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The Artistry of Dinoflagellate Bioluminescence


Dinoflagellates are unicellular organisms responsible for many spectacular displays of coastal bioluminescence. This phenomenon is both scientifically interesting and aesthetically beautiful. As part of my efforts to communicate my science to the general public, I developed an Artist-in-Residence program, offering artists the opportunity for direct collaborations to develop creative approaches for displaying bioluminescence. I provide the resources of my laboratory, including space, living organisms, camera equipment, and scientific equipment as appropriate. The artist benefits from my expertise in working with dinoflagellates, and I mentor the resident artist in techniques most effective for a particular project. The results of these collaborations have included works that involved photography, video, and live installations, with exhibits in Paris, Los Angeles, and Milan. Art and science aim to help us experience and understand the world around us. An artistic approach for science outreach provides an aesthetic experience that highlights the beauty of nature and creates opportunities to teach science.

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