Dr Qasim Majid is a postdoctoral researcher within the Talman lab and the initiator of Art Meets Science.
Originally from Manchester, Qasim has lived and studied in Newcastle and London. Having completed his PhD from Imperial College London, Qasim relocated to Helsinki at the height of the pandemic in 2020 to commence his postdoc.
His postdoctoral research work investigates the effect the cells of the blood vessels (endothelial cells) have on the beating heart cells (cardiomyocytes) and whether the former can cause the latter to grow and divide to replace the beating cells lost during a heart attack. Alongside his research activities, Qasim delivers lectures and supervises young researchers in the lab. Qasim remarks that “organising Art Meets Science on top of these many responsibilities for the last 1.5 years has therefore been challenging yet incredibly rewarding”.
When asked to share his inspiration behind starting Art Meets Science, Qasim discusses the misinformation campaign brought to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic: “misinformation continues to plague public discourse. As a man of science, I feel as though I am in a privileged position in which I can attempt to address this pandemic of mistruths. As such, I proposed Art Meets Science to my lab head, Dr Virpi Talman & thereafter the Dean of the Faculty, upon arriving at the University of Helsinki during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020”.
Reflecting on his experience thus far, Qasim remarks “It has been incredibly fun yet extremely challenging balancing the organisation of this event with my other duties. Nevertheless, it has been a pleasure corresponding with all the artists on a regular basis and learning about their work. Through this project, I have grown to understand pieces of art and the field of art a little better. To this end, one can draw similarities between the two (i.e., the creative process and the multiple iterations required to achieve the final form) as well as differences such as the pursuit of facts to completely understand something versus the ambiguity & personal interpretation afforded by art”.
Thinking ahead to the upcoming exhibition, Qasim is most excited to finally meet all the participants in person and engage with the public. Having invited school-aged children to the event, Qasim is hoping to inspire the next generation of scientists and artists.
Qasim has been collaborating with Kirsi Syrlin and Gokhan Burhan.
You can read more about the research conducted within the Regenerative Cardiac Pharmacology group on their website.
Dr Virpi Talman is head of the Regenerative Cardiac Pharmacology group and a key player in the organisation of Art Meets Science:
Virpi describes herself as a “pharmacist by training and a researcher by spirit.”
As an Academy of Finland-funded Research Fellow in the division of Pharmacology and pharmacotherapy within the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Pharmacy, Virpi leads the Regenerative Cardiac Pharmacology group who aim to discover new ways to treat heart diseases. In addition to her research activities, Virpi is also responsible for teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students in addition to supervising young researchers.
Alongside Dr Qasim Majid, Virpi initiated Art Meets Science and has been a central light in the organisation of this event. This stemmed from a desire to promote discourse between science and the arts, both of which Virpi is highly passionate about, as well as wanting to find a way to discuss her research with the public in a way she hadn’t previously been involved in.
Reflecting on the project thus far, Virpi shares “organising the event has been a lot of work, but it has also been super inspiring! I loved meeting the artists with whom we collaborated, and I’ve been really encouraged by the positive feedback we have received”.
Looking ahead to the exhibition, Virpi shares her excitement for seeing the event come together and understanding how the artists have drawn inspiration from the research and channeled this into the pieces of art on display. Virpi continues and says “I am also looking forward to enjoying all the amazing art produced in the project and discussing our research with the public at the exhibition”.
Virpi has been collaborating with Kirsi Syrlin and Gokhan Burhan.
You can read more about the research conducted within the Regenerative Cardiac Pharmacology group on their website and via Virpi’s Twitter.
Gokhan Burhan is a Turkish-British artist residing in Finland.
Gokhan is a visual artist and designer who creates collages, prints, and paintings with a focus on typography and abstraction. He has previously created typographic posters for election campaigns and charities.
When invited to participate in Art Meets Science, Gokhan was excited to use these techniques to showcase scientific research. Having experienced this first hand during this visit to the Talman lab, Gokhan enthused how “engaging and informative” an experience this was.
Gokhan has been collaborating with Dr Virpi Talman and Dr Qasim Majid of the Regenerative Cardiac Pharmacology group.
You can learn more about Gokhan and his work from his website and Instagram.
Professor Marjo Yliperttula is a Professor of Biopharmaceutics at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Pharmacy.
As a professor, Marjo is involved in teaching students throughout the academic ladder as well as leading her own research group.
When asked for her rationale behind participating in Art Meets Science, Marjo shares “I found this project to be very inspiring and a great way to share the research we conduct at the University with the public. Thus far, the project has been extremely interesting and stimulating, and has allowed me to get to know a range of new people including researchers and artists”.
Looking ahead to the exhibition, Marjo is hoping to see a great number of visitors at the exhibition with open minds and questions”.
Marjo has been collaborating with Petra Kaminen Mosher and Hannele Rekola.
Hannele Rekola is a laboratory nurse and artist.
Hannele is originally from Rauma but now lives in Järvenpää where she works at Meilahti Pathology as a laboratory nurse. In her free time, Hannele practices pottery and draws a Kwaakku cartoon that is published in Kaupunkilehti Raumalainen. Owing to her artistic talents, Hannele belongs to the Järvenpää Art Society.
Reflecting on her participation in Art Meets Science, Hannele remarks how she was inspired by her good friend, Professor Marjo Yliperttula, a professor at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Pharmacy, who informed Hannele of the project. Hannele continues “Marjo invited me to participate in the project and I immediately grew excited. Ideas started spinning in my head! My original idea of ceramic vesicles was born and has since been transformed into a piece of art called ‘Connecting’. In this piece, vesicles play an important role in the pulsating umbilical cord that unites women”.
When asked about her experience thus far, Hannele shares how inspiring and necessary such a project is: “this joint project of science and art opens up huge new avenues to bring out the achievements of science through the eyes of art. It creates a third dimension that serves as a new kind of bridge for the viewer and an entry into the world of science that can sometimes be out of reach for the layman. Likewise, it acts as a reverse gateway to art, the opportunity to see things differently, through the eyes of art”.
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Hannele is excited to see the reactions of people and the public alike towards this innovative and groundbreaking exhibition that combines science and art. Hannele remarks, “I very much hope that we will gain visibility and reach the audience and the media. In addition, I hope for interesting encounters with people, both those involved in the project and those coming to see the exhibition”.
You can learn more about Hannele and her work from her website and Instagram.
Petra Kaminen Mosher is a Finnish-American artist living and working in Oulu, Finland.
Originally from New York City, Petra received her art degree from Boston University prior to moving to Finland where she works as a full-time visual and textile artist, and portrait painter.
When asked to specify what inspired her to join Art Meets Science, Petra shared how she has “always had a general interest in science and scientific development, particularly in medical innovation. Various scientific fields have inspired my work throughout my career, such as biology, botany, and pathology. I feel that the appreciation and understanding of scientific endeavours should be fostered and encouraged in the general public, and science collaborating with the arts is a stimulating and productive way to achieve that goal”.
Petra has been collaborating with her long-term friend, Prof. Marjo Yliperttula, Professor of Biopharmaceutics at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Pharmacy. Reflecting on this experience, Petra says “ It has been a continuous rumination on the interconnectedness of the natural world and the evolution of medicine.”
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Petra is looking forward to experiencing how the scientific impact of medical innovation is rendered into emotive visual media.
You can learn more about Petra and her work from her website and Instagram.
Dr Tatu Lajunen is a University Researcher with dual positions at the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland (UEF).
From hands-on experimental research to supervising young researchers, Tatu plays a multi-faceted role encompassing all areas of academic research. Further, he is the social media editor in the School of Pharmacy at the UEF, and editor-in-chief of the Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Pharmacy.
As an avid photographer with a keen eye for nature and architecture, Art Meets Science quickly caught Tatu’s attention. A project that combined various types of art with the promotion of rational science that aimed to make high-quality research accessible to the general public is one he had to be involved in during this age of misinformation.
Reflecting on the project thus far, he remarks that the project “has been very exciting and it has been a pleasure to see the active participation of various artists, each with their unique medium of art”.
Tatu works with Prof. Timo Laaksonen and has been collaborating with Emrecan Tanış and Sasha Stepanova. With a ‘slight bias’, Tatu summarises what he is most looking forward to from the exhibition: “I am super interested to experience the dance performance with fascinating costumes generated by our artist collaborators. Our research topic studies the very dynamic phenomena of light activation and treatment of difficult diseases, so it will be interesting to see how the dance performance choreographed by Emrecan, complete with fascinating costumes created by Sasha, will interpret this into their movement and visuals.
Further information about Tatu’s research within the Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology group can be found on their website.
Timo Laaksonen is a Professor of Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology at the University of Helsinki and Research Director (Chemistry) at Tampere University.
He studies how nanoparticles and molecular assemblies could be used to improve drug delivery. As the head of the lab, he is responsible for supervising PhD students and supporting post-docs, discussing their results, and looking for new ideas to research.
Like many scientists, Timo and his group share a passion for culture and the arts. Whilst this generally pertains to literature for Timo, he recognised the unique nature of Art Meets Science and remarked “it felt natural to support such a nice concept dealing with visual arts. Also, Qasim had a very good pitch about the project, and I felt confident that it would get done!”.
Throughout the project, Timo has observed an eagerness from his own group to actively participate in the project. He shares “the atmosphere has been really supportive. I have felt that the artists have also been truly interested in this, not just the scientists!”
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Timo is excited to see the results of their own collaboration as he believes a dance performance inspired by their research with the dancers wearing costumes further inspired by the light aspects of their research will certainly be a unique site that will stand out and be remembered.
Timo works with Dr Tatu Lajunen and has been collaborating with Emrecan Tanış and Sasha Stepanova.
You can read more about the research conducted within the Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology group on their website.
Emrecan Tanış is a Turkish choreographer based in Finland and a dancer with the Finnish National Ballet.
One of his latest creations, ‘Rise’ premiered at the Hannover Staatstheater in an evening that comprised the legendary choreographers Hans van Manen and Marco Goecke. In addition, he has created several pieces for the Stuttgart Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, and Finnish National Ballet School.
As a physical artist, Emrecan provides a unique perspective on his participation in Art Meets Science: “As a choreographer, I strive for new challenges. The idea of depicting complex scientific research through the abstract movement of dancers is one that greatly excited me.”.
Reflecting on his collaboration thus far, Emrecan remarks “it has been great! Our collaboration is unique in that I am working with another artist, Sasha Stepanova who is designing pieces for the dancers in my piece, as well as two scientists from the University of Helsinki’s Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology group – Prof. Timo Laaksonen and Dr Tatu Lajunen”.
Emrecan continues “our performance will be presented during the opening evening of Art Meets Science so I am very excited to see how a diverse audience interprets the piece and takes away a unique element from the experience. I am also looking forward to meeting the other members of my collaboration in person”.
You can learn more about Emrecan and his work from his website and Instagram.
Aleksandra (Sasha) Stepanova is a designer and professional dancer from Russia.
With an educational background in biophysics, Sasha states that Art Meets Science played nicely to these two important aspects of her life. For her, “science is art and art is science”.
Through her participation in Art Meets Science, Sasha hopes that individuals can see the true meaning and importance of both of these fields. Fields that she believes all parts of the world should be investing in.
Sasha is utilising these two unique skills sets and collaborating with Prof. Timo Laaksonen and Dr Tatu Lajunen from the pharmaceutical nanotechnology group to create costumes inspired by the light-activated drug release research conducted within their group.
You can learn more about Sasha and her designer label from her website and Instagram.
Dr Eva Ramsay is a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Heidi Kidron’s Transporter group at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Pharmacy.
Eva’s research is funded by the Academy of Finland and focuses on the impact of drug transporters in ocular (eye) drug delivery and pharmacokinetics (the study of how long it takes from the point a drug is absorbed to it being excreted).
Reflecting on her participation in Art Meets Science, Eva shares “colours have always inspired me, I get a lot of energy from walking in nature, attending art exhibitions or just wearing something colorful. Naturally therefore, I try to implement colours in my everyday life, whether that be in lab meeting presentations, poster presentations at conferences, or handicrafts with my children. Colours also help me learn new things!”.
Prior to Art Meets Science, Eva attended an art course led by Marina Zitting (one of our participating artists). This sparked a passion for oil painting, one that had left Eva wondering how she could combine these two passions: science and art. Upon hearing about Art Meets Science, Eva remarks “I knew this was something I had to join!”.
Reflecting on her experience thus far, Eva shares “It has been wonderful! I have been involved in both the organisation of the event and our own groups collaboration with Tiina Poutanen. I have gained a lot of energy from the project and channeled it towards my own research activities. In addition, it has been great to meet new and exciting people!”.
With respect to the upcoming exhibition, Eva is looking forward to the “energy, happiness, flashes of light, and bringing science to life with colours. I hope the pieces of art and their respective colours can help others to engage and learn something new and exciting about science!”
You can learn more about the transporter group on their website.
Laura Suominen is a second-year doctoral researcher from Finland, who works in Prof. Heidi Kidron’s Transporter group.
Lauras researches the genetic differences in drug transporter proteins located at the blood-brain barrier, a structure of cells that protects the brain from invading microbes and unwanted molecules such as toxins.
Having been passionate about art and science, Laura joined Art Meets Science to combine her two passions.
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Laura is excited to see the work created by the artists and hoping to see the different aspects of the research that has inspired their art.
Tiina Poutanen is a Tampere-based visual artist and writer.
Tiina is a fan of science and joined Art Meets Science to see how science and art can interact with one another. Tiina has been collaborating with the Transporter group led by Prof. Heidi Kidron at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Pharmacy.
Reflecting on her experience thus far, Tiina recalls her visit to the Kidron lab and seeing how cells are cultured.
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Tiina is looking forward to seeing how other artists have combined their unique artistic skillset with the equally unique science undertaken within their respective collaborations.
You can read more about Tiina on her website and Instagram.
Aastha Singh is a PhD student in the Voutilainen lab where she is researching Parkinson’s disease.
Originally from India, Aastha moved to Finland 5 years ago to pursue her studies. Within the Voutilainen lab, Aastha’s research focuses on protein aggregation, a key driver of Parkinson’s disease, and drugs that could be used to prevent this process and thus treat this severe condition. As an active member of the academic community, Aastha is also involved in the teaching and supervision of undergraduate students.
Reflecting on the project, Aastha views Art Meets Science as “a great way to bridge the gap between scientific jargon and lay language and what better way to do it than through art”. The Voutilainen group has been collaborating with Lena Blankenstein-Holmström and Eva Adan and shares that “this project has been very different from my normal academic activities, and it has been refreshing to see one’s own research from the perspective of an artist and hear their interpretation of it. Something new and really fun!”
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Aastha is excited to engage in “interesting and enriching conversation that can break barriers and incite curiosity” and meet all the participants in person.
Read more about Aastha’s research within the Voutilainen group on their website.
Tapani Koppinen is an Australian-Finnish PhD student in Prof. Merja Voutilainen’s group at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Pharmacy.
Tapani was born in Melbourne, Australia, before moving to Helsinki at a young age. After working briefly in a lab at the Meilahti campus, he joined the Voutilainen group to study the regenerative effects of novel drug compounds in models of Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating neurological condition in which the nerve cells of the brain and the spinal cord lose their ‘coating’ that is essential for the fast transfer of signals from the brain to our organs.
Tapani remarks “the field of neuroscience and immunology have always been close to my heart, and both lend themselves nicely to artistic expression”. He continues: “In general, research is a challenging yet deeply rewarding field to work in, and this project sounds like a great medium to highlight our research. Discussing our work with the artists was very enjoyable”.
Looking ahead to the exhibition, Tapani is excited to see the different pieces of art generated via the other collaborations and is also eager to share his research with the general public.
Read more about Tapani’s research within the Voutilainen group on their website.
Eva Adán is a Spanish Fine Artist based in Finland who is passionate about drawing, painting, philosophising, and spending time in nature.
As a fine artist, Eva utilises a range of traditional techniques including, watercolours, gouache, graphite, and ink to create her pieces. In addition, Eva partakes in illustrations and designs that necessitate digital tools. At present, Eva is developing two parallel projects, ‘Eva Adan Arts’ and ‘Eva Adan designs’ whilst also sharing her years of experience with students as a teacher of drawing and painting.
Recalling her rationale for joining Art Meets Science, Eva shares: “I have always been passionate about natural sciences, physics, chemistry, and philosophy. My mind is filled with multi-disciplinary curiosity always directed to the investigation of our own nature and consciousness. I graduated from the Complutense University of Madrid with a double specialty (Fine Arts, Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage in which I studied some scientific subjects), and also have a Master’s degree in Visual Art Education”.
Eva states that Art Meets Science was the perfect project to join as it coupled her artistic career with her longstanding love for neuroscience. She explains “I have always had a passion for neuroscience and everything to do with the brain and the mind. Therefore, it was an honour to visit the Voutilainen lab and see the neuroscience research they conduct. For years I have practiced meditation according to some Buddhist traditions and also under the guidance of the neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris. So, when I was given the choice of working with different research teams, I immediately chose the neuroscience team. During the visit to the laboratory, I was inspired by the research team itself, the instruments and methods they use, the mice, and the diseases they study. Throughout the creative process, my vision deepened, and I wanted to bring to life a piece full of colour, shapes, and light that would serve as a preventive self-therapy, transforming stress and emotions into something beautiful and in turn evoking the mysteries of the universe and human consciousness.
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Eva is hoping to “live the experience of participating in a collective exhibition and meeting the other participants in person. I also hope that we are able to engage with the general public and show that the sciences and the arts can and should be united in order to have a full understanding and a holistic vision of what it means to be a human”.
You can read more about Eva’s other work on her website and Instagram.
Lena Blankenstein-Holmström is a self-taught mixed media and alcohol ink artist living in Turku.
Having worked on ships for 40 years, Lena is using retirement to explore interesting new opportunities to gain fresh inspiration and perspective for her art. Reflecting on her participation in Art Meets Science, Lena recalls “the project seemed so interesting and was a completely new area for me to explore as I didn’t know much about scientific research before Art Meets Science. The whole project has been really positive, and the highlight was visiting the Voutilainen lab at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Pharmacy where I was able to talk with scientists from the lab and learn so much about their neuroscience research”.
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Lena is excited to meet the other participating members of Art Meets Science in person.
You can read more about Lena’s other work on her website and Instagram.
Manlio Fusciello is a PhD candidate who will soon graduate from Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo’s ImmunoViroTheraphy lab at the Faculty of Pharmacy.
Manlio is originally from Italy; however, he has travelled the globe before arriving in Finland having lived in the Netherlands and Canada.
The ImmunoViroTherapy lab focuses on using different microbes (including viruses), and specific cancer features to make the immune system the best weapon to fight against cancer. Manlio shares: “We are in essence using traditionally ‘unhealthy’ things to make us healthy again!”.
Manlio and the ImmunViroTherapy lab are collaborating with the illustrator and visual artist, Anna Stankevich. Manlio joined Art Meets Science because he believes the world needs to know more about the art hidden within nature and biology: “beauty is everywhere, especially in the way that evolution has shaped us”. He continues: “Science communication is lacking in today’s society, and I view this project as a great combination of beauty and science communication at the same time”.
Reflecting on the project thus far, Manlio states that “despite not being a talented artist myself, I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in Art Meets Science! Our collaborating artist, Anna, has done an amazing job throughout the project”.
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Manlio is hoping to meet new people and inspire them about what humanity can achieve through science. He goes on to share, “I want to see the ‘wow moment’ in people’s eyes, the same moment we experience as researchers when we have discovered something potentially game-changing for the world”.
You can read more about the research conducted within the ImmunoViroTherapy lab on their website and Instagram.
Anna Stankevich is a Polish illustrator and visual artist. Having lived in the United Kingdom, Anna moved to Finland where she practices as a self-employed artist.
Through Art Meets Science, Anna has been collaborating with Manlio Fusciello, a PhD candidate from Prof. Vincenzo Cerullo’s Lab focusing on viral immunotherapies to treat diseases such as cancer.
Anna shares her thoughts on the collaboration and participation in Art Meets Science thus far: “I was invited to join the project and was excited to do so as this was an interesting opportunity through which I have learnt a lot of fascinating things about viruses and their potential role in the treatment of cancer. It has also been great to work on a collaborative project and to try and incorporate scientific ideas with symbolism in my artwork”.
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Anna is curious to see the pieces of art created through the other collaborations and to partake in a group show such as this.
You can read more about Anna’s other work on her website and Instagram.
Okko Alitalo is the second of two artists participating in Art Meets Science who is also a research scientist.
Okko is a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Pharmacy where he is conducting research into antidepressant therapies. Alongside his research activities, Okko is a keen artist and shares his reasoning for joining Art Meets Science: “I am interested in science communication, and making science more approachable through art is a great way to achieve this. Science is more than just numbers and statistics; coming up with new ideas and planning experiments requires as much creativity as creating art. Similarly, both science and art require consecutive rounds of iteration and experimentation”.
Through his participation in Art Meets Science, Okko has not only created a piece by which he can share his research, but he has also acquired an array of new techniques and learnt a great deal about himself in the process. Okko goes on to explain “I’ve been working on this project for almost a year now, almost daily since summer 2021, so I’m excited to present this to the public and share with my family and friends why I haven’t had a life in a long time! During that time however, I have learnt a lot about the physical properties of various materials and used a number of fancy tools including the largest laser I could find in Helsinki to engrave the acrylic in my piece. In addition to this, I used a light-absorbing resin from a Japanese optics company that absorbs 99.4% of visible light to paint the black neurons in my piece. More recently, I have milled the frame for the piece from Finnish pine which has been equally cool!”.
Thinking ahead to the exhibition, Okko reflects on his previous exhibition, “Okkoltism & Dark Arts”, a Perttu Häkkinen Foundation-supported tour that was cut short due to the onset of the pandemic. With that in mind, Okko states that he is “looking forward to exhibiting his work again and sharing it with the public.”
You can read more about Okko’s work on his website and Instagram.