SF State students share their science through art

Author: Kanaga Rajan
March 7, 2024
Six cartoons of cephalopods
Photo Credit: Illustrations designed by Diana Neacsu

A new EOS Center program is supporting artistic marine scientists and expanding science education opportunities

“Pictures really do paint a thousand words, regardless of the language you speak or your scientific knowledge. The pictures, [they’re] universal,” Diana Neacsu said of her scientific illustrations. A San Francisco State University graduate student researcher and artist, she was part of the inaugural 2023 cohort supported by a new scientific illustration grant of the University’s Estuary & Ocean Science (EOS) Center.

The program began due to a $10,000 grant from the Maxwell | Hanrahan Foundation specifically to support scientific artists and was recently funded for a second year.

Last year, the EOS Center offered three one-year fellowships to student researchers with a penchant for art. Inspired by student enthusiasm, the EOS Center gathered additional donated funds to support a fourth student. Faculty helped identify and nominate students working on marine or estuarine science research. Students received funding to work with their mentor to complete the project.

Neacsu, a graduate student in Physiology and Behavioral Biology, designed a colorful 24-page manual bedecked with dozens of illustrations of squid, octopuses and other creatures studied by her adviser Associate Professor Robyn Crook’s research group. Neacsu filled the manual with detailed illustrations on animal husbandry and experimental protocols with the goal of helping student researchers joining the lab. There’s a steep learning curve for students learning research, she explained.

“Creating visual interpretations of science can be a powerful way to reinforce concepts not just for the viewer but for the scientist-artist,” EOS Center Interim Executive Director Katharyn Boyer said.

Read the full story on SF State News.