“How Microbiologists Craft Stunning Art Using Pathogens”

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The Story

“How Microbiologists Craft Stunning Art Using Pathogens”
by Meenakshi J
Smithsonian, March 22, 2021

The Pitch

The artsy agar artists of microbial world

On 26 December 2020, the 26-year-old Indian Researcher Balram Khamari’s design of a peacock [the national bird of India] won him the second prize at the recently conducted American Society of Microbiology’s annual Agar Art contest that saw over 189 creations from 29 countries.

With Petri dishes for canvas, metallic looped streakers for brushes, and varied microbes for the colour palette and the jelly-agar for medium, Khamari creates beautiful patterns in his lab, when he gets some time from his routine. For, he is just not another face in the crowd but belongs to the inquisitive and creative community of agar artists.

A doctoral fellow in medical microbiology at the Sri Sathya Sai deemed university in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Khamari has been indulging in agar art for the last year and more, and believes that it allows him to pursue his love for art as well as his fascination for science.

So would you be interested in an 800-word write-up on this contest, with focus on the challenges of growing microbes in a controlled environment to create these patterns and a brief history of how it all started for Khamari?

For this, I could get in touch with him to gather inputs and quotes for the write-up.

[ I hold a graduation degree in microbiology, biochemistry, chemistry, and science education, and I myself have dabbled with these patterns many times while culturing microbes in the lab.]

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