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Amanda Muñoz, Finalist in the Biorender Graphical Abstract 2020 Contest

Amanda Muñoz, a PhD researcher from the Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites (NN) group, joined the Biorender Graphical Abstract challenge with a visualization of her group’s work with C. elegans and nanoparticles. Her figure has become one of the finalists in the contest, and it has already opened new opportunities for learning. 

01 July 2020

The Importance of Graphical Abstracts

Biorender is one of the online tools that allows the creation of visual figures in a very simple way, through a drag and drop system and a large base of icons. It is hard to overstate the importance of using visual tools like this one to support the information we want to convey in a paper, presentation, poster, etc. One of these kind of figures are Graphical Abstracts, single-image figures that summarize the main point in a paper.

“Graphical abstracts are usually the first thing that a potential reader of our article sees. Therefore, it is essential to create one that impacts the reader and convinces them that reading this paper is worthy.” -Amanda Muñoz, Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites Group

Not only do they make any piece of information more attractive, but they can also help make it easier to understand. In a lot of cases, a visualization of a topic can help the reader parse the information quickly, and if they are interested it can make it easier to process the rest of the information in the paper. This becomes even more important when communicating outside of the scientific community: having an easily understandable figure can be the difference between winning or loosing the general audience when it comes to sharing our research.

Amanda Muñoz on C. elegans and nanoparticles

Amanda Muñoz’s figure showcases one of the lines of research within the Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites group, which “uses C. elegans as a tool to evaluate the toxicity of some nanoparticles and to realize how biological interactions change the initial properties of the nanoparticles.” Her graphical abstract specifically illustrates the paper “Protective Effects of Bovine Serum Albumin on Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles Evaluated in the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans” by Laura Gonzalez-MoragasSi-Ming YuElisa CarenzaAnna Laromaine*, and Anna Roig.

Interaction of nanoparticles with biological systems and vice versa.

Image: Interaction of nanoparticles with biological systems and vice versa by Amanda Muñoz.

This is a very clean and pleasing figure, but it is also very effective. It conveys the basic idea of the group’s investigation without trying to include excessive information that makes it harder to understand the process that is being exposed. At the same time, all the elements are properly labeled and structured in a way that leaves no space for ambiguity. 

Amanda Muñoz submitted her Graphical Abstract as part of the challenge as a way to learn to express her research visually:

“I like science outreach and I thought it was a good idea to try a chance in this contest and learn how to create a graphical abstract.”

Her efforts have been prized with a Finalist position in the Expert’s Choice category, which means she has placed within the Top 200 figures rated by more than 1500 Principal Investigators and Senior ScientistsHowever, during the process, she found out there was much more to gain from this: 

“I’ve met new people that was interested in our work and some students that now want to join our group as PhD researchers. Moreover, some ICMABers gave me support and showed me other tools to create graphical abstracts.”

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