It was with mixed emotion that I saw the completion of Behind the Scenes at MIT, a multi-year project whose goal it was to show undergraduates how the concepts they are learning are actually being applied to real research problems, and also to show the human side of research. Cathy Drennan, an HHMI professor and investigator in the departments of chemistry and biology at MIT, sought to create 2-3 minute videos in which researchers from graduate students to full professors describe their research to an undergraduate audience. These were accompanied by short personal videos with each researcher describing his or her background and what inspired them to choose their path.
This is what my dream job looks like. First I was given the research video to watch, and then I created animations that would illustrate the research that was being described in words. Sometimes the producers would have an idea for an animation, and sometimes I was given carte blanche to come up with something. There are twelve research videos, and all told I think I made around 15-20 animations. Some of them can be found here on my website in the Flash animations portion of my portfolio, but all of them can be found embedded in their respective videos at http://chemvideos.mit.edu/all-videos/. I don't think I fully realized until the project was over how fortunate I was to work with such great people and to have a project of this scale that was both rewarding and fun.
Here is former postdoc Sarah Bowman's research video. My animation comes in around 01:17 or so. I have a strong recollection of being very pregnant and moodily fighting with the flagella to get them to twirl just so.