Associate Professor Allan Albig and illustration major Roxy Albig are basically the dream team when it comes to writing, illustrating and publishing a book on molecular biology. In fall 2021, the father/daughter duo self-published “It’s Not Magic, It’s Biology: A guided tour through your molecular world!” with the goal of explaining the science behind phenomena that seem, well, magical. For Allan Albig, the ‘light-bulb’ moment for writing the book was inspired by electric eels.
“In one of the classes I teach, I talk about how electric eels can make a shock, and I’ve always thought to myself that this is something that probably lots of people should know about how it actually works, because it seems like magic, right?” Allan Albig said.
Over the next few years, he began jotting down other topics and building a list of phenomena and scientific processes that he thought people would be interested in understanding. Molecular biology is a field of science that is so broad and complex that it can be intimidating to those who have not studied it, but it is intrinsic to medicine, cellular processes and our everyday lives.
The creative team’s mission in writing the book was to battle disinformation and public distrust of science by providing a door to accessible molecular biology. For Allan Albig, this was done through research and writing. For Roxy Albig, this was done through the creative expression of art. Biology doctoral student, Elise Overgaard edited the book.
“I love art because it is the single most important way we can communicate with each other,” Roxy Albig said. “Most people are visual learners. Especially when it’s a topic that is especially wordy or can put you to sleep with vocabulary. The brain can understand images much easier than text, and combined with the power of metaphor it can visualize a phenomenon more easily.”
The Albigs said they hope that by understanding a little molecular biology, readers will be better able to make more informed opinions about current topics like medicines, vaccines and misinformation.
— By Brianne Phillips