Scientific/Biological/Natural Science Illustration
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Thread: Scientific/Biological/Natural Science Illustration

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    Question Scientific/Biological/Natural Science Illustration

    My daughter is a sophomore in high school and interested in pursuing an education and career in biological (not medical) illustration. We are looking for a good undergradudate program. The only constraint is that she attends a very small high school in rural Alaska, so I did not think that she would cope well with a school smack in the middle of a big city.

    The best looking program that I have found so far is at Iowa State University with a degree program in "Biological and Pre-Medical Illustration (BPMI)." The are also a few schools in Georgia with good programs.

    I know that she could get an interdisciplinary degree in art and biology and that she will probably have to get a master's degree, but we are hoping to find a good undergraduate program that has an emphasis on scientific/biological/natural science illustration.

    Does anyone have any ideas of good schools in this field?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

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    Wow, your daughter has a very focused view of what she wants to go into already- even for a sophomore in high school!

    Outside of what you've already dug up, I'm not sure if there's a program that specific. Most people that I know who do any sort of biological illustrations start from a very traditional illustration background (with some medical emphasis) and then branch off into that niche. You might want to check with the folks in Cleveland (http://www.cia.edu/) who offer a pretty intensive program in Medical Illustration and see if they've got any suggestions.

    As far as your daughter coming from a small town to the heart of a big city, I know it won't be easy for you to hear but have faith in her. If you've instilled in her your values & morals and have given her loving support (like what you're doing here), I'd like to think she'd do just fine. I teach plenty of students who are from microbially small towns from all over the world and they've all managed to cope. Kids these days are pretty resilient and probably a bit smarter than we give them credit for (or as in my case, they have to earn it in my class!).

    In the mean time, I'll scour about & ask my school's Admissions people to see if they know of anything.

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    Thanks, Dave.
    My daughter has been focused since she was very young.

    I have looked at the program at Cleveland Institute of Art and it is very impressive --a very intense curriculum. The problem that I have with them is mostly personal; I grew up in Cleveland and always wanted to get away, so I do not particularly want to send my daughter back there. I know that Case Western Reserve University and its associated institutes, hospitals, museums are top-rate. Heck, I was born at a University hospital, my mother graduated from there, and I took a class there while in high school.

    I guess that the other thought that I have is that college is a time with a great deal going on in a person's life, so, though she could probably do fine in a big city, it seems like it makes sense that college should be when she should be concentrating on her education and not having to worry about coping with life "in the city," renting an apartment, cooking meals, etc. I like the idea of the "protected" environment of a discreet college campus and dorm life, even at a big university. (I know that CIA has dorms, but it is definitely not a discreet, protected campus.) (I graduated from Michigan State, so I do understand large unversities.) (My son is a freshman at a small, private college in Terre Haute, Indiana and I like the tight community of that campus and the protection that the community offers my son.)

    Another difficulty that I have is that living in Alaska, it is difficult to visit schools to get a feel for them, we have to rely on information in the internet and in print and on others' opinions. That is why forums like this are wonderful.

    Thanks again.

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    Darn...I was hoping to have supplied some decent info but seems as though I struck out initially! What are the odds that I'd suggest Cleveland only to have you from there originally!?

    Again, I'll ask around campus and see if anyone knows of a smaller school that has what you're looking for. Alaska is gorgeous and last time I checked not too many Portfolio Days are held up there unfortunately.

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    see if the guild of natural science illustrators has anything of use
    http://www.gnsi.org/

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    I was gonna suggest my school but then I figured from what you posted that the current curriculum I'm going thru probably would not be satisfactory for someone as focused as your daughter. But as Dave mentioned, I would think there aren't many courses that are so specific.

    I'm currently going thru the illustration bachelor program in Sheridan College. Right now I'm in the technical/scientific stream (2nd year onwards). I might be able to get you in touch with my scientific illustration prof so you can email her and ask her directly about the program. She writes the course programs for our degree. The technical part of the course however is probably not what your daughter would like a lot though. It involves drafting...a lot of drafting...on computers...that itself is a big turn off for many people. In fact most of my classmates enjoy the scientific illustration component a lot more than the scientific option.

    Anyway, let me know if you would like to talk to my prof. Even if you're not looking at Canadian schools, maybe my prof would be able to shed more light on schools within the US.

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    Craig, I have checked them out and ordered some information from them, as well as purchased their "Handbook of Scientific Illustration," a very expensive, but complete reference book. My daughter should probably join the Guild in the next few years. They have a lot of information, but not much on undergraduate programs, just on certificates and master's degrees. I am still checking things out with them. They represent the type of art in which my daughter is most interested.

    Darth, yes, please do check with your instructors. University of Toronto has one of six of the certified programs in medical illustration in North America and a verry good reputation for its Master's program. I do not see that my daughter will do much drafting with AutoCAD programs, but she sure is going to have to learn Adobe Illustrator and PhotoShop.

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    annettemcd, check your private message inbox.

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