Thursday, November 29, 2018

A UI employee uses his personal photography equipment for a macro photography session with a Dogbane Beetle (Chrysochus auratus) from our collection in the MNH lab.

Sai and the Dogbane Beetle

Sai Kumar Ramadugu works as a University of Iowa ITS Research Manager and is also a Computational Chemistry Research Scientist. Sai explains to us that a part of Computational Chemistry is having a fascination with atoms. This inspired his interest in macro photography. “With atoms,” he said, “you can’t see them in real life with the naked eye, but you can model them computationally.” When he learned of the expansive collection at the Museum of Natural History he was delighted and knew our specimens would work perfectly for his project.

Collections Manager, Cindy Opitz was happy to accommodate, “We have a long history of providing artists with access to specimens from our collections, to use as reference material or models in their work. It’s just one more way in which museum collections are useful.”

"I'm experimenting, using my gear to shoot these little creatures to show how beautiful they can be when photographed," said Sai of his work which he insists isn't really work at all, "this is fun."

Sai with beetle

Our team was captivated with the first peak at one of Sai's photos. UI Pentacrest Museums Director, Liz Crooks was thrilled, "That beetle is from our collection and that makes me proud. It's just sitting in a drawer right now and nobody ever knew how stunning it was. Our collections hold such possibility." Opitz added, "Museum collections are such rich resources and can inspire people to do such amazing things."


We are looking forward to seeing more of Sai's art and we'll be sure to share with you. He plans to return in 2 weeks for his next shoot.