Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

Julia Van Etten’s “Couch Microscopy” gains mass Instagram following


  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Julia Van Etten

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Julia Van Etten

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Julia Van Etten

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Julia Van Etten

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Julia Van Etten

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Julia Van Etten

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Julia Van Etten

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Julia Van Etten

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Nick Romanenko

    Julia Van Etten conducts research in Rutgers lab

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Nick Romanenko

    Julia Van Etten uses microscope to conduct research in Rutgers lab

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Nick Romanenko

    Julia Van Etten uses microscope to conduct research in Rutgers lab

  • newswise-fullscreen Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

    Credit: Nick Romanenko

    Julia Van Etten uses microscope to conduct research in Rutgers lab

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Cynthia Medina, c.medina@rutgers.edu, 848-932-1940

Student Turns Microorganisms Into Art, Becomes Vital Part of Genome Research

Julia Van Etten’s “Couch Microscopy” gains mass Instagram following

Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 16, 2019) – A doctoral student in ecology and evolution is turning A doctoral student in ecology and evolution is turning microorganisms into art, and her hobby into a powerful tool for genomics studies at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

Julia Van Etten’s Couch Microscopy Instagram page has attracted 17,700 followers in a year and a half, thanks to her breathtakingly detailed videos and photos of diatoms, algae, plankton, insect larvae and other microorganisms collected from New Jersey bodies of water. The images, captured with a $315 microscope, have garnered attention from scientists, artists and everyone in between.

Her images are now the basis for a research and teaching project at Rutgers–New Brunswick’s Genome Cooperative, established by Van Etten’s doctoral advisor, Debashish Bhattacharya, to support rapid growth in genomics study and research at the university.

Bhattacharya has assigned undergraduate students to catch plankton and algae at Passion Puddle, a popular spot on Rutgers–New Brunswick’s campus, for the creation of a genomics database highlighting the biodiversity on campus.

 “We want Julia to lead research on understanding the diversity of local algae and learning how to adapt it for human needs – similar to work being by ExxonMobil and other companies which are seeking to use algae for fuel production and other applications,” Bhattacharya said.

Van Etten began sharing images of microorganisms on her Instagram page in July 2017, after late-stage Lyme disease forced her to delay her start date at Rutgers for a year while she recovered. Unable to spend time studying algae out in the field, she worked on locally collected samples and viewed them with a home microscope – hence the name “Couch Microscopy.”

Read the full story on Rutgers Today.

View social media video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djPHlAcAdRQ&feature=youtu.be

Downloadable high resolution photos and videos available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/v427gxx6xgzkb0k/AAD7d6y6hSZSP6JkcJzyH4q3a?dl=0

For more information contact Cynthia Medina.

 

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Broadcast interviews: Rutgers University–New Brunswick has broadcast-quality TV and radio studios available for remote live or taped interviews with Rutgers experts. For more information, contact Cynthia Medina c.medina@rutgers.edu

ABOUT RUTGERS—NEW BRUNSWICK

Rutgers University–New Brunswick is where Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, began more than 250 years ago. Ranked among the world’s top 60 universities, Rutgers’s flagship university is a leading public research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It is home to internationally acclaimed faculty and has 12 degree-granting schools and a Division I Athletics program. It is the Big Ten Conference’s most diverse university. Through its community of teachers, scholars, artists, scientists, and healers, Rutgers is equipped as never before to transform lives.

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