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Doctoral candidates learn how to produce science comics

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Veröffentlicht am Freitag, den 26. Juni 2020

The University of Luxembourg starts a new series of science comics in order to highlight science and research in Luxembourg. The comics are produced within the framework of the Doctoral Education in Science Communication (DESCOM) project in collaboration between doctoral candidates and artists from Luxembourg.

Following the success of the first edition of science comics of the University of Luxembourg, DESCOM decided to produce a new series of comics exploring science and research in Luxembourg. This time, the comics will be drawn by different local comic artists. Last week they paired up with 23 doctoral candidates from Luxembourg to start working on eight short comic stories.

Before that, the doctoral candidates learned the basics of comic production in a custom-made online training of seven weeks. This hands-on science comic workshop was mainly set up by Veronika Mischitz, a science illustrator from Germany and author of the KlarSoweit? science comics of the Helmholtz Gemeinschaft, in collaboration with Jessica Burton, a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) and previously Editor for Titan Comics, Oliver Glassl, Doctoral School Facilitator of the Doctoral School in Science and Engineering (DSSE), as well as Nicole Paschek, Project Manager of DESCOM.

Why science comics?

“I think comics are a fantastic medium to communicate science”, says Veronika Mischitz, the main lecturer. In the workshop, she shared her knowledge and enthusiasm to help scientists understand comics and use them to their fullest potential. Science comics offer a vast toolkit to create compelling stories around research and link those to everyday experiences. They combine visual storytelling with the accuracy of written text in a unique way. “Comics are engaging, accessible to many and fun to read”, says Mischitz. “And most of all: They are understandable.“

Breaking down her everyday-business into understandable teaching-units also helped Veronika Mischitz gain a better understanding of it: “That's what I love about teaching. You have to look at things from another perspective and will gain insights and inspiration from doing so. The same also happens, when you are creating a science comic: By looking at your research from another perspective you will learn new things.”

Furthermore, science and comics also have something in common: “When you read a comic story, you need to recreate missing information in between panels”, says Bruno Teheux, the Research scientist at the Department of Mathematics (DMATH) that came up with the idea to produce comics and took the lead of the previous science comic edition. “The same thing happens when you try to understand science: you need to fill the gaps between observations to construct a coherent model.”

The science comic workshop

In the workshop, Veronika Mischitz teaches the doctoral candidates creative techniques to find ideas for their stories, how to turn their ideas into concepts and how to create interesting, compelling protagonists. But – most importantly – the participants learned about visual thinking and storytelling to create visually appealing and engaging comics.

Group picture of some of the persons involved in this activity.

When designing this outreach activity, DESCOM also listened to the feedback from the readers and the authors of the previous edition. Now the activity is open for all doctoral candidates in Luxembourg. “We are very happy that several doctoral candidates from the Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences have registered for this science communication training”, says Nicole Paschek. “And we are even happier to see that so many interdisciplinary teams have formed among this year’s participants.”

Scientists and artists

After the training, the doctoral candidates paired up with Luxembourgish comic artists. Andy Genen, Antoine Grimée, Sabrina Kaufmann and Marion Dengler will work together with the young scientists to realise their stories until the end of the year. Out of a team of eleven local comic artists involved in this activity, they are kicking off this first edition of the new science comic series created by DESCOM. Pascale Velleine, Ingo Schandeler, Valérie Minelli, Jean-Louis Schlesser, Robert Soisson, Carlo Schneider, Snejana Granatkina and Vincent Biwer are also involved in this collaboration and will be drawing the next editions of the science comics. To learn more about the single artists as well as the scientists working on the new science comics stay tuned.

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The comics are mainly funded by the Doctoral School in Science and Engineering (DSSE) and supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR). Many people are involved in the organisation of the comics: additionally to the people mentioned above (Veronika Mischitz, Jessica Burton, Oliver Glassl, Nicole Paschek and Bruno Teheux), Serge Haan, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine (FSTM) and principaI Investigator of DESCOM, is also part of the organisation team.

DESCOM (Doctoral Education in Science Communication) aims to support interactions between academia and the public by providing different modes of training in science communication. The project launched in 2018 with the support of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) and the DSSE.

© teaser image: Veronika Mischitz