Science Teaching through Art (STAR) was an initiative linked to Stanford University that aimed to improve the educational communication between professional scientists and people on the street through the artful use of scientific delivery.

Please note that this website is no longer operated by the original coordinators, but you can see the key contributors below.

Workshops arranged by STAR coordinators promoted the use of simple graphic design applications and graphical designer’s approaches through all types of media.

Regardless of the delivery methods (e.g. printed, film and physical learning aids), STAR trained educators are able to create much more immersive learning for students, moving towards a more visual and interactive story line to education.

Building on these techniques, STAR based delivery has moved out of the traditional classroom environment of universities, and into public spaces, tho spread enthusiasm for learning into the general public. Event have been held in public buildings such as museums, libraries and even local community centers that form the heart of society.

The intention of events has been to bridge the gap between academics and the general public. Professors, researchers and many students in highly scientific disciplines can often sound like they’re speaking a different language. STAR encourages them to think about how concepts are explained, and to create learning materials and delivery methods that do not require specialized understanding to consume.

Even simple steps like creating illustrations to explain concepts in addition to words can help the majority of people to grasp concepts.

STAR was created in 2013 to extend these techniques to academics, and has reached well over 100 researchers in that time.

In turn, the techniques to make learning more accessible has extended out into communities, reaching countless students, and in turn influenced the creation of better education through vast numbers of educators.

Past coordinators

Leslie Koyama: Biology

Leslie Koyama

Leslie is a fourth year PhD student in the Developmental Biology Department at Stanford University. While pursuing her B.A. in Biology at Barnard College, Leslie fell in love with learning how individual cells communicate and work together. As an undergraduate, she studied how billions of bacteria living together in a space the size of a nickel can cooperate to create incredibly beautiful and complex communities known as biofilms. During college, Leslie also pursued her lifelong love of art by working as a freelance artist for a number of student run publications at Barnard and Columbia. It was during college that Leslie developed an interest in finding ways to merge her love of art and her love for communicating and teaching science. Now at Stanford, Leslie studies how stem cells make decisions and work together in the intestine. She is incredibly excited to be working with STAR, and she is interested in finding new and unique ways to get people excited about and engaged in science.

About STAR Website

Mamdouh Nasr: Electrical Engineering

Mamdouh is a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford. He also works as a research assistant in the Technology and Innovation Department at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. His work focuses on the design and applications of particle accelerators which push charged particles like electrons to nearly the speed of light. Every day in the lab Mamdouh discovers more about how these tiny particles can have the most powerful effect. Before Mamdouh joined Stanford, he worked as a teaching assistant then assistant lecturer at Cairo University, where he taught 5 college-level courses and 5 laboratories, tutoring over 1000 college students. He also volunteered twice to teach undergrads Linux administration over the summer. Mamdouh’s passion for teaching and visual illustrations brought him to STAR to be able to present his work to a more diverse audience in a cool and fun way.

About STAR Website

Xingyi Shi: Chemical Engineering

Xingyi is a first-year PhD student in the Chemical Engineering Department at Stanford. She studies the dynamic behavior of thin liquid films in the presence of surfactants by deriving and solving the governing equations. As an undergraduate at MIT, she worked as a co-director for Academic Teaching Initiative. ATI is aimed at providing affordable SAT preparation to disadvantaged students in the greater Boston area. Through her experience with ATI, she developed a passion for designing and coordinating classes for outreach programs. This passion has brought her to join STAR as an event developer. She is excited to roll out new classes in the upcoming school year.

About STAR Website

Tiras Lin: Mechanical Engineering

Tiras is a fourth year PhD student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Stanford. Broadly, he is interested in fluid mechanics, and currently he studies the use of nanoparticles as drug delivery vehicles and the dynamics of flexible biopolymers such as DNA. Before Stanford, he earned an MPhil at Cambridge University and a BS at Johns Hopkins University, and he has worked on research on buoyancy-induced turbulent mixing and the dynamics of butterfly flight. His research experiences have taught him the importance of being able to communicate science to any audience — from middle school students interested in insect flight to colleagues working in fluid mechanics. Photography is one of his longtime interests, and he is always searching for new ways to visualize phenomena. He is looking forward to coming up with new ideas for future STAR events.

About STAR Website

Callie Chappell: Ecology & Evolution

Callie is a first year PhD student in Ecology and Evolution in the Department of Biology at Stanford. Callie is interested in studying what the yeast that live in floral nectar can teach us about fundamental concepts in ecology and evolution. While completing a concurrent undergraduate/master’s program in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan, Callie studied the intersection of global change biology and natural products chemistry. Outside of lab, Callie is a long-time artist and educator. She has been a freelance graphic designer, philosophy of science enthusiast, and ran an educational organization teaching high school policy debate.

About STAR Website

Abigail Birnbaum: Earth System Science

Abby is a first year PhD student in the Earth System Science Department at Stanford, pursuing research in freshwater systems modeling. As an undergraduate in Civil Engineering at Cornell University, she served as a peer advisor, teaching assistant, and math workshop facilitator, which inspired passions for teaching and making STEM accessible for all audiences. A lifelong artist, she is excited about helping to develop programming with STAR that combines her interests in art and science communication and education.

About STAR Website

Other Past coordinators

Here are the names of other respected and notable contributors to STAR over the years:

  • Matthew Ware
  • Anna Lee
  • Connie Fung
  • Suchita Rastogi
  • Tory Johnson
  • Lauren Shumaker
  • Nora Brackbill
  • Marius Cătălin Lordan
  • Helen Craig
  • Hilary Noad