Being a scientist and an artist are far from mutually exclusive

Someone recently sent me this excellent article about a study suggesting a correlation between artistic hobbies and scientific success! Actually one of the things I love about biology research is how much it has in common with arts and crafts. I’ve been a DIYer/crafter for as long as I can remember, including sewing, crocheting, knitting, woodworking, painting, etc. And so many of those types of projects and hobbies are about problem solving (especially since I sometimes jump into projects without planning them entirely through, haha). And that is absolutely true in research. Oftentimes the tool you need doesn’t exist or is just prohibitively expensive. So we often make things out of tape, pipette tips (plastic tips for measurement tools), glass slides, cover slips (thin sheets of glass), or grease (those are just what I’ve used in the past month). In one lab I was in, we had a behavior assay that used an upside down piece of tupperware with some graph paper taped onto it and a cell phone vibration chip glued on the underside. I also know some neuroscientists use cut up coffee cans to block electromagnetic waves (from things like lights) from showing up in their data.

So be interested in the arts! And in science! At the very least, sometimes you just need a break (and sometimes during those breaks is when your mind relaxes enough to make connections you couldn’t put together before). I’m a big supporter of putting an end to the arts vs sciences debate because 1) they’re both important, 2) not only are they not exclusive of one another but if anything they work cooperatively, and 3) they’re both a lot of fun 🙂

So to end, I’ll leave you with an NPR piece on The Amygdaloids, a rock band made up of neuroscientists and an article about Alexander Fleming’s (the discoverer of Penicillin) petri dish paintings.

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