In Memoriam - Adrienne Alison (BScAAM 8T1) by Maeve Doyle


Adrienne Alison (BScAAM 8T1) is perhaps best known as the sculptor of the bronze and granite War of 1812 memorial on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.


The bronze sculpture depicts representations of the unnamed Canadians who defended the country from the American invasion. The figures include a Métis fighter, a woman bandaging the arm of a Voltigeur of Quebec (a soldier in a temporary military unit), a Royal Navy sailor, a First Nations warrior, a militiaman and a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.



Body Language : the rise of the Biomedical Visualization via A/D/O

Naveen Devasagayam,    Science Vis Lab   .

Naveen Devasagayam, Science Vis Lab.

From Leonardo Da Vinci to augmented reality, the visual depictions of medicine and the complexities of the human body have evolved immensely, due in part to the growth of parallel design industries – illustration, graphic design, animation, 3D modeling and software engineering – as well as research advances in the fields of ethnography, psychology, and of course, medicine. Artists since the time of Da Vinci have continuously lent their hand and talent to the depiction of medical environments and phenomena, and today, thanks to advanced rendering tools and visualization techniques, medical imagery has the ability to empower and engage its audiences in completely new ways, while communicating complex happenings in ways that are easier to digest and respond to.
— Chloé Vadot - A/D/O

The Abominable Snafu arrives! Supporting the Vesalius Trust


This year the Vesalius Trust, the organization that provides research and scholarship funding to students involved in the visual communication of science, is holding a Crowdrise competition to raise funds for their scholarship programs. Each accredited graduate program has a team of faculty and students concocting a beast, and the teams will create a 6-page comic featuring the beast live, in front of a crowd, at this summer’s Association of Medical Illustrator’s Annual Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our team is called BeastMC, and consists of Alexander Young, Jenny Chin, Amy, Cao, Colleen Tang Poy, Michael Corrin, and Nicholas Woolridge.

Our entry is The Abominable Snafu! representing the Master of Science in Biomedical Communications program.

Just what is the The Abominable Snafu? It embodies the fears of illustrators on a deadline everywhere. Inconvenient ink splats? Issues with weights? Spinning beach ball or blue screen of death? You name it, this creature feeds off medical illustrator stress hormones. Normally just innocuous or pesky, it can grow to terrifying size just before a deadline. Defeating the Abominable Snafu is a high priority for all medical illustrators! This particular subspecies originates in Canada, identifiable by its Canadian Goose feet and slushy snowy body—a staple of its Toronto habitat. 

Creating an exciting tale using the Abominable Snafu is our way of giving back to the Vesalius Trust for supporting our students—and those from the other accredited programs—over the years; please help us give back and donate to our campaign, or that of one of the other programs (UIC, JHU, and Augusta)!

Dr. Shelley Wall promoted to Associate Professor, Research Stream

The Master of Science in Biomedical Communications is delighted to share that Dr. Shelley Wall has been promoted to Associate Professor and has been granted tenure.

Professor Wall’s research interests are in the medical humanities, specifically in the area of graphic medicine. A selection of her visual work can be seen here.

The BMC community heartily congratulates Professor Wall on this achievement!

Michael Corrin Promoted to Associate Professor, Teaching Stream

The Master of Science in Biomedical Communications is delighted to share that Michael Corrin has been promoted to associate professor in the teaching stream with continuing status.

Professor Corrin’s research interest are on professional education and the design of optimized virtual learning environments; in particular, those that include interactive computer-mediated three-dimensional objects.

The BMC community congratulates Professor Corrin on this achievement and wishes him the best for his continued success!

BMC brings home the awards from AMI 2018

Biomedical Communications students and alumni returned successful from this year’s Association of Medical Illustrators’ annual meeting. The conference took place in Newton, MA in July, and a number of student, alumni and faculty from the BMC were in attendance.

BMC winners in Student Categories



Chelsea Canlas – Pathology of Oral Herpes – Award of Merit


Aileen Lin – False Alarm : Having a panic attack – Award of Excellence

Didactic/Instructional – Molecular/Biological/Life Sciences

Felix Son – Quantification of Cellular Organelle Size – Award of Merit


Felix Son – ATR-inhibitor : a novel approach to targeting the Achilles’ heel of cancer – Award of Merit



Andrea Lam – Ladybugs & satellite design : folding for outer space – Award of Excellence


 Lucas Lin – Automated robotic surgery – Award of Merit


Amanda Miller – Pigeons as pathologists? – Award of Merit


Lisa Qiu – Tomorrow’s perfect humans – Award of Merit AND Orville Parks Student Best of Show



Chelsea Canlas, Natividad Chen and Annie Tseng – Medical Genomics : from research to patient care – Award of Excellence

Lauren Huff – Adoptive Cell transfer : a new type of cancer immunotherapy – Award of Merit


Lee Jung-Hee – What is DLAC? – Award of Merit


Congratulations to all the winners!

Read more about the representation of BMC at the AMI conference here.

In memoriam: Carolyn Teare-Richardson, BScAAM ‘79

Carolyn Teare ca. 1976

Carolyn Teare ca. 1976

Alumna Carolyn Teare-Richardson (BScAAM ‘79) passed away on July 6, 2018 at the age of 62. Her obituary describes her as a beloved wife of 39 years, daughter, mother and grandmother. Carolyn, it reads, was known for her compassion, and friends and family “were drawn to her generosity, open spirit and welcoming, accepting nature.”

Carolyn studied drawing, painting and design photography for two years at the Ontario College of Art before she enrolled in Art as Applied to Medicine at the University of Toronto in 1976.

“She was a ray of sunshine and had a wonderful sense of humour,” says Audra Geras (BScAAM ‘79). Audra and Carolyn roomed together when they were students.

Professor Emerita Margot Mackay (BScAAM ‘68) taught Carolyn in the program’s Animal Surgery and Surgical Illustration courses. “The words that come to mind when I think of Carolyn are wonderful, talented, energetic, enthusiastic and a very outgoing individual,” says Margot.

After Carolyn graduated from U of T in 1979, she first moved to Belleville, Ont. In 1980, she wrote to then program director Nancy Joy. “Belleville, as you might guess, is not a hot spot for medical art. However, I have had a few really good jobs from Proctor & Gamble.” She wrote that she “kept busy” designing advertisements for local businesses and learning sign language to work with children at the Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf.

Early adopter

Carolyn eventually moved to Vancouver where she joined UBC Biomedical Communications, a network of medical education departments in the various teaching hospitals linked with the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine.

Ewan Forbes, who hired Carolyn to work in the Department of Biomedical Communications at St. Paul’s Hospital, says Carolyn was a positive person with an extremely strong worth ethic. He says that while many others were skeptical about the new world of computer graphics, she was enthusiastic and embraced the new technology.

And when budget cuts loomed, Carolyn stood with Ewan to fight to maintain the department. “While three of the four biomedical communications departments in Vancouver closed, including the main centre at the University, ours survived and thrived, and is still the only one that remains open and true to the values of acting as a full support department to the UBC Faculty of Medicine,” says Ewan.

Although he knew Carolyn had numerous medical issues, including Parkinson’s disease, he says he was not prepared for her sudden loss. “Our family and Carolyn’s were the very best of friends. We spent almost every weekend together during the Vancouver years. Her passing was a complete shock.”


It was alumna Jane Rowlands (BScAAM ‘86) who wrote to the U of T Biomedical Communications Alumni Association to say that Carolyn had passed away.

When Jane graduated from Art as Applied to Medicine, she too took a position as a medical illustrator with UBC Biomedical Communications. Jane says Carolyn reached out to welcome her.

“I was a fresh grad from U of T AAM, and from Montréal, so not familiar with Vancouver at all,” says Jane. “She was incredibly welcoming. Carolyn oozed enthusiasm and was so passionate about her work.”

The second-most senior medical illustrator in UBC Biomedical Communications, Carolyn worked at St. Paul’s Hospital until the early 1990s.

World traveller

Born in Long Island, NY to a Canadian father and American mother, Carolyn lived in Toronto, Vancouver, Wassenaar, Netherlands, and Cleveland. After she retired, Carolyn studied art in Europe and painted portraits and landscapes into her final days.

Carolyn’s family was with her when she passed away. A service was held July 11 at Church of the Covenant in Cleveland, OH. Although Carolyn’s family did not identify a specific destination for donations, they did request that memorial gifts be made to Parkinson’s research in general.

Vesalius Trust Awards 2018

Congratulations to Chelsea Canlas, Natividad Chen, Patricia Nguyen and Amanda Miller on being named Vesalian Scholars.

Congratulations, too, to the recipient of a Vesalius Trust Research Grant: Aileen Lin.

The Vesalius Trust annually awards scholarships and research grants based on scholastic achievement and research project merit. A list of previous recipients is available on the Vesalius Trust website.

Read more about this year’s recipients on the BMCAA website.

Dr. Jodie Jenkinson’s tenure and promotion

Professor Jodie Jenkinson, BA, MScBMC, PhD (Photo Credit: Olivia Adamczyk)

Professor Jodie Jenkinson, BA, MScBMC, PhD (Photo Credit: Olivia Adamczyk)

The Master of Science in Biomedical Communications is delighted to share that University of Toronto President Meric Gertler has approved Dr. Jodie Jenkinson’s tenure and promotion to associate professor, effective July 1, 2017.

Professor Jenkinson’s research focuses on the role that visual representations play in learning. This includes investigation along various lines of inquiry including the efficacy of visual media within different learning contexts, the design of visual representations for optimal impact, and the development of standards of visual communication in the scientific visualization community. To learn more about Professor Jenkinson’s research, please visit her Science Vis Lab.

The BMC community congratulates Professor Jenkinson on this achievement and wishes her the best for her continued success.

Call for entries: Art of native Canadian plants

Announcement: Art of the Plant exhibition

Announcement: Art of the Plant exhibition

Biomedical Communications alumna Kerri (8T7) Weller announces a call for entries into the 2018 exhibition Art of the Plant. Art of the Plant is Canada’s contribution to a global exhibition initiated by the American Society of Botanical Artists. The exhibition is designed to connect people worldwide to plants through contemporary botanical art.

“Hundreds of artists around the world are seeking out plants native to their home countries and capturing them in paint, pencil and ink to raise awareness of wild plant diversity,” says Weller, chair of the Canadian exhibition. Participating countries include: Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea, United Kingdom and the United States. “My team and I have been working for months to lay the groundwork and secure a national venue.”

The Canadian national juried exhibition opens in Ottawa at the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Stone Wall Gallery, and online, in May 2018. In addition to the national show, Canada’s five botanical art societies will present non-juried member exhibitions in their regions, says Weller.

The deadline for entries into the national exhibition is midnight January 15, 2018. For submission rules, see Art of the Plant: Call for entry.

Biomedical visualization: LIVE at the ROM

Pliosaur sketch by Ruth Chang. Photo credit: R. Chang

Pliosaur sketch by Ruth Chang. Photo credit: R. Chang

From May to June, and again from October to November, the 103-year-old Royal Ontario Museumhosts “Friday Night Live.” ROM Friday Night Live transforms the museum from a venue for art, culture and natural history into one of the most desirable social destinations in Toronto. Patrons dressed in cocktail attire form a line outside and along Bloor Street to purchase one of the small number of tickets available at the door for the sold-out event. The venerable old institution lowers the lights and fills with the beat of dance music played by DJs. Guests enjoy drinks and explore offerings from pop-up food vendors while experiencing live performances and special demonstrations in the ROM’s gallery exhibits.

The ROM’s festival programs organizers invited four students from the Master of Science in Biomedical Communications to give a live demonstration of scientific visualization at the November 18, 2016 production of ROM Friday Night Live.

The volunteers, first year students Nancy JiRyan Park and Lisa Qiu, and second year student Ruth Chang, attended an orientation at the museum the Tuesday before the event. They were shown the galleries where they would draw and each student received a pair of event tickets to share with friends.

On the night of the event, the students were stationed in the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of the Dinosaurs and the Reed Gallery of the Age of Mammals but they were free to move between and within the galleries.

“At least one student migrated into the Gallery of the Birds,” says Jessica Hawthorn, one of the festival coordinators and former UTM biology graduate student.

At first, party-goers were hesitant to interrupt the students as they sat or stood to sketch. Ryan Park swung his name tag around and wore it on his back while he drew the skeleton of the ROM’s giant ground sloth. “Then people were comfortable addressing me by name,” he says. Park estimates that he spoke to about 20 small groups of two or three people throughout the night.

Ruth Chang wrote “ask me questions” on her sketchpad above her sketch of a pliosaur. “People stopped hovering and started approaching me freely after that,” she says.

Festival coordinator Hawthorn says that including biomedical communications students in ROM Friday Night Live highlights how illustration is a medium for communicating scientific concepts and how the museum is a library of objects. The museum is a repository of specimens that hold information on evolution and ecological change and these specimens can be accessed by researchers and illustrators.

Biomedical communications students regularly access the museum’s collections for their research. In one instance, Chi-Chun Liu, who worked with UTM biologist Sanja Hinić-Frlog and biomedical communications professor David Mazierski, was exploring the biomechanics of an extinct flightless bird for a scientific animation. ROM curators took a specimen off exhibit and gave Liu exclusive access for his direct observation and measurement.

“That is the great value of our collection,” says Hawthorn.

Now finished its fifth year and tenth full season, the motivation behind ROM Friday Night Live was to engage that twenty-something demographic. “We created a night that takes everything we do from exhibitions to galleries to research and wove it through a program where food and entertainment are factored in,” says Chris Kennedy, the ROM’s senior manager of festival programs.

ROM Friday Night Live typically sells out two to three weekends in advance and has an average attendance of 3,000 people. The night the biomedical communications students gave their live demonstration a remarkable 3,400 guests attended. ROM Friday Night Live has become an important source for revenue that supports the ROM’s operations, collections and research, says Kennedy. “But most importantly, it encourages people to get in and explore all our gallery exhibitions.”

To brighten and warm the cold, bleak month of February, ROM festival organizers offer a one-off Friday Night Live. This year on February 3, 2017, “Afro Fête” kicks of the ROM’s Black History Month programming. ROM Friday Night Live’s all-new spring programming premieres May 5.

by Maeve Doyle

Stephen Gilbert Award 2016

Savanna Jackson, 2016 recipient of Stephen Gilbert award

Savanna Jackson, 2016 recipient of Stephen Gilbert award

Second year Biomedical Communications graduate student Savanna Jackson was named the 2016 recipient of the Professor Stephen Gilbert Award for Excellence in Biomedical Visualization. Program director Nicholas Woolridge made the announcement Friday, December 16, 2016 after the annual Year End Critique. A committee of Biomedical Communications faculty selected Jackson’s piece Atherosclerosis from 42 submissions made by first and second year students in the program.

Jackson, who holds a bachelor of science in biology and a certificate in art and design, joined the Biomedical Communications program in fall 2015. She created Atherosclerosis for the course MSC2018H Visual Representation of Processes in Pathology taught by Professor Shelley Wall.

Jackson said that her goal in creating the piece was to capture atherosclerosis on both the cellular and gross anatomical level. “I wanted to demonstrate the highly complex cellular composition of an atherosclerotic plaque while also clearly exhibiting how the slow buildup of local cellular changes within a plaque can have large scale effects on cardiovascular health.” She applied a minimalist aesthetic to the text and background elements in order to provide contrast to the illustration’s intricacies.

“Savanna’s piece shows a classic pathological change in a tissue landscape over time and with an elegant integration of pictorial information and graphic design elements,” said Woolridge. “It is an excellent example of very clear illustrative storytelling.”

“When I saw my piece appear on the screen behind Nick, I’d describe my feelings as pleasantly shocked and incredibly honoured,” said Jackson.

Currently, Jackson is creating a 2D animation to explain her Master’s Research Project CANVIS: Citation, Annotation & Visualization Integration System, a web application that will allow medical illustrators to embed citation information directly into their visual media.

The Biomedical Communications program established the Professor Stephen Gilbert Award in memory of Professor Gilbert who passed away in February 2014. Gilbert, who taught part-time for 23 years in the Biomedical Communications/Art as Applied to Medicine program at the University of Toronto, was an internationally recognized medical illustrator and master of the pen-and-ink technique.

by Maeve Doyle

BMC graduate student fundraiser 2016

BMC Holiday Card Fundraiser 2016

BMC Holiday Card Fundraiser 2016

Biomedical Communications students and faculty donated all-original illustrations to create a set of 17 holiday-themed cards. Available for $20 per set, the authentic BMC-made cards sold out in a day which prompted a second run. In just three days this December, the students raised over $700 for CP24’s CHUM Christmas Wish. The Christmas Wish provides toy and financial support to ~300,000 people in need across the greater Toronto area.

Presentation of the inaugural Nancy Grahame Joy Award

MScBMC Year I student Lisa Qiu, Nancy Grahame Joy’s niece Dorothy Lothian, Director Nicholas Woolridge (Photo cred: Marc Dryer)

MScBMC Year I student Lisa Qiu, Nancy Grahame Joy’s niece Dorothy Lothian, Director Nicholas Woolridge (Photo cred: Marc Dryer)

Nancy Grahame Joy’s niece presented the inaugural Professor Nancy Grahame Joy Biomedical Communications Entrance Award to first-year Biomedical Communications student Lisa Qiu. Dorothy Lothian made the presentation Tuesday, November 8, 2016 at the Class of 2016 Final Presentations. The Nancy Grahame Joy Award recognizes an exceptional applicant to the program upon their registration in the first year of studies.

Qiu graduated from the University of Toronto in 2016 with an Honours Bachelor of Science, specialising in pathobiology. She received numerous awards of merit during her undergraduate tenure and was twice named a Dean’s List Scholar. She also pursued formal art training, part-time, at The Academy of Realist Art.

Professor Joy, one of the illustrators of Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, was chair of the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine (now Biomedical Communications) for 23 years. The Nancy Grahame Joy Award was made possible through a bequest from Professor Joy, who passed away in 2013.

“We are really glad to see how this has developed,” said Lothian, who attended with other members of the Joy family.

Each year near convocation, the BMC program invites the students in the graduating class to present their capstone biomedical visualization projects to their peers, families and friends.

“It is really interesting to see what the students are producing 30 years after Nancy was head of the department,” said Lothian.

At the final presentations, awardees from the graduating Class of 2016 were recognized with the presentation of certificates by program director Nicholas Woolridge.

Melissa Phachanhla received the Eila I. Ross Memorial Scholarship for demonstrating excellence and professionalism throughout her tenure in the program.

Wendy Gu, who also holds the first-ever Stephen Gilbert Award for Artistic Excellence, received the inaugural Sherwood P. and Judith Gebhard Smith Award.

Samantha HolmesSarah Kim and Susan Le received the Wendy M. Kates Memorial Award in recognition of the academic achievement they demonstrated through their Master’s Research Projects.

The Class of 2016 formally joined the family of BMC alumni the following day, November 9, at Fall Convocation.

 by Maeve Doyle

Gifts of support to the Biomedical Communications program can be made through “Giving to BMC.”