ORT Webinar: Becoming a Science Illustrator

1024 512 Office of Research Trainees

Watch on YouTube


August 19, 2020 | 1pm


Science illustration has always been an important way to share knowledge within the academic community and beyond. Visual communication skills are a key asset for anyone looking to make an impact with their research and share ideas with diverse audiences.

This webinar will introduce you to skills, tools, and educational paths that will help you on your science illustration journey. We will begin by speaking about our backgrounds and experiences applying science illustration and communication to our work as science trainees. We will then discuss turning our passion into profit by founding and working at a science illustration startup company. We will highlight lessons learned and challenges from entering the science illustration industry as trainees. Finally, you will have the opportunity to ask us any questions you may have about science illustration and entrepreneurship as a trainee. In addition, you will be provided with suggested opportunities for networking to virtually connect with others in the field of science illustration and expand your professional network.

If you are interested in learning more about science illustration, working as a science illustrator, or founding a science-focused startup company, then this workshop is for you.

Designs that Cell is a scientific illustration company specializing in creating custom figures for scientists, clinicians, and trainees. To date, Designs that Cell has created illustrations for over 30 scientific publications, a handful of books, and numerous grant figures. Designs that Cell is the first research-focused scientific illustration company in Canada, and currently conducts its own research focused on communicating scientific concepts to lay audiences.

Click here for more info and to register.


Sarah Nersesian is a passionate researcher who loves to share scientific knowledge through illustrations and other visual communication strategies. She obtained her MSc in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Queen’s University and is currently completing her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at Dalhousie University focusing on exploring the impact of intra-tumoural immune cells on tumour development and treatment responses. Over her academic journey, she has published her research in journals including, The American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, Scientific Reports, Oncoimmunology, Frontiers of Immunology, Bladder Cancer, and The Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. Many of these publications were accompanied by her custom scientific illustrations.With her unique expertise combining scientific communication strategies with illustration and graphic design, Sarah founded Designs that Cell in 2017. Sarah’s vision for the company was a space where “scien-artists” such as herself and others could combine their scientific foundation with their visual communication skills to illustrate the ideas of other members of the scientific community. She is a senior illustrator at Designs that Cell and oversees all its operations.

Natasha Vitkin is a science communicator passionate about using visual knowledge translation strategies to promote equity and improve population health. She completed her MSc at Queen’s University in cancer immunology and recently obtained her MPH at Simon Fraser University where she took a variety of courses exploring the social determinants of health. She is currently working as a research assistant at Simon Fraser University investigating barriers that LGBTQ2+ populations encounter when accessing mental health care. Her research has been published in numerous journals including Frontiers of Immunology, The American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, and the British Journal of Cancer.Natasha joined Designs that Cell in 2018. Beginning as an illustrator and social media manager, her role has evolved as the company has grown to include client management, marketing, and research.

Naomi Robson is passionate about using visualization to communicate science, medicine, and health. In September, she will be attending the University of Toronto’s Biomedical Communications program, one of the four accredited Masters’ level programs focusing on medical visualization in North America, to further hone her scientific communication skills. She previously earned an MSc at the University of Guelph focussing on education in Human Anatomy, where she founded the Human Anatomy Art Association, and created illustrations for over 10 different research projects, communicating anatomical concepts to a wide range of audiences, from introductory anatomists, to pelvic health physiotherapists. Her illustrations have been published in clinical handbooks, educational manuals, and journals such as Tissue Engineering, RadioGraphics, and Urologic Oncology. Naomi has been a senior illustrator at Designs that Cell since 2018.