Lena Ivanova, who received her Ph.D. from Marquette’s Department of Chemistry this spring, and Caroline Kenwood, a high school senior, pose with art they developed to illustrate research led by Dr. Qadir Timerghazin, associate professor of chemistry. Kenwood’s art was part of a collaboration between Marquette and a local high school, and 20 more high school students will be on campus this summer to develop art that illustrates research by Marquette professors.

An unbeatable collaboration

Heart illustration by local high school student gets international attention in journal featuring Marquette research

By Gabriella Griffith and Carly Wolf

A new collaboration between Marquette and Milwaukee’s High School of the Arts begins with heart — an expressionist oil painting of a heart by MHSA senior Caroline Kenwood.

It illustrates the research led by Dr. Qadir Timerghazin, associate professor of chemistry, and was published as the main art on the front cover of “ChemBioChem,” an international academic journal on chemical biology published in Europe.

Together, the research and painting reach an international audience. It’s quite an achievement for a high school student working in tandem with one of Marquette’s highly accomplished chemistry researchers.

Cover art and other graphics help research to stand out, so academic journals like to publish it. Yet, most scientists are not adept at art, Timerghazin said.

The desire to add some artistic flair to the research and to expose high school students to the fields of graphic design and scientific illustration, both of which are career tracks in art most students know little of, formed the foundation for this mutually beneficial relationship.

“This collaboration is really a win-win situation because the researchers could really use some help with the art and it is a great opportunity for young artists,” he said.

Kenwood’s work with Timerghazin began with a general announcement in her AP art class.

“[My teacher] asked if anyone wanted to create artwork for the cover,” Kenwood said. “I want to get my art out there, so I volunteered.”

Kenwood’s painting, along with graphics from Lena Ivanova, the first author of the research paper and a 2017 Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Chemistry, illustrate the concepts explored in the paper.

“Chemistry is a very visual science,” Timerghazin said. “Most concepts are best represented graphically so there is a high demand for good graphics.”

Kenwood’s art teacher, Carrie Hoelzer, says the benefits of using student work are huge.

“It gives the students an opportunity to gain exposure for their work, which increases their self-efficacy and sense of validation,” Hoelzer said. “For a student to see their work published and distributed in an international journal is a huge accomplishment.”

More collaborations between Marquette and the high school are planned. Students will work directly with Marquette researchers.

“This opportunity provides an ‘in’ to students who aren’t normally included to have an interest in science,” Hoelzer said. “As artists, they may really enjoy the abstract forms and patterns they encounter, and develop more of an interest in how something works.

“You have to understand a concept to illustrate it,” she said. “I think it’s going to create quite a difference in what they are learning here.”

Timerghazin also hopes that working alongside researchers will be impactful for the young artists.

“After having a published work in a chemistry journal, you are probably going to have a different perception of the whole thing,” he said. “I think it’s pretty exciting.”