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Fine arts, biosciences faculty join forces to highlight student creativity

— Interdisciplinary effort features student designs to promote research lecture series —

Students in Nick Bustamante’s ART 320 Painting class at Louisiana Tech University are using their artistic talents in digital design to promote biological sciences and biomedical engineering through Louisiana Tech’s New Frontiers in Biomedical Research lecture series.

The interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty from Louisiana Tech’s College of Applied and Natural Sciences, College of Engineering and Science, and College of Liberal Arts is offering students real world experience in working with a client to design and illustrate brochure covers and note cards for the 2016-2017 lecture series.  This unique learning experience for the students was made possible through the purchase of tablets by a generous Louisiana Tech alumnus and benefactor.

Digital artwork designed by Almira Bradford for the New Frontiers in Biomedical Research Series.

Digital artwork designed by Almira Bradford for the New Frontiers in Biomedical Research Series.

“Through this class, students are learning the value of digital art as a visual means of communication and its role in scientific research,” said Bustamante, who is an associate professor of studio art at Louisiana Tech.  “Students are also developing important skill sets that can be applied to a variety of professions and gain the real world experience of working with a client.”

Bustamante worked with Dr. Jamie Newman, the Scott Weathersby Endowed Professor in Zoology and Premedicine and an assistant professor in biological sciences, and Dr. Mary Caldorera-Moore, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, to help students create original cover art and imagery to be used in program advertising and gift presentations to the guest speakers.  Newman and Caldorera-Moore are the co-organizers of the New Frontiers in Biomedical Research lecture series that has grown into one of Louisiana Tech’s premier interdisciplinary programs. The collaboration between the sciences and arts began when Newman and Caldorera-Moore were looking for an artist to create some visuals for a book chapter.  From there the collaboration grew with Bustamante designing the 2015-2016 New Frontiers lecture series.

“From our initial meetings on the illustrations for the book chapter, Jamie, Nick and I kept coming back to the idea of having a scientific illustration class,” said Caldorera-Moore.  “It’s exciting to see our vision becoming a reality and to see how much the students are enjoying and benefiting from the class.”

“When we went to class the first day Dr. Caldorera-Moore and I were as nervous if not more nervous than the students,” added Newman.  “They continue to impress us with their willingness to take on and rise to this new challenge.  We can’t wait to show off what Mr. Bustamante has taught them and what they have created for the brochure cover.”

The work created by the students in the class will be displayed in a public art exhibition from 6-8 p.m. April 14 at the Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center.  The exhibition is free to attend and open to the campus and local communities.  There will also be an auction of the top pieces with proceeds going toward supporting the New Frontiers in Biomedical Research seminar series and continued interdisciplinary collaborations at Louisiana Tech.

Following the opening night of the exhibit, fifth and sixth graders from select Lincoln Parish schools will also visit the exhibition on April 18, as part of the ACDC Art Outreach Program.  The students in this program come to the Louisiana Tech campus once a month throughout the academic year to see the art exhibits in the gallery and create art projects designed to complement the art work they are viewing as well as their fine art educations.

“The seminar series has grown to something I could never have imagined when I started it four years ago,” Newman said.  “The interdisciplinary nature of the speakers, the faculty and students who participate and this collaboration with the art department is what a university is all about.

“Exposing faculty and students to new ways of thinking and communicating is what we are all here to do and I could not be prouder to be a part of all of this.”