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ISU's Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration Program plans 30th anniversary celebration Oct. 2-4

September 22, 2014


(image) AMES, Iowa — The Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration Program at Iowa State University will host a 30th anniversary celebration and alumni reunion Oct. 2-4 on the Iowa State campus.

The interdepartmental undergraduate major in biological/pre-medical illustration is a shared program of the ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and College of Design. Students take a mix of courses concentrated on the natural sciences in LAS and studio art in Design to learn to produce scientifically accurate and aesthetically pleasing work, including illustrations, paintings, computer animations, sculptures and other art forms.

Iowa State has one of the longest-running undergraduate programs of this type in the nation. Fewer than a dozen similar programs exist in the U.S. About half of ISU BPMI graduates complete master's degrees to become certified medical illustrators. Others go into scientific visualization or related fields, publishing, software design, medicine, dentistry, podiatry and biochemistry, and some become full-time artists.

The BPMI program grew out of the "individual major program" in biological illustration, which began in 1974 and developed enough demand for the university to establish a formal undergraduate major approved by the Iowa Board of Regents in 1984.

The anniversary celebration will include a keynote address, a symposium, an exhibition, a banquet and a closing picnic. It is cosponsored by the Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration Program, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Design, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Student Disability Resources, the BPMI Club, and the Committee on Lectures (funded by the Government of the Student Body).

Reception and welcome
The event will begin with a public reception for the "Before and After: BPMI 30th Anniversary Student and Alumni Exhibition" from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, in the College of Design's Lyle E. Lightfoot Forum and Gallery 181, first floor of the Design Building.

The show will feature two- and three-dimensional traditional and digital medical and scientific illustration and fine artwork—drawing, painting, illustration, animation, photography, prosthetic, sculpture, interactive, etc.—by currently enrolled BPMI students and alumni of the program. It will be open during the symposium and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 21.

The reception will be followed by a welcome at 7:10 p.m. and a keynote address at 7:30 p.m. in the college’s Kocimski Auditorium, room 101 Design.

The welcome will include remarks by Lynn Clark, director of the BPMI Program; Luis Rico-Gutierrez, dean of Design; Beate Schmittmann, dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Ingrid Lilligren, chair of the Department of Integrated Studio Arts.

(image) Keynote address
Iowa State alumna Suzanne Verma will present the keynote lecture on "Rehabilitation of Body and Spirit: Art, Science and Technology in Facial Reconstruction."

Verma is president-elect of the International Anaplastology Association and an assistant professor and certified clinical anaplastologist in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Baylor College of Dentistry, Texas A&M University, Dallas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in biological/pre-medical illustration from ISU and a Master of Associated Medical Science in biomedical visualization with an emphasis in maxillofacial prosthetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The exhibition reception and keynote lecture are free and open to the public. Other activities, including the symposium, banquet and picnic, require participants to register online

8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, Gallery, Iowa State Memorial Union
8:30 a.m. – noon Saturday, Oct. 4, Kocimski Auditorium, 101 Design

Symposium events include:

  • graduate program information sessions (Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto Mississauga; Biomedical Visualization, University of Illinois at Chicago; Medical and Biological Illustration, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; and Medical Illustration, Georgia Regents University, Augusta);
  • 20-minute presentations by BPMI alumni from throughout the United States, covering a wide range of topics from the program's beginnings to the different career paths where the major has taken them, and 
  • a panel discussion with six recent graduates of the Iowa State BPMI Program.

5 – 6 p.m. social hour
6 – 8 p.m. dinner
Friday, Oct. 3, Lyle E. Lightfoot Forum, College of Design

The banquet will include recognition of the award winners in the anniversary exhibition and a lecture by Nick Klein on "Divergence: Forecasting the Future of Biomedical Visualization." Klein is director of innovation for ISO-FORM, LLC, in Ames. He received a Bachelor of Arts in biological/pre-medical illustration from Iowa State in 2007 and his master's degree in medical illustration from Georgia Regents University.

1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, RiverRidge Farm (Dean and Denise Biechler), north of Ames

Dean Biechler is a lecturer in integrated studio arts and the BPMI program coordinator. Biechler and his wife, Denise, and their children established RiverRidge Farm in 2005 in the Skunk River valley six miles north of Ames. The farm dates to the late 1800s when it was the personal research site of ISU horticulture faculty member Thomas Maney. The Biechlers raise grass-fed cattle, free-range chickens, a 8,000-square-foot garden and 15 acres of hay. They have restored and reconstructed wetlands and native prairie on the property.

Biechler and John Dorn, a fellow lecturer in integrated studio arts and BPMI who received a Bachelor of Arts in biological/pre-medical illustration from Iowa State in 1990 and is a graduate of the Medical and Biological Illustration Graduate Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, are co-organizers of the 30th anniversary celebration.

Dean Biechler, Integrated Studio Arts, Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration, (515) 231-2423,
John Dorn, Integrated Studio Arts, Biological Pre-medical Illustration, (515) 520-0632,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,
Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778,