The beauty and humor of the worm
Today’s guest post is authored by Diana Chu and Ahna Skop and features artwork from the Worm Art Show, recently held at the GSA-sponsored 20th International C. elegans Meeting in Los Angeles. Diana Chu is an Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University and Ahna Skop is an Associate Professor of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; they both love science and giggle a LOT.
Many scientific meetings host famous speakers, inspire advances, and provide important networking opportunities. For example, this year the C. elegans community gathered for their bi-annual meeting and were treated to inspiring historical perspectives from Nobel laureates Marty Chalfie and Craig Mello, and C. elegans luminaries Jonathan Hodgkin and Barbara Meyer. Key scientific developments were also shared, particularly advances in CRISPR/CAS9 genome editing. However, the International C. elegans meeting also embraces two unusual conference activities: the Worm Art Show and Worm Comedy/Variety Show.
The Worm Art Show was started in 1997 by Ahna Skop when she was a graduate student. Ahna, the child of artists, was drawn into science through beautiful images of C. elegans embryos in her developmental biology textbook. Ahna wanted to provide an outlet for the immense creativity she saw in scientists, especially in C. elegans labs. The community embraced it; the Worm Art Show has just celebrated its 18th year.
Past winners have gone on to head their own laboratories (including HHMI Investigator Abby Dernberg), a testament to the strong link between creativity and scientific discovery. The Genetics Society of America (GSA), Knudra Transgenics, and TriTech Research sponsored over $2000 in cash and prizes. This year’s Best in Show Award went to Calvin Mok and Elizabeth Kwan from the Waterston Lab at Washington University for their “Worm Costume” which was even worn by Craig Mello (see image).
Another creative outlet for the C. elegans community is humor. The Worm Comedy Show, created by Morris Maduro and Curtis Loer, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. The show features jokes and videos from a C. elegans biologist’s perspective. Some of the favorites are the Top Ten Lists, worm songs, and video parodies. Past shows can be found here: https://youtu.be/lpVI4FZzU6M.
The Worm Art Show and the Comedy Show are eagerly anticipated at each International meeting. They knit together well-established researchers with those new to the field, both recognizing individuality and creating common ground. These unusual events underscore the idea that creativity and humor foster a strong and vibrant scientific community.
This year’s Worm Art Show winners include:
1st place: Andrew Knutson (Strome Lab/UC-Santa Cruz) for his worm germline
2nd place: Adam Brown (Biron Lab/Univ. of Chicago) for “Abyss”
3rd place: Irina Kolotuev (Kolotuev Lab/University of Rennes) for “Embryo Heart”
1st place: Barbara Pees (Schulenburg Lab/University of Kiel) for “Crawl of Fame”
2nd place: Melissa Kelley (Fay Lab/Univ. of Wyoming) for “Life cycle on a thread”
3rd place: Blanca Craven-Bartle Villalba (Grishok Lab/Columbia Univ.) for her worm paintings
Kim Gauthier, Fiona Law Preston (Rocheleau Lab/McGill Univ.) for their “Wrecking Ball Parody” https://youtu.be/3yYahjxTuqU
Alyssa Lau (Csankovszki Lab/Univ. of Michigan) for “Thoughts of a worm”
Ben Weaver (Han Lab/Univ. of Colorado) for “The elegant timer”
Best in Show & Most Humorous:
Calvin Mok & Elizabeth Kwan (Waterston Lab/ Univ. of Washington) for his worm costume
Worm Art Show Logo: Created by Megan Brady (Ahmed Lab/UNC).
Kim Gauthier, Fiona Law Preston (Rocheleau Lab/McGill Univ.) for their “Wrecking Ball Parody”
|The views expressed in guest posts are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Genetics Society of America or its employees.|