Art and the Sciences

The Department of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology's Museum School retreat

An interdisciplinary group of some 50 faculty and postdoctoral fellows recently attended the annual research retreat of the Department of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology (IPP), one of four basic science departments in the Tufts University School of Medicine, at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts.

Representatives from the School of Medicine, the SMFA and the School of Arts and Sciences took part in the April 7 event. Adam Williams of the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut, gave the keynote address, and scientists in the IPP department held a series of research talks.

During the retreat, IPP faculty member and retreat co-organizer Ellen Weinberg raised more than $500 through a raffle to benefit Jumbos for Jumbos: The Tufts Elephant Conservation Alliance, an initiative begun about two years ago at the Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Prizes included the book Elephant Reflections by Tufts English lecturer Dale Peterson and wildlife photographer Karl Amman.

Another highlight of the retreat was an art visualization exercise organized by IPP faculty member Li Zeng. Attendees walked to the Museum of Fine Arts and met with Elizabeth Canter, Tufts Art Gallery educator and academic programs coordinator. They discussed the composition of The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, an oil painting by American artist John Singer Sargent, and did pencil sketches of Old Brooklyn Bridge, an oil painting by Joseph Stella.

“The analogy between interpretations of scientific results and visual interpretation of art was discussed, and the IPP scientists were enlightened by the exercise,” said Caroline Genco, chair of IPP.

The retreat closed with a talk by Nancy Bauer, dean of the SMFA at Tufts and a professor of philosophy. Bauer discussed her plans to strengthen the connections among the arts program at Tufts and other academic departments.

“This departmental event provided enrichment through integration of cutting-edge science, thought-provoking art and global citizenship,” said Genco.

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