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Guild of Natural Science Illustrators

Virtual Conference 2020
Dates: August 8th and 9th


Our Presenters

Picture of Karen Ackoff

Karen Ackoff has a BFA in Illustration from the Philadelphia College of Art (1977) and an MFA in Medical Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology (1985). From 1984-1987, Karen taught in the Illustration Program at University of the Arts (Philadelphia). From 1987-1997, she worked as Scientific Illustrator at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. From 1997-2013, she was Professor of Fine Arts at the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts at Indiana University South Bend, and was Program Director of Graphic Design. She continues to conduct workshops, exhibit, write, and make art.


Picture of Rachel Bayse

Rachel Basye is Executive Director at the Art Students League of Denver, an artistic community where people of all abilities are guided by professional artists to reach their highest potential. In addition, she is a mayoral appointee to the Denver Commission for Cultural Affairs and sits on the Boards of Directors for the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, the newly formed Westwood Creative District. In 2015, she was selected as a Bonfils-Stanton Livingston Fellow, in recognition of her non-profit leadership abilities. As a practicing artist, she is a member of The Mix, an artists’ collaborative in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District. Ms. Basye received her BA in International Affairs and German and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Colorado.


 Portrait of Julia Bontaine HoelJulia Buntaine Hoel is a conceptual artist and founding Director of SciArt Initiative, a New York-based 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to bridging the gulf between the arts and sciences through the platforms of art. Julia attained her double BA in Neuroscience and Sculpture from Hampshire College, her post-bac certificate in Studio Art from Maryland Institute College of Art, and her MFA of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts. She has exhibited nationally and internationally at institutions including the Smithsonian, New York University, Brown University, Propeller Gallery, Visual Voice Gallery, Pace University, and Islip Art Museum. She also teaches, consults, curates, and frequently writes about art, and currently holds positions at Pratt Institute, Merrimack College, and Montserrat College of Art.


Portrait of Quinn Burrell

Quinn Burrell is the artist for Game Changer Chicago, where she makes health and STEM-based learning interventions for youth on the South Side of Chicago. She possesses a wealth of taxonomic puns, and works on picture books and comics in her free time.


Portrait of Christine Elder

Christine Elder is a naturalist and educator holding Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology and a graduate certificate in Science Illustration from the University of California. Her freelance work includes the recently published Endemic Birds of the West Indies Coloring Book.  But teaching is her greatest passion. She loves helping families discover the benefits of a nature journaling practice and leads a global community of students through her online classes.  She also leads nature sketching holidays for adults to tropical Central American destinations.  When not playing in her art studio or traveling, Christine enjoys working with horses and hiking in the Cascade Mountains around her home in central Oregon. 


Portrait of Jennifer Fairman

Jennifer Fairman is an Associate Professor at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She specializes in medical and scientific illustration for publication, patient education, animation, web, graphic & interactive design and small business practices. Her work has been published in over 960 scientific journal articles, textbooks and book chapters, monographs, science presentations, websites and videos. Her contributions are highly recognized by the Association of Medical Illustrators, Illustrators Club of DC, National Science Foundation, BioCommunications Association, James Smithson Society, and Vesalius Trust. She most recently graduated with her Master of Professional Studies in the Business of Art and Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art with perfect achievement. She was also named the Ratcliffe Foundation’s top grant winner of MICA’s third annual UP/Start Venture Competition.


Portrait of Gretchen Halpert

Gretchen Kai Halpert began teaching online in January 2014, building the Scientific Illustration Distance Program from the ground up. Her goal was to adapt her previous live courses to an online format while maintaining traditional classroom intimacy. Gretchen’s educational background includes a degree in botany from Connecticut College, graduate work in biological illustration from UNH, and a certificate in scientific and technical illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)/CE. Halpert worked as a cell and molecular biologist for 25 years while freelancing and teaching illustration at RISD/CE and Brown University. She is a past president of the GNSI, founder and past president of the GNSI-NE chapter, and recipient of the GNSI Distinguished Service Award.

Websites: ,

Portrait of Tania Marien

Tania Marien is the principal of The Freelance Condition and Lifelong Learning in Communities project and founder of Talaterra.

As host and producer of the Talaterra podcast, she has conversations with educators and researchers whose work facilitates connections between people and nature. As a community designer at Talaterra Cowork, Tania makes it easy for independent professionals to meet each other and to learn from colleagues in various fields.

Through her initiatives, Tania strives to bring attention to the work independent environmental educators do in their communities and to show the depth, breadth, and the knowledge of the people who work in this capacity.


 Portrait of Cordelia NorrisCordelia Norris is the founder of Luna Creative, an award-winning creative studio working with values-driven organizations. She has a Master's in Illustration from SCAD and undergraduate degrees in Graphic Design, Studio Art, and Art History. Her work's been recognized with awards from AIGA, AAF, Applied Arts and exhibited around the country. She's the author of the activity books "Hatchlings" and "All Along the Atlantic".


Portrait of Katie Schuler An advocate for the planet’s most at-risk species, Katie Schuler leverages over a decade of filmmaking experience on six continents to tell engaging stories that speak to our shared sense of empathy and compassion. Her films, which explore the challenges and rewards of living alongside nature, have garnered accolades, accrued millions of views, and inspired meaningful conservation victories across the world. She has partnered with many of the most recognizable names in wildlife filmmaking, including National Geographic, Smithsonian, BBC, HBO, and PBS. Katie’s last three films have each won best short awards at Jackson Wild, including Pangolin, the winner of six best short awards including, Where Life Begins, and Nigerians Fight to Protect the World’s Most Trafficked Mammal.



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