Catalyst Fund

Insects Alive – A campus-wide 3-D art sculpture project


Primary Participant:

Andrea Lucky, Assistant Research Scientist, Entomology & Nematology (Project Co-Director); Lisa Taylor, Assistant Research Scientist, Entomology & Nematology (Project Co-Director)


David Whitney, College of Engineering Innovation Institute. Working to connect maker-builders across campus David Blackburn, Florida Museum of Natural History; using micro-CT scans to understand evolution and biodiversity of frogs.

Insects Alive is a campus-wide art competition that brings together science, art and technology to foster a meaningful interdisciplinary creative experience for UF students. The final products of the competition, sculptures and animations inspired by real 3-D data from insects, will showcase the creativity and technological talent among our students on the UF campus. Our principal goals are to use this contest as a vehicle to engage undergraduates in creative, interdisciplinary collaboration and to create original art that is uniquely rooted in Florida – specifically in the insects and spiders that are fundamental to Florida’s rich biodiversity. We also aim to train students to generate and manipulate 3-D data from (micro-CT scanned) real specimens.

This project harnesses new technology (nanoscale 3-D data) and introduces it into an unusual context – creative arts production. Artists have long used 3-D data in applications ranging from architecture to animation, however, data from animals as small as insects and spiders have been limited as a result of their scale. The ability to 3-D scan these specimens represents a breakthrough for biologists and for artists: art created from original, insect-based 3-D data from local specimens represents creative interpretation of our local ecology and micro-wildlife.

The juxtaposition of natural history data, 3-D technology and creative arts is intended to train students in technical skills (3-D data manipulation). It is also intended to be a framework for interdisciplinary collaboration. Students are graduating into a world where an essential prerequisite for success is an ability to work with diverse colleagues across disciplines. This project models collaborative space showcasing the value of campus interdisciplinary collaboration. This project is also creative in how it is deployed. We capitalize on the existing competitive nature of student residence halls to frame the campus-wide contest and to harness the incredible creative ‘maker’ energy toward this endeavor.