Learn about our Illustrator_Emma Scheltema / by DHW Lab

Over the next little while we will be doing feature articles on our postgrad students. This is a chance to learn a bit more about them and what they have been doing at the lab.  

This week the spotlight is on our honours student – Emma Scheltema. Emma has a Bachelor of Science (Ecology and Conversation) along with currently doing her Bachelor of Design Honours with a focus on medical illustration.

Emma’s primary focus is to create illustrations that communicate complex scientific concepts to people, whether it be a diagram that visualises research findings for a scientific journal, or a fun illustration that explains migration to children . 

Miniature anatomical model of the heart, cast in resin, created as part of an honours project

The focus for her honours project is exploring the ways in which illustration might be used to aid the communication of complex medical information within a hospital environment. In particular, the focus will be on comparing the way in which traditional (2D) and digital (primarily 3D) medical illustrations may affect user understanding and experience when used as educational tools. 

When she isn’t doing scientific or medical illustrations she is creating illustrations for children’s books. Emma has been spending most of her spare time working on illustrating a cool science based project that is aimed at raising awareness about NZ insects alongside an entomologist at UoA. She can’t say too much about this project yet as it hasn't been released, but it has been about a years worth of work and she’s pretty excited to see it come out later this year.

Emma is really into science and conversation and over the past few years has been doing a bit of wildlife rehabilitation volunteer work (at NZ Bird Rescue). After her honours is completed she is looking forward to getting back into it.

What inspires our talented Emma? Well she originally started combining her interest in art with her other interest- science, while studying Ecology and Conservation. Which is where her inspiration stems from. Visual design has a lot to offer in terms of making scientific information more accessible and enhancing scientific communication, in both natural sciences and medicine.

Emma’s fav illustration from this year (so far) is the ear anatomy illustration. She has been working on as part of a series of illustrations for the ENT department at Starship. Its not particularly special in terms of medical illustration but it was significant for Emma in terms of learning quite a bit about the technical limitations of the medium she was using (watercolour) and how it could be applied for medical subjects. 

After her honours project is over Emma hopes to do an internship with scientific/medical illustrators to gain some more experience, and is hoping to do some travel too. Emma is looking forward to applying what she’s learnt this year to carrying on with freelance scientific and medical illustration work. An eventually would like to translate this visual science communication into books for children. 

Keep up the awesome work Emma! We look forward to seeing your completed honours project!

To check out more of Emma’s great work click here.