Pop-art style cell. Pink, blue, and yellow shapes form a quarter of a circular cell.


In ALL, CREATORS by Vrinda Nair

Name: Dr. Radhika Patnala

Which came first in your life, the science or the art?

I used to enjoy sketching and painting, especially with watercolours. For the longest time, art was a hobby and interest, but it was during my PhD studies that I found my passion for interlinking science and art. I quite enjoyed the process of making posters, visual communications, and communicate new findings from my research through illustrations.

Joan Clarke Sci-Illustrate-Stories by Dr Radhika Patnala
A set in motion image of Joan Clarke and her work. Representing incredible women in science.
Joan Clarke Sci-Illustrate-Stories by Dr. Radhika Patnala

Which sciences relate to your art practice?

Drawing neurons, microglia, and other brain cells and structures come the most natural to me when I tend to make personal sci-art, maybe because I have spent many hours on the microscope looking at neuronal tissue during my research days.  

But again, it also depends on what my client requires. I also try to make my illustrations different from each other. I tend to look for newness in my artworks, and it’s nice to challenge myself with every work I do. So having a mixture of every bit of science works well.

COVID Dreams (2020) by Dr Radhika Patnala. Digital art made using Adobe illustrator.
COVID Dreams (2020) by Dr. Radhika Patnala
The Guardians – Featured on Nature Reviews Neurology (2020) by Dr Radhika Patnala. A image of neurons used as the journal cover page.
The Guardians (2020) by Dr. Radhika Patnala, featured on Nature Reviews Neurology.

What materials do you use to create your artworks?

For my artworks or sci-art, I use Adobe Illustrator. All my creative insights directly get transferred to my screen. I begin my work by conceptualizing the idea in my mind first. I also tend to sketch them on paper as a draft, but working digitally gives me more freedom to explore.

Futurpopart (2018) by Dr Radhika Patnala. A hand muscle image on skateboard reaching out for a mobile phone.
Futurpopart (2018) by Dr. Radhika Patnala
Futurpopart (2018) by Dr Radhika Patnala. We all come from fishes image on a skateboard.
Futurpopart (2018) by Dr. Radhika Patnala

Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:

A long-standing passion project we have ongoing at Sci-illustrate for over two years now is a Women in Science initiative and media campaign, where we highlight the scientific stories of three women scientists every month. This project makes me incredibly proud. We have collected stories of nearly 72 woman scientists, and we are on our way to make that 100. This project is also dear to me because I have the most wonderful team of artists and dedicated editors behind this keeping this initiative alive, and it is wonderful to be able to collect these inspiring stories and making them accessible to scientists and non-scientists alike.    

Sudipta Sengupta Sci-illustrate-Stories by Dr. Radhika Patnala.
A set in motion image on Sudipta Sengupta for the Indian Women in Science series.
Sudipta Sengupta Sci-illustrate-Stories by Dr. Radhika Patnala

Another personal project “The Guardians” was featured on the cover of Nature Review Neurology journals for the entire year of 2020. Being associated with such consolidated knowledge was a true privilege.  

The Guardians – Featured on Nature Reviews Neurology (2020) by Dr Radhika. 
Dr Radhika holding the nature journal with her cover image of neurons.
The Guardians (2020) by Dr. Radhika, featured on Nature Reviews Neurology

On the list is another one of my personal art series FuturPopArt where I joined many artists around the world to design skateboards for a month. I decided to focus on life science themes, and I challenged myself to create something new every day for the month of June 2018. Getting up every day to create something beautiful was very exciting. And it will remain one such project that is close to my heart and something I am proud of.

Futurpopart (2018) by Dr Radhika Patnala. Colorful circles made on a skateboard with a theme- Through your eyes.
Futurpopart (2018) by Dr. Radhika Patnala
Futurpopart (2018) by Dr. Radhika Patnala. A image on poison dart on a skateboard.
Futurpopart (2018) by Dr. Radhika Patnala
Futurpopart (2018) by Dr Radhika Patnala. A image based on- now available with 100% more DNA on a skateboard describing a biological process.
Futurpopart (2018) by Dr. Radhika Patnala

Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?

I love looking at Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s work. I find it especially fascinating due to my neuroscience interests, and his eye for capturing biological detail. I’m also very taken by Ernst Haeckel’s work.

Neurons (2020) by Dr. Radhika Patnala. A image on neurons like a forest.
Neurons (2020) by Dr. Radhika Patnala

“SciArt, I believe, is the personal interpretation of scientific concepts.”

Dr. Radhika Patnala

SciArt is an emerging term related to combining art and science. How would you define it?

SciArt is fast-growing, and many folks all over the world are exploring this field and producing some great work. SciArt, I believe, is the personal interpretation of scientific concepts. It’s like art that is based on how the person perceives the world around them but also finds its inspiration from scientific concepts that fascinate the artist’s mind.

Sci-Illustrate Wallpaper Fatal attraction by Dr Radhika Patnala. A image which resembles saturn with the ring.
Sci-Illustrate Wallpaper Fatal Attraction by Dr. Radhika Patnala
Dr Radhika Patnala holding her Nature journal.
Dr. Radhika Patnala

For more by Dr. Radhika Patnala, visit her website, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

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About the Author

Vrinda Nair

Vrinda Nair is a doctoral student and public scholar who is pursuing her PhD in Physics at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. Currently, working on drug design of small molecules implementing deep learning. She also serves as the treasurer of the Forum on Graduate Student Affairs (FGSA) at the American Physical Society. She is a published author-poet of three books which include two poetry books: It’s a carnal world (physical book), Abuzz (Kindle eBook) and one self-help book: Motivate your genes (Kindle eBook). Vrinda also holds a record in writing a poem in alphabetical order from the India Book of Records. She writes on diverse themes on her blog and designs many art forms. She is a freelancer who provides services like content writing, resume/CV editing, SOP, presentation making etc. She is also a certified professional life coach, instructional designer, artist, and digital illustrator and is passionate about playing the violin. She actively supports many causes like women in STEM, supporting sci-artist and has worked with various organisations and offered volunteering services. She believes to live in sanguinity.