These Fanciful Microbes Need Your Coloring Skills

Daphnia are tiny aquatic crustaceans that float in the water column. Found in a range of watery environments, they are sometimes called water fleas. (Jennifer Delaney)

Daphnia are tiny aquatic crustaceans that float in the water column. Found in a range of watery environments, they are sometimes called water fleas. (Jennifer Delaney)

Jennifer Delaney isn’t a scientific illustrator by training. She’s a math teacher for Donegal Youthreach in Ireland, working with students who have dropped out of school. She never formally studied art, she’s never been interested in coloring, and her last science class was well over a decade ago. But around two years ago, Delaney decided she wanted to publish a science-themed coloring book. 

“Whenever I was growing up I was torn between science and art,” she says. “I didn't really realize that I could marry the two together.”

Years ago, she earned a degree in marine biology from the National University of Ireland Galway. “I still drew plenty at college,” she says. “One of my lecturers said, ‘if you would have spent as much time on your actual written work as your drawing you would do grand.’”

But instead of leaving one her passions behind, she’s managed to combine them with the publication of her microbe coloring book for adults this month. Fifty different critters from all kingdoms of life grace the pages of Life Under the Lens. Delaney has given each a scientifically accurate outline, but also added in her own artistic embellishments and detailed patterns—concentric circles swirl over a daphnia’s developing embryo, waves crash through the ridge of a radiolarian, and spots dance across the delicate frame of a foraminifera.

Read the full article at Smithsonian.com

Maya Wei-Haas