The early years
Primary School, Secondary School, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliches Gymnasium (Junior College), and then the big decision: Art or Science? Science won out, since I thought I can always do art on the side... Hence the degree in Zoology at the University of Zurich, with a Diplom (MSc) thesis on the visual navigation of the Tunisian desert ant Cataglyphis bicolor. All the while I kept up my artistic pursuits: drawing, painting, paper sculpture, computer graphics, t-shirt designs.
Studying the visual pattern recognition of the honey bee at the Australian National University involved training and watching bees for weeks, recording from individual neurons in their tiny brains, and writing computer simulations of bee eye optics. The latter grew into B-EYE, an interactive website - my first experience in Science Communication. In the meantime, my artistic drive produced paper sculptures, logos, stereograms and other computer graphics, and my first piece of public art.
As a Training and R&D Manager with a local Pest Control company, I surveyed the local pest species, evaluated new methods and equipment, helped the technicians appreciate the beauty of the creatures they were hired to kill, and stepped in to assist in tricky or unusual cases. And while explaining their pest problems to clients, I in turn learned to appreciate how "normal" people perceive nature and the world around them. At the art front, this time was marked by site-specific installations (ie decorating our home).
Moving on to Vector Control at the National Environment Agency I helped set up the Environmental Health Institute. With a primary focus on the control of dengue and its mosquito vectors, I studied many aspects of Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus behaviour and control. This work included some product design (for a mosquito trap we patented), but other than some logos and a couple more paintings, my art practice started to feel the effects of limited time availability.
The Science Centre Singapore is all about hands-on science education and bringing science closer to the public. I learned a lot about the importance and practice of science communication as well as the obstacles it commonly faces. But I spent most of my time managing the Education Programmes division, and much of my creative output went into projects other people implemented. My artistic production was reduced to the doodles I made during meetings, although my head was full of ideas.
Art, Biology, Communication
In September 2007 it was time to turn the tables and I decided to devote the bulk of my time to developing my art and realising some of those ideas I had been carrying around. I founded ArtBioCom and was reaping the benefits of all my previous life stages: The combination of my scientific training and research experience with my teaching and communication practice and familiarity with a wide range of organisational cultures is a fertile ground for insights and ideas.
In October 2008 I returned to the Science Centre, having realised that the particular combination of art and science communication I had envisaged was not very viable, and that the science was still very important to me. Nevertheless, I did not abandon my art practice entirely, and my portfolio continues to grow, albeit very slowly.