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Cover stories: An emerging aesthetic of prestige science

Wang and Yao recently published a paper on the impact and development of cover art in relation to increase of citations in the academic literature, particularly in high-prestige journals such as Nature, Science and Cell. They’ve noted an increase in visuals in Science since the rise of computer graphics in the 1970s, but notably since 2000 with science visualization competitions and a tendency towards more glossy and aesthetically pleasing imagery as seen in the commercial world. Journals will often feature the cover story in several ways especially online, increasing visibility and hence readership.

“Our statistical analysis of citation data about papers in the CNS journals that have cover images shows the following:

  1. Cover-story papers in CNS journals attract more citations than the other articles in the same journal.
  2. Journals with a higher impact factor show a higher degree of visual content than journals with a lower impact factor.
  3. Different countries show varying degrees of achievement of cover stories compared to their achievement in publishing papers in CNS journals.
  4. The achievement of cover stories varies between disciplines.”

You can find the complete paper here:

As an artist who develops cover art, it is not just an aesthetic endeavor, but captures the core concept of the research in a visual pleasing way to a educated audience that might not be familiar with the integrities of your particular field. If you are interested in increasing your manuscripts impact and presence with cover art, please contact me for availability and an estimate.

New cover art on gene profiling reveals gene networks and interactions

This cover art is based upon Fritz Kahn’s illustrations “Der Mensch als Industriepalast”. Instead of a human, we’re looking at the inner workings of a cell. While the analogy between machine and nature works in some parts of the cell, there are many unknown factors, such as epigenetic forces, that can’t be simply visualized. Kahn thought about this in his work and used little workers in different roles throughout the image. We’ve taken a similar approach and used workers or “unexplained forces”, keeping the machines running smoothly.

The final artwork was created using traditional pen & ink and Photoshop. You can find the original issue here.

Cell cover on identifying high-throughput, noncoding regulatory variations

A new Cell cover has been published on June 2, 2016, on identifying high-throughput, noncoding regulatory variations using the example of Mendel’s pea flower tessellation based upon M.C. Escher. Each flower is based upon the principle of geometry and fits exactly into it’s neighbors, making it impossible to distinguish individual variations. This intermixing is broken by the red color of one of the flower. Just like this analogy, Ryan Tewhey and his team discovered a method to detect a single mutation from seemingly undistinguishable variants.

The artwork was created using traditional pen & ink, watercolor and Photoshop. You can find the original issue here.

Cell cover MPRA flower

This is an alternative image using Darwin’s finches, which was not published, but used for the slider image on the Cell website:


Cell cover on critical regulators of Th17 cell pathogenicity, December 3, 2015

Our artwork is featured on this month’s issue of Cell about critical regulators of Th17 cell pathogenicity. Two types of Th17 cells are depicted with the ones in the background having a normal lipid metabolism, whereas the one in the front shows a defect in CD5L or even missing. CD5L acts as a switch to change lipid metabolism in order to regulate Th17 function.

The illustration is inspired by  3D micrographs of T cells and overlay of a circuitry with the missing or decreased CD5L in the center. You can find the original issue here.


Cell cover on Lassa virus, August 13, 2015

We’re excited to have our cover image features on the August 13th edition of Cell on the evolutionary spread of Lassa virus across West Africa. Similarly to Ebola, Lassa evolves in a host, and has frequent spillover events to humans, causing a deadly disease. The transmission chain of Lassa is mostly contained to the rodent host, with rare human to human transmissions. Researchers across the globe worked on this paper to analyze this debilitating virus and trace its origin.

The illustration is inspired by West African art and represents a tapestry with the continent and evolutionary spread of Lassa. You can find the original issue here.


Fabrica Vitae in Athens, Greece

The Fabrica Vitae exhibit will be traveling to the Andreas Syggros museum. The show is opening on December 17th and will be on display until January 17th, 2015. The Syggros museum is famous of its dermatological wax models and is located in the Andreas Syggros Hospital in Athens, Greece. For more information about the museum, follow this link.


Cancer Cell Cover image, November 10, 2014

Cancer Cell published this month our illustration featuring the unlocking of the epigenome in Ewing’s Sarcoma. In collaboration with Nicolo Riggi and Miguel Rivera at MGH and the Broad Institute, we came up with the concept of unlocking safety deposit boxes as EWS-FLI1 binds to GGAA repeats and opens up oncogenic pathways. You can find the cover image and the paper here.


Integrative Biology Cover image, October 1, 2014

We’re pleased to have made the cover of Integrative Biology, Issue 10, October 1, 2014 with our image of zebrafish larvae and high throughput screening of different organ systems. Together with Mehmet Fatih Yanik and his lab team at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we developed an image illustrating the in vivo screening of complete organ systems for RNA delivery. You can find the cover and the article of this issue here.


integrative_biology_cover_october_2 integrative_biology_cover_october

Science review article published September 12, 2014

The review article on RNA and nuclear architecture was published in Science on September 12, 2014. We worked together with John Rinn, Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard University and Mitchell Guttman, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology in creating a compelling graphic telling their story how lncRNA are important on all levels of nuclear organization. You can find the full article here.


Fabrica Vitae in Zykanthos, Greece

During the Vesalius Continuum in Zykanthos, Greece, the Fabrica Vitae exhibit made it’s debut and first stop of the touring exhibit. The intention is to showcase artwork in the spirit of Andreas Vesalius and question what we consider the role of art and anatomy in this modern world. The Vesalius Continuum, commemorated the 500th Anniversary of Andreas Vesalius’ birth in Brussels, but also the mystery surrounding his death and grave in Zakynthos. During the three days, speakers from around the globe presented talks about Vesalius’ life, the Fabrica Vitae, the impact of his book on anatomy teaching and our contemporary perception of the human body.  I am very humbled and thankful to have been able to attend and submit four pieces to the show.