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Using visuals to make your science stand out

Updated: Jun 20, 2019

Research suggests that approximately 65% of people are visual learners. On top of that, 90% of information coming to the brain is visual AND the brain processes visual information significantly faster than when in written form, 60,000 times faster in fact. You know what that means? A picture is worth 60,000 words.


Scientists at MIT have also found the brain can process an image within 13 milliseconds.


Needless to say, we are pretty good and FAST at processing visual information.


This means we need to shift our communication approach for our research to create impact.  



No matter who your audience, whether it is scientist, a government official, a policy maker, a doctor, a lawyer, your grandma or your daughter, you can be pretty sure they are all very skilled at managing visual data. After all, we are constantly bombarded with visuals all day, every day through a multitude of devices.


Science too has a myriad of visualisation techniques and devices to allow the processing of data, visually. They assist our understanding of the intricate processes of molecular biology, evolution and particle physics - from high-resolution microscopes, phylogenetic trees and magnetic resonance imaging to telescopes and interactive visualisation software.


Using visuals to communicate science is not a new concept, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, considered the father of modern neuroscience, was doing so in the 19th and 20th centuries. The two tools vital for his research, a microscope and an artists pencil, were used to depict the way neurons communicate with one another. His artistic representations used to communicate his findings, eventually lead to his Nobel Prize in Physiology. In 2018, Cajal’s scientific illustrations artwork have been exhibited in the Grey Art Gallery in New York and the MIT Museum in Cambridge and are still used as references today.


Drawing of Golgi-stained cerebelum, by Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Instituto de Neurobiología “Ramón y Cajal”, Madrid, Spain.

In present times, we see Nasa using visuals to engage broad audiences. To introduce the James Webb Telescope, which studies all phases of the history of our universe, Nasa held an art exhibition. Here, artists communicated their impression of the telescope through a range of artistic mediums, assisting audiences in understanding the purpose of this incredible piece of technology.


Image credit: Northrop Grumman, James Webb Space Telescope Artist Conception

Given Nasa has taken the ‘using visuals to communicate and engage’ stance, it’s fair to say that every scientist should jump on board. Just as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to catch the attention of audiences, it is becoming increasingly important to make science accessible.


If you don’t have the artistic abilities Cajal possessed nor the time to try, don’t stress, we at SquareCell have got you covered.


Whether you’re communicating to the public or scientists, we have expertise in scientific research and visual communications to make your science stand out.




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