A Career in Biovisualization: Describing Science Through Art

If you have a passion for both science and art, then you may want to watch the following seminar that details the exciting and rewarding pathway to becoming a successful Medical Illustrator. At the beginning of November, Beyond the PhD hosted a talk by Ni-Ka Ford, a Medical Illustrator from the Icahn School of Medicine in Mt. Sinai, NY. At the University, she is part of a collaborative ISMMS Instructional Technology Group (https://libguides.mssm.edu/itg), that conceptualizes and develops medical and scientific illustrations meant to engage researchers, students and the general population. Her work ranges from the development of scientific illustrations and animations to 3D anatomical models that can be used for education, patient care, public relations and marketing. She even showcases some of her amazing work, which includes illustrations for medical textbooks, mock journal covers, information pamphlets for WIC clinics as well as the creation of 3D animated structures for Virtual Reality simulations. A particularly fascinating part of her presentation is when she shows an example of how realistic 3D animations can be developed and utilized to facilitate client and patient education (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2EHj6_qgHU).

Another intriguing aspect of her talk is when she describes how there is a lack of diversity within the field and how historically, minorities are underrepresented in scientific and medical illustrations. In her own work, she highlights the importance of portraying people of color to aid in the elimination of damaging health disparities that can arise from misrepresentation. In addition to her role as a Medical Illustrator, she serves as the chair of a Diversity Committee sponsored through the Association of Medical Illustrators or AMI. One of the ways this committee advocates for increased diversity is through the support of educational activities that teach inner city youth about the profession in hopes of bringing individuals with various backgrounds into the field. For anyone interested in pursuing a career as a Medical Illustrator, she encourages individuals to visit the website for the Association of Medical illustrators https://www.ami.org/. This site is a wonderful resource that provides information on what it takes to become a Medical Illustrator and what types of accredited Universities offer programs for certification. The website also provides opportunities for networking and mentorship by sponsoring an annual meeting that allows individuals in the profession to get together and showcase their work. 

You can follow her work on Instagram @ n_biovisuals as well as work from the Association of Medical Illustrators @amidotor

Her website: www.nikaford.com

To listen to the full interview with Ni-Ka Ford search under the “Interviews and Recordings” section of the website for “Biomedical Illustration and Visualization”.

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