On-Screen Storytelling in the Visualization of Biotechnology

By Heather Corcoran.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This essay describes a grant-funded project about the visualization of biotechnology. It explains how a team of graphic designers worked with two scientists at a small company in St. Louis, Missouri. Their collaboration resulted in a sequence of three on-screen narratives, designed to explain a new, innovative process of molecular discovery in agriculture to scientists and potential investors. The project was created to participate in an emerging, interdisciplinary, problem-framing culture in the field of design.

The project succeeded in some regards, but failed in others. Its limitations suggest some challenges associated with joining the fields of graphic design and biotechnology through science visualization. These include: (1) how can graphic designers bring real value to a visualization process that is tied directly to the formulation of new scientific knowledge?; and, (2) how can designers gain access to small and mid-sized biotechnology firms who are conducting significant research, but whose time and budgets are limited?

Keywords: Graphic Design, Biotechnology, Science Visualization

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.113-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.059MB).

Heather Corcoran

Associate Professor, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA

Heather Corcoran is a graphic designer and writer. Her work focuses on information, publication, and brand design, as they relate to education and learning. She is associate professor of Communication Design at Washington University in St. Louis and principal of Plum Studio. Heather’s recent clients and project partners include the Yale University Press, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Princeton Architectural Press, Centene Corporation, the Saint Louis Zoo, and Divergence, Inc. She has written articles for InForm, How Magazine, and Education International, and given talks for the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the College Arts Association, the Association of American Museums, and the National Association of Independent Schools. She has received design awards from the New York Book Show, Print’s Regional Design Annual, and AIGA St. Louis. She holds a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University and an M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale University.

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