Painting on Petri Dishes: A History of Visual Media in Sciences

Lindsey Kolette Roper

January 26, 2023
The Great Hall

Lindsey joined SUU in 2015 after completing her PhD in Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has taught a variety of courses for the department of Biology, from General Biology to Biomedical Ethics and Developmental Biology, as well as courses in the Honors Program. She is best known across campus for her integrated education initiatives and guest lectures including exploring biology through Professional Wrestling, Science Fiction & Horror, Sex Drive, and Flavor. She has engaged students in the lab and published articles on the scholarship of teaching. She has also served the University on a variety of committees and is the current chair of the Workload and Faculty Salary Equity Committee. She is also a “dabbling” artist and illustrator who enjoys creating beautiful and engaging art incorporating scientific themes.


The first APEX event of 2023 occurred on January 26. The guest lecturer was Lindsey Roper. Roper gave a presentation called “painting on petri dishes: a history of visual media in sciences and call to train the next generation of illustrators.”

Ryan Paul, SUU History professor and the APEX director introduced Roper. Paul explained that, “Dr. Roper joined SUU in 2015. She has taught a variety of courses for the department of biology as well as courses in the honors program. She is best known across campus for her integrative education initiatives and guest lectures. She is the current chair of the workload and faculty salary equity committee.”

Roper was the Grace A. Tanner distinguished lecturer. Roper declared that the reason she is so interested in science is because “there is a disconnect between science and the larger world.” The current media is highly visual. Roper said “the scientific fields lack of ethnic, race, sex, and gender, as well as social representation and it creates a big disconnect.”

Roper expressed that “pictures could serve as silent teachers.” However, she also explained that when Covid-19 first broke out, the media was using pictures of different viruses to scare the world.

Roper explained that we as a people need to “balance science, art, and outreach.” Leaving the audience with one last call to action, Roper said, “I need your help.” We must “create dialogue between science and society.”