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Researchers explore intersection of art and science in gallery exhibition


   

This image that shows developing myoepithelial cells of mammary tissue in a heifer that was created by Mike Akers, head of the Department of Dairy Science. The colorful image of developing myoepithelial cells in a heifer’s mammary tissue is one of 11 pictures on display at the Art of Science gallery exhibition that highlights the work of researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Science. Mike Akers, head of the Department of Dairy Science, created this image during his work that examines how to increase milk production in dairy cows. The free show at the Armory Art Gallery runs Jan. 14 to Jan. 31.


BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 9, 2013 – Science isn’t just electron microscopes and high-tech instruments.

In a new art show, researchers from Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences illustrate how science is also an art where the journey of exploration can lead to works of beauty.

The Art of Science exhibition, which is on display at the Armory Art Gallery Jan. 14-31, presents 11 microscopic masterpieces from researchers in the college and demonstrates how, even on the most miniature scale, nature is a thing of splendor.

The free event is open to the public Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m.

“These images are not only beautiful, but they also highlight the hard science we are tackling daily,” said Saied Mostaghimi, associate dean of research and graduate studies for the college. “In splendid detail and vibrant colors, they tell the story of the research we are undertaking to curb pollution, feed a growing population, and help people lead healthier lives.”

One image that resembles a glow-in-the-dark worm curling upon itself is really a cytoplasm of developing myoepithelial cells in a heifer’s mammary tissue stained various colors. Mike Akers, head of the Department of Dairy Science, is examining how hormones that normally promote mammary growth impact these cells.

Another picture that looks like a blossoming bouquet of black and white flowers is actually protein nanosheets curling into rosettes. Justin Barone, an associate professor of biological systems engineering, captured the image during his research, which examines the molecular building blocks of our world in order to create renewable materials.

“When I first look at these images, I think about all the data and information each one carries,” Barone said. “But then I think what my six-year-old daughter would see. She wouldn’t see strands of vascular tissue or curling nematodes — she would see dragons’ backs and exploding fireworks.”

“What she would see,” he said, “is the art within the science.”

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 3,100 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.


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