Research through visualisation:

a simple example

The idea of this approach is to support scientific research through the many tools of visualisation. These include classic visualisation techniques, such as drawing and painting, but involve digital techniques such 3D visualisation and scene-building as well. These art and design techniques are married with state-of-the-art scientific molecular visualisation tools and with physical experiments, for example with protein docking with 3D prints.

This is how scientific research and the arts go hand in hand with the final goal of understanding unknown (molecular ) mechanisms via physical hypothesis building.

1. Observation or scientific question

All scientific research starts with an observation and a related question.

2. Literature and image research

I start by familiarising myself with the topic and research question.


Have there been similar observations in the past? If yes, how do they relate to the current question?


In this example, I needed to collect the major proteins that are present in the SARS-CoV-2 virus and necessary for the entry into the host cell, i.e. additional proteins on the host cell surface.


I read about the mechanism of virus entry into the host cell and about how the virus releases its RNA. I need to pay attention to all the little details in order to imagine (and later visualise) the cellular scenery as accurately as possible. Therefore, I collect visual material, too.


This will be images that are as close to reality as it gets, microscopic and crystal structures if possible. It'll also be schematic images that describe pathways and mechanisms related to the topic I am interested in.

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3. Model / Hypothesis building

open and closed conformation of spike


spike proteins wiggle in order to find receptors

assembly of nucleocapsid

n-ter tail

turning of RNA around NC

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4. Computational/ experimental confirmation

5. Visualisation Process

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iterations between me and scientific client

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6. Final product and applications

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