CUPS Science Illustration Competition Winners!

During the COVID-19 lockdown, we asked Columbia postdocs to channel their creative energy and submit original artwork demonstrating “the scientific process in practice.” We are pleased to announce the winners of the CUPS Science Illustration Competition – Martin Gajdosik and Alessandra Ali. Shown below are their original artwork accompanied by introductions from the artists and descriptions of their processes.

Martin Gajdosik

“My name is Martin Gajdosik and I am a postdoctoral researcher in Juchem’s Lab ( I work on development and applications of in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Our novel MRS methods are used in metabolic studies for aging, alcohol use disorder, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and tinnitus.

The painting I created is called “Perseverance” and it is a personal reminder of the many nights I’ve spent at work, figuring out problems that did not allow me to sleep. I believe that this attribute of perseverance is in every one of us, and gets stronger when we do the things that we love.”


Alessandra Ali


“I am Alessandra Ali and I am a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the Department of Radiology, PET center. I am from Italy. I have lived in New York for one and a half years and I love the art world.

My artwork represents the scientific method of my real work in the lab, sometimes amazing and rewarding and sometimes hard and frustrating. Everyday, every scientist should recognize themselves as a child full of curiosity for the world problems and full of energy to find the right solution in a labyrinth of hypotheses. Day after day, a scientist repeats the experiments, collects data, exchanges ideas with colleagues trying to understand which is the right path to follow. A good scientific result resembles a pretty butterfly, so difficult to catch and so sensitive to handle, but at the same time so wonderful to obtain.”

Dhru Deb’s Graphic Novel – on the why & how of cancer research

To kick off CUPS’ series on Science Stories, we are delighted to host Dhru Deb, Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Biomedical Engineering here at Columbia University. In addition to his role as a scientist, Dhru is also a visual artist with a passion for combining art & science. Below, you will discover’s Dhru’s first science cartoon inspired by his work as a cancer researcher. Dhru tells us here what inspired him this piece:

In a nutshell, what does your research focus on in the lab?

My goal is to engineer bacteria known to selectively reside inside tumors to secrete therapeutics and molecules that would attract our immune cells and kill the tumors.

What were your sources of inspiration for creating this Science Story?

My inspiration for this piece is three-fold:

  • A Graphic SciComm workshop delivered by Dr. Matteo Farinella and organized by CUPS added fuel to the fire as I have always been interested in exploring the connection between science & art and being supported by mentors such as Dr. Tal Danino at CU
  • The work of Julia Wertz (Illustrator for the New Yorker and Harper’s Bazaar) and Paula Scher (Graphic Designer at Pentagram)
  • My personal, absolute disdain for the dryness and overuse of infographics in the field of Scicomm

 Do you already have experience with creating Science Stories, graphical in this case? What would be your advice for people just trying it out for the first time?

I have experience in making graphic novels, sequential art and creative writing. But, this is my first data comic. My advice for others – try to find metaphors that people outside scientific research would be familiar with and never be patronizing.

To find out more about Dhru’s work, click here

Written & Graphical content created by Dhru Deb.


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