Although art and science are an unlikely pair, women in STEM have shown that the subjects can coexist in both their personal interests and their work. “Bloom: Women Growing Their Roots in STEM” highlighted this overlap in an art gallery. It officially opened on March 6 in Room 142 of the Structural and Materials Engineering Building. Its goal was to honor the accomplishments of women in STEM for Women’s “Herstory Month” by setting up a showcase of paintings, photography, and other artwork.
Upon entering the gallery, there was an array of pieces by UC San Diego students and faculty. The first was by Dr. Beata Edyta Mierzwa, a molecular biologist conducting her postdoctoral research at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at UCSD. The piece was a dress created from real microscopy images of human cells along with several other illustrations that creatively conveyed scientific concepts such as mutation and cell division. Mierzwa talked about her inspiration, originally believing she had to choose between her passion for art and desire to understand life through science.
“At that time, I thought these were mutually exclusive, and I wasn’t sure which one to pursue as my main career,” Mierzwa told The Triton. “I went on to study molecular biology, and it wasn’t until halfway through my [doctoral degree] that I realized combining both science and art could transform my ability to communicate complex biological concepts, share my fascination for science, and get young creative minds excited about STEM careers.”
She demonstrated not only the collaboration, but also the innovation creative minds are able to bring to STEM. Moving along the room, this could really be seen as more illustrations and photography crafted by women in STEM detailed their relationships with their respective subjects, the hardships they’ve experienced, and the love they have for both STEM and art. In the descriptions of each piece, students discussed using art as a creative outlet or sometimes even blending the two together to represent their own personalities. Mierzwa encouraged this, advocating for diversity in STEM in order to paint a more inclusive picture of what being a scientist means as well as to challenge stereotypes and stigmas.
“There should never be a reason for a young woman to believe she cannot pursue science, no matter her background, interests, or personality,” Mierzwa emphasized. “I believe that if we make science accessible through creative approaches and encourage multiple passions, then we can inspire a future generation of scientists, who could make enormous contributions with fresh and creative ideas, laying a foundation for innovative research and groundbreaking discoveries.”
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the gallery closed early to prioritize the health and safety of the UCSD community. However, we can still recognize the importance of the gallery and what it stood for: supporting women in STEM, appreciating their capabilities and achievements, and recognizing the work that still needs to be done to establish a more uplifting environment for them.
Caitlyn Vilar is a Staff Writer for The Triton.