BEAUTIFUL KILLERS

A molecular biologist’s delightful trading cards of deadly viruses

Obsession
Design
Obsession
Design

Up close, deadly viruses are like snowflakes, says Eleanor Lutz, a first year PhD biology student at the University of Washington and self-described infographics fanatic.

As an experiment, she created a set of beautifully rendered virus trading cards depicting the molecular structure of dengue, adenovirus, HPV and chlorella. “Viruses are surprisingly symmetrical, and I love them because they remind me of a biological version of snowflakes,” she writes on her blog. Each animated “trading card” also contains the virus’s killer stats including its Protein Data Bank ID number from the database scientists use to publish newly discovered protein structures.

Lutz, who is studying the neurobiology of dengue-spreading mosquitos, says that was inspired to make the cards after learning how to use a molecular modeling program called Chimera. “I thought it was a really fun and powerful program so I decided to see if I could use it in a design project,” Lutz says.

As a careful scientist would, Lutz cited the source of her data, her methodology and published a step-by-step guide on how to make animated infographics on her website.

(Eleanor Lutz)
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(Eleanor Lutz)
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(Eleanor Lutz)
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(Eleanor Lutz)
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