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Misher Festival: A Look Back at the Week’s Highlights

By Marisa Olson

Misher logoThe arts and sciences united in presentations of photography and writing as University of the Sciences celebrated “Images of Humanities and Science” during its annual Misher Festival of Fine Arts and Humanities from Jan. 26-30. Taking a look back, University students Erblina Koka BC’09, Shay McCray DPT’12, and Leeann Tan HumSci’11, provide highlights of the week’s most memorable events, speakers, and experiences.

History Detectives with Dr. Roy Robson
By Erblina Koka BC’0

“A picture is worth 1,000 words.” This is what I was thinking as the talk came to an end. In reality, a picture is worth more than 1,000 words, sometimes even 10 times as much. Dr. Roy Robson’s “History Detectives” presentation during the Misher Festival illustrated how an historian can use an image to unlock the secrets of the past.

Science works by observation first, then experimenting, and coming to a conclusion which eventually may or may not lead to a theory. In the same way, detectives have to work to discover what lies behind pictures or evidence, and come to the truth about it.

Modern technology—like video cameras—helps us to preserve the past. But before modern inventions, the only things we had left from the past were pictures.

The facial expressions on the people, the way they’re dressed, the way they’re oriented, who they’re with, the background—even minor details can say a lot.

Sometimes it is those minor details that are the key to understanding the whole picture. That is what a history detective looks at to help him/her uncover the truth.

In a way, it is by these pictures that people in the past could have left an important mark for the future to discover. Sometimes, even secret codes could be hidden, but it takes a keen observer to uncover them.

Dr. Robson’s presentation made you want to take a closer look at the old pictures that your grandparents always keep. Maybe we, too, can find something interesting about their past that we didn’t know.

James E. Hayden, RBP, FBCA 2009 Misher Visiting Professor of Humanities Lecture: "The Art of Science"
By Shay McCray DPT’12

I was fascinated by the images James E. Hayden displayed at the “The Art of Science.” I had never really stopped to think about how close the relationship between art and science really is.

Artists and scientists basically take the same steps in their work even if the end result is different; they observe, evaluate, and communicate. The major attribute that ties the two together, though, is creativity.

Hayden opened with a brief history of the connections in art and science: DaVinci was a scientist while he studied the human body, but he was also an artist when he drew one of the first anatomical figures. It became evident to me throughout Hayden’s lecture that, in most cases, one (science) cannot exist without the other (art)—or that they can, but when used together the result is so much better.

I also didn’t realize all the places scientific images were used, even though I have been carrying around science textbooks for about three years now. Images like the ones Hayden showed are used as cover art, in scientific journals, and even as living room art! What struck me was not only were they useful to the scientific community, but they were so beautiful to look at.

I think this was the perfect lecture to have at our school. Our science-geared minds often forget what a huge role art plays in our work.

More than a Pizza Lunch
By Leeann Tan HumSci’11

One of the best parts about Misher Visiting Professor  James E. Hayden’s visit was the opportunity for students to sit down with him and answer questions about his life, his hobbie,s and his career choice, among other things. Over pizza and soda, students trickled into Wilson Hall and took seats next to the Professor. It was not long before the questions began.

The first question he was asked: How did he get into photography? The answer sparked a great dialogue between Professor Hayden and the students.

In high school, he said, he was on the yearbook staff and dabbled with pictures in a friend’s darkroom. As he advanced, Hayden was left alone to learn microscopy and photography. After taking some pictures with the microscope, people thought that the pictures would be useful and from there, an idea snowballed. Hayden fused and created a program in college (complete with a syllabus and lessons) on photography using electron microscopy, which was how Hayden created his degree of biology/biological photography. Soon after, he was asked to take pictures for textbooks. On being a professional, Professor Hayden replied, “I did what needed to be done.”

All in all, the luncheon was a success and the students who came were able to get so much out of the experience.

Panel Discussion: Alumni Perspectives on the Arts at University of the Sciences
By Shay McCray DPT’12

The Misher Festival presented a breakfast panel discussion on alumni perspectives on the arts at the University.

Featured guests included former editors of our school’s literary journal The Elixir Larry Liberti P’76 PhCog’78 and Geri Liberti P’78 (editors from the late 1970s), and John Dougherty PH/TX’06 (editor from 2003-2006); Grace Earl P’86, PharmD’92, Karen Tietze PharmD’82, and MaryKate McGinty P’84, BW’04 (music-loving alumni who now work at here); Phil Moravec BC’03 and Michele (Vergara) Moravec HS’05, who participated in Encore (the University’s drama group) and the Kingsessing Singers and Players; and Elizabeth “Neena” (Thomas) Moham PharmD’05, who pursued a writing minor and published a popular advice column in The Panacea (the University’s student newspaper at the time).

This event surprised me more than I expected. I was shocked when I heard how involved all those people had been in the arts and humanities, and then even more surprised when I heard that most of them were science majors.

As I listened to all the incredible things these people contributed to, I realized how blind most of the students here are. I have been here for three years and am only now becoming involved in the humanities and fine arts.

Out of all the Misher Festival events, I enjoyed this discussion the most. Since I first came to University of the Sciences, I have never felt that I belonged among all the science-geared minds. Most days I still feel this way. It took me two years, but I discovered that I can have both.

Just as the alumni who sat before me, I am finding ways to satisfy the part of me that needs something other than science. This year, I wrote a play (something I never thought I’d do), I took an independent study in literature, and I applied for a literature minor.

Hearing that people before me had done things even more significant here was truly eye-opening. One thing the alumni discussed was that being involved in art and science makes you a better professional. Taking classes outside of science allows you to think in so many different ways, and to look at things in ways you never would have.

I am grateful most of those people had a hand in keeping the arts and humanities alive at this school. I just wish more people would take advantage of it. I have met some amazing people; a few professors have made such an impact on me and gone above and beyond for me. The alumni echoed this idea. They said the relationships you make with the humanities people (students and faculty) are incredible.

I agree. It is a connection you won’t find anywhere else at this school.

Nikon International Small World Contest and Exhibit
By Leeann Tan HumSci’11

According to The Wistar Institute’s Microscopy Core Facility manager James E. Hayden, “What you see is not what you get.”

Located on the corner of 36th and Spruce Streets on the University of Pennsylvania campus, the Wistar Institute held its 34th annual Nikon Small World Exhibit. With submissions from all over the world, the top 20 were chosen and displayed for the public.

Beginning in 1974, the Nikon Small World Exhibit is used as a means to show appreciation for those with a niche for photomicrography. Polarized light, darkfield, stereomicroscopy, Rheinberg Illumination, differential interference contrast, fluorescence, and confocal, were the different types of photomicrography represented in the exhibit.

Although a small exhibit, one cannot feel anything but amazement as you look at each picture. Alongside each picture is the name of the photographer, the source of the image (vitamins, paper fibers, zooplankton, and more), and what photomicrography techniques were used to capture the image.

In addition, visitors can read a series of questions answered by each photographer. “What sparked your interest in photomicroscopy?”

Lily of the Valley photographer and third place winner Albert Tousson of the University of Alabama said, “It is a discipline in which science and art become one.”

Charles Kazilek from Arizona State University and fifth place winner for his photograph of Japanese Specialty Paper Fibers answered the same question: “I am a scientist as well as an artist.”

Fifteenth place winner for his Radiolarians was Wim van Egmond from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. When asked what sparked his interest, he replied, “The curiosity for what lives just beyond our scope.” These three winners exemplify the idea that the sciences and the arts are a highly compatible pair.

Other photomicrographs that were of interest were the first place winner of the Marine Diatom and the seventh place winner of the anti-cancer drug, Mitomycin.

Using polarized light and darkfield microscopy, Michael Stringer of Essex, UK is the recipient of First Place with his image of a Marine Diatom. Whether looking at it at first glance or staring at it for an extended period of time, the picture looks like beautiful streaks of color—not the circular diatom science-minded people are used to seeing.

In seventh place: a micrograph of the anti-cancer drug Mitomycin. Dr. Margaret Oecshli of the Jewish Hospital Heart and Lung Institute used polarized light microscopy to capture this metallic mountain of the anti-cancer drug.

It is evident that the Nikon Small World Competition will keep surprising its followers. The entries will always be something that viewers will be astounded by and will revel in its ingeniousness. 

Categories: News, Event, Department of Humanities, Humanities and Science, Misher College