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Science, Illustrated

Student’s work helps to publicize discovery

Researchers in Tibet have uncovered a woolly rhinoceros believed to be a million years older than the ones that roamed Europe and Asia in the ice age. A graduate of CSU Monterey Bay’s Science Illustration program is helping to bring that discovery to the world.

Julie Naylor, who earned a certificate from the program in 2011, created an illustration of what the 3.6 million-year-old rhino may have looked like as one of her internship projects for paleontologist Xiaoming Wang at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The illustration has appeared in the journal Science, The New York Times, ABC News, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s website and dozens of other print and web publications worldwide. Naylor is among a small number of professional artists who make up the field of science illustrators, people who work at the confluence of art and science. They take on the task of synthesizing complex scientific information, and then conveying that information in images. In the process, they play a large role in helping their audiences understand the science behind the illustration. Naylor has been fascinated with nature and drawing since childhood. “Growing up, my weekends were spent in aquariums, museums, at the zoo or out on hikes,” she said. At 15, she was certified as a scuba diver and “that opened up a whole new world.” In 2010, she found her way to the Science Illustration program at CSUMB. “It was life-changing for me,” she said. “Coming into the program, I had little art training. It was jumping into the deep end. One thing I really liked about the program is that we were taught about the practical aspects of the profession. It gave us an idea of what to expect.” The program moved to CSUMB in 2009 from its original home at UC Santa Cruz. The one-year graduate-level program is designed for people who wish to pursue a career in science illustration as well as for scientists who want to learn to illustrate their own research. After students finish their academic year of course work, they must complete an internship with a science magazine, museum, aquarium, university press, zoological or botanical institution, newspaper, or graphic arts studio. Naylor is doing her internship with the Natural History Museum of L.A. County. “The internship component has been an incredibly valuable experience,” Naylor said. “I can’t recall a year where I’ve learned as much as I did this year.

“I would absolutely recommend this program to others.” To learn more about the program, click here. To see more of Naylor's work, visit her website. Read The New York Times story here.

Photo courtesy of Julie Naylor, taken at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium where several of her works were on display. Illustration used by permission of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County