The Art of Systems Biology and Nanoscience

April 1, 2011 to April 2, 2011

From the first drawings of microorganisms to the x-ray images of DNA to Apollo’s photograph of earth, scientific images are at once illuminating and beautiful. Whether scientists are delving into how an enzyme unzips a strand of DNA or studying the nanostructure of a gecko’s feet, graphic visualizations convey a wealth of information, inspire new discoveries and delight our eyes and imagination.

You are invited to explore some of the newest and most fascinating images from two emergent branches of science during a two-day public celebration held at the Santa Fe Complex on April 1 and 2. The Art of Systems Biology and Nanoscience will feature public lectures on how scientists create art through advanced microscopy and computer simulations as well as on new techniques that promise to reveal even more. Throughout the event, digital and conventional art will be exhibited including the first showing of the winning pieces in the 2010 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Science magazine.


Systems Biology holistically studies the complex interactions taking place within living cells and organisms. Systems biologists create new art through advanced microscopy, image analysis and computer simulation.

On Friday April 01 at 5:30 PM, Dr. Scott E. Fraser, the Anna L. Rosen Professor of Biology and Bioengineering at California Institute of Technology and Director of the Biological Imaging Center of the Beckman Institute, will show how his pioneering imaging techniques enable direct observation of the origins of life as the single-cell egg becomes an multicellular embryo, the patterning of cell lineages through cell migrations during vertebrate embryogenesis.

On Saturday April 02 at 5:30 PM, Dr. Elaine L. Bearer, a physician, neuroscientist and composer and the Harvey Family Professor of Pathology at the University of New Mexico, will show how her repertoire of classical and novel imaging techniques generates art as well as fundamental understanding about music and the mind/brain, and how musical training develops the brain.

Nanotechnology is the science and engineering of manipulating matter on unprecedentedly small scales (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter) to create devices with novel chemical, physical and biological properties. Entirely new art may be inspired by the unexpected beauty of reagents and devices at the nano scale.

On Saturday April 02 at 3:00 PM, Dr. Tom Picraux, Chief Scientist at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Los Alamos National Laboratory, will show how nanoscience is revolutionizing disciplines from material science to medicine by imaging and building structures on unprecedentedly small scales.

Workshops for Kids of All Ages

On Saturday from 10am to 3 pm, graduate students from the UNM Nanoscience and Microsystems degree program ( and the new Mexico Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center ( will offer interactive experiments in nanotechnology for kids of all ages, but especially elementary and middle school students. Resources for the nanoscience workshop will come in part from the NISE Network (live), a national organization dedicated to fostering public awareness, engagement, and understanding of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology.

Concepts of genetic engineering will be illustrated using fluorescent zebrafish (glofish). An integrated zebrafish tank will be awarded to the teacher who writes the best 250 word (or less) essay on how the tank could contribute to the science classroom.

Artist in Residence

John Carpenter will be the artist-in-residence. John is an interactive designer and artist who explores complex data and spaces ( He earned his BS in molecular and cellular biology, with minors in studio art and psychology, from the University of Arizona (2001) and his MFA from the Department of Design | Media Arts at UCLA (2009). He has worked with Caltech scientists on biological data visualization and with architects and designers on interactive tools for design process and presentation. His thesis work,Shoreline Equivalent: Qualitative Spaces in Interactive Art, used qualitative observations of sand patterns at the beach to create an immersive, interactive installation that allowed viewers to explore the fluid, dynamic and emergent nature of the shoreline.

Exhibition of Visualization Challenge Winners

The event features an exhibition of winning pieces from the 2010 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, an annual competition sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Science magazine. Additional digital and hung art based on experimental images and computer-driven simulations of biological processes will be contributed by systems biologists from UNM and from the other NIH-designated National Centers for Systems Biology.


Friday, April 01, 2011

4:30-5:30: Reception for registered participants

Register here (registration is fast and free, but limited)

5:30-7:00: Public Lecture 1
Dr. Scott Fraser
Introduction by Dr. Elaine Bearer
Title: Imaging the origins of life in molecules, cells, embryos and patterns.

7:00-9:00: Viewing

Lumenscape dome projections and digital and hung art, especially the winning pieces from the 2010 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

10:00-3:00: Kid-friendly nanotechnology exhibit
coordinated by Ms. Heather Armstrong

  • Interactive experiments for kids of all ages – a national NanoDays event
  • Exhibits are on display all afternoon
  • Teacher essays should be completed by 2:00 PM
  • Pizza and drinks will be served from 12-1:00 PM

2:45: Presentation of the glofish tank to the winning teacher

3:00-4:00: Public Lecture 2
Dr. Tom Picraux
Introduction by Dr. Abhaya Datye
Title: Nanotechnology—Small things, Big promises: Exploring the World of the Teeny Tiny.

4:30-5:30: Reception for registered participants

Register here (registration is fast and free, but limited)

5:30-7:00: Public Lecture 3
Dr. Elaine Bearer
Introduction by Dr. Janet Oliver
Title: Music and the Mind-Brain continuum: Mapping brains with functional imaging.

7:00-8:00: Viewing

Organizers and Event Coordinators


The New Mexico Center for the Spatiotemporal Modeling of Cell Signaling (STMC), a NIH-funded National Center for Systems Biology (

The New Mexico Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center (CNTC), a member of the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer (

The New Mexico Consortium

The UNM Nanoscience & Microsystems Degree Program

The LANL Center for Nonlinear Studies (CNLS)

The LANL Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT)

The Santa Fe Complex

Science Magazine

The National Science Foundation