Vol 6. Issue 2 / January 23, 2006

Graham Johnson

Position: First-year Ph.D. candidate, The Scripps Research Institute's Kellogg School of Science and Technology.

Education: Grew up outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Liberal arts education at St. Mary's College, concentrating on biology and art. M.A. in medical and biological illustration from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Work Experience: After graduation, Johnson worked as freelance illustrator specialized in visualizing cell biology and animating cellular/molecular events.  "It's hard to find sub-cellular illustration that is both accurate and attractive," he notes. But Johnson has started filling in this gap.  For a typical illustration project, he spends 60 to 70 percent of his time on background research. "I include as much accurate, up-to-date information in my drawings as possible."

Illustration Projects:

  • Animation for Scripps Research Professor Ron Milligan, parts of which were published in a Science article, "The way things move: Looking under the hood of molecular motor proteins" (Vale, R.D., Milligan, R.A. Science 288:88-95, 2000).
  • Complete illustration of the textbook Cell Biology, by Thomas Pollard and William Earnshaw. "I moved to California to work with Tom Pollard, then president of The Salk Institute, on this project. I ended up getting a four-year tutorial in cell biology from one of the best in the country." The textbook was awarded the 2002 Award of Excellence from the Association of Medical Illustrators. Publication of a second edition is in progress.
  • The winning illustration in Science magazine's 2005 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. Johnson's submission, which originally appeared in HHMI Bulletin (fall '04), was created with a multimedia approach using pencil sketch, paint, Photoshop, and 3-D modeling.

Goals at Scripps Research: To gain a deeper understanding of biology. To work with David Goodsell and Art Olson to use structural and kinetic data to create simulators useful for visualizing cell events.

Extracurriculars: Outdoor activities, such as mountain biking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and soccer. Also, figure drawing—"I like to keep a hand in the fine arts."


Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu




Ph.D. candidate Graham Johnson is interested in visualizing cell events.


A closeup from Johnson's winning entry in
Science magazine's 2005 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.