Meet Our Students
Click on a student below to read their bio.
Class of 2020
Zhen (Jenny) Bai
About Zhen (Jenny) Bai
When I was in Grade 10, I wanted to pursue a career that combines science and art. So, I thought I should become an architect. By coincidence, my high school counsellor added Biology into my schedule. I decided to give it a try. Surprisingly, Biology became my favorite subject because it was so tangible and relatable. Upon graduation I was eager to further my study in life sciences; therefore, I came to the University of Toronto to study Pharmacology and Physiology. Although I enjoyed studying Life Sciences, I always craved visual arts. I frequently visited the AGO, took art history courses and drew during spare time yet that didn’t feel like enough.
In second year, my ROP professor had a chat with me about my career goals. When I explained that I was interested in Life Science and art, she suggests me to look into the BMC program. When I visited BMC’s website, I was stunned by the scientific artworks. Soon after third year, I started to prepare for my application.
Like many of my other peers, my love for life science and art, as well as sheer chance, had brought me to BMC. I am so grateful to be here to learn what I love, while being surrounded by other passionate people.
About Sabrina Cappelli
Since I was young, I have had an interest in visual arts. I attended a high school with a regional arts program (RAP), which gave me the opportunity to further develop my skills as an artist in an enriched environment. While in the RAP program I was able to consider potential careers in the field of visual arts and found myself always drawn to scientific and technical illustration. In high school I also discovered an aptitude and passion for the sciences, particularly biology. However, I was conflicted as to which area I should focus on until I discovered medical illustration, which appeared to be a perfect combination of the two things I love most: art and science.
After researching this area of interest, I had the opportunity to meet two prior graduates of the BMC program who showed me their work and further inspired me to pursue a career in this field. From there I decided to apply for my undergraduate degree at UTM majoring in Biology and minoring in in Biomedical Communications with the intention of applying for the BMC Master’s program upon completion. During my undergrad I also participated in an ROP (Research Opportunity Program) involving the Biology and BMC departments which gave me valuable insight into what the BMC master’s program had to offer. Needless to say, I was very excited when I was accepted into the program and I am looking forward to learning and growing into a future medical illustrator.
About Caitlin Chang
People around me have always been intrigued by my inclination towards drawing, given science had always been the focus of my studies. It never occurred to me that I could fulfill both of my passions, so when I learned about BMC, my heart soared.
BMC is an environment of growth: it is constantly adapting curriculum to emerging technologies; it encourages students to expand their talents; and it facilitates personal and professional development with its supportive faculty.
What a privilege to be a part of this culture of creation! In our pencils (or really, our tablet pens) we carry the power to inspire others to understand the beautiful complexities of our scientific universe. I am incredibly honoured to be here and am restless to launch forward with this community.
About Farah Hamade
Drawing has always been a fundamental part of my life, not only for enjoyment, but as a way of understanding the world around me. Growing up I sketched daily, doodling between classes and in the margins of my notebooks. However, drawing was pushed aside as hobby, and I focused my attention on my growing interest in neuroscience. I remember reading Carl Sagan’s book on human intelligence while applying to universities and ending with more questions than answers. Feeling inspired to learn more, I decided to study Neurobiology at UC Davis, and minor in Studio Art. During university, I volunteered at a clinic where I loved working with patients and advocating for those who felt isolated in their health care due to a lack of resources targeting their needs. After graduating, I continued to learn more about the brain as a stroke researcher, using technology to visualize the different types of strokes affecting patients we worked with. When I learned about the BMC program, I was excited about creating illustrations and animations that would help bridge the gaps in medical knowledge. I’m happy to be part of this growing community of medical illustrators, and train alongside others who inspire me daily!
About Deniz Kaya
My path to medical illustration all started with a fly landing on my arm. I had received an offer for an internship in finance and something about it did not feel right. I drafted a letter to decline the offer, intending to sleep on it, but startled by the fly landing on my arm I flinched and hit send. I felt very relieved and I took this as a major sign that I needed to make a change.
At the time, I was doing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology combined with a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance. As I was applying for internships, I was just “going through the motions”. I needed my career to feel more fulfilling than what finance could offer me. Thus, I knew it had to involve art somehow. When I discovered medical illustration, I realized that it was the best fit.
I prepared for the Biomedical Communications (BMC) program by taking anatomy and science courses, and developing my draughtsmanship at the Academy of Realist Art. Now, I am grateful to be a BMC student surrounded by such wonderful like-minded individuals in an enriching environment with so much to learn.
About Alice Kim
I attended University of Toronto for my undergraduate to study Genetics in the Human Biology program. While I was passionate about science and pursued it even after a two-year hiatus after my first year of university, I never let go of my love for art. My study notes would always include drawings, and I would create art whenever I had time from school work. When I came across the Biomedical Communications program, I still doubted that science and art could be combined and turned into amazing educational tools for everyone. Yet I thought about how perfect the field was for me all throughout my undergraduate studies and found myself volunteering for things related to putting art and science together. Now that I am in the BMC program, I’m falling in love with the field more every day and I am so excited to keep learning the skills to become a great medical illustrator.
Hang Yu Lin
About Hang Yu Lin
Growing up, I had always been told by peers and teachers that I should preserve an artistic element in my career path, despite my plans to pursue medicine. In art, I loved that each piece would present its own challenges of visual problem-solving, and that even static images can tell a story. When I discovered the field of medical illustration, I realized that I wouldn’t have to sacrifice art in a scientific career. Creating art, storytelling, contributing to science, educating others, and learning new things – all of these elements drew me in.
I studied Biomedical Sciences at Ryerson University while developing my skill in digital media. I taught myself digital painting in Photoshop, vector art in Illustrator, 2D animation in After Effects, and began to explore 3D modelling with Maya and Blender. I also sought the opportunity to work for several research labs on scientific illustrations, and designed graphics for student groups at Ryerson. These experiences affirmed to me my goal of promoting art from a hobby to a profession.
I am ecstatic to have been accepted into the BMC program, and I look forward to expanding my skillsets and perspectives in order to become a professional biomedical communicator.
About Janell Lin
I earned my undergraduate degree at Smith College majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Biology. During my undergraduate years, I enjoyed dwelling in the intersection between art, science, and technology. My interests spanned across a wide range including illustration, graphic design, and data visualization. With passion and training in the arts and sciences, Biomedical Communications seemed very appealing to me. It utilizes different skill sets to achieve a high degree of scientific accuracy, artistic vision, and creativity.
Now surrounded by talented peers, I enjoy every day of the BMC program. Although there is a lot of work, every day is an eye-opening and fascinating learning experience. As Frank K Netter said, “The making of pictures is a stern discipline. With brush in hand before the drawing board, one must be precise and realistic. The white paper in front of the artist demands the truth.” As I step further into Biomedical Communications, I become more certain that it is a field I greatly desire, admire, and excited to pursue.
About Evelyn Lockhart
I am a Clinical Associate Professor of Pathology from the University of New Mexico Health Science Center who specializes in transfusion medicine and hemostasis. My work exposes me to new and emerging information, much of which could be clarified with quality imagery. My path to medical illustration started with a simple revelation: while the bridge between medical knowledge and visual communication is challenging to build, I want to be one of the builders.
I attended Interlochen Arts Academy where I studied theater design and production. My experience in special effects makeup carried over into medicine where I led blood loss estimation workshops using simulated blood. In addition, I collaborated on computer-based team simulations for postpartum hemorrhage at the Duke Human Simulation Center and worked as a moulage artist for educational videos.
My experience as a physician and educator taught me that illustrations are one of the most efficient ways of communicating. My goals for the program are to acquire the skills used by medical illustrators to improve my educational work in transfusion, hemostasis, and clinical team training. I am thrilled to be among such talented faculty and classmates in pursuing these goals, and I learn from them every day.
About Miranda MacAskill
I’ve been passionate about both science and the visual arts for as long as I can remember, but for most of my academic career I felt like I needed to choose between them. In high school I was enrolled in a visual and digital arts program, but at the time I wanted to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. I switched to a science-focused stream in university and got my Honours B.Sc. in Biomedical Science at the University of Guelph. Although my degree consisted mainly of biology courses, I filled my electives with art history courses. During my summers, I worked for the marketing department of a large customs brokerage company developing their visual assets for print, web, and email. Working in a creative and communication-focused environment inspired me switched my career focus from veterinary medicine to biomedical communications.
I’m so excited to finally be part of a community that encourages my interest in both the arts and sciences instead of asking me to choose between them. I look forward to using what I learn through the BMC program to bridge the gap for others and make complex scientific and medical concepts more accessible.
About Chloe Ng
Back in high school, we were once told to complete a survey online for our careers class that was supposed to match us to careers that were most suitable for our interests and skills. I remember that right at the top of the list for me was “medical illustrator”. Being able to combine my two biggest passions into a career was almost too good to be true. However, being only a high school student at the time, it seemed like just a far-away dream.
With a career in science in mind, I ended up doing a Bachelor of Science at Queen’s University majoring in Life Sciences and minoring in Mathematics, and subsequently a Master of Science in Physiology at the University of Toronto. Throughout my studies, I felt as if something was missing from my career, and the survey I did back in high school came back into mind. A quick search on the internet led me to the BMC program, and here I am today. I am honoured to be able to take advantage of this amazing opportunity as I continue to learn new skills and explore what it means to be a biomedical communicator.
About Christine Shan
In high school, my favorite courses were human biology and visual arts. However, I was unsatisfied with how the art courses were structured. There was little focus on the techniques of realistic rendering and more focus on artistic expression and freedom. I wanted to make art that is both beautiful, engaging and serves a practical purpose. At that time, I didn’t know how I would find a job that could combine my interest in science and science. I thought it was more realistic to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at the University of British Columbia.
During my co-op placement in Quebec City, I worked as a research assistant and began to miss the stimulating visual world of science presented by the textbooks. I started drawing more and then discovered the BMC program during a web search. I realized my science education has been replete with visual images that have been critical to my learning. I knew immediately that this was the profession that I have been searching for and now BMC offers a clear path to it. Now, I cannot believe that I have been accepted into this program and study along with a fantastic group of classmates!
Su Min Suh
About Su Min Suh
My curiosity for the arts and sciences was present at a very young age, when I had an urge to document the world around me through pencil crayons and coloured markers. However, it was my experience at the Credit Valley hospital that solidified my vision to become a Biomedical Communicator.
During my time at Credit Valley, Dr. Tin diagnosed a mother of two with breast cancer. The hospital room was filled with confusion and fear as he explained the illness and possible treatments to the patient. As a volunteer, all I could do was watch and wonder, is there any way to make this process more comforting and clearer to the patient? How can one go about communicating scientific concepts, especially health care, effectively to varying audiences? I knew that the answer existed in Biomedical Communication and that I can resolve these issues by generating medical visualizations that are accurate/clear while demonstrating a gentler approach to reach patients about diagnosis and treatments. To pursue this goal, I earned my undergraduate in HBSc with a double major in Biology for Health Science and Art and Art History from the University of Toronto along with an Honours diploma in Art from Sheridan College. I’m interested in using 3-D animation to visualize Anti-Angiogenic Cancer Therapy for patient treatment education and to stimulate research growth in this field of treatment.
I am so honoured to have the experience of learning from the BMC faculty and my amazingly talented classmates who inspire me every day!
About Lesia Szyca
I graduated from the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Education, at York University [First Class with Distinction, Hons. B. Sc., Maj/Min Biology & Visual Arts], and [B.Ed., Inter/Senior Biology and Visual Arts].
There I had some amazing opportunities and mentors including the chance to apprentice under Peter Von Tiesenhausen, where I learned about foundry and cast a sagittally dissected pig head. In my third and fourth year, I had the opportunity to participate in Cancer Research in a Crystallography lab. Eventually, I got involved in more research at York by creating figures for research papers.
After graduation and getting my teaching certification, I worked in a Bioinformatics Prostate Cancer Research lab, where they reconstructed the molecular evolution of prostate cancer in 200+ biopsy samples, in aims of developing a prognostic tool.
And now I’m here, studying alongside a brilliant class with various backgrounds, interests, and skills sets, in a collaborative workspace, tackling challenging, yet engaging assignments taught by talented, knowledgeable, and supporting staff. To top things off, our foundational medical education classes are taught by leaders in research, exposing us not only to the material but their respective fields as well.
About Emily Taylor
I found out about BMC in 2016. At the time I was working at SickKids on a clinical engineering project and doing graphic design work. I had never heard of a program like it, and I was immediately fueled by a passion I hadn’t felt in my undergraduate degree in Chemical engineering at Queen’s University. I knew I liked design, and I knew I liked healthcare, but I couldn’t find a way to incorporate the two. I spent the next year working on my portfolio with the dream of using the content I created to make an impact. Today, I am humbled and excited to pursue my masters at BMC, to work with my talented peers and teachers, and to create meaningful work.
About Vivian Yeung
The five-year old me had always carried two things no matter where I went: a pencil and a sketchbook. At school, fine arts was my favorite subject until I was introduced to biology. I became fascinated by the human body – how our appearances are predetermined by invisible helices that encode our genomic information, and how body systems work synergistically. Thinking that the two were mutually exclusive, I was torn between life sciences and fine arts when it came time to apply to universities. I eventually decided to major in Physiology at McGill University, leaving arts as a hobby.
My undergraduate curriculum provided answers to the questions I had regarding the human body and introduced me to other scientific fields. I developed an interest in Psychiatry and worked at a lab that focused on Alzheimer’s Disease research. The brain is inherently complicated, and I often made illustrations and charts to enhance my understanding of the topic. It was then that I realized that science and art complement one another.
I first discovered BMC in my third year of undergrad, and I knew that it was a graduate program I wanted to pursue. Although I have only been in this program for a short two months, I am consistently inspired by my professors and peers. I can confidently say that I made the right decision coming here.
About Roxanne Ziman
Class of 2019
About Carmen Burroughs
Having an artist as a father meant that when I started to show interest in art at a very early age I was encouraged to do so, and was constantly exposed to different types of art and artistic opportunities. While my interest in creating art only grew as I got older, I found the science portions of my curriculum gaining my attention more and more as well.
After completing high school, I found myself starting my undergraduate career at East Tennessee State University, where I initially decided on pre-med with an interest in pathology. I thought I could always keep art as a hobby on the sidelines. After my first semester, despite enjoying my science courses, I found myself not having time to make artwork and missing it greatly. My father suggested doing some more in-depth research into careers that might involve both art and science; this led me to a very quick google search result that I could not believe I did not find earlier – medical illustration!
I looked into the current programs throughout North America and knew almost immediately that that path was the one for me. I switched my major over to a Bachelor of Fine Arts, which I completed in 2015 with a concentration in printmaking and drawing. Along the way I took several biology and health science courses.
Now that I am part of the BMC program, I am so excited to not only have the opportunity to learn new ways of making art and communicating from a wonderful set of faculty, but to also work with others who are motivated and have such similar interests to mine while having their own diverse set of skills and experiences. I look forward to using what I learn and gain here to help educate and inspire others while doing the things I’ve always loved.
About Amy Cao
For a long time, I wasn’t necessarily sure how to harness and apply my passion for creating art, so I relegated it to the category of “hobby” in my life. During my undergraduate years at the University of California, Berkeley, I majored in Integrative Biology because within the elegant biological mechanisms of living organisms, I found the same beauty that I saw in the puzzle piece-brushstrokes of a painting.
While exploring many different fields and careers within biology, I found scientific education especially worthwhile. For example, I worked at the Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology preparing animal specimens for museum curation and moved on to teaching other students dissection techniques as an undergraduate teaching assistant. I quickly realized the vital role that visuals play in education and research. When I used my artistic skills to create things like museum displays or club flyers, the enthusiastic responses to my work led me to recognize that I value creating images which communicate ideas clearly and beautifully. I became intrigued by the idea of working in a career at the intersection of art and science. After undergrad, I spent two years in Japan as a high school assistant English teacher, paying attention to the ways students learn and absorb information while working on my artistic skills on the side.
Now, I am so grateful to be here in the BMC program, surrounded by incredibly hard-working and talented peers and professors. I am eager to develop my skills and become part of the medical illustrator community!
About Jenny Chin
Like a lot of kids, I grew up around cartoons and comics that pulled me into drawing at an early age. I drew both for fun and to help myself learn, but I never thought I would be able to turn it into a career. In high school, I was exposed to the wonders of science through illustrations and animations, and I quickly developed an interest in the microscopic world of cell biology. Upon graduation, I had a choice to make: whether to follow my heart and pursue art or to choose the safer path and pursue biology. I was overjoyed when my biology teacher introduced me to the idea of combining my passions in the field of medical illustration.
I chose to study Cell & Molecular Biology and Immunology at the University of Toronto, where I created graphics for the Human Biology department, and drew personal commissions on the side, all the while working towards my original passion. With the amount of brute memorization in the undergraduate curriculum, it became increasingly obvious to me that I wanted to make visual tools that would help students learn their course material, especially the kind that involve storytelling and molecular animations. In my third year, I learned about BMC, and it just clicked. Now that I’m a part of the program, I’m excited to meet like-minded people and learn about all the aspects of the medical illustration field!
About Julia Devorak
My path to biomedical communications has been anything linear. As a young person with diverse interests and abilities, it can be difficult to know which educational and professional avenues to pursue– especially when you’re unaware of the existence of fields of study and work that combine your seemingly disparate interests! When the time came for me to make a decision about which path to take, I initially chose science over art and communications, and I completed a bachelor’s degree in the multi-disciplinary field of Cognitive Science at McGill University. I went on to spend a few years conducting basic neuroscience research in the McGill Group for Suicide Studies and pursued graduate studies in neuroscience. A need to satisfy my creativity, and not just my intellect, ultimately lead me away from basic research in a field I find so fascinating. It was at this point that I happened across U of T’s Biomedical Communications program (a dream I didn’t even know I had!), and I began to actively pursue art again, for the first time in a long time. I studied classical drawing with a talented and inspiring mentor, and I also got involved in clinical research investigating the genetic epidemiology of common, ageing-related diseases to keep my curiosity at bay.
Now a part of BMC, I could not be happier! I’m surrounded by an incredibly talented and inspiring group of peers, and I have the opportunity to indulge my creativity and intellect every day, learning about diverse subject matters in health and science and developing technical skills to effectively visually communicate about these topics. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to what the next two years (and beyond!) will hold.
About Contessa Giontsis
I used to view my life as a straight line, with a clear starting point and a focused end; but as time went by, I realized that life is more of a zig-zag. You don’t always know where you will end up, but this can be good as it makes a person to choose what they truly love.
I have always loved to draw. I went to an art high school and completed their visual arts program. It wasn’t until we started doing life drawing that I became very passionate about human anatomy. Eager to learn more about the human body, I completed an undergraduate degree in kinesiology at the university of Toronto. By this point, I was focusing so much on science courses that I was certain that drawing was a chapter in my life that I closed…that was until I stumbled upon the BMC program at a graduate fair. I did not expect to find a graduate program that combined two seemingly diametric disciplines which I both loved – science and art.
I am humbled and immensely grateful for having this opportunity to be a part of the BMC program. I am thrilled to have found a way to pursue my passion for both art and science. I am excited to learn new visual techniques that can help increase understanding in a variety of disciplines; and I can’t wait to break the boundaries of what we currently know about what visual communication can offer the world!
About Maurita Hung
I previously completed my Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Toronto, with a double major in physiology and pharmacology. I remained in the physiology department at U of T after graduation and obtained my master of science degree under the supervision of Dr. Christine Bear. Upon finishing up and writing my thesis, I came to the realization that I enjoyed spending time creating figures. I liked the challenge of conveying scientific ideas effectively through visual means, and my interests in scientific research began to merge with my newly discovered enthusiasm for art. I had previously taken art courses at the high school level but my focus shifted entirely to the science stream once I entered university. It was and still is intimidating for me to pick up art again, but nonetheless, I am excited to be a part of the Biomedical Communications program and look forward to improving my skills over the next two years.
About Mona Li
According to my mother, I learned to hold a pencil at the age of one. As I’ve been drawing before I could speak, visual media have always been my preferred mode of sharing knowledge, stories, and ideas.
In high school, I was an Arts Canterbury Visual Arts (Ottawa, ON) student. My art teacher once showed me a stunning illustration by a Canterbury and BMC alumnus. When I was applying for university life science programs, he bet that I would eventually come back to art.
I completed my BSc at McGill University, majoring in Honours Psychology. Those four years, I fostered my love for the human mind and its interplay with health, and dabbled in various fields of research (from synthetic chemistry to immunology to psychophysiology). Despite prioritizing my academic interests, I found myself filling my free time with illustration, graphic design, and videography. Realizing that what I love most about scientific discovery is how its communication can transform society, I recalled that moment in high school. My teacher was right; I applied for BMC.
I am beyond excited to work on projects that combine my passions for human health and communications. This group is incredibly diverse and talented, and I look forward to the impact we will make.
Yue (Shawn) Liu
About Yue (Shawn) Liu
Four years of undergraduate study inspires me to pursue further study in scientific illustration, storyboarding and animation making. I developed ability in storytelling by using visualized illustrations during course presentations among human biology and microbiology courses.
I am committed to the understanding and transformation of complex scientific concepts into interesting and interactive images that educate public audience. Thinking that many students like me are struggling with enormous challenges of difficult course work, I decided to write articles on a Chinese social platform (WeChat), which aims to share the basic scientific knowledge in a straightforward way by using the scientific illustration method among undergrads. Remarkably, many of the topics described by my cartoonized presentations propagated beyond student community into social media and became effective tools for popularization of science.
At this point, I feel the urge to advance my understanding of the biomedical communication, and improve my skill sets, as I recognize that the depth and breadth of my knowledge and skills are not enough for me to project significant impact without additional training in achieving high quality works (i.e. drawing and animation producing) with logical organization.
About Shirley Long
I was in love with three things growing up. As soon as I could put pencil to paper, I began drawing and trying to depict the world around me in a way that I could look back and experience it again. Then came my addiction to reading and learning about science – those “aha” moments when you finally understand how something works. I also developed a fascination with aesthetic and design – how superficially changing the way something looks/interacts with you can alter your feelings and deeper experiences of them. However, at the time those interests felt disjointed from one another, and so I put my other hobbies in storage while I pursued the one that seemed most practical: science.
I attended the University of Western Ontario to pursue an honours spec. in Physiology and Pharmacology; all the while, those other interests never left me. I still found myself involved with non-traditional projects and classes – for example, developing and growing the national “Scinapse” Undergraduate Case Competition, an initiative in which we re-designed traditional didactic science class into something that you would experience in an interactive business school. Through a moment of serendipity, my professor caught me drawing in class (oops) and recommended me the Biomedical Communications program. This catalyzed a series of freelance projects and my realization that there was an entire field encapsulating all of my interests: a way to apply visual art and design-thinking to make complex scientific information accessible, and even inspiring. Suffice it to say, I am extremely excited to be a current student of the BMC program where I am surrounded daily by challenging projects and talented like-minded peers.
About Bernadette MacNeil
About Kimberly Nipp
One day, during a neuroanatomy lecture in my undergrad, I realized that I had spent the entire time thinking about comics and cartoons instead of paying attention to the actual material. What a life changing moment that was. I’ve always had a bit of my heart somewhere with animation and science. In fact, my undergraduate years were a cycle of studying neuroscience, and preparing art for comic conventions.
Somewhere in my second year, I began to work as a freelance illustrator and animator. At the time, I was devoted to researching the neurobiological mechanisms of antidepressants, but the thing in my life that brought me the most joy was drawing. Eventually by chance, I was connected with a professor in my neuroscience program who was also interested in the intersection between visual art and education. The next few years after that began to define my path. During my freelance career while working for this professor, I had the opportunity to try drawing for many different fields. I drew for education websites, made stop-motion animations for biochemistry courses, and created comics and illustration for other creative sectors. That’s when I began to think I could do this for a living, but where could I begin? Anyway, to be completely honest, I consulted the almighty google. “GOOGLE, how can I combine art and science for a career?!” I yelled into the void. Then this incredible program popped up in my search query, and the rest was history. I’m very glad to be here and learning among such talented and creative peers.
About Avesta Rastan
Having a physicist for a father and an artist for a mother, I grew up in a very scientifically-oriented family that also valued creativity. From an early age I developed a deep fascination of the universe. This fascination paired with my creative inclination led to a diverse range of interests that made it extremely difficult to pick one ‘path.’
Have you ever felt the sensation of looking for something but you aren’t sure what? That’s how I felt applying to universities in my senior year of high school. I researched industrial design, aeronautical engineering, and neurosurgery, but none seemed to integrate art and science in the way I was looking for. I ended up doing my BSc in Life Sciences at Queen’s University with a minor in World Language Studies in order to keep my options open and to satisfy my innate curiosity. Throughout my undergrad, I found myself producing graphic designs for myriad of clubs, but only considered it an enjoyable pass time. My eureka moment occurred in my third year of undergraduate studies when, by a stroke of luck, my housemate found the Biomedical Communications program. For the first time I had no doubt that this was what I was meant to do. My decision to apply was consolidated over the next year as I worked as the Graphic Design Manager for a media service on campus and was later offered a job creating scientific illustrations for the Queen’s Bachelor of Health Sciences program.
I believe the power of art lies in its ability to educate, influence, and inspire others. As a BMC student, I aspire to cultivate my artistic and technical skills such that I can inspire future scientific leaders through innovative and effective visual communication of complex scientific information.
Felix Donghwi Son
About Felix Donghwi Son
My interest in art and nature science developed very early in my childhood. Having a painter for a mother, art has been always a part of my family life. And I spend my whole days in a big park with insects, fish and animals. Although my interest in art and science perplexed me, my curiosity in biology led me to pursue studying microscopic world. As completing Bachelor of Science in Microbial Engineering at Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, I had worked for Eli Lilly Korea as a medical representative for 3 years. Since I started my career quite earlier than others, I was ready to explore anything that I wanted. After Lilly, I had a gap year, for traveling around the world and thinking about what I wanted to be in life. At this perfect period of time, I found out medical illustrator as a career. This extremely thrilled me because medical illustration is the thing that I just should do with no doubt.
I cannot be more than happy and fortunate that I am a part of this amazing society surrounded by such stunning artists and inspiring people. Having amazing support and instruction from classmates and professors, I am truly enjoying every single project at the BMC. Currently, I am expending my artistic creativity and visual communication skill with a keen interest in the nature of microscopic realm. My ultimate goal is to be a medical animator with artistic eyes, compelling 3D skill set, and deeper knowledge in science. Hope this come true in years and years later! If you want to talk about my work or anything about collaboration, please feel free to visit my website and drop an email!
About Nitai Steinberg
Three years ago, one year into my PhD studies in microbiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel – I was randomly browsing the internet when I stumbled upon the BMC website. I remember the immediate feeling I finally found what I wanted to do in life.
Looking back, scientific illustrations and animations led me to choose biological studies in the first place. In my high school biology class, I found an illustration of the perfect structure of the HIV capsid in a textbook, and I knew I wanted to know more. Later, while studying for my undergraduate degree, I remember gazing in astonishment at a 3D animations of ATPase synthase activity, or the construction and rotation of bacterial flagella – and was amazed that such elaborated molecular machines could exist. But I never thought about the people who made those illustrations or animations.
I always felt a strong attraction to visual arts and envied people who did it, but was afraid to seriously try it myself. I chose to continue in science, but deep inside I knew I have to find a way to express this other side of me. Luckily, thanks to BMC, I learned that there is a profession that can allow me to do it, and I knew I had to try and apply. It was a long journey since then, as I had to catch-up with drawing and painting techniques, and fighting fears and self-doubts, all in parallel to completing my PhD. I was thrilled to hear that I was accepted and feel deep gratitude to be here now. I am excited to study how to become a professional biomedical illustrator. On the very first day of the program I already had a strong feeling I found my place.
Colleen Tang Poy
About Colleen Tang Poy
For most of my childhood, I chose to saturate my life with arts extracurriculars. However, as much as I loved the arts from the side of the stage, I was equally as interested in the arts from behind the scenes—interested in the reasoning behind artistic and storytelling choices, and ultimately in how people think and react.
This curiosity in the “how” of people only increased as I grew up and led me to complete an Honours Bachelor of Science at McMaster University majoring in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (Mental Health specialization), where I fostered my passion for art, science, and education by seeking out unique opportunities in research, teaching, and planning/student success in which art and science intersect. It is through these experiences that I recognized the importance of clear communication and good storytelling in both scientific and non-scientific contexts, and that I personally want to help the community at large by telling stories and helping others tell their own.
Luckily—thanks to a good friend—I found the Biomedical Communications program at U of T; I am unbelievably humbled and grateful to be part of the BMC community among such talented and warm individuals, and am thrilled to learn from them.
About Rachael Whitehead
From growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I developed an early love for nature and biological subject matter. Like many children, I loved to draw, but tended to focus on detail and accuracy while depicting the natural world around me. Though I did not appreciate it at the time, I also developed an interest in learning and describing medical related topics from spending time as a child around hospitals and doctors.
During my Junior year in high school, one of my teachers suggested looking into the idea of becoming a medical illustrator. Though at the time I had been toying with the idea of becoming a freelance illustrator, it felt like a natural choice to focus my efforts to become a scientific illustrator, instead. I love to learn about biological and scientific subjects, but I can not picture a career where I could not be imaginative and create illustrations or visual diagrams.
I went on to receive a BS degree in General Biology and a BA degree in Painting and Drawing from University of Washington, Seattle. During and after university, I worked on a variety of illustration projects with a range of subject matter and clients. Through these projects and though classes, I found how much I enjoyed illustrating natural history subjects and also finding new approaches to visually describing a scientific concept from neuroanatomy to paleontology.
I was absolutely thrilled when I was given the chance to become part of this Biomedical Communications program here at University of Toronto. I hope to learn many different techniques and skills during this amazing opportunity. I am excited to work with a group of individuals who all share a passion for illustrating and communicating scientific and medical subject matter.
About Tracy Xiang
Wanting to be fully immersed in a research-intensive environment, I chose University of Alberta’s Honours Immunology and Infections Program for undergrad. However in my second year, I realized that I needed more than just memorizing molecular pathways to satisfy my love of visual problem solving –– which has became my sole motivation for understanding the more theoretical part of immunology. An idle googling session lead me to the Biomedical Communications homepage. When I read the words “Biomedical Communications”, something clicked: communication, that’s what I’m good at, and that’s what I want to do. After I found out that UTM had an undergraduate BMC program, I began gathering my transfer documents.
My transfer to UTM was a worthwhile one. I was closer to a community that I could relate myself so much to –– a group of passionate and dedicated people who bridge the gap between knowing the science, and the need to understand it. I gained new appreciation for the value of production standards and scientific conventions in HSC200 (Imaging Technologies for Scientific Visual Communication) and HSC302 (Biocommunication Visualization), discovered the dynamic field of infovis in HSC301(Data and Information Visualization), and learned about how to effectively integrate analogue information to digital media in HSC404 (Advanced Visual Media for Anthropological data). In my fourth year, I applied my newly gained technical skills to my ROP (Research Opportunity Program) project, where I developed animations explaining epidemiological study designs under Dr. Derek Ng and Dr. Helene Wagner’s supervision. During that time, I was also fortunate enough to collaborate with clinicians from Dr. Ming Chan’s Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Group at the University of Alberta Hospital, as well as emerging Ontario startups such as Epineuron Technologies. Every project, whether it came from academia or industry, never failed to remind me how important it is for researchers and innovators to communicate our knowledge to those who need it.
It’s truly a privilege to continue this wild ride of learning and discovery alongside the wonderful people of BMC. I look forward to grow from a visual art lover and science marketer who sells others’ ideas, to an educator who breaks complicated information down effectively and accurately.
About Alexander Young
I graduated from the Integrated Science (iSci) program at McMaster University in 2014 and found myself at an interesting crossroad. For much of my undergraduate, I was interested in design, illustration, and how visual content could be effectively used to enhance public scientific literacy; however, academically I had been focused on research and the idea of entering Veterinary Medicine. I elected to take a year off and refocus, and began to work in the filed of graphic design and communications – a long-time interest, but one that I never imagined would meaningfully intersect with my previous studies. Before long, I found that my side interest was much more than that. The more I worked on design projects and illustrations, the more I became fully enamored, and curious as to whether my interests were as immiscible as I imagined. As a result, within only a few months of graduating and starting to work, I was researching academic opportunities that merged science and art.
Early on in my search I discovered the Masters of Science in Biomedical Communications (BMC), and equally early on I knew it was a perfect fit. From the focus BMC places on using emerging technologies to facilitate effective communication, to the supportive and welcoming Faculty, and the incredible talent of the students and graduates, BMC seemed like the ideal place to learn and develop my skills as an illustrator, animator, and science communicator.
I’m thrilled I was given the opportunity to continue my learning in BMC alongside so many talented individuals, and am excited to learn everything I can throughout the duration of my studies. Currently, I am particularly interested in using animated narratives for public science education, and how we can best utilize augmented and virtual reality technology for educational purposes.