HSU to Offer New Medical and Organismal Illustration Degree


HSU is offering two new, unique degrees for students with both an artistic and an analytical side. The B. A. in Medical Illustration and the B.A. in Organismal Illustration combine courses from art, math, and science to create interdisciplinary degrees.

“We’re looking for ways to expand our offerings in the art department, and there’s interest in this program” said Michael Jones, head of the HSU Art Department. “We think that there will be a good response to these new degrees.”

Hardin-Simmons will be one of the only schools in Texas to offer undergraduate degrees in Medical Illustration and Organismal Illustration.

“We have a huge medical facility in Abilene and a lot of our students are pursuing degrees in the field of medicine,” said Jones. “It’s a natural progression for us in this town to develop this degree, and it sets us apart from other schools who don’t offer it.”

The Art and Biology curriculum is designed to give students training in advanced perceptual skills, technical studio skills (traditional and digital media), visualization of biological information, and working knowledge of biological processes.

Students who complete either degree will be prepared to enter the field medical or organismal illustration or apply to masters programs in medical illustration.

“Our goal is to prepare student to find entry-level jobs right out of school or build a strong portfolio to help them get into grad schools,” said Linda Fawcett, professor of art and program administrator.

Career opportunities in medical and organismal illustration are diverse, including jobs in the areas of education, medical and life science research, patient care, patient education, and public relations/marketing. Students can find jobs at medical schools, hospitals and clinics, research institutions, medical publishers, law firms, advertising agencies, web/animation firms, and other creative service businesses.

“I think that this field is definitely going to grow,” said Jones. “Illustrations are moving to online animation and 3-D modeling. We believe that technologically, we’ll be keeping up with the changes.”

Beyond General Biology and Chemistry, the Medical Illustration track teaches courses in cellular and molecular biology and advanced human physiology and anatomy. The Organismal Illustration track will also include advanced human physiology and anatomy, but will add courses in vertebrate biology, botany and entomology.

The art courses will help students demonstrate working knowledge of instructional design and color theory and develop skill in drawn, painted and sculpted rendering from life, photograph, human dissection and microscope. Students will also develop digital skills in photo-rendering and 3D modeling. Through guided art electives they can also further develop skills in interactive media, animation and web design.

The biology classes will teach students to recognize core biological principles, identify the steps of a given biological process, analyze data, identify key results, and visually explain such information in a variety of printed and digital platforms. Students will also apply ethics to the daily practice of medical and organismal research and illustration.

For more information on the Medical Illustration and Organismal Illustration degrees, visit the academic program web page


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