Four prizes were awarded in the third annual Morgridge Institute for Research Ethics Cartooning Contest, which invites participants to make a cartoon on any ethical issue related to biomedical research. The competition drew 72 entrants from more than 39 different departments and programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and affiliated research institutions.
A panel of three judges applied the following criteria to the competition: depiction and analysis of a research ethics issue, humor, and artistry. After public voting, the following winners were selected:
- First Prize: Charlotte Kanzler, Cellular and Molecular Biology
- Second Prize: Lena Vincent, Wisconsin institute for Discovery
- Third Prize: Noah Trapp, School of Medicine and Public Health
- Honorable Mention: Dasom (Somi) Hwang, Biotechnology Center
Charlotte Kanzler, a first-year graduate student in the UW-Madison Cellular and Molecular Biology program and a member of the Phil Newmark lab at Morgridge, took the top prize.
The lab focuses on planarian species, flatworms that have regenerative capabilities, to better understand developmental processes. Kanzler is investigating the somatic support cells of the planarian ovary to learn more about female germ cell development.
Kanzler’s winning cartoon explores the complexity of environmental advocacy when scientific laboratories are dependent on single-use plastics.
“I wanted to do a piece based around plastic use because it’s often something I’ve heard joked about, by myself as well, in the lab: ‘Ha, I’m killing the environment, I used 10 boxes of pipette tips today,’” says Kanzler. “Researchers who are often conscientious in their home life with recycling, purchasing green energy, or driving efficient cars, then turn a blind eye to their plastic use once they cross the threshold of the lab.”
Single-use plastics are often indispensable to many laboratory workflows, and the cost is necessary to ensure sterile handling to avoid cross contamination of samples. However, Kanzler believes there is a way to adopt “green” practices and produce less waste.
Researchers who are often conscientious in their home life with recycling, purchasing green energy, or driving efficient cars, then turn a blind eye to their plastic use once they cross the threshold of the lab.Charlotte Kanzler
“It would require a large paradigm shift on the part of research institutions and biotech companies, but there are stories of individual labs adopting practices that drastically reduce their plastic use with thought, effort, and trial and error,” she says.
The Morgridge Ethics Cartooning Competition encourages scientists to shed light on timely or recurring issues that arise in scientific research. Morgridge Bioethics Scholar in Residence Pilar Ossorio developed the competition to encourage scientists to talk about the possible social and ethical impacts of their research.
The top four winning cartoons are depicted below. Ossorio’s team thanks all the contest entrants for their creative works that addressed important ethical issues in biomedical research.
Cell & Molecular Biology
© 2019 Charlotte Kanzler
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
© 2019 Lena Vincent
School of Medicine and Public Health
© 2019 Noah Trapp
Dasom (Somi) Hwang
© 2019 Dasom (Somi) Hwang