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Illustrator, biologist create unique field guide

Slime... mold?

You might find them in your garden, or spot them on the sides of rotting logs as you hike. They are slime molds: found just about everywhere, colorful, gelatinous, diverse, adaptable.

And Angela Mele is determined to get them some recognition.

Mele, a 2010 graduate of CSU Monterey Bay’s Science Illustration program, is working with slime mold researcher Dr. Steven Stephenson of the University Arkansas on his field guide to Australian myxomycetes (the scientific name for the organisms). Her job: fill the guide with 40 beautiful illustrations.

In December, Mele spent a week in Dr. Stephenson’s lab, peering into a microscope and drawing. But, there are many more species described in the guide that she would like to illustrate. That will require more resources than the project has available.

She’s using the fundraising site Kickstarter to collect donations for supplies, public presentations and displays, and other costs. Her goal of $5,500 was reached on the first day; as of June 24, she had raised more than $8,000 from 173 backers.

She points out that the species she’s illustrating for Dr. Stephenson aren’t found only in Australia. They are some of the most common species worldwide; therefore, her illustrations will be relevant to communities everywhere. She plans to exhibit them, and use them in presentations at schools, nature centers and natural history museums.

Her ultimate goal is to create a public slime mold diorama that could be the centerpiece of larger exhibitions about micro-organisms and soil ecology. But that might have to wait until she finishes her master’s degree in museum studies, which is intends to start in the fall.

See example of Mele’s slime mold drawings

Read about CSUMB's Science Illustration program