I work across disciplines and media to engage the world with the utility and beauty of the microscopic world. The following projects are made possible through collaborations with designers, artists, educators, and other motivated scientists.

Seen and Unseen

Seen_and_Unseen –  Some of our favorite food and beverages are made with what we call ‘germs.’ When the micro becomes macro, beauty abounds. These are real images of these life forms. These images have broken free from the bounds of science journals. Humans have been inspired by nature for interior designs for years… it’s about time we find inspiration in the nature of our own homes and beverages. This project features brewing and baking yeasts, false-colored and printed on fabric. They are made into comfortable pillows that are durable enough to withstand everything from supporting a back at a desk chair, to supporting the fun of a pillow fight. Each of these pillows or chairs comes with a tag that features a genetic barcode–the actual DNA sequence of that unique organism. Concept: Introducing non scientists to microscopic life, #SciArt.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Art + Science Pop-up Exhibit

Art + Science Pop-up Exhibit

Community of Microbes is a Sloan Foundation funded traveling Art and Science Pop-up exhibit with a mission of engaging the world with the beauty and utility of some of the microbial communities nearest us. It is a colorful, dynamic, augmented reality-enabled interactive experience that introduces audiences to eight communities of microbes: subways, showers, and mouths to beer and squid. This exhibit shows how the microorganisms inhabit these spaces and interact with each other, while providing written material that illuminates how specific microorganisms in these habitats are used in human applications.

We invite visitors to explore these unseen worlds and reevaluate how they perceive these minute life forms. The project is layered in its approach, appealing to visitors of all ages and walks of life. We are adding a layer of technology to make the science accessible, to attract new audiences, and provide an additional layer of information (text) and animation through augmented reality. Rather than being presented as static communities, our visualization and technology will reveal how they move and interact.

This traveling exhibit will debut at the Cooper Hewitt Museum October 25th, 2019.

The science behind it: This is a collaboration between Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya and Anne A. Madden with assistance from Lea Shell and a diverse scientific advisory board. 


Microbial tiles as architectural and wearable units

Microbial tiles as architectural and wearable units – Living Homes

It’s time to use 2.4 billion years of evolution when building the modern environment. Microbial tiles will be large, compostable plastic ‘cells’ that contain dehydrated nutrients and specific microbes. Just add water and watch as they change from yellows to pinks, or blues to black. These tiles will act as large-scale petri dishes of specific microbes (non-GMO) and growth media–chosen through a custom database and software package. A veritable microbial pantone exists, yet has has not previously been harnessed for interior design. These tiles can modify the visual and olfactory (smell) space, and even the behavior of the occupants (from pets to humans). Let’s make organic stained-glass windows that are alive! In the schematic below, the microbial cell panels are hexagons, growing over time. Some cells can make the viewer alert by producing blue light, some create beautiful visuals, while others produce aromas of baking bread, browned butter, or grape juice (Reload webpage to view the animation again.) This project is in the concept phase. 

Concepts: Engaging multisensory learning and introducing non scientists to microbes, designing with new tools, modifying built environments to engage certain behavioral patterns.

Can you smell the microbes?

(c) AnneAMadden 2016

These tiles can be seeded with known and unknown microbes. They can then be paired with animal biosensors to detect certain chemical compounds of interest.

Science Inspired Fashion

Science Inspired Fashion as Science Communication Tools

Science offers new inspiration, and tools for art and design. Engaging with the aesthetic of science offers opportunities to reach new audiences while fighting stifling and antiquated stereotypes.

A new project launch is the #MicrobeHatProject which uses fashion as an innovative tool for engaging the public with the utility of microorganisms in our world. This series features fascinator style hats that are adorned with more fascinating 3D printed microorganisms. Each hat helps spark a discussion and tells the story of a microorganism in our world that is often ignored, yet helps in remarkable ways. This includes the Antimicrobial Hat featuring the microbe that lives in the soil and is used to make Neosporin, one of our commercial antibiotics that helps save lives. Another is the Climate Change Hat, featuring a 3D printed microbial species that lives in bird feathers and is used to produce enzymes (molecules) that we use in laundry detergents. These enzymes allow us to wash our clothing at cooler temperature, thus allowing us to save considerable amounts of energy. Yet another is the FoodHat, featuring a 3D printed yeast cell, the species of yeast that help us make donuts, beer, and wine.

This project was first showcased in the conference audience of the TED 2019 conference. The first digital mention of this project garnered more than 250,000 impressions on twitter.

The first hats are made possible by extraordinary millinery work for Marie Galvin Fine Millinery in Boston, MA, and the generous donation of 3D image files from photographer and microbiologist Scott Chimileski. Subsequent versions of these hats will feature open access guidelines and science facts so that others can use these tools in their own worlds. Check back here for updates on the project, or be on the look out for the #MicrobeHatProject hashtag on social media!

Concepts: New tools for Science Communication

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

**((The photos above showcase 1.) recycled lab material jewelry and headpiece, worn to the 2015 Ig Nobel ceremony. 2.) A custom dress created in collaboration with scientists at MSU and the fashion designer SheNova. 3.) Yeast brewer’s bag, fancy clutch, and beer bag, and examples form the series: The Microbe Hat project.

Science and Food

Science and Food – Teaching through Tastebuds

From developing new tastes, to using culinary skills to model and interact with scientific facts, food can be a passive or active teaching tool. Let’s make food a resource for the mind, not just the body.

Concept: It’s easy to reach for a cupcake, hard to reach for a textbook. Let’s use this information and not ignore it.

ckae4 ckae2 Wasp_Cake Wasp_Cake2 ckae3 ckae5 ckae cookies

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

**((The photos above are of paper wasps, lab benches, petri plates, ginger bread houses with bug infestations, bee hives, and 96-well plates that are all 100% edible. These were made in association with the artist Joanne Arnold))**

Misc. Fun

Misc. Fun

I study how it is impossible to understand animals without understanding their microbes. As a visual of this, look at the magic eye below and see what animal emerges from the gram stain of its bacteria:



Beer Coloring Page – Beer Science is Fun AND relaxing

Yeast–tiny, microscopic creatures–make our beer possible. If you look very close, an unfiltered beer is a swirling mass of billions of these cells. Take a look at these yeast while coloring them and learning just a bit about their lives.

Concepts: An art collaboration between the artist Joanne Arnold (my AWESOME mother) and the Dunn lab.


**((The photos above showcase recycled lab material jewelry and headpiece, worn to the 2015 Ig Nobel ceremony))**

**((Photo Credits: Header: Smith&Nasht, the rest are Anne A. Madden))**