Student made comic book to explain complex chemistry
Student made comic book to explain complex chemistry Veronica Berns holds the comic book "Atomic Size Matters" that she created to explain her doctoral chemistry thesis to her family (AP photos)
Student made comic book to explain complex chemistry
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Late last spring, a student worked late into the night. As she doodled, her chemistry thesis took on a life of its own, transforming into a comic book.

Veronica Berns, 28, was working on her Ph. D. in chemistry at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Berns said she long struggled to explain her work to her parents and friends. The self-described comic book fan said she began drafting her thesis on quasicrystals. They are a subset of crystals that diverge from the usual structural characteristics of crystals. Berns quickly concluded that she would be best able to describe the oddball compounds with illustrations.

"They're not very well-polished illustrations. That's on purpose," Berns said. "I wanted it to be like I'm explaining on the back of an envelope."

On many occasions, it was on the back of an envelope or on a napkin that she doodled sketches. She was able to illustrate the chemical bonds to better show her parents what she was working on in the lab. Jody Berns, Veronica's mother, said their family has a history of doodling and has shared comics for years.

Veronica Berns surprised her family with her comic book. It was called "Atomic Size Matters." She showed it off at her graduation last year. The book depicts cartoons of Berns wearing various costumes. It uses humor as well as simple comparisons to describe elaborate chemistry.

"We're just really proud that she can take something so complex and put it into a fun visual explanation that everyone can enjoy," Jody Berns said.

Veronica Berns' professor Danny Fredrickson said Berns was the first of his students to construct her thesis in an artistic way. He said often it is difficult for scientists to explain what they do with proper context.

"If it's worth doing, we should be able to explain it," Fredrickson said.

He said Berns managed to accomplish that.

Berns said she hopes other scientists will find ways to illustrate what they're doing in the lab. She now lives in Chicago and works as a chemist. Berns also writes a blog in which she uses comics to explain the work of Nobel Prize winning scientists.

Berns started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign on the Internet to finance printing a small batch of the books. She said she wanted to raise $5,965 to cover the costs of professional printing. The website says she has raised more than $14,000.

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  • KatieK-Kut
    5/10/2015 - 09:54 p.m.

    That's a really good idea cause some people might not get the concept and by reading this it will help. People help a lot by fundraising she got over double what her goal was this shows that people care about her work and want to help

  • JordanK-Kut
    5/11/2015 - 06:55 a.m.

    I think that this is a very good idea! It is so cool that you can turn something super challenging into something so fun. A lot of people I know are visual learners, and sometimes if they are learning something complicated and there is no picture to go with it then they will not understand it . Now that this book is created you will have pictures for everything which will help a lot of people! I think this is a great idea and we should do more stuff like this.

  • ZackJ-Kut
    5/11/2015 - 09:20 a.m.

    a comic book that based on since would like it but in my stand point I think that a person would LIKE IT A LOT!!! you meet your match Captain America my job here is done .

  • elsat-Sch
    5/11/2015 - 11:53 a.m.

    I think this is a great way to learn atomic size. Pictures help instead of reading a lot and + reading takes a lot of time with pictures it's shorter and you get a better view of what it is.

  • johnathank-Sch
    5/11/2015 - 11:55 a.m.

    This is a great way for people to understand chemistry in a fun way. I like that she enjoys doing it too. I hope I can buy this comic soon.

  • austinfop-Sch
    5/11/2015 - 12:00 p.m.

    I think I would want to read her comic books. I think that it is more easy to remember chemistry in a fun way so people can remember it with jokes.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    5/11/2015 - 01:07 p.m.

    This is really neat! I wish we were allowed make books for projects instead of building models. I think i'd learn better from a book.

  • LilyF-Kut
    5/11/2015 - 05:38 p.m.

    I think that is really cool. It would help a lot of people learn about chemistry just by looking at pictures. That would be really cool if we could just make comics or books instead of doing big projects.

  • sebastianserrano1
    5/11/2015 - 06:07 p.m.

    The chemist Veronica Berns made a comic book to describe advanced chemistry. In her earlier attempts to just ended up explain the chemistry subject in a simple way to her friends and family she usually ended up just confusing them. The comic was successful on Kickstarter and is something Berns is proud of. This article was short and had a unique topic that had quotes from the chemist which made the article much more interesting.

  • antont-Sch
    5/11/2015 - 06:21 p.m.

    I think it is interesting that a scientist can make a comic book that explains science at the same time.i would like to read that Atomic Matters book.

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