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An interview with Cell Worlds


Cell Worlds is an revolutionary venture aiming to carry microscopy photos out of the lab to the eye of most people. It has acquired a incredible response within the scientific neighborhood, and extra importantly amongst their target market. Cell Worlds takes the viewer on a journey into the microscopic world, whereas sharing details about the biology behind the attractive photos. To be taught extra in regards to the background of the venture we caught up with the founders of the Cell Worlds, Terence Saulnier and Renaud Pourpre, whereas on our sister web site, FocalPlane, we deal with the microscopists that acquired the picture utilized in Cell Worlds.

Cell Worlds documentary

Along with the textual content model of our interview, we’ve got embedded the total audio model under. We didn’t initially intend to launch the recording, however we expect that this format provides a good higher perception into the keenness and keenness of Renaud and Terence. We apologise for some points with the sound high quality and please word that there are a few swear phrases within the recording.

Are you able to inform us about your background and the way you bought began with science communication?

Renaud – I’ve been involved in science since highschool and have a PhD in microbiology and epigenetics. After I started my PhD, I grew to become conscious of the necessity to inform our tales and get our messages to individuals exterior of science; there are such a lot of fascinating tales! I began doing science communication on my own, alongside my PhD; making some movies and a few occasions. However after I accomplished my PhD in 2019, I made a decision that I wished to construct a profession in science communication and dedicate myself to working in that area. I began by making a podcast referred to as ‘The lonely pipette’, with a researcher, ….. By this, I began to work straight with scientists to assist them promote their tales and their analysis. This was via podcasts, movies and occasions. At one occasion, I met Terence and we realised that we had some frequent targets, and I’ll let him inform that a part of our story – how every little thing actually started for Cell Worlds.

Terence – I’m completely in love with science, particularly neuroscience. For this reason I began as an engineer in neuroscience and neurobiology on the Institut Curie in France. I used to be spending hours on the microscope taking a look at fluorescence labelling in cells. I actually cherished taking a look at these photos and I wished to share any such analysis with the general public, with a broader viewers. I believe you will need to focus on what we’re doing within the lab and why we’re doing our analysis. I wish to assist popularise science with individuals who wouldn’t usually be engaged with it. I do that via conferences and movies, for instance these hosted on YouTube. As Renaud talked about, we met at an occasion and realised that we had a standard objective to work on the interface between analysis and the general public; this was our mission. We wish to carry the picture of science removed from the lab and into the general public area, sharing it on the web and by way of digital artwork.

Picture credit score: @youennlerb (fb/ig)

Do you suppose your background as scientists is essential for making you good science communicators?

Renaud – We don’t consider it’s a must to be a scientist to do good science communication. However the advantage of being a former researcher is that we all know in regards to the on a regular basis lifetime of the scientists; that they usually lack the time and the cash to have the ability to share their analysis with the general public. For Cell Worlds, since we each come from a microscopy background, we knew that scientists had gigabytes of photos that have been by no means going to depart the lab. However they’ve tales and they’re lovely. As a result of we knew this, we thought that others in all probability shared our frustration that these photos weren’t getting used. Between us, we realised we had an inventory of inspiring scientists that have been already sharing their photos on Twitter. Once we contacted them, all of them simply stated ‘sure, simply do it, you should utilize our photos’.

Terence – I believe we’re fortunate to have this understanding of the lab, however we actually suppose you’ll be able to discuss science with out having a giant scientific background. That’s a part of the story of Cell Worlds, anybody can perceive and take part in science. It’s actually open science and this is a vital a part of our mission.

Apart from the microscopy photos, the place did the inspiration for Cell Worlds come from?

Renaud – There are a lot of inspirations for Cell Worlds. One factor we have been clear about from the beginning was that we wished to create a narration that’s fairly totally different from classical documentaries. We realised that we share a giant ardour for music, and we’ve got comparable tastes, for instance we love digital music, but additionally orchestral music, which might carry a special energy to the soundtrack. This was the inspiration to select one musician to grow to be a part of our crew of three, all with complimentary abilities.

Terence – Sure, the music is certainly very cool! We additionally recognised the function of the web tradition in connecting with the general public, particularly youthful individuals. The web has made the best way that folks get information and entry info very totally different from up to now, particularly with social media. For us to have a documentary was very cool, however it was essential that we shared it on YouTube, the place it’s completely free and really simple to share on social media platforms akin to Twitter.

Renaud – It brings us again to our open science targets. We produced one thing that’s obtainable to individuals without spending a dime; they will play it on YouTube, or venture it someplace. We predict that you will need to make these tales accessible for the general public.

Picture credit score: @youennlerb (fb/ig)

One factor that struck me in regards to the documentary was that it appealed to such a broad vary of individuals. For instance, scientists actually adore it, maybe for the pictures and the music greater than the story, whereas kids wish to hear/see the story in addition to the dramatic photos and music. Was that broad viewers attraction one thing you have been aiming for?

Terence – It’s humorous, we discovered that the documentary took the scientists again to once they began working in science. They informed us that it reminded them of why they love science and why they grew to become biologists!

Renaud – We constructed the documentary to focus on the identical viewers as Terence’s YouTube channel, … as that’s the place we printed it. So, we have been aiming to attach with youngsters and younger adults. However we didn’t actually anticipate that youthful kids could be watching it, however it was superb, and we realised that our storytelling labored for them as properly. We additionally acquired messages from academics asking us about utilizing the documentary to introduce a lesson or exhibiting it to their courses. One other good factor was that scientists grew to become nice ambassadors for the documentary, as they have been sharing it in all places! We have been so pleased to see this collective effort to disseminate it.

Are you able to inform us extra in regards to the exhibition?

Terence – our concept was the exhibition ought to be an immersive expertise. We wished the viewers to be surrounded by the microscopy. The photographs are projected on all 4 partitions and the ground is a mirror, so that you see the reflections from the partitions. After all, it’s unimaginable to be immersed on this world in our actuality, so the exhibition creates a dream world for the scientists, the college kids, and the general public on the whole.

Renaud – We have now a enjoyable story in regards to the exhibition to share with you. We had a small launch, helped by the CNRS, the nationwide institute of analysis in France. The cool story was seeing some very senior scientists behaving like 5 12 months olds! Operating round trying to find their photos and even dancing together with them! That was so cool to see, the happiness in that room!

Picture credit score: @youennlerb (fb/ig)

Does the exhibition inform the identical story because the documentary?

Terence – It’s fairly totally different, however the goals are the identical. With the exhibition, the thought is to make use of the leisure to provide the message to the general public. But it surely’s extra than simply leisure, we use the attractive music and pictures to lift consciousness of the science. Solely on the finish of the exhibition, do you uncover what you’ve gotten been taking a look at. We write on the wall ‘it is a neuron’ or ‘that is an embryo’, so individuals now join that the pictures they’re seeing are literally cells inside them. The museum internet hosting the exhibition has by no means hosted any science earlier than, so it was thrilling to carry collectively the artwork and science worlds.

Are you able to share the ‘important statistics’ of the documentary and exhibition?

Renaud – Our nuclear crew is three, me, Terence and Youenn, who composed the music. The music is especially essential within the exhibition as there isn’t any voiceover. This implies the narrative comes from the music. For the documentary, we additionally had two actresses serving to us with the voiceover. They coached us to make use of our voices for the audio, in addition to including their very own voices.  Additionally they examined the script and helped us add a creative layer to the phrases. Then we’ve got all of the scientists that contributed photos. It’s a world crew, though initially most of the crew have been French, with collaborations with a number of the prime institutes in France. We then had scientists from different institutes be part of the crew; you’ll be able to see the full checklist on our web site.

By way of the documentary, we’ve got reached 14,000 views (Could 2022). That occurred fairly rapidly! We’re persevering with to advertise the documentary, for instance we are going to share it in a cinema quickly. We’re additionally making an attempt to push it to festivals, to essentially carry it to new audiences, in new locations. We actually wish to get these photos to the general public, removed from the lab.

We predict that our exhibition is the primary venture, at the very least on this sort of scale (together with so many groups, and in addition when it comes to the bodily dimension of the exhibition) to carry biology to most people on this format. That’s why we referred to as it a world premiere! So, we wished to know if the individuals attending the exhibition are seeing a science and artwork present for the primary time. We may acquire this info on the finish of the exhibitions by way of our web site, which helps connects the exhibition with the documentary. The viewers scan a QR code and are taken to a survey asking them if that is their first expertise of an artwork and science present. To this point, it’s about 85%. We additionally ask whether or not persons are involved in studying extra in regards to the microscopic world. That is about 75%. We predict these numbers imply that we’re reaching our objective, to get a brand new viewers to have interaction with science. We selected the artwork centre as a result of we knew that their most important viewers are usually not scientists.

Picture credit score: @youennlerb (fb/ig)

How did you choose the scientists that grew to become a part of the venture?

Each – We solely had one situation, a willingness to share their photos! And all of the scientists that we approached have been already sharing their analysis on social media. Usually, we solely ‘knew’ the researchers as a result of we adopted them on Twitter. We simply approached individuals with photos that we favored. And we additionally had suggestions from different scientists both as a result of that they had seen some nice photos, or they have been suggesting a brand new matter for us to cowl.

So, which got here first the pictures or the story?

Renaud – It was a bit of each! We knew there have been some matters that we wished to cowl, after which we appeared round to see if there was somebody we may join with on that space. However we additionally launched some matters due to the pictures we had seen. It didn’t matter if we knew that topic, we have been involved in sharing the message of the researcher they usually know the story, so we simply needed to search for cool stuff to share!

Terence – So, Cell Worlds is like the idea of evolution; to not have a set plan initially however the venture is product of many alternative blocks that construct the wall.

The place did you get funding?

Terence – The funding got here from two sources. Half from the museum that’s internet hosting the exhibition in Bassins des Lumiéres, Bordeaux. And the opposite half is from le Centre nationwide du cinéma in France, which helped us make the documentary. It was sufficient to cowl our venture. We have been fortunate as getting funding for science popularisation might be difficult.

Renaud – The funding from the le Centre nationwide du cinéma was a aggressive course of. They have been in search of various kinds of initiatives in arts and tradition. We made an utility, making an attempt to be as clear as attainable about our imaginative and prescient. They favored the venture and determined to assist us.

Why each an exhibition and documentary?

Terence – We actually take into consideration Cell Worlds as just one venture. The photographs are the identical and far of the music is similar. However we can provide you a little bit of historical past as to the way it got here collectively.

Renaud – Once we began fascinated with making the documentary, we actually wished it to be an immersive expertise. Truly ‘immersive’ is just not fairly the proper phrase however we wished the viewer to really feel that they have been projected into an ecosystem, seeing it like a jungle with all its wildlife. The microscopic world is like one other ecosystem, and we assist the viewers to enter with the voiceover. While engaged on the venture, we have been within the museum, and we thought ‘how cool would it not be to have a cell that’s increased than you’. So, we contacted the museum about utilizing the area. We rapidly realised that the exhibition and the documentary could be complimentary – you’ll be able to get pleasure from both with out seeing the opposite – however we wished to construct our audiences’ want to see each. While the pictures and far of the music are the identical, the narrative is totally different due to the alternative ways you have interaction with them. For instance, on the exhibition you’re extra by yourself, and for those who see if a second time you don’t see it in the identical approach, as a result of you have already got the solutions that seem on the finish of the present. The voiceover within the documentary provides you extra new info. We predict that having these totally different outputs means we are able to attain a broader viewers, and this is among the most important goals of the venture. The hyperlink between the 2 is the web site, however that is actually simply to direct individuals to the output that they haven’t already seen.

Picture credit score: @youennlerb (fb/ig)

What are you engaged on subsequent, as a crew or people?

Each – We wish to do many issues!

Terence – We wish to proceed to work on open science with our incubator L’Exploratoire. Cell Worlds is part of this incubator, however we wish to proceed our mission to elucidate science to the general public in new methods. Not, in fact, the educational approach of explaining science however permitting the residents to be actors in science, to take part. This isn’t actually one venture however extra of an ambition for what we’re doing in our different initiatives. Renaud, possibly you’ll be able to discuss our new venture, ‘Méandres’, ‘Meander’ in English.

Renaud – So, Méandres is about every little thing being linked or aligned. The venture is centred within the notion of open science. We wish to join residents with science in methods that aren’t ‘boring’ and permit them to expertise science moderately than simply receiving the knowledge. Méandres has the identical crew as Cell Worlds. We wished to maintain the identical crew; we work properly collectively overlaying science popularisation, tradition and music. It simply is smart! We will likely be engaged on a very totally different venture and it’s extra primarily based on Terence and Youenn’s experience. It’s about how we are able to discuss neuroscience, feelings and human neurological mechanism via reactions to misplaced structure and buildings. In France, we’ve got quite a lot of heritage buildings, which have incredible tales and fascinating histories. We wish to use exploration of deserted heritage to assist discuss neuroscience. Placing individuals in unknown locations raises feelings, so we are able to see the response after which clarify it collectively. City exploration can look spectacular, with many photos on the web, however for us it’s actually a solution to discuss social science and neuroscience. So, the thought is that we are going to take somebody who is just not use to these locations, we are going to go along with this particular person to go to an unknown place and observe each the place and the particular person’s response to it, their feelings. There are frequent emotional reactions to unknown locations, particularly when it comes to concern responses. We want to demystify the hyperlink between the feelings they’ve skilled, and the neurological mechanisms concerned. So, we’re speaking about neuroscience as a part of a shared expertise. We can even have the chance to speak about these deserted buildings and their previous capabilities in society, which means that we are able to protect the recollections of those locations. We have already got some places in thoughts and we’ve got the individuals to supply the primary episode of the sequence. Then we are going to take totally different individuals to totally different locations, to cowl new matters.

Because of Terence and Renaud to speaking to us in regards to the fabulous Cell Worlds venture in addition to giving us a sneak-peek at their new venture. We stay up for seeing extra of your work sooner or later.

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