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A scientist’s ‘frog art’
Brivanlou images featured at International Center of Photography
“I’ve always thought of my science as artwork,” says Ali Brivanlou, head of Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Molecular Vertebrate Embryology. Until May 30, thousands of others also will have the opportunity to do so.
“The Art of Science,” now on exhibit at the International Center of Photography in New York, features several of Brivanlou’s images, displayed not as figures buried deep within the pages of Nature or Cell but in the center of a gallery on two huge flat-screen monitors.
Creating images is a crucial part of many scientific investigations. Scientific images, in conjunction with other kinds of measurements, literally can reveal new insights in biology. Brivanlou’s lab uses quantum dots — microscopic, light emitting crystals that can be injected into cells — to illuminate embryonic development as it occurs in animals. This technique renders an opaque mass of cells transparent as they grow and divide. The scientists also use more traditional fluorescent labeling techniques to study embryonic development.
“Science in the 21st century is increasingly driven by astonishing methods of visualization,” says Carol Squiers, who curated the exhibit. “Scientists look at images not so much as documentation but as sites of discovery.”
“Creating beautiful images was never the goal, it was a byproduct of the way talented people in my lab express their science,” Brivanlou says. “It was an honor to be asked to exhibit my work in this way.”
The International Center of Photography is located on Sixth Avenue and 43rd Street. Brivanlou’s images are also available at

March 26, 2004



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