Florida State University’s annual “Art in STEM” exhibit returns for its eighth year on April 23, inviting global audiences to experience stunning visuals created by scholars in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The event is organized by FSU Graduate Women in STEM (GWIS), in collaboration with the FSU College of Arts and Sciences and the FSU Libraries Office of Digital Research and Scholarship. It will take place in a virtual format, as it has done since 2020.
The photography and art exhibit will feature the work of 19 students representing FSU departments of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Mathematics, Molecular Biophysics, and Scientific Computing. This year’s artwork, which will also be on display at FSU’s Dirac Science Library, covers a range of topics including crystal growth, cancer research and flight data visualization.
Marcus Liebenthal, a chemistry PhD student whose research focuses on quantum chemistry, is among the students whose artwork features in this year’s exhibit, “Orbital Visualization of Thorium Complex,” a simulation showing how power plants and factories bind chemicals to radioactive elements, making it easier to dispose of toxic solutions.
“I simulate such a reaction, where thorium – a radioactive element – is bound to three cyclopentadiene anions,” Liebenthal said. “During the simulation, I visualize an orbit of one of the electrons that helps bind these molecules together, giving deeper insight into the underlying quantum mechanics.”
He added that he made ray-traced images of molecules as a hobby.
“I love the idea of simulating billions of photo rays and the realistic effects they can produce,” he said. “I wanted to share my artwork with people, and ‘Art in STEM’ seemed like a wonderful place to do that.”
Liebenthal said the exhibit “shows how much creativity goes into research and how often it goes unnoticed.”
“Art in STEM” has steadily grown in popularity since its inception in 2015. Its successful 2020 transition to a virtual platform inspired event organizers to deliver the format online for 2021 and 2022.
Azza Ben Akacha, PhD student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and co-vice-president of GWIS, presented “Art in STEM” as the organization’s most important and anticipated event of the year.
“‘Art in STEM’ is a great opportunity to showcase the diversity of research done at FSU by undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers,” said Ben Akacha. “Artwork is usually displayed at the Dirac Science Library throughout the year, so the FSU community has a chance to learn about the research work in the various departments.”
Ashley Arcidiacono, Ph.D. student in chemistry, added, “FSU has a proud heritage of outstanding research in STEM, and I think the community is always thrilled to learn of the great work being done on its campus. From record-breaking solar cell devices to new sustainable plastics, there are plenty of discoveries to celebrate at FSU.
Arcidiacono is the event coordinator for GWIS and has participated in the annual event for the past few years. She sees the expo as a great way to demonstrate the creativity and intriguing nature of STEM research for the entire campus community.
“Historically, science has been presented in a way that’s not always accessible to those who aren’t in a scientific field,” Arcidiacono said. “This event is a way to share innovative research conducted by undergraduates, graduates and postdocs in an exciting way to close this gap. Science is for everyone, and ‘Art in STEM’ celebrates this idea.
Members of the FSU community and the public are also invited to vote for their favorite artwork in the People’s Choice “Art in STEM” Award. The winning artist will receive a prize basket provided by the sponsors of the participating exhibition. Voting closes April 24 and the winner will be announced April 25.
The 2022 “Art in STEM” exhibition is now live at fsudrs.github.io/artinSTEM/. Viewers who missed the 2021 exhibit can browse the artwork at fsudrs.github.io/artinSTEM/past-exhibits/.