These days I've been working on this cover art piece highlighting a review article on photolyzable caging molecules. The one shown above binds to (cages) zinc until it's hit with light at a particular wavelength, which leads to bond cleavage. With the molecule split in two, it no longer binds zinc. This is a neat trick for releasing zinc at a specific time and place as controlled by the researcher, and may be a particularly useful tool in neurobiology due to the role of zinc in the central nervous system. The products of photolysis are shown as having been taken out of commission, lying helplessly on the floor.

Earlier today, I was responding to an e-mail from a graduate student I've been corresponding with who is interested in possibly pursuing a career in science illustration. She showed me a piece she had done as cover art and asked for feedback. I told her that when doing cover art, I start by looking at several covers from recent issues of the journal it's going to in order to get a sense of the style. More often than not, the editors seem to be looking for the most eye-catching graphic, not an image that seeks to tell a story or show details of the research it is highlighting. I admitted that it is a challenge for me to remember this, and had to laugh at myself when I finished the e-mail and then opened up the image above to work on.  I guess it's easier to give advice than take it, even when it's my own.