AC Microbiology Students Enter International Agar Art Contest
When it comes to a selected medium, artists have plenty of choices at their disposal. Paint, pencil, ink, chalk or whatever fits the image they’re attempting to portray.
But bacteria? As an art medium?
Students in Angelina College Microbiology classes this month have been creating “agar art.” It’s art created in a petri dish using living, growing organisms – such as bacteria.
Under the guidance of AC instructors Dr. Paula Nellessen and Dr. Kathleen McClinton, along with lab coordinator Mallory Smith, those AC students have prepared their displays for an upcoming international competition.
Nellessen said the contest is sponsored as part of the American Society of Microbiology’s Agar Art contest, and that this year’s theme is “Microbiology in Space.” Thus the student-created themes of lunar views, land rovers and others.
“Basically, what we’re doing, the students come up with a picture, and they recreate the picture using a petri dish using bacteria,” Nellessen said. “Some of the bacteria have different colors depending on the temperature and the medium, or whether there’s a UV light involved or not.”
Meaning not only do the students have to know the right bacteria to use based on the image they’re trying to create and the colors they want, but they also have to know how to manipulate the bacteria in this specific medium.
The creative focus is just microbiology in space, so we have some creating space ships, and others creating lunar visuals,” Nellessen said. “One of the interesting things is I’m actually doing a plate in collaboration with my son (Dr. Matthew Nellessen) who’s a doctorate student at the University of New Mexico. He’s doing research on Mars using the rovers. He developed a picture, and I’m attempting to create it using agar art.”
Nellessen added the participating students would receive extra credit in the class, but they’d also be eligible for a prize if their work is selected for the international competition.
Participating students, along with their listed home towns, are as follows:
Nellessen’s class – Damien Anderson (Clearfield, Utah), Shanequa Blount (Lufkin), Cristian Castillo (Nacogdoches), Kendra Esquivel (Hudson), Ashley Luna (Nacogdoches), Rachel Moore (Pollok) and Angelica Ramirez (Lufkin).
McClinton’s class – Joseph Flores (Lufkin), Melanie Garcia (Lufkin), Cheyenne Landrum, Jacklyn Russell (Onalaska) and Lakyia Woods (Nacogdoches).
For information regarding this press release and photos, contact Gary Stallard at email@example.com.