Making Science Stories Come to Life

Graduate students and post-docs learn how to illustrate their research with stick figures and cartoons
scientist drawing

With just sharpies, crayons and some lab equipment rigged to act as a tripod, Jefferson graduate students and postdoctoral fellows break down their complex research projects into illustrated videos called “Science Sketches”. The Graduate Student Association (GSA) has run this workshop for the past two years, to encourage their fellow researchers to communicate their science to the general public. To make it even more challenging, they have to fit their stories into two minutes. Watch the videos below to see how Jefferson postdocs and graduate students bring their science stories to life!

Alison Shupp, PhD Candidate in Genetics, Genomics, and Cancer Biology: In advanced breast cancer, the cancer cells spread, or metastasize, to other organs in the body. In some cases, cancer cells can hide out in small, undetectable, numbers throughout a patient’s body, making it hard to find where they’ve spread. Research in Dr. Karen Bussard’s lab is studying this phenomenon in bone metastasis. Watch the video to learn how the bone produces molecules that act as “anti-cancer signals” which can stop the growth of cancer.

Lindsey Mayes, PhD Candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology: Inflammation is a way our bodies respond to infection from invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Once the body clears the infection, the inflammatory response is turned off and we can resume with our lives–but what if the inflammation doesn’t turn off? Scientists in Dr. Emad Alnemri’s lab are trying to understand this switch so we can develop treatments to turn off inflammation before it becomes a chronic disease. Watch the video to learn more!

Elana Molotsky, PhD Candidate in Neuroscience: Studying diseases that involve both neurodegeneration and muscle atrophy can be challenging because of the different ways neurons and muscle change in disease. Scientists in Dr. Diane Merry’s lab are using special devices to study how neurons and muscle affect each other in Kennedy’s disease, which affects 1 in 40,000 men and causes progressive neuromuscular degeneration. Watch this video to learn more about Kennedy’s disease and how we study neuromuscular degeneration!

Alison Moss, PhD Candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology: Examining how diseases affect the body as a whole allows us to get a picture of all the different pathways and processes that influence how a disease evolves and progresses. It allows scientists like me, and others in Dr. Raj Vadigepalli’s lab, to describe a “disease network”.  Watch this video to learn more about how we study these networks to try to find the best way to treat a disease.

Alexus Kolb, PhD Candidate in Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine: Osteoclasts and osteoblasts are two types of cells in the bone that work together to maintain bone density. When breast cancer cells spread to the bone, osteoclasts and osteoblasts can’t communicate as efficiently. Watch the video to learn more about how researchers like me in Dr. Bussard’s Lab are trying to understand how cancer cells interfere with bone cells.

Aurore Lebrun, Postdoctoral Research Scientist: Rabies is still considered a deadly disease despite the existence of a vaccine. It is a major public health issue in developing countries that are unable to afford the cost of mass vaccination. My research in Dr. Craig Hooper’s lab has shown that a live, but weakened vaccine provides better immunity and at a lower cost than the current inactivated or killed vaccine. Watch the video to learn more!

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