Letter to future iSeminar participants

It has been a wonderful semester! We have been so impressed by all of your work inside and outside of the classroom. For a final blog post, please write a letter to future iSeminar student describing the types of student who should take this course, advice in succeeding, and what they will get out of this experience.

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  1. Dear future student,
    I think that if you like art, science, and/or are tech savvy or just want to try something new, that you would enjoy this class. Take advantage of the lab visits and the chance to work with professionals (you might even get published or sold!). This class gave me a chance to explore a career in scientific illustration and get published in a scientific review. It also encouraged me to play with and learn different software (ie photoshop and biorender). The class overall is very chill and really dependent on what you as an individual wants to get out of it.


  2. To a future ARTLAB resident,
    Congratulations! You landed a spot in the best iSeminar on campus. I had originally been in an architecture seminar but luckily there was space in this one and I never looked back. This seminar is incredibly interesting, especially if you have an interest in science, research, or art creation itself. The first piece of advice I have for this class is to start EARLY. Many students start their project two or three weeks before the deadline and end up running out of time. The creative process often takes a long time of thinking and refining. My word of advice is to start as early as possible so that you can turn in the most polished piece possible at the end.
    My second point of advice is to pay very close attention both when you are listening to lectures from guest speakers in class or when you are on a lab visit. Getting a creative spark from even one slide of a presentation could change your presentation for the better.


  3. Future iSeminar students,
    If you are thinking about taking this course, I would recommend that you have at least a basic interest in either science or art and are just excited to learn. This course is designed to fit a broad array of interests. You can pick any type of science to research and base your final project on. It was also very cool being able to tour all of the labs and listen to the people who present during class. Also, I was able to learn about many different forms of art that will affect my art in the future. Even if you do not have a history of creating art, people were able to use videos or digital media to create their final projects. To succeed in this course, I would recommend not waiting to create your project and using the whole semester to brainstorm ideas. I think you will gain a lot out of this course. Not only is there a lot of freedom to create something you are passionate about, but also you can learn about many other areas within art and science you might not be familiar with. Overall, I would really recommend taking this course!


  4. Dear future iseminar student,
    This is a really fun and exciting iseminar, so don’t make a mistake and take the break and time you have for granted. This iseminar allows you to take two of the topics you’re probably interested in and combine them. Make sure you use the ability to make art for different labs while you are in this iseminar.


  5. Hello!

    Taking this class has been one of the highlights of my freshman year at Vanderbilt. I came into this class, honestly, not really expecting much a challenge, thinking that it would be basically drawing atoms or something of that nature. However, what I learned in this class can be applied, I believe, across many disciplines. If you are a student who is interested in science and art, this class, on a surface level, seems perfect for you. If you are someone who is ready to think about scientific concepts in a complex and abstract manner and is willing to challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone, then you belong in this class. I had the opportunity to not only find some branch of science that I was really passionate about but learned how to properly convey my passion and my understandings through visual art. Art, for me, is completely universal whereas science may not be all the time; during ArtLab, I learned you can explain anything, communicate to any audience using art in any of its forms–video, audio, paintings, drawings, etc.–as a medium. If you decide to take this course, be sure to take the time to find something you are truly interested in and then use all of the tools Dr. Oliver has open to you. Work in a timely manner, and trust your instincts. Embrace your creative side.


  6. To future iSeminar participants,

    Congratulations on choosing one of the most interesting and rewarding iSeminars! Even if you do not consider yourself an artist or a scientist, this course will be fun for you. This course is for everybody who wants to explore new fields, enhance their visual communication skills, or just make art. I have personally never taken an art class, yet I enjoyed the process of creating an art piece that is informed by science. Hopefully, by the end of this course, you will have a piece of art that you can be proud of and a fresh perspective on both the fields of science and art. Choose a project that you’re passionate about, be creative, take risks—this is the perfect opportunity for you to do so! And, of course, have fun. You don’t get the chance to take a class like this a lot.


  7. Hello future students,

    I am really excited you are interested in taking this iSeminar! I think you will find this class super enjoyable and worthwhile. I know it seems to be a bit of an odd class since many don’t consider there being an interaction between science and art but it wound up being one of the most fascinating classes I took. We visited labs, looked at science art, spoke with researchers, and saw incredible examples of both science and art in action. I think that the most important part of succeeding in this class is to keep an open mind to really seeing the inter-relations between these two fields. You don’t need to be specifically a science, art, or some combination of the two major, but really just a student interested in expanding their experiences. As long as you are willing to come into this class ready to explore the two fields and consider new perspectives, you will be able to succeed in this class. While there is a final art project, there are so many different mediums and options in choosing how you portray your piece that you don’t need to be an “artist” to create an amazing piece. This iSeminar was truly a fun experience and really lead to me having a greater appreciation for both fields and a better sense of how important it is that the two learn to interact with one another. I hope you enjoy this iSeminar and learn more about the relationships between science and art and how that influences the world around us.

    Catheryn McDowell


  8. Hello,
    First of all, this is a very amazing class!!! You can really learn a lot about science and also how science and art can be combined together! The types of students that should take this class: STEM students who want to explore effective communication within science domain; art persons like me who don’t have a lot of gift in understanding science but are always curious about science and want to try some science-related class without taking a big risk; students who are interested in communication and who want to see how two seemingly unrelated fields can generate super beautiful and unique images; and finally students who are curious, innovative, and want to change themselves!! Some advice that I want to give you: treasure this chance to actually do some creative works that you always want to do and reach out to others for help if you have difficulty understanding anything! You will learn a new way of communication and also have exposure to a lot of cool people and stuff!


  9. Dear Future Student,

    If you enjoy art or science (or both, that’s a bonus), and enjoy thinking creatively, you should think about taking this class. Some tips that I would say would be helpful:

    1. Manage your time well. Make a schedule and stick to your schedule, otherwise it’s really easy to have to do everything at the last minute. The April showcase really crept up on the majority of people in this class.

    2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it be about the scientific content, the creative process, or executing your vision onto an art medium.

    3. Don’t feel constrained. This year, we went on four lab tours. They were very cool, but if you are more into, say, physics or psychology over basic sciences, then look more into doing a project related to those fields. This is the perfect opportunity to pursue a creative avenue in a field that YOU enjoy. I feel like the point of this class is to make your project work for you personally.

    I think that you have the potential to get a lot out of this experience. You can get better at a suite of creative applications. Personally, I improved a lot in Adobe Illustrator. You can also begin to view science through a different lens. Practically speaking, if you are looking to build your portfolio, this class is a great opportunity. There is a lot of room for personal growth as well, in terms of your creative process and scientific background.

    Freshman year is the only time that you can take an iSeminar, so make the most of it!
    Jessica Mo


  10. What’s up future iSeminar student,

    You’re in for a fun ride. Do you have any interest in science? What about art? if you have even a tad bit of intrigue in these topics, this class will make sure to touch on and deepen your interest. This class shows you how these two topics that seem to be on different ends of the spectrum actually go hand in hand. Nowadays the communication of science is just as important as the science itself. What good is the experiment of a tree falling in a forest if no one is there to see it? This class aims to promote how art can be a tool in communicating science to any type of audience. So if this at all seems cool to you I highly suggest taking the class, the instructors are amazing and you get to visit and tour Vanderbilt labs. For the only project you have, I suggest doing something you are passionate about so that it isn’t as much work as it is an avenue for creation.

    Best of luck
    – Saboor Malik


  11. Dear future iSeminar student,
    Congratulations on landing in one of the most interesting and fun iSeminars on campus!
    My first piece of advice is to find something you are passionate about to be the topic of your art. I am a cs major with some background in physics, so while I thoroughly enjoyed touring the Chem and Bio labs, I had absolutely no clue what anybody was talking about most of the time. If I could go back and do the class again, I would have really tried to find something in those labs that I could get behind and worked from there. Or found some interesting physics research on the internet to do my project on. However, I was still able to put together something that I am happy with involving epigenetics and addiction which were two things that I have zero experience with. My other advice is to get your work done early!! Start sketching as soon as you think you have an idea of what you want to do, and communicate with Dr. Oliver as much as you can. She is an amazing resource for this class and if you decide to pursue art further. I highly recommend sticking with this course, the experience with the creative process and communication is invaluable.


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