Danna Staaf

Danna Staaf is a marine biologist, science writer, novelist, artist, and educator. She holds a PhD in Squid Babies from Stanford and a BA in Biology from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She helped found the outreach program Squids4Kids, illustrated The Game of Science, and blogs at Science 2.0. She lives in San Jose with her husband, daughter, and cats.
Real blood vessels in a real brain

Creepy Yet Compelling: Blood Vessels Blown in Glass

Halloween means time for gore! Blood, bones, brains and more! Severed fingers, severed toes, eyeballs and organs galore! But how accurate are all these loose bits of human anatomy in our front yards, costumes and punch bowls? Can we use that skeleton in the corner to bone up for a biology exam–or are we missing out on a tremendous opportunity to learn medical science?

Bighorn skulls at the Bone Room show

Saving Bighorn Sheep, One Mural At a Time

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are animals worth seeing. With their bright white rumps and the rams' remarkable headgear, they bound and leap over seemingly impassable alpine terrain. But you may have a tricky time spotting one–there are only about four hundred in existence.

Blood vessel growth in a healthy (left) and diseased (right) eye - Allison Bruce

Illustrating Science: Translating Knowledge Into Pictures

Allison Bruce has a wonderful job: she spends all day making pictures for scientists. Bruce started out in science herself, earning a chemistry degree from UC Davis. After college, she worked in an environmental lab, but she didn't enjoy it and turned to art classes "to keep from losing my mind," she says.

Zoom of mural by Debbie Bakker

California Wildlife Mural Celebrates Its Third Birthday

In 2009, after West Valley College built its brand new biology building, a group of faculty stood in the natural history lab staring at a blank wall. "It's too empty," they agreed. "How about a mural?" suggested biology and genetics instructor Molly Schrey.


Collaborative Creativity in the Digital World

When you think of digital art, Photoshop or a Wacom tablet may come to mind. And yes, drawing on a screen instead of a pad of paper is certainly one kind of digital art. But digital art can also happen on an entirely different level: art can be made with lines of code.

thorax cross-section

The Reverential and the Precious: Human Anatomy as Art

It may take an unusual muse to be deeply inspired by the body's insides. Artist Sara Nilsson possesses just such a muse–as well as the skill to create breathtakingly beautiful, anatomically accurate cross-sections of the human body with quilled paper.

Mirrorbox faces

Avatars and the Mirrorbox: Can Humans Hack Empathy?

Virtual avatars are one thing. But what about real bodies? Would identifying with another person's body make you behave more like that person? If the body belongs to a different gender, age, or ethnicity than yours, would you become more empathic to others in that group?