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Janet Iwasa


Produces animations with researchers to help them test and uncover hypotheses about molecular processes
What does the biotech field need more of?

"Our hypotheses in molecular biology are becoming increasingly complex, but the ways in which biologists are visualizing these hypotheses remain relatively crude. Having better models will allow researchers to see their work in a different light and to formulate different and better questions."

How can creativity improve your field?

"I'm always thinking about aesthetics. While scientific accuracy is of utmost importance in my models and animations of molecules, I'm also looking for a pleasing balance of color, shape, and lighting. The better I can make a molecule look, the more a researcher or student is likely to look at it, and the more they can gain scientifically."

What impediment do you often come across?

"Making out-of-the-box software--designed for animating people and animals--work for animating molecules and cells isn't easy. I've dealt with this in two ways: just tinkering around on the computer in my animation software until I come to a reasonable solution; or getting away from my computer, going for a walk, sleeping on it, or chatting with fellow animators."

Click here to see head-to-head responses to these questions from Iwasa, plus computer scientist Miriah Meyer, and research scientist Nina Tandon, Nos. 24 and 26 on our Most Creative People list.