Gill, Mattia and Nisha were invited to show the work of the collaboration as part of the opening event for the new Wellcome/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Medical Engineering, located in the Lambeth Wing of St Thomas’ Hospital.
The event was an opportunity to showcase the work of many researchers at King’s, in the fields of neuroimaging, cardiovascular and oncology, in a large seminar room at the hospital. Most of the participants had produced posters to show their work, and Gill was provided with a PowerPoint template for an A0-sized poster. As the template was designed specifically to display a scientific research project, rather than graphic design, Gill did adjust the layout slightly to allow for the inclusion of as many images as possible. These images were chosen to show how a single, detailed image (shown in the top left of a set of sixteen images) could then be used as a basis for many others, each adapted or edited to suit a particular purpose. The poster was produced in Adobe InDesign, rather than in PowerPoint, but the final result, shown below, was in keeping with the other posters in the showcase.
Gill had also produced a double-sided A5 flyer (shown below) that was similar in style to the poster, but with room for a little more explanatory text.
The event was well-attended and, encouragingly, there was a very positive reaction to the work of the collaboration. Many people commented that scientists definitely need help with the generation of conceptual figures, and the creation of an image library of readily adaptable figures was seen as a very good idea. Obviously, the images shown were designed for a particular topic – intranasal drug administration – and a common question was whether the approach could be applied to other areas of neuroscience, such as the study of degenerative brain diseases and infant neuroscience, and to other fields of science, such as cardiology. There were also several questions about whether similar images could be used for visual communication with non-scientists, particularly when explaining complex medical issues to patients.
There is no reason why this approach to generating conceptual figures could not be used in any field of science that uses a visual language, and therefore specific visual elements, in its communication. It should, in theory, be applicable to any of the life and earth sciences. Although the collaboration is focusing only on peer-to-peer visual communication, the figures could certainly, with care, be adapted to be understood by non-scientists.