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Beauty of Bacteria

Students Learn the Art and Beauty of Bacteria

Most people associate bacteria with infections and diseases, but can bacteria be beautiful?
 
In a teaching collaboration between the arts and sciences, NSU students taking the course ARTS 3700 Methods and Materials participated in a laboratory workshop where they learned how to use agar as a canvas and bacteria as the paint.
 
Veronique Cote, M.F.A., visiting professor at the NSU College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, teaches the arts course. The workshop was taught by Julie Torruellas Garcia, Ph.D., associate professor at the NSU Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography.
 
During the workshop, students worked with different types of agar and different species of microbes, discovering that most of the bacteria is commonly found in and on their bodies and is not harmful. 
 
The students created colorful images of women, babies, skulls, and mushrooms and realized that bacteria could indeed be beautiful. “I think the students were intrigued by the process, which to me, is the most important thing for the class,” Cote said.
 
The students’ artworks were entered in the American Society for Microbiology’s 2016 Agar Art contest. Two submissions, Annie Nguyen’s “Grotesque Beauty” and Michelle Duddy’s “Bacteria at Birth,” were chosen as finalists. Graduate student Jorie Skutas (working in the lab of Jose V. Lopez, Ph.D., professor at the Halmos College) also is a finalist for her entry “To Microbiology and Beyond.”
 
These pieces are considered for a People’s Choice Award to be decided by a public Facebook contest. You can cast your vote by clicking on the links above and liking the post(s) you want to vote for. The contest deadline is May 26, 2016, at 5:00 p.m.
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