Visualizing Brain Functions

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with Professor Jennifer Swann and Professor Deirdre Murphy



Science explores the world we live in, generating ever more complex ideas that help us navigate the bodies we inhabit.  As academicians, we hold dual tasks of both discovering the truths that guide us and conveying those principles to the public.  While writing for a general audience can take many forms, a textbook is unique in that it guides reader education through learning objectives and assessment questions. Educating students in the creation and use of textbook chapters is one of the current goals of Bios 332 Behavioral Neuroanatomy.   


Neuroanatomy, the study of the brain's organization, is best explained through images and thus, readily lends itself to exploration and complementation in the visual arts.  Three textbook chapters (one completed and 2 underway) require illustrations to complete the ideas they describe. To this end professors Jennifer Swann (Biological Sciences)  and Deirdre Murphy (Arts, Architecture and Design) propose a summer workshop to 1) familiarize art students to the structure and function of the mammalian nervous system to 2)  generated illustrations for the textbook chapters and 3) broaden their portfolios in visual arts. 


Summer 2020, Two Lehigh University students will engage in science and art with Drs. Swann and Murphy to identify ways in which the physical,  cellular and molecular forms of the CNS can be accurately described in the visual arts to conceptualize their functions. Students will have summer access to the anatomy labs in STEPS for hands-on exploration of macro (sheep brains) and micro (slides) specimens under the guidance of professor Swann*.  Illustration work will be supervised by Professor Murphy who will give guidance as to the proper materials and techniques to employ and how to visualize scientific data into a scientific illustration suitable for the textbook application. Students may have summer studio access in Mountaintop C1 for the duration of the project*.