Marta Novotova is a senior scientist at the Biomedical Research Centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, where she is currently investigating the changes in cardiac myocytes in heart failure and in human-biopsies from transplanted hearts. She is also studying the effects of viral, ultrastructure of SARS-CoV-2 infected cells. Marta creates her artworks in collaboration with Martin Baláž, art designer and assistant Architecture professor, at the Faculty of Architecture Slovak Technical University. She is a strong advocate to overcome the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields.
“The virus is a real danger and not a science fiction to entertain people.”
Virus in us and me in science, 2021, digital photographs, were produced using electron microscopes equipped with a digital camera to capture and transform cells into art pieces. These raw images are often combined with hidden elements, such as a side-face relief of a woman inside a cell. Marta shared her artwork with a large audience at the Slovak Academy of Sciences to communicate one important message: “The virus is a real danger and not a science fiction to entertain people”.
Women of science have often used crocheting and clothes stitching to help understand complex scientific processes and facts. This was the case of pioneering French midwife Angélique du Coudray (1712-1794) who created a mannequin of textiles to teach trainee midwives on all steps of properly attending childbirth. At that time, female midwives were barred from medical studies. In 1759, du Coudray published a midwifery manual “Abrégé de l’art des accouchements” illustrating important manoeuvres to preserve the safety of women and their new-borns at the moment of birth.
Her trainees practiced various manipulations in mock births on the life-size obstetrical mannequin and were well prepared to handle dangerous situations, such as with twins and breech presentation. Du Coudray succeeded against the opposition of male surgeons when Louis XV recognized that she was instrumental to reducing chid mortality and commissioned her to travel across France to teach the art of midwifery. She taught thousands of students and even male medical doctors and became a symbol of French medical progress.