UA senior communicates science through artwork
It’s not every day that a college student’s startup is featured in Forbes and Times Higher Education, but for Viputheshwar “Vip” Sitaraman, a UA senior studying molecular and cellular biology, this is only the beginning.
Sitaraman’s company, Draw Science, is an open-access publication for infographics that summarize scientific articles, and includes a science communication blog. The graphical representations make highly technical academic papers accessible to non-specialists. The catch phrase says it all: “Put the art in article.”
“None of what has happened in the last two years was expected,” Sitaraman said.
In high school, he got involved in lab research and had the opportunity to present at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. He shared a unique poster full of diagrams with under 60 words at the competition. The graphics on the poster board caught the eyes of a judge who spoke with Sitaraman and encouraged him to get involved in science outreach and blogging with his design skills.
That night, Sitaraman started a blog called Draw Science. Little did he know this was the start to a future career.
Sitaraman was flown to Germany for a Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, got invited to and presented at several other conferences, and built his team internationally within a year of starting the blog.
Today, the blog boasts a worldwide audience amounting to half a million views, thousands of subscribers and syndication on Business Insider.
Draw Science advanced from a popular science blog to an innovative startup after a successful crowdfunding campaign.
“Entrepreneurship was never in the books,” he said about his pre-medicine start at the UA. After graduating from UA in just two years, however, he will transition to pursuing Draw Science full-time.
Draw Science is on the cutting edge in part because it appeals across audiences—and that’s exactly what communication is about. It creates a graphical abstract for science authors that is assigned a digital object identifier. The graphics are press-released to popular media, spreading the word about the research amongst academics and the masses alike. For publishers, Draw Science acts as a go-to designer for graphical abstracts, which are being incorporated into many scientific journals today.
A recent milestone for Draw Science was entering a working agreement with Elsevier, one of the leading international publishers of journals and books for the science and healthcare world.
In the face of overwhelming success, Sitaraman said, “One of the biggest misunderstandings is how often you fail.”
His persistence is paying off, though. He said Draw Science is exploring working with institutions such as the UA’s BIO5 in the future, and continues to grow around 20 percent per month.
Keep your eye out in journals and the news for Draw Science infographics and Sitaraman’s next startup hit. In the meantime, let him remind you that a small idea and a big mission can turn into an even bigger future.
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