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Exhibit: Images From VISUAL

Press Release
February 20, 2013
UMass Amherst Libraries





Amherst, Massachusetts - The UMass Amherst Libraries host an exhibit, “Images From VISUAL,” through April 7, 2013, in the Science and Engineering Library, in the Lederle Graduate Research Center Lowrise, Floor 2, at UMass Amherst. An opening reception will be held on February 27, 2013, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the same location. The event is free and open to the public.

The exhibit features fifteen 22”x24” images selected from VISUAL’s collection, each one captured during research at UMass Amherst. Accompanying each image will be a description, in non-technical terms, that explains the science behind the picture.

VISUAL (Ventures in Science Using Art Laboratory) is an educational outreach program of the National Science Foundation supported Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at UMass Amherst. VISUAL is based on the premise that the visual arts can serve as an effective means to educate the general public and students of all ages on the importance of scientific research in our everyday lives. Each captivating image is a direct experimental result from research conducted on the Amherst campus. By building on synergy between art and science, VISUAL provides a unique avenue by which both disciplines can be promoted, appreciated and encouraged.

The Materials Research Science and Engineering Center unites the efforts of 34 faculty members from seven departments (Biochemistry, Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Plant Biology, Physics, and Polymer Science and Engineering) at UMass Amherst, and has research collaborations and outreach programs with over 12 other institutions. The Center has been supported by the National Science Foundation for over 30 years.

For more information, contact Paulina Borrego (, 413-545-7891), or Cathy Russell (, 413-577-1629). For more information on VISUAL, visit:




Image information:

Hydrogel Network

The image shows a hydrogel attached to a glass slide patterned with an array of gold electrodes. The electrodes, each smaller than a human hair, appear as the dark lines in the image, while the transparent glass foundation appears as a purple background due to a color filter used during the experiment. The pattern of branches arises from a thin layer of hydrogel—a soft material that is made mostly of water but that behaves as a solid. Such polymer gels are common in consumer products and are similar in properties to many biological tissues. In addition, the gel shown here is capable of changing its shape and properties in response to external stimuli like heat and electricity, so it could serve as a functional piece of biomedical devices, such as for tissue engineering or medical implants.

(Bin Xu, Polymer Science and Engineering)




Last Edited: 20 February 2013