Time Poster - Governor's Research Impact Award

This a poster ( print size 3ft x 4ft) that I designed for Fellow Judah Levine for the Governor's Research Impact Award that he received Feb 17, 2009. The print version came out really well and actually looks better printed than in the digital format (usually its the other way around). The JILA chair and Judah came to me and asked me about doing a poster for his nomination ( and eventually onto being the finalist for the award) and I said I would do it. I was naturally excited about the prospect of designing a poster and doing the print work; however the problem was I was having too many ideas come into my head and I was having a problem trying to organize the information in a clear and clever manner. Of course Judah came by and made a quick list of items that needed to be on the poster. It was a start, but it didn't really help me because the ordering of the list didn't make much sense to me.

First things first. I need to absorb the idea and brainstorm. So I took this scratch paper list, looked it over, and spent all weekend brainstorming, organizing, and researching, and sketching. I spent a lot time on this part so that I could get a design that would work, grow, and would be able to finish within a week and a half. I had to think about my audience which were going to political types and business types.....basically as some scientists would put it "normal" people who only know a little bit of science. I had to think about the concept of time or precision time that Judah is involved with. I had to think about how to include both organizations of NIST and JILA into the design. I also had to think about whether I would need setup photo shoots or just use stock photography or both or none at all. think think think...draw, design, draw...... think think think

Finally I arrived several potential designs that I could really work into something for this project. I didn't arrive at any one golden perfect idea, but I figured I had the workings of several malleable ideas. I was pretty proud of myself by the end of that Sunday. I made a quick mock up of one of my more favorite ideas. I liked it, but it was kinda intense and radical which is why I liked it i guess. I showed a NYC designer friend of mine Tommy E. (i call him my Marc Jacobs designer) who was online working over the weekend with me. He was there chatting with me all weekend and he wanted to see my design. He peer pressured me into showing him my design. Short story: he commented that it was really a interesting idea and look...very Dada...very minimalistic ...very Sharp edges and lines. He caught the hourglass concept and etc. I said exactly! He mentioned that I should play around with making the edges smoother and more shading, but i said yea and no. While i understand that circles (hence clocks) and hour glass form itself have very smooth structures, I wanted the edges to be sharp and push the colors to be more flat to allude to the precision of time as a constant and not variable (as in curvatures and shading). So the main center graphic references to the abstraction of several time pieces such as hour glass, clock, interval rotation, and even the sun. I liked it because the shapes weren't directly saying what it was in a literal format. Depending on how you interpret the shapes you could arrive at any one or all those conclusions. Anyways I placed the two organization on either halves of the shape to make it look like both NIST and JILA work together on precision time. I organized essentially two contrasting columns on the sides of poster. The right column side is for "Time Services" that NIST and JILA actually provide. The left column side is for "Time Service Clients" which are types of people or fields of interest that actually depend on NIST and JILA's time services.

I felt pretty good about the various ideas I was working with. The next part was involving my boss (she is the writer in our office and likes to be involved with anything involving written content). I figured this would be a great project to team build together which I desperately needed help on because I was juggling several other projects with tight deadlines for some of the other Fellows at the same time. I figure I had enough rough visual ideas that it would help jump start dialogue with my boss about "melding" the visual components with the potential content. I like thinking and designing within a collaborative team. So that Monday I eagerly set up a meeting with my boss to show her my visual ideas and all my notes and concepts for the project. Well things didn't turn out so well. She looked at my sketches and I explained all my ideas. She said it was interesting, but she said it in that hesitant way. Designers know this reaction from clients. Then she said that it didn't look like it would really work (and this i am assuming was for all my sketch ideas) and that Judah would surely not care for it. BASICALLY rejected. At this point I was fine with that response and I figured she would have this sorta opinion or not get it... which happens. I figured "great!" , now lets deconstruct and/or reconstruct something and figure something out that WILL work. But this didn't happen either and i wasn't able to get tangible feedback. So I left and went to my office trying to figure out why all my designs was treated with doubt. Felt like someone throat punched me (ask ian about throat punching. ian's stories seem stick in my mind in an uncanny and unhealthy way sometimes). Anyways, Judah happened to come by the office "great! rub the failure directly in my face with the Fellow also". Well Judah took a quick look and said "Wow this is great". I thought he was being sarcastic or just nice. But i looked at him and he genuinely "figured" the designed out. I even asked several direct questions to test him. He knew exactly what i was trying to do with the shapes and organization. He just said keep going with it, and I was like GREAT! I felt like i got my voice back and I could get to work with some tangible feedback and support. From then I basically worked on it directly with Judah and relied on his feedback and opinions.

My design was throat punched and then resurrected. The main point is that I finished the project as I projected and everybody liked the final product (well nobody said anything negative about it abo). The poster was on display at the governor's mansion or wherever the award ceremonial was done.

I kept getting some really good comments from the other staff, grads, post docs, and Fellows. Thanks for the support guys! The poster was also on displayed in JILA reception lobby. If you get a chance, go check it out because the physical version is definitely better than the digital version. I was walking past and I overheard a post doc from one of the groups talking to his a colleague say "Yeah its intense!". I just smirked and continued walking down the hallway almost about laugh out loud with the feeling that I got away with something (making it eye catching and not traditional). Its interesting seeing people view my art work and hearing their reactions with my wondering ear.

Eight Days A Week did the printing, and they did a pretty decent job. Also I didn't realize that 3ft by 4ft is actually pretty big....physically. When I was designing I kept visualizing a more standard poster size; the kind you see hanging up in a classroom or something. I realized how big it was when I was printing a proto-type with JILA's printers and it was taking a long while to do.

All the art and photographs were done by me except for a few off location photographs that were provided by: NIST, NASA/JPL-Caltech NAIC - Arecibo Observatory (a facility of the NSF), and the close shot of the wall clock was done by Sanja Gjenero.

If you want a larger higher resolution version to read the details, just email me. Also Judah might put the pdf up on his website at some point.


Optical traps for single molecule biophysics

I worked closely with Fellow Tom Perkins on this techincal illustration of biophysical signals and optical-trapping geometries. I made the illustration late in 2008, but it did not get published to Laser & Photonics Reviews until Feb 2009. The top image is the final layout for the journal article with some visual adjustments by Tom Perkins.

Caption Text for Figure 3:
(online color at: www.lpr-journal.org) Comparison of different biophysical signals (a–g) and optical-trapping geometries (i–vii) used to study nucleic acids and nucleic-acid enzymes. (a) A “tug-of-war” signal between the biological molecule and the trap develops as an anchored protein (gold cone) moves along a nucleic acid (red and green) pulling the bead (blue sphere) in an optical trap (pink). (b) A ”conversion” signal uses the conversion from dsDNA (red and green) to ssDNA (green), or the reverse, to change the elastic properties of the tether and thereby measure enzymatic motion. (c) Opening of a nucleic-acid hairpin (through increased force, enzyme motion, or protein melting) leads to more single-stranded nucleic acid under tension and, therefore, motion of the trapped bead. (d) A “popping” signal occurs when sequestered nucleic-acid segments are released as the force in the trap is increased. This signal can be used to measure binding or looping of a protein (purple). (e) Fluorescent tracking of the motion of an enzyme (red cone) either by dye (green halos) displacement or a small fluorescent particle (green sphere) attached directly to the enzyme under study. (f) Fluorescence-resonance energy transfer (FRET) of two nearby fluorophores (D and A, donor and acceptor) leads to emission of red (acceptor) light if the fluorophores are close together. If the strands were separated by force or enzymatic motion, the FRET efficiency would change. (g) A torsional signal (enzyme rotational movement, nucleic-acid supercoiling) can be obtained by using birefringent particles (grey cylinder) and an optical trap which measures torque. (i) The nucleic acid is stretched between an anchor point on the surface and the trapped bead in the surface-coupled geometry. (ii) A micropipette holds one bead via suction while the other bead is optically trapped. (iii) Fluid flow (arrows) extends DNA attached to an optically trapped bead. (iv) Two traps holding two beads connected by a nucleic-acid molecule, often called a ”dumbbell” geometry. (v) Vertical stretching of a nucleic acid, similar to (i), but pulling straight up. (vi) A double dumbbell geometry, or ”quad” trap, allows precise manipulation and measurement of two nucleic-acid molecules for studying a protein (purple) which binds the two molecules together. (vii) Pulling a DNA molecule through a nanopore using an optical trap. Figures are schematic representations from references found in the main text. The biophysical signals shown can be measured through a variety of trapping geometries. For example, the enzyme moving along a nucleic acid which creates the “tug-of-war” signal could be anchored to a cover slip (i), a bead held by a micropipette (ii), or a second optically trapped bead (iv).

The Full citation: Laser & Photonics Reviews [article Fig 3], "Optical traps for single molecule biophysics: a primer", February 2009, Vol 3, Issue 1-2, Page 207

  • Client: Thomas Perkins

  • Related Links: Laser & Photonics Reviews article (Feb 2009, Vol 3 Iss 1-2, Pg 203-220) article