Category: Academics

Academics: majors and classes at UIC.

Can’t just eyeball it

One project done! For my Clinical Sciences class, we had to draw an eye cross section.  A woman from the eye clinic next door–who serves as a full time medical illustrator over there–gave us a bunch of rules about how to NOT draw an eyeball, and showed us examples of artists who had gotten the eyeball wrong. Coincidentally one of the examples she showed was an illustration completed years back by our current professor and director of the program- who was in the room.  Haha. So we learned a lot about how to get the proportions right, how to correctly show where the retina terminates, and how to depict the optic nerve at the right angle. Here is the result of the tutorial we did in class using a ruler and a compass:

The assignment was to scan it into illustrator and create a vector drawing of the eye, with or without color. Since I’m still getting used to Illustrator, I chose to keep it black and white, but to fill in some tone. Here is my final eye ball!

Top 5 Tips: Smooth Move-in Day Into Campus Housing

Hey UIC!

Throughout my years in Campus Housing, I’ve carefully mastered the skills necessary to survive move-in day to Campus Housing. Time to deliver my secrets, so here it is:

5. Plan the layout of your room.
Shoot an email! Call your roommate! See how you would like to layout your room and what to bring. This includes TV, game system, Micro-Fridge, or anything else. Schedule a tour of your room if you haven’t seen it yet.

4. Roommate Agreement Conditions
Through my years as an RA, residents who don’t fill out the agreement forms tend to have roommate conflicts which build stress and tension throughout your year. Talk to your roommate about guest hours, when to take out trash, quiet hours, and more.

3. Find Chicago Errand Hotspots
Want late night ramen noodles? Microwavable mac and cheese? Find the closest grocery store around your residence hall. You can also find restaurants, barber shops, electronic stores, as well.

2. Bring your own move-in cart and vacuum
Campus Housing does provide vacuums and carts; however, there may be a waitlist to obtain one. I recommend bringing in your own cart and vacuum.

1. Plan it out to the littlest detail
Once you plan a date to move-in, you can call your friends and family and say you need help that day. Make sure your on your game with time. Move-in day can be a long, stressful, and hard process, but you can celebrate at a nearby restaurant.

So my top 5 secrets revealed! Next week I’ll post pictures of my room too! A Senior RA room in JST.

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Senior RA Training and pictures of my new JST room!

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is the UIC Sales tax?


This week has been half exciting and half awful. The awful part, you might have guessed, is chemistry. The wonderful, awesome part is surprisingly my growing love for English! We have a 7-9 page research paper due next Friday in my tutoring class (also the day I have my chemistry final, boo) and I am actually and genuinely delighted to start writing it…if only chemistry wasn’t ruining everything! I swear, chemistry needs to get a life and stop blowing up the whole world and smelling bad (I had a lab today and we had to deal with ammonia and hydrochloric acid, yuck). UIC should ban these hazardous chemicals; in fact, I think the world would be a lot better off without chemistry. We can keep organic because it has to do with life. Everything else…can just disappear. Need an explanation? I will write a wonderful post later about why the world would be better off without chemistry.

You know, this one time I went online in the Google search engine to see why I should learn chemistry. I don’t know how I got to a certain page, but some professor wrote “Now, why should you learn chemistry? To understand beer of course!” What kind of stupid answer this that? Beer and alcohol ruins families and other relationships. It’s just empty calories and can give you liver cancer. PLEASE think about your liver! =(

Okay, I need to stop my ranting. I have a chemistry exam tomorrow and apparently it’s extremely brutal. This post will have to get cut off soon, but in the meantime, I just wanted to update you all on the t-shirts! We got them last Friday and they are so nice. I wore one of them yesterday when I was on campus, doing all that school stuff. Please follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, like us on Facebook, and purchase from me if you’re interested! =) We have a website (look at designs here if you do not have a Facebook) where you can purchase too, but I wouldn’t want you to pay for shipping if you’re in Chicago so just contact me somehow. You’ll probably notice we do not have anything on the pages (well, my brother has updated the FB page). No fear. I am coming home this weekend and doing some awesome social media galore! Time to make fun marketing materials. I’m so excited.

Phew. All right I’m off to study. I have more to say but school is more important at the moment.

Hope everyone is having a nice cadence to their summers.

Mr. Information

Another interesting talk today, this time in my Clinical Sciences class, which is a 1 credit class giving us a melange of seemingly unrelated information. (Please excuse the hold up on any actual drawings this semester- i’ve been bogged down in pathophysiology and medical terminology text books and the UIC library! I will have to show some art to in the next couple of weeks because everything is actually DUE. eek!)

So far in the Clinical Sciences class, we’ve:

1) learned the neurology of the human brain (abridged version) from an anatomist at the university during the course of two lectures,

2) met and learned from an amazing woman pretty high up in the pharmaceutical field, who told us really crazy stuff about drug development, (maybe another blog) and

3) heard a talk from this guy who works in the department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences- right next door to us. That one sounds kinda boring, right?

It actually wasn’t boring at all.  He’s the guy who’s implementing electronic records in every hospital and doctor’s office in the country (mandated by Obama in 2008).  He’s the guy who wants to let everyone have access to their own health record, and let all doctors who treat you see your entire health history every time you enter a doctor’s office.  He’s also the guy that realizes this vision is a little unrealistic.

Why? Well, because it’s TOO MUCH INFORMATION.  Apparently, when they tried to give people access to their EHRs, electronic health records, less than 10% of them actually glanced at it.

He said, and I quote, “The data challenge in clinical care and medical research is huge.”  Meaning, there is way too much of it.  We have so much information on the genomes of thousands of species, we have the entire medical history of millions of people (not public I hope) and even more information about drugs, disease and treatment.  So what’s the use?  How can informatics be simplified to produce decision making?  For the doctor- and the patient?

One cool thing that Google has been a part of is the Google Flu Trends.

Every time anyone in the world Googles words like “flu symptoms” or anything related to that, it’s recorded.  Doctors and public health people watch the trends, and can predict a flu outbreak 24 hours before it happens.  It worked with the swine flu!  But the problem is that they never know if a “fluctuation” will become a steady rise, which, in the case of the swine flu, surprised quite a few people.

So I think the point of this guy’s talk was to inspire us to subscribe to his grand vision of: Using information to decrease complexity in health.  How do we do that?  Well, as medical artists we can use our graphic art skills to, say, simplify the Drug Facts.  Or maybe find a way to communicate to patients what is going on in their bodies in a clear and concise way, so they have the motivation to take their medicine.  To design based on purpose, ease and effectiveness.  Because humans are pretty complex, but we have limitations to what we can absorb and understand.  I totally agree, but I don’t know where to start.

Preparing for RA/PM Training- Campus Housing

Hey UIC!

I just got back from watching Captain America and as Steve Rogers best says it, “I feel taller.” So Resident Assistant and Peer Mentor training begins in a few weeks and we’re all excited! Campus Housing is ready to bring on what they have in store for this academic year.

Below is an inside-scoop picture of our staff training where our Resident Director Brian Johnson explains how to get transfer students involved in an apartment-style community through programming.

The role of an RA is to develop and maintain a vibrant community within our residence halls while also providing residents learning experiences through their time in Campus Housing. On the flip side, a PM provides residents resources and guidance in order to successfully navigate through UIC academics, careers, and more in the city.

The picture above is a book club that one of our RAs put together and Campus Housing purchased the books titled, “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, for our residents. An overall inspiring non-fiction book about a dying professor at Carnegie Mellon and making his last lecture about “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”

The last picture is of the TBH/MRH South Campus Apartment Staff. For a celebration at the end of our RA Winter Retreat Training, Campus Housing took us to a UIC Basketball game and paid for pizza and drinks.

After freshman year, residents are eligible to apply for the RA/PM position if they meet the job minimum requirements specified in the application. I’ll get more into detail once the applications are out in the fall semester.

It’s been a blast, see you guys next week!

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Top 5 Tips ‘to have a smooth move-in day to Campus Housing’

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What was the shape of Captain America’s shield before the well known circle today?

A Week Without Zyrtec

I went to see the dermatologist Tuesday at the UIC outpatient hospital. My last visit was a month ago and they recommended that I see an allergist to see what else could be affecting my eczema. I totally would have made the appointment, but it just slipped my mind these past thirty days. I mean, taking two classes (science and English I might add) on top research, work, and volunteering is intense!

I had an exam yesterday and we got our results back today during discussion. The average was around 60-65. Sucks. I got a 79, which is a good score if you compare it to the average…but I was hoping for better. Then again, that test was like a slap to the face! I blanked out right at the beginning and just flipped each page until I got to the end. Only after starting from the beginning again I got a light bulb moment and things were good until the middle section, and then after that it was good. Ah well, gotta keep my head up. I’ve been doing well on everything else so it should balance out. I still can’t believe there’s only three weeks left. Soon I will get to enjoy my two-week break before the fall semester starts. Lovely.

I love Chinese motivation.

I guess there’s not too much going on at the moment since I was studying my butt off for the exam this past week/weekend. Tonight, I will drown chemistry out of my mind with a Taiwanese drama! I remember watching a few episodes of it two years ago…but school happens and you don’t have time for those things. It’s called Hi, My Sweetheart featuring Rainie Yang! She’s a very popular Taiwanese singer and she is so cute. Her character in the drama is totally hilarious because she’s some crazy goth girl that no one likes, and then this nerdy kid comes out of nowhere and wants to befriend her because he grew up never having friends. I love it.

I’m so happy it’s going to be Friday tomorrow! I don’t really have any plans, but on Saturday I got invited to a BBQ dinner with the doctor who is in charge of the research that I do in my volunteer work at Rush (not the research I do on UIC campus) and it will be with the other volunteers. We are allowed to invite our family so my parents will come. I hope it won’t be awkward.

I don’t know if you noticed, but I posted two songs (well, videos) from Imogen Heap’s new CD: Ellipse. It’s so good! =) Check it out. I’m listening to them right now.

Yeesh. I am seriously sneezing up a storm! I did make an appointment with the allergist if you were wondering, and it is this coming Tuesday. They told me that I am not allowed to use anti-histamines for a whole week! Ahhh allergies are so awful sometimes. Sure it’s better than having cancer, but it is quite annoying! :(

OH! By the way, the proofs came in for the t-shirts and looks like we’ll be getting them in a week! As a brief reminder for those of you who do not know, my brother and I are attempting to start a clothing company. I would have liked to have started in May or June…but maybe the back to school season will get us some sales. I shall make sure to post a link to the website when I finish creating the layout and inputting items. The designs will make you smile, regardless of our awesome logo (hehe…you’ll see). ♥

Freshman Year in Campus Housing

Hey all!

My freshman pics! It’s been awhile since I’ve seen these—we all definitely grew up since then.

I entered UIC back in Fall of 2007. I was actually on the wait-list for Campus Housing and it wasn’t until the 3rd week of classes that I moved into PSR (Polk Street Residence) on West Campus. At first I was afraid to leave home, but I wanted to venture into the city and college life… plus, I couldn’t stand the 2 hours commute.

Nothing is like your freshman year floor! Some of my closest friends I made here. Meeting my roommate for the first time and he was a pharmacy student. I was a little intimidated at first but he was one of the coolest  people I’ve met.  Next week I’ll talk about my work in Campus Housing and what I do as a Resident Assistant (RA).

For more photos of my freshman year, here’s the link to my Picasa Photo Album:

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is the UIC Campus Housing motto?

WHAT DID I LEARN THIS WEEK: Lincoln Park Zoo is the country’s oldest public zoo.

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Explore the side of a Resident Assistant.

Staples, surgeons and geckos

Today, a recently retired gastrointestinal surgeon came to speak to us about surgery in our class called “surgical orientation.” This class targets those of us who plan to take the fall class, “surgical illustration,” (ME!), where we go into operating rooms to sketch surgeries. So I would say that the topic was pertinent.

Dr. P (as I’ll call him) ended up teaching us more then we paid for. He has had a full career as a surgeon, having spent most of his practicing career here in Chicago at Cook County Hospital. But not only that, he himself is an artist. At the end of his very informative talk, during which he demonstrated the use of multiple modern surgical tools like staplers and sutures, and how to remove a part of the intestines, he brought out his portfolio.

And I expected medical illustrations, given his extreme exposure to the operating room and knowledge of probably 100’s of procedures by heart. But no! His portfolio was chock full of lizards, snakes and geckos. “I know I shouldn’t say this, but I don’t really like medical illustration,” he said to us. Instead, his passion is drawing reptiles.

Who is this man? To many, he might sound crazy, a little nuts, off his rocker, for pursuing not only surgery but also art- for spending his “free time” from operating on humans painting geckos. But to me, I feel like I’m the child he never had. All I wanted to do was ask him a thousand questions. When did you start drawing? Why didn’t you just become an artist? How did you decide between art and medicine? How does art help you as a surgeon and surgery help you as an artist?

He said it was hard for him to decide but he knew he wanted to do both, because, in his words, “I had other interests.”

I’d say.

He said that art has made him able to see the whole picture of the human body, and to relate the figure with what lies underneath. As a surgeon, he has a better idea of what organ is where (which might be helpful when cutting someone open) and as a painter, he has a better idea of the function of what he’s drawing from the outside, which gives him a more confident drafting hand.

And then the last thing he said was, “Just don’t forget, we’re all going to die.”

And while it might sound a little morbid out of context, I knew what he meant. He meant, do everything you want to do. Do it all. Because in the end, you don’t want to say “I wish I had done that.” So those are the wise words of the day, which hopefully I won’t forget tomorrow when I’m feeling overwhelmed by homework and drawings of circumcisions.

Summertime and the Sketchin’s Easy

The summer semester is half way through… and I feel like we just started! So far I’ve learned the pathophysiology of cancer, I’ve toured an operating room in the anticipation of sketching surgeries next fall, and I’ve learned how to make animations in Adobe Flash (click on the box below to see my first animation.) And it’s only been four weeks…

Wait, let me back up a little bit. I’d like to introduce myself to those who haven’t been reading about my embarrassingly gushy anatomical romance. My name is Claire (to some, Clarisse) and I’m a Masters student in the field of biomedical visualization here at UIC. WHAT IS that? you ask? Think about it for a second- you see what we do everywhere! It’s basically the illustration and animation of science, medicine and health. From the adds for acne medication on TV–where they you show an animation of how you clog your pores–to the 3D animations on the National Geographic channel of a beating heart, you’re seeing the work of scientific artists.

It’s a pretty cool field with a lot of avenues. I’ve been here less than a year and I’ve already learned so much! (see previous blog posts) So check out what’s next.

Right now I’m working on a series of illustrations showing a circumcision. Don’t worry, it’s not graphic. That’s the good thing about medical artists- we take something that might be really gross in real life (I’m sorry, not gross. Medical.) and make it beautiful. Check out my preliminary sketches:

We’ll be taking three of the steps and making “final sketches,” and then making one fully rendered illustration. More later!

First Post- About Me & ROTC

Hello Chicago!

My first blog post and I’m not sure where to start! I guess I’ll start with a little about me; I entered UIC Fall of 2007 and I’m currently studying Civil Engineering. I also serve as a Senior Resident Assistant for Campus Housing and my activities include the Army ROTC.

Summer has been inspiring, I’ve been researching in collaboration with the Army ROTC and inner-city Chicago Public Schools to develop and implement alternative leadership programs for students and high-risk teens. Through this, we can hope to increase city-college enrollment by providing soldiers, officers, and mentors as role model for students.

Meanwhile, surprising morning July 6th– I was in the Chicago Tribune! In the article, We were at the UIC Marketplace for Freshman Orientation talking about the Army ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps). Of the many universities across the country, only 250 have an ROTC program and UIC is of the fortunate few. The Chicago Tribune article link is:,0,3386101.story

That’s all I have for you this week. See you all next time.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Name the one food that is sugary sweet, and does not spoil no matter how late you eat!

WHAT I LEARNED THIS WEEK: Buying food in the city can sometimes be cheaper than cooking.

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Campus Housing fun and looking back at my freshman photos =)

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