Hallway gallery shows off the beauty of biology

A new addition to one of Lapham Hall’s most frequently used hallways shines a spotlight on undergraduate and graduate research through stunning high-resolution, poster-sized images.

The Biological Sciences Research Gallery is a permanent exhibit that highlights the research that students do in the department. Made up of 33 canvases and growing, the gallery begins at the opening of Lapham Hall’s main hallway, continues past the Biological Sciences main office and extends into the hallway connecting Lapham to the Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex.

“They show the beauty of biology,” said Jeffrey Karron, professor of biological sciences at UWM. “It’s such a visual science.”

Loretha Jack, a recent graduate of the biological sciences program, stands next to a poster showing her research on freshwater phytoplankton in the Biological Sciences Research Gallery. The canvas depicts a phytoplankton diatom colony, important for the health of freshwater ecosystems, and Jack collecting samples in Lake Michigan. (UWM Photo/Troye Fox)

Karron came up with the idea for the project last spring as the department looked for ways to make the blank hallway more engaging to students. Inspired by the research his students and colleagues were doing, Karron proposed a photo gallery to showcase these achievements and foster an excitement for research work. The large canvases not only make the hallway more colorful but also show current and prospective students what they can do with biological sciences.

He asked his colleagues for pictures, and many of them produced their own original photographs of their students. The canvases display remarkable shots of badgers, bees and birds, and students collecting data in the field. A closeup of a bright green frog perched on a stem is a staff favorite, Karron said, because it is “so whimsical.”

Some canvases are as large as 4 feet wide by 3 feet high, with detailed images of microscopic organisms to better show a world that not many get to see.

Other pictures highlight students at work in the UWM Field Station, the Biological Sciences Greenhouse and using technology in UWM’s laboratories. These areas are inaccessible to prospective students when they tour campus, but through the research gallery, students can see the opportunities UWM offers and picture themselves at work here.

“We bring it to them,” Karron said.

Hoping to inspire

It is also a way to feature and congratulate the work that current students are doing, Karron said. He hopes that students can be inspired by the many areas of research that their peers engage in.

Karron and his colleagues worked as a team to bring together the 33 pictures from the three disciplines of biological sciences: microbiology, cellular and molecular biology, and ecology and evolution.

“There’s something for everyone,” Karron said.

Karron hopes that the exhibit does not stop with him and his colleagues. He is optimistic that the Geosciences and Physics departments will promote their students’ research by creating their own galleries to add to the wall of images. He envisions the pictures blending together seamlessly to show how intertwined the natural sciences are. Many professors already have captivating images from their research and they deserve to be shown, Karron said.

“I think you’re going to be seeing a lot more of this.”

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