20 in their 20s
Daisy Chung has never been one to limit her options. She transferred to Rice from her home in Taiwan for the opportunity to study both of her passions — biological sciences and visual art. “I was the only student at the time pursuing both majors,” Chung says. “Once I realized I wanted to become a science illustrator, I essentially invented my own path and designed an independent study course under the guidance of [Rice associate professor of painting and drawing] Natasha Bowdoin, my mentor.”
After graduation, Chung considered entering academia but didn’t want to restrict herself to a specialized field of science. With a desire to communicate academic science to a broad audience, she enrolled in California State University’s science illustration graduate program, the only of its kind in the country. “Through my program’s internship component, I began working with Scientific American, which sparked my interest in visual journalism,” she says. Chung then joined National Geographic’s graphics team in Washington, D.C.
“It’s hard to explain science, but getting your audience to care about the science is even harder.”
“Each magazine story was a monthslong collaborative project between writers, photographers, designers and graphic researchers,” she explains. “The researchers helped me become a mini-expert in specialized topics so I could act as a communication liaison for our audience.”
Chung says her greatest challenge in creating visual stories that explain complicated scientific topics is getting the audience to engage. “Once you’re too removed from your audience, you forget why the visuals don’t work,” she says. “It’s hard to explain science, but getting your audience to care about the science is even harder.”
Today, Chung works part time as the creative director for wikiHow, an educational website with how-to guides, and expands on her freelance career, where she’s able to dream up her own story ideas, such as community efforts to save Hawaii’s Ōhia tree from a rapidly spreading fungal disease. Her recent work has also brought her back to Rice as a visual communication collaborator for Rice Magazine and the Carbon Hub.