Name: David Goodsell
Which came first in your life, the science or the art?
Both! My father, who worked as an aerospace engineer, got me interested in science at an early age, and I always knew I would choose research as a career. My grandfather started me with watercolor at about the same time, so art has also been a part of my entire life, and I’ve tried to combine the two interests ever since.
Which sciences relate to your art practice?
I currently split my time between research in structural molecular biology and science outreach. It all involves work on the structure and function of biological molecules like proteins and DNA, and use of this information to fight disease.
What materials do you use to create your artworks?
When I have atomic structures of a particular molecule, for instance in my work with the RCSB Protein Data Bank, I use computer graphics to create images. For the cellular landscapes, I use watercolor and ink.
Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:
My work with the RCSB Protein Data Bank, in particular, the “Molecule of the Month” column, has been the most rewarding project of my entire career. It’s fun to put together, since I get to explore a new subject every month. I’ve also had a great response from visitors to the site.
Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?
Two people in particular have helped shape everything I do. My graduate advisor Richard Dickerson at UCLA helped me chart a path through the process of combining science, art, and writing. His books and his research have been a source of constant inspiration. After graduate school, I did postdoctoral work with Arthur Olson at the Scripps Research Institute in his Molecular Graphics Laboratory, and have worked with him ever since. He is a source of constant creativity, always searching for new ways to explore science and make it accessible.
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