Science and art come together in nature for the ASU degree

July 15, 2021

ASU-Alumna creates a mural that promotes the conservation of tidal ecosystems, her thesis topic

Art has always had a place in science. Leonardo da Vinci sketches corpses. Charles Darwin in Tierra del Fuego. John James Audubon and the Birds of America. Sir Joseph Banks and everything he saw.

Now Jessica Potter, the recent Arizona State University graduate, has joined her ranks.

Potter, who recently completed his Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology and Ecology, completed a wall art project in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, also known as Rocky Point, which draws attention to the abundant life in the area’s tidal pools, the areas between the Land and sea exposed to the air at low tide and covered by water at high tide.

Tidal pools offer windows to the sea for everyone. You don’t need a scuba tank or a boat to get to them and admire the rich diversity of life. They are like small towns full of starfish, anemones, clams, fish, sea urchins, snails and octopuses.

Potter has always loved marine biology. Her grandmother read her a book about marine animals that she loved. At school she created newspapers and websites about animals and conservation issues.

A few years ago she went to Rocky Point to take a course in marine biology with Professor Susanne Neuer from the School of Life Sciences. Potter eventually finished her thesis on the tidal ecosystem, including working with a research organization called the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO).

In addition to her thesis, Potter produced a flyer about tidal pools for tourists, which CEDO printed for World Oceans Day.

With the pandemic in full swing, a project honoring a thesis was limited. Neuer was in contact with CEDO.

“Then we found this larger project (to) … create this booklet to educate tourists about tidal ecosystems and also tide pool etiquette, how to enjoy your tide pool experience while minimizing damage to the ecosystem,” said Potter Potter. “And that then led to doing the mural to reinforce what was taught in the brochure.”

She did the illustrations during the pandemic and worked completely remotely.

“When I did this project while I was researching these species, I also drew them,” she said. “It made me feel like I was developing into this more personal relationship. You could just quickly google some photos of these animals, but spending the time looking at them and working out all these details really felt like it allowed me to make that closer connection. “

After CEDO saw the drawings Potter made for the brochure, they wanted her to paint the mural.

“I’ve discovered what a talented artist she is,” said Neuer. “She made all the drawings in the brochure herself and therefore CEDO asked her to help paint the mural.”

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