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Illinois IGB


Art of Science Gallery 13



Art of Science image titled Vista Esplosa
Vista Esplosa

Scientist Collaborators Moonsub Lee, Donald R. Ort, Ryan A. Boyd, Kingsley A. Boateng

Donald R. Ort Group

Serial Block face SEM

Funded by Biological and Environmental Research program, U.S. Department of Energy


On a hot summer day, as you drive north from Urbana-Champaign you might notice the sea of green on either side of the highway. Although these waves of corn and soybean are a breathtaking sight, they also remind us of how much is at stake in the face of rising temperatures and severe droughts. Researchers are, therefore, diligently working to engineer crops that can withstand these challenges so that all of us will continue to have access to enough food in the face of global warming.

The original research image was one of the first 3D reconstructions of the cell structures in corn and sugarcane. Inspired by Elsworth Kelly’s work, the artist placed those structures against the silhouettes of the plants. Through these minimalist contour drawings, she invites us to connect the internal workings of a plant, which can only be seen through a microscope, to its external form. By doing so, we can understand the sheer scale of moving parts that can be tinkered with to achieve global food sustainability.