As the spring semester winds down at colleges and universities, many graduating students are putting the finishing touches on their theses. For Veronica Berns, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, last year’s finishing touches involved illustrating and designing a comic book.
“At some point last year when I was putting together my thesis, I realized that I was working on something I really loved, and I didn’t have a good way to talk about it with people who aren’t my fellow solid state chemists. That’s when I started to draw and write this comic book.”
Her work on quasicrystals is admittedly challenging to explain, but Berns’ determination to share her knowledge and passion for chemistry motivated her to find a way to bridge that gap. The comic is beautifully simple, with clever, handwritten text by Berns and engaging, colorful art that will appeal to kids and the older Schoolhouse Rock! generation alike.
The response to Berns’ Kickstarter to publish her comic book was phenomenal, raising $14,400 in a thirty day period (her original goal was $5,965). Patrons have told Berns of their excitement over being able to share this with their kids and family members who love science. While the subject matter might not be the typical fifth grade science class fare, it’s sure to encourage young aspiring scientists to explore beyond what they learn in the classroom.
“Quasicrystals are interesting because they break the rules of what we think crystals are,” Berns says.
Lucky for us then that women like Berns continue to break the rules of conventional scientist stereotypes and bring new creative avenues through which science can be explored.