Shirty Science

The science

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.

The art

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. 



Image exhibits > Tolleraceae Terra pervertere, Donna Davis


Image exhibits > Peering Deep Within My Pathology