Joe studies the structure and function of protein molecules. Proteins can be thought of as the cell’s machines; they carry out almost all the cellular processes that are required for life. Some proteins pump chemicals across cell membranes or transport chemicals around the cell, while others speed up vital biochemical reactions such as the breakdown of food, DNA replication, or photosynthesis. By studying the shape of these molecular machines, we can understand how these proteins work, and come up with ways to engineer them for useful applications. One protein that Joe studies is involved in the transport of inorganic carbon in photosynthetic cyanobacteria. Transferring these proteins into crop plants, such as wheat and rice, could help to improve food crop yields.
Through an alternative take on botanical illustration Michelle has attempted to capture Joe’s fascination with proteins. By incorporating elements of machinery into the organic forms she illustrates Joe’s perception of proteins as moving and behaving like machinery — like a living factory. The botanical illustration style reminds us that today’s exploration into the micro world continues to be as wild and wondrous as when explorers sailed around the world to discover new life. There is so much still to explore and discover.
About Shirty Science
Shirty Science brings artists and scientists together to create shirts about their research. Founded by science communicator Madison Hartill-Law, Shirty Science aims to spark conversations about real scientific research and help shift the perception that a scientist has to be a nerdy guy in a lab coat. Scientists and artists are paired through a speed dating workshop and then have a month to develop a design, each shirt is then available to purchase online.