science, my passion for art never died. I had always hoped it possible to apply both science and art in my future career.
It was during my third undergraduate year at the University of Toronto when I came across the Masters of Biomedical Communications. I immediately knew that Biomedical Communications is the path leading to the field that I longed. I decided to take a year off after graduating with double majors in Neuroscience and Cell and Molecular Biology in preparation of my application to the program. When I learned of my acceptance, I was ecstatic that a dream I previously thought improbable may finally come true.
I can never be more grateful for this opportunity. I am determined to make the most out of the two years at the Masters of Biomedical Communications. I trust the Biomedical Communication curriculum and the teaching staff will inspire me to broaden my vision as to how I can contribute to the biomedical field.
I wish to become a biomedical communicator, who serve as an inspiration to those around me, just like how my sister is to me.
About Amanda Miller
I grew up in Minneapolis, MN with a love of both art and science. I enjoyed art because it made me feel like I had no limitations, giving me the freedom to express my thoughts and turn my ideas into beautiful paintings and drawings. I loved science because there were boundaries and rules and because I felt an extreme sense of accomplishment when I explored scientific principles in laboratory experiments and learned how things worked.
My passion for these different disciplines perplexed me at first, but this began to dissipate when I discovered Iowa State University’s Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration program. From the very start of my undergraduate career I knew this field was a perfect fit for me. I appreciated being a part of the close-knit learning community while taking on illustration job opportunities with a microbiology professor and mutation research lab. I am thrilled to be able to continue to apply my passion for art and science in the BMC program by using visual images, interactive technologies, and animation to accurately communicate health and science concepts to various audiences. I am loving the city of Toronto and look forward to forming another close-knit community with my talented peers!
About Patricia Nguyen
As I neared the end of high school, I was at a crossroad: to pursue science or art. I did my undergrad in Kinesiology at McMaster to follow my interests of the human body while putting art aside believing it would suffice as a hobby. I primarily studied biomechanics but also gained some exposure to sports field therapy and materials engineering. As the years progressed, it was evident that I did not quite fit in anywhere. I wasn’t meant to be a therapist, doctor or an engineer, there was just something missing.
It wasn’t until I found the BMC program in my last year that everything just clicked. Everything that I have been working for has led me to this. My love of anatomy, science, drawing, research and storytelling were all coming together. I would like to apply the knowledge I gain from this program to work in the education field and promote the intersections between science, art and technology. Ideally, I would love to be creating engaging science comics that simplify abstract concepts and spark a joy of learning. Being able to be part of BMC among so many talented individuals is truly a dream come true.
About Ryan Park
In my mid-twenties, I decided I wanted to be an artist. But after 3 years of atelier instruction, stand-alone classes and self-study, I decided singular pursuit of beauty and self-expression as a lifestyle was not to my taste, although I loved the execution of art itself. Before studying traditional art, I trained as a scientist and engineer, completing an MS in biochemical engineering at UMBC. So as I looked around for more options, it seemed only natural that I unite the disparate scientific and artistic training I’ve had in a multidisciplinary program like BMC.
I think BMC excels in 3D and design / data visualization, and I can’t wait to learn as much as possible! Due to BMC’s strengths, it also excels in scientific education / communication; and through it, I want to learn to communicate the awe I have towards the inner workings of the natural world.
I love too many different artists and illustrators to count, but my current top three, in no particular order, are John Singer Sargent, Claire Wendling and Loish! I count among my teachers Hans and Andy Guerin, Carol Lee Thompson, and Robert Liberace.
About Lisa Qiu
I was once met by a stranger as a child who saw my drawings and asked me if art was my favourite subject. I was conflicted since science and math classes were also one of my favourites. He then said something along the lines of “you could be a medical illustrator” which stuck in my memory because I had never heard of it at the time. I began to cultivate my skills at The Academy of Realist Art in Toronto from the age of 11 and graduated recently. Meanwhile, I continued to pursue the sciences as a genuine interest completing my undergraduate studies with a specialist in Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Throughout this time, I was keen on using science to make a difference but often found myself to be most communicative and useful through application of my artistic skills. As these two distinct interests continue to diverge throughout my schooling, I was always reminded of my memory of the stranger and sought out the Biomedical Communications program. I am honoured and ecstatic to now be a member of a community of such talented and driven individuals from whom I have much to learn. Already, I feel I have made the right choice for me and foresee a lifetime of fulfillment!
About Dani Sayeau
Having completed a Bachelor’s in Technical and Scientific Illustration at Sheridan college in 2014, Biomedical Communications felt like a logical next step. In my first year at Sheridan our class was introduced to anatomical drawing and ever since I’ve been interested in the fields of science and medical communication. Science Illustration became a means of fueling my own curiosity, honing my skills as an illustrator, and an opportunity to learn something new with each project. While completing a summer co-op at UHN in the patient and family education department in 2013 I decided to work towards becoming a Medical Illustrator.
After graduating from Sheridan I completed two years of undergraduate biology at the University of Toronto in preparation for BMC. In taking these courses I was always excited about just how fascinating the world of science is, eager to continue learning more. It suffices to say that I’m thrilled about being here and can’t wait to keep learning.
About Annie Tseng
I remember being intrigued when my senior classmate told me about medical illustration and agreeing that the program seemed to suit me very well, considering my science background, interest in health, talents in art and experience with coding and graphic design.
However, what really solidified my decision to pursue this field was my realization I was always involved in communicative ventures. To me, communication is not just about language, it also encompasses art, education, business and research. In all these fields, effective communication is about making ideas accessible to an audience by synthesizing concepts and catering to the perspective of the audience. I was consistently part of the creative aspect of projects, whether it was being an illustrator for school publications, branding a starting social business club, or creating audience-centered graphics and website design for clients as a hobby. I enjoyed interpreting information with my own artistic vision and juggling the fine line between providing accurate, thorough content while also adapting to my audience’s mindset. The challenge of learning new things and of creating accessible content was exhilarating for me.
The fundamental concept of communication and my passion for science and art ultimately intersect at my current resolution: I want to make science more accessible for others in a visual manner because it is universal and effective and because it is important that more of the population understands science. Through my courses, extra-curricular activities and my own observations, I noticed that scientific research is too often misinterpreted by the media and the general public which causes a lot of misunderstandings which are potentially health-threatening. Research should advance our knowledge and health, not jeopardize it. Thus, I hope to create educative material that will help improve people’s understanding of medicine and health.
About Felix Weiler
My fascination with the scientific world began early and was fostered by my family. Both of my grandfathers were school teachers and both shared a passion for science and the natural world. As a kindergartner, my aunt, a medical researcher, would explain medical images and experiments, including videos of laparoscopic surgery to me. The most read, loved and re-read books of my childhood were The Way Things Work by David Macaulay, a Gray’s Anatomy Colouring book and the DK Incredible Cross-Sections series. My interest in the foundations of of Bio-Medical Communications is something I come by honestly.
After highschool I was interested in pursuing several creative, technical fields and began studying at the Toronto School of Art. It was here where I learned about the BMC program which led me to an Honours B.Sc. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. After graduating I spent time working to develop my traditional and digital art skills as preparation for BMC.
Now that I am starting my studies, I am excited about getting to participate in a program where my research, observation and understanding of the subject are integral to my practice. I see this program as an opportunity to cultivate my passion for science, technology, graphic design, visual art and interactive media. I am honoured to by the chance to study with peers and teachers who share my passion and hope to contribute to future innovations in the the art of science.
Class of 2017
About Mark Belan
Since I was a child, drawing and art were always very important to me, but I found I developed a similar interest in science and the natural world once I had started school. Like many, many before me in BMC, once I started university, I felt there was always a struggle to remain creatively active while pursuing a science degree. I was fortunate to complete my undergraduate degree in the Arts and Science Program at McMaster University, and while one would imagine from its name alone that it should suffice both my scientific and artistic interests, I always felt like there was more to be desired when it came to the visual arts. I heard about BMC in my final year and felt like it was the answer to a question I had long been trying to address: how do I merge my interests in both art and science?
Surprisingly, I took a two-year detour before coming to BMC and completed a Master of Science in Geochemistry and Astrobiology, also at McMaster University. I wanted to learn more about the inner workings of the science world and the research industry. My thesis involved working on NASA’s Pavilion Lake Research Project, which was an incredible and rewarding opportunity, but I felt there was a lack of visual support for data and research literature. Because of this, I sought opportunities to bring visual solutions to geochemical research, and became a Lewis & Ruth Sherman Graduate Fellow for Digital Scholarship, where I created 3D-printed models of microbialite structures from Pavilion Lake. The success of this project was instrumental to my decision to come to BMC – I wanted to be providing visual solutions to scientific questions.
Now, as a BMC student, I’m ready for new challenges and the opportunity to to flex my creative muscles once again. My future goals within BMC and beyond are to continue developing my technical skills, and consider entering the European market for studio work in medical, scientific, and general visual support.
About Matan Berson
Raised with three grandparents who created art in their spare time and an uncle who was a professional painter, illustration became a central part of my childhood. After years of observing art practiced as a hobby, coupled with identifying the tough realities of being a freelance artist, I put aside the idea of making a career out of my acquired passion.
While studying biology at the University of British Columbia I discovered how astounding medicine and the human body is. Along with a long overdue finding of this program, I realized that my fervor for medicine and physiology and my love for creating visuals could be combined.
The way I best learn something new is by being actively involved and interacting with the new concept I am trying to understand. This involvement could be with the use of a game, a learning module, or an application. Since learning is an active process, interacting with an application encourages me to think. I want to build these types of applications that will allow medical students and laymen to effectively learn and conceptualize difficult to understand parts of anatomy and physiology. The BMC program is a great place to start accomplishing this goal and I am excited to be in it. When not learning something new, I can be found hiking, practicing Mandarin or Muay Thai.
About Ruth Chang
Throughout my youth, art and science have always been my two great passions. I have been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon (to the detriment of the white-washed walls of my childhood home), and it was through encyclopedia illustrations and Discovery Channel animations that my interest for science was piqued. Although I hail from Vancouver, BC, I completed my undergraduate degree in Honours Neuroscience at McGill University, and there I worked in four different labs in order to explore a wide domain of research.
I had my sights set on the BMC program early on, as it seemed to be the perfect intersection between my skillset and interests. I researched the program extensively by contacting both alumni and staff with questions, and continued creating art throughout my undergrad by designing logos and painting murals for various school initiatives. I also taught art to children at local community centers and ran drawing tutorials for McGill students.
Now that I’m here, I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of an amazing community of students and faculty. I eagerly look forward to all the experiences and challenges ahead which will bring me one step closer to becoming a professional biomedical communicator.
About Kaia Chessen
As I expand my skillset through the BMC program, I am especially excited to learn web-design, 3D rendering, and data visualization. I am also eager to focus on making comics that educate and promote awareness of issues that threaten health. In Seattle, where I attended the University of Washington, I was involved with the local comics scene, and began creating a graphic novel about travel through West Africa that discusses several medical issues concerning people I met there.
One of my favorite projects to date has been working with the UW’s Global Health team at I-TECH, designing a healthcare booklet to educate patients throughout clinics in Guyana. Through this venture, I learned a great deal about the importance of cultural sensitivity in public health illustration. This experience was central to my decision to pursue medical illustration as a career. It became clear to me that art can transcend often prohibitive language barriers. I intend to create images that can be used in many places, not just in North America.
I love connecting with people, and I’ve often done this in the past through teaching and writing. I enjoy thinking of new ways to reach others and describe concepts. Now, as a scientific illustrator, I can employ some of the same methods to communicate visually.
The BMC program combines my love for creating art, a lifelong interest in the sciences, and my desire to help people. I feel truly fortunate to study both medicine and art, and am honored to work alongside so many wonderful, talented people.
About Ursula Florjanczyk
I’m an academic fence-sitter. In my undergraduate, unable to decide which field of study I wanted to pursue, I hunted down my academic advisor and found out about a fledgling program that would allow me to straddle the line between math and biology. After graduation, I enrolled in an M.Sc. at the University of Toronto because I had found a research lab that worked in synthetic biology – a research field that coupled engineering principles with molecular biology. I felt like I had done it again, cheated some sort of cosmic system to let me program mathematical models while also getting my hands dirty behind a bench. Despite the stimulating research that seemed tailored to my interests, I couldn’t shake doubts about my future. I found that often I enjoyed creating visually exciting presentations of my research more than I enjoyed the research itself. I had always filled my free time with one art project after another – pushing paintings onto unwilling victims and doodling aggressively in class. As most of my classmates can attest, as soon as I heard about the BMC program, all the lights in my head went off. Finally, a chance to communicate a wide range of scientific topics with illustrations, graphics, and visual storytelling. I am ecstatic about starting the BMC program: to be learning with a dynamic group of talented individuals under the tutelage of an amazing faculty. This is an incredible opportunity to represent the inherent beauty in biological systems and medical structures within the framework of communicating complex concepts. When not hunched over a computer, you can find me reading too much science fiction or reading too much into television shows.
About Lauren Huff
My love for art extends far back. I was that kid in kindergarten who would sit in the corner meticulously finishing colouring assignments and other creative “homework” long past the time my 5-year old peers had moved on to toys and games in the play areas. The concept of “slow at the edges and fast in the middle” was much more intriguing to me than tag, and it was this passion for visuals that has persisted into adulthood and influenced all parts of my life. That purple crayon has become a carbon pencil, a watercolour paintbrush and a tablet stylus, but never was there a moment when it was not relevant in my life.
As I finished high school however, and my separate passions suggested divergent career paths, I followed my love of science into university, obtaining a Life Science degree from Queen’s University as I prepared for a career in medicine. While I developed a keen interest in physiology and microbiology, the artistic part of my soul kept nagging at me and I couldn’t swat away the doubt that I may have been more fulfilled if I had followed a more creative professional path. Upon discovery that I could merge my loves of science and art, something just clicked and I knew the MScBMC program was where I was meant to be. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of learning alongside a close-knit group of wildly talented classmates and from an accomplished, attentive faculty devoted to promoting our education and abilities.
I am extremely grateful to have to opportunity to be part of such a unique program, immersed in a brilliant community of scientists, artists and innovators. I’m so excited to begin this chapter in my life and look forward to integrating my two great passions in the next two years.
About Robyn Hughes
Growing up, science and visual arts were always a large part of my life. I was a curious child, constantly striving to learn more about the world around me, and frequently found with a pencil or paintbrush in my hand. I enjoyed both science and visual arts courses in high school but chose to pursue the sciences, regarding visual arts as a hobby rather than a possible career.
Queen’s University’s Life Sciences program gave me the chance to explore the intricacies of the human body. I frequently drew difficult concepts to enhance my understanding and enjoyed sharing these visualizations with others. However, despite the stimulating environment provided by life sciences, I didn’t know what path I wanted to take upon graduation.
That all changed in third year Anatomy, when our professor told us that some of the students who had illustrated his textbook had gone on to Biomedical Communications at the University of Toronto. A program that combined my interest in life sciences with my passion for visual arts was a perfect fit for me, and I knew I had discovered what I wanted to do. I spent the year after graduation preparing my portfolio and taking introductory Adobe courses at George Brown College in preparation for my application.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to pursue a career in which I can constantly learn, challenge myself, and improve my skills while surrounded by inspiring, talented individuals. I hope our work conveys the beauty we see in the world and inspires others to see it too.
About Savanna Jackson
Hi there! My name is Savanna, and I’m a first-year student in the BMC program. After initially deciding to pursue biological science at McGill University in 2009, I found my days completely full of memorization and research, and craved the days of my youth, which were spent drawing anything I could get my hands on. Post-graduation, I took a one-year break from all things academic, applied to medical school, went on a 3-month trip overseas, all of which led me to the conclusion that I absolutely needed to feed my artistic side. After returning home to Ontario, I attended George Brown College for a 1-year foundation art and design program, which only confirmed my passion for the arts. Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to become part of the University of Toronto’s Biomedical Communications program and, through this endeavor, I am combining my experience and curiosity in the sciences with my inner artist as I pursue a career in medical and scientific illustration.
About Elijah Lee
My home is filled with stacks of my childhood drawings to remind me that art has always been a large part of my life. I wrote and illustrated stories from a young age, not just because I wanted to stretch the boundaries of my imagination, but also to find a personal venue for self-expression. While most children kept diaries as a memento of their daily happenings, I depicted who I was and who I wanted to be through comics. Apparently, I sought to be everything from a marine biologist to the friendly neighbourhood baker. I decided to follow my passion for the sciences by enrolling in the University of Toronto’s Life Sciences program in 2011, but found myself at a crossroads between the arts and medicine as I neared graduation. I reflected on my experiences and realized that my productivity and interests peaked when the two fields intermingled. Further, I discovered that these fields were not mutually exclusive; in fact, they share a long, and sometimes forgotten, history. The BMC program has given me the opportunity to keep the ties between these fields strong. I am beyond excited to grow with this amazing community of biomedical artists!
Jung Hee Lee
About Jung Hee Lee
In secondary school, I was drawn to both science and art. I enjoyed the complexity involved in learning scientific concepts, as much as the challenge of applying my interest in art to help understand these concepts. I chose to pursue undergraduate studies in the Life Sciences program at McMaster University and continued to build my artistic skills in a recreational manner. When it came time to determine a future career path, I found about the Biomedical Communications program and I was very excited to blend my interest in science and artistic talent through medical illustration.
Many people seem to unfamiliar with how art and science can be combined together, but I have realized that the combination is a powerful learning tool in the scientific field. During my undergraduate coursework, I took advantage of visual representations, such as textbook figures, three-dimensional models, educational games, etc., to help myself to understand things better! I feel very lucky to be in this program to learn how to develop visual tools for scientific communication. I desire to bridge the gap in scientific knowledge that is often overwhelming from written text alone, particularly between scientific experts and members of the public through visual tools.
Recently, my interest started to grow in patient education and health communication because I want to create visual tools that target as many people as possible, even those without the previous scientific knowledge. This may be challenging in terms of simplifying complicated scientific concepts but facing challenges always makes you stronger!
Other than my interest in medical illustrations, I also enjoy spending time playing the piano and the guitar, watching movies (my favourite movie genres are romantic comedy, 3D animation and action & adventure) and listening to 70s & 80s Korean songs!
About Joanna Liang
Throughout my life, I constantly struggled with balancing my desire to study illustration and science. This became especially apparent in my senior year of high school when I was confronted with the decision of what to study. After a long time of deliberation, I finally settled on studying biology in UBC for my interest in physiology and anatomy of both vertebrates and invertebrates. Yet, during my time at UBC, I still could not give up my passion for art. Often I still found myself drawing away on my tablet in the free time I had as well as on my notes to help myself understand concepts better, such as signal transduction pathways for my physiology classes.
As graduation approached, I was faced with the same old question: what do I pursue with my life? I had been considering my options when one of my professors mentioned Biomedical Communications at University of Toronto. This seemed like the perfect career that combined my two passions of illustration and science!
Thus, during my final year at UBC and while preparing for Biomedial Communications program, I completed illustrations and animations for professors at UBC and doctors at Vancouver General Hospital. From these experiences I realized that there is a real need to express difficult concepts with illustrations and animations to satisfy the fact that each individual has different methods of learning. I want to be able to address these challenges with my art to help people better understand these difficult concepts through different perspectives.
It still feels like a dream that I was accepted into this program and I am lucky to be surrounded by a positive supporting environment. I am eager to hone my skills, and for the prospects of new projects in these upcoming two years!
About Kara Lukasiewicz
Curiosity has always been one of my defining features. When I was only 3 years old, I used plastic play tools to disassemble my tricycle because I wanted to know how the parts fit together. As I grew older, this natural inquisitiveness was a perfect fit in my science classes. In high school I had an exceptional science teacher that really helped me to realize how science is key to understanding the world, which inspired me to pursue science as a career.
After graduating with a BS in microbiology, I decided to further pursue research by going to graduate school in the biomedical sciences. Beyond the desire to simply understand how things work, I also wanted to participate in research that could potentially benefit people. I attended Mayo Graduate School where I earned my Ph.D. in Tumor Biology. My thesis project research involved a lot of microscopy, and I always enjoyed creating ways to visualize the collected data. After graduate school, I continued in academic research while doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. During my fellowship, I had many opportunities to work with students and prepare many presentations and lectures. It was at this point that I realized that I enjoyed the visual aspect of presenting the data more than the actual experiments. This led to a transition to the US National Library of Medicine, where I was exposed to many medical illustrators that encouraged me to consider a career transition. Looking toward the future, I am very excited to have the opportunity to explore my interests in the interface between science and art as a student in the BMC program, where I hope to contribute to innovative science communication and education.
About Alexander Mykris
I grew up in Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with an undergrad degree in biological/ pre-medical illustration. Before I began my journey down the illustration path I was a ceramics artist, creating both functional and sculptural pieces on the potters wheel. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time potting around, I found myself missing science. After completing a residency as a ceramics artist I decided to go back to school and get a degree in biology and it was at this time I discovered the BPMI program.
Being at ISU allowed me to explore both traditional and digital techniques. It was in my senior year that I began working with 3D modeling software and discovered my passion. Here was an opportunity to utilize my previous experience working in 3D while creating for the scientific community. Since then I have had several opportunities to work professionally creating models as well as designing interactive tools to view them. These experiences have shown me I still have a lot to learn, but this is what I want my career as an illustrator to focus on.
With the support and guidance of my professors at Iowa State I applied to the Biomedical Communications program, known to work on the cutting edge of technology. I am honored to be a part of the BMC community, I’ve already learned a lot and am excited to see what I’ll learn in the next two years.
About Midori Nediger
As a child I had an intense curiosity about the natural world coupled with a desire to create. As I grew older and progressed through school my curiosity developed into an acute interest in the sciences, while I satisfied my creative interests outside of the classroom.
In 2010, I began an undergraduate program in Life Sciences at McMaster University, assuming that my choice to study the sciences meant that I would be leaving the arts behind. I was overjoyed when, in an introductory biology class, I was exposed to the field of medical illustration – a unique career path that would allow me to combine my two passions. I soon discovered the MScBMC program, and set my sights on making it the next step in my scientific education.
It is a privilege to now be a part of this program, surrounded by like-minded, passionate, intelligent, and creative individuals, and I look forward to what the next few years will bring.
About Christine P’ng
As a BMC student, I am excited to develop my skills in design and programming. In particular, I am interested in data visualization and comics. Data visualization interests me for its importance in making sense of the information overload available in our society, and comics I find are a unique medium for conveying stories and drawing people in.
I developed my interest in programming during my undergraduate in Life Science. In search of an art elective, I enrolled in computer animation and to my surprise, fell in love with programming. I continued to take many more computer science electives throughout my degree, as well as studio arts and design classes.
My varied interests led me to work in a bioinformatics research lab, where I developed methods of displaying genomic datasets. In this role I discovered data visualization to be a fascinating challenge, especially given the abundance, complexity, and availability of data today, and is a field I intend to explore further.
As the only person in a graphics role, I was also given a wide range of other visual tasks and was able to investigate colour theory, layout design, and even comics. When trying to explain scientific concepts, I discovered the narrative power and visual appeal of comics to be a powerful force for engaging audiences, and researching the medium further has led me to believe that it has a lot of potential for use in scientific communication.
With these diverse interests in design, programming, data visualization, comics, and more, I am excited to develop my skills further in the Biomedical Communications program.
About Judy Rubin
Growing up, I was always fascinated with nature and creatures I found around me. I spent hours collecting frogs and bugs in the yard and then later try to draw them. My mother, a research scientist at the time, would encourage me in my creative pursuits. I fondly remember visiting her lab and trying to copy all the cells and specimens I saw there.
My love of science ultimately led me to pursue a B.A. in Biology at University of Maryland Baltimore County. During this time, I still sought to combine science with my art. I became an assistant in the medical visuals office, and I also had the honor of working with my mentor, Dr. Tom Cronin, to create textbook illustrations. After my undergrad, I further indulged in my artistic side and attended the Schuler School of Fine Arts where I was trained in old master technique. I never thought that I could combine both these burning passions until I discovered the Biomedical Communications program at University of Toronto. I immediately decided to pursue a career in this field.
I am thrilled to be part of a program where I am surrounded by like-minded people who share both my interests. I am looking forward to further developing my skills during these next two years so that I can contribute to the field of medical illustration.