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UNF student excels in scientific illustrations course

UNF student Katherine SaigeWhen it comes to scientific illustrations, the statement that a picture is worth a thousand words couldn’t be truer – just ask Katherine Saige, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences.
“Illustrations or pictures can help better explain scientific subjects — they tell the story,” said Saige. “The important part of looking at any scientific figure is knowing the background and how to interpret it.”
Saige enrolled in Dr. Amy Keagy’s Scientific Illustrations class this past summer and really didn’t know what to expect from the elective class.
“Before taking this class, I didn’t connect that museum murals, infographics or medical atlases weren’t created by an artist who branched out for a single commission, but rather were a result of years of cumulative work to generate accurate and representative figures,” Saige said. “It’s one of the many ways this class intrigued me and helped me dismantle that flawed assumption.”
“Art is a great addition to science,” said Dr. Keagy, a UNF biology lecturer who has taught the scientific illustrations course the past two summers. “There’s a strong connection between the arts and sciences and many people who gravitate to the sciences seem to have a creative background in music and art.”
However, Keagy insists having an artistic background is not a prerequisite to taking her class.
Scientific illustrations of birds by UNF student Katherine Saige“The only thing needed for this class is a willingness to learn and apply that knowledge to their illustrations,” Keagy said.
In Keagy’s class, students must complete two illustrations for a class grade and have at least 10 pieces for their portfolio – two of which would be displayed in a public forum.
Keagy said the scientific illustrations class helps students become more perceptive of their environment.
Saige agrees.
“Taking Dr. Keagy’s class has helped me to better understand the influence of pictures and details of things that matter,” said Saige. “For instance, in my histology classes, I find myself drawing out complicated figures – even though it’s not required – because it helps me to understand the subject better.”   
While Saige admitted to having some experience with pencil drawings and acrylics in the past, she seldom used color to illustrate her subjects. She said the class helped her have the confidence to try new things.
“During the class, I was able to embrace a flexible and colorful new medium while painting accurate representations of birds – subjects I’ve loved for a long time,” Saige said. “I pushed myself to explore using watercolor or professional grade-colored pencils and five of my portfolio pieces ended up in watercolor.”
“The sciences have few places to express yourself creatively and to do so in a way that enhances your understanding of the world, is a rewarding and educational experience worthy of a class at this university,” said Saige.
Name: Katherine Saige
Class: Senior
Major: Biomedical Sciences
Favorite class at UNF: Conservation Biology
Dream job: To work in wildlife and fish conservation
Plans after graduation: Graduate school at UNF followed by veterinary school  
Favorite place on campus: The 4th floor of the library . . . “it’s quiet and has nice views of the pond.”
Favorite hobby: Bird watching