Cognitive Daily

Lab Aesthetics (Send us pictures!)

One cool thing about running a lab is that there aren’t really many restrictions about decor. As long as the immediate area around the equipment is clear of visual distractions, anything goes. That’s why we’re inviting readers to send us examples of crazy lab art. Here’s a great example of what can happen working too many hours in a row in a cell biology lab, courtesy of “Winnie”:


Here’s what the main room of Greta’s lab looks like. This is where her Perception and Attention students go to participate in demo experiments, plan experiments they’ll be running more formally in subject-running rooms, and analyze data:


The real magic, however, happens in the other room, where research stimuli are created, papers are written, and lab assistants have been known to crash for the night:


As you can see, things get a little weird in here. The most “interesting” specimens of lab artwork were created by Greta’s first student to go on and earn a Ph.D.: Jenny Solberg, (who still stops by to comment on CogDaily articles):

Take a look at this:


And this:


Clearly being a lab assistant does something funny to your thinking process — or perhaps it’s the other way around.

The other opportunity Greta’s research assistants have to show their artistic side is the “thank you” screen for experiments. Here’s one of our all-time favorites (QuickTime required), by Joy Minchew. Research participants had been looking at scenes depicting these boats for the previous 20 minutes:

But surely Greta’s lab isn’t the only one with artwork. Why not send us pictures of your lab’s kookiest art? Send Dave an email (remove dashes!) or place a link to your artwork in the comments thread. We’ll add it to the collection in this post!


  1. #1 Ian Findlay
    August 21, 2007

    The only thing weird about it is how clean and tidy it is.

  2. #2 Dave Munger
    August 21, 2007

    I knew someone was going to mention that… That’s why I was hoping for some submissions from other labs to show us how it’s supposed to be done.

  3. #3 May Shue
    August 21, 2007

    The lab, oh, the lab. I remember the lab! And I remember the time spent with Jenny in said lab. Congratulations, Jenny, if you’re reading this! And hi too, to Greta – it has been quite a while. I’m very glad to have stumbled on Cog Daily.

  4. #4 Ella
    August 21, 2007

    Anyplace you don’t have to worry about obtaining the “respect” of your clients is pretty free as far as decor goes. Art posters, inside jokes, and clip-art seem to be par for the course. Either we’re all “a little crazy” (at every school I’ve attended, job I’ve worked, and hospital I’ve visited), or I don’t share your definition. Fun, yes. Crazy, no.

    My personal workplace favorite was the butterfly-winged Jesus figurine with Michael Jackson’s mug shot face — a nightmare to all who sat near him. The collaborative Wall was often entertaining, as well.

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