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SciArt profiles: Sofia Araújo

Posted by , on 19 February 2021

In our fifth SciArt Profile we meet Sofia Araújo, a Professor in the University of Barcelona.


Where are you originally from, where do you work now, and what do you work on now?

I am originally from Portugal. I took my Ph.D. in the UK and now, after a postdoc and a career development award at the IBMB-CSIC and IRB Barcelona, I am a Professor at the Department of Genetics Microbiology and Statistics and the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Barcelona (, where I run a research lab on the genetics of cell behaviour during development. In my research group, we work on the cell biology of development, more specifically on how single-cells branch.


Where you always going to be a scientist?

Science has always been a very important part of my life. I knew from early on that I wanted to be a researcher and the real problem has always been on what to focus on, since I get excited about many things and like to follow the lead from whatever interesting results we have in the lab.


And what about art – have you always enjoyed it?

Art, like science, has always been an important part of my life, since I was a child. I remember spending long hours drawing and painting and finding it a great way to express myself. I got extra help from my mum, a secondary school arts teacher, which made things easier whenever I wanted to try a new technique! Unfortunately, it is art that mainly suffers from when I don’t have enough time, so it always has had its ups and downs. However, I do need it as a balance in my life, so I always end up finding the time to do it! I am mainly a drawer and a painter, but I have also done some pottery and woodwork and, of course, the good old embroidery.


Who are your artistic influences?

I like art and I enjoy the works of many artists, but I cannot say I have an artistic influence. Because I like drawing and painting nature, animals and scientific images, I do like the influence of artists like Henry Rousseau, Vincent Van Gogh, Marianne North and of course, Ramon y Cajal!


How do you make your art? 

Nowadays, I only use charcoal, watercolour and oil. And lately, I have been mainly working with oil on canvas. Approaches vary depending on which painting I work on. If I am painting a dinosaur for my kids, I search for good images on the internet. Sometimes, I paint landscapes from my own photos. Or I draw and paint cells and tissues from our own confocal images.


Does your art influence your science at all, or are they separate worlds?

They are both part of my life, so they do influence each other, of course. But I cannot pinpoint if painting has ever made me compose my microscopy photographs in any special way. I think it is more like my science has influenced my art, since I started painting confocal microscopy images with oil on canvases!


What are you thinking of working on next?

I will certainly continue painting confocal images and animals, intercalated with other types of images, like landscapes, whatever inspires me as I go along. I only wish I had more time to experiment with new techniques and ways of painting!


Gallery of Sofia’s pieces (click for full size image & caption)


We’re looking for new people to feature in this series throughout the year – whatever kind of art you do, from sculpture to embroidery to music to drawing, if you want to share it with the community just email (nominations are also welcome!).

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