Celebrate the Academic Artist!

I’ve spent my entire career in academia, during which time I’ve had the privilege of meeting and getting to know hundreds of academics across disciplines and institutions. What I come to learn about these individuals typically revolves around their research or teaching expertise, and sometimes names of partners or spouses, ages of kids, and the like.  I have a smaller group of close friends from the higher education world and know many more details about their lives and the things that make them interesting, beyond the academic stuff.  Some have hobbies and passions that intersect with their academic expertise; others have completely distinct outlets for their creativity and energy. Still others use their art to advocate for various causes and populations. It’s always interesting to discover the unique talents of my academic friends and acquaintances—in many cases it gives me deeper insight into their professional work, as well.  And of course there are academics whose expertise IS their art—Prof2Prof is a great way to heighten discoverability of such work.

A few weeks ago, I asked on Twitter whether there were any academics out there who sell their own art or crafts. I received many interesting responses and have spent the last few weeks encouraging those who responded to integrate that aspect of their lives on their Prof2Prof profiles.  These academic artists and artisans have diverse and interesting talents that I think should be promoted alongside their professional interests and accomplishments. Indeed, I created Prof2Prof in order to provide a platform for academics to share the full breadth of their contributions to their professions, institutions, and society at large. What are the advantages of doing so? One important reason is to encourage and emphasize a more holistic view of academics. With general public support for higher education wavering in some countries, elevating images of academics as people with varied interests and multi-faceted lives can potentially engender more positive views of “the academy”. Another reason is that presenting one’s professional self as relatable and interesting across a range of dimensions can serve to inspire young people, some of whom may lack a strong sense of connection to higher education career paths, to pursue a post-secondary degree.

I hope you will take the time to check out the following academics’ Prof2Prof profiles to learn more about their professional and creative selves. (Note: for more detail on their artwork, see the website links at the bottom of their main profile pages, or the Professional Expertise tabs on their profile pages.) Perhaps you will be motivated to share your artistic talents, as well!

Kristen Slack, Founder



Dr. Tahani Baakdhah is a science communicator, crafter, author, and stem cell researcher. Her science-oriented crochet work features cortical neurons, stem cells, and anatomical hearts, among many other items!

Dr. Didem Sarikaya is a geneticist whose handmade pottery is “dedicated to the irreverence of goats”. Her work inspired me to buy something, and my morning coffee now happily rests atop Daisy the goat. You can also sport your goat irreverence with one of her t-shirts, if you choose.

Dr. Ahna Skop is a genetics professor who has a permanent scientific art installation on her university’s campus designed to highlight genetic research and encourage visitors to interact with and support science. She has also curated and created several traveling science art exhibitions.  She developed a Genetic Reflections coloring book, and even makes scientific cakes and manages a food blog!

Yoonzie Chung is a PhD student in social work, whose animal and landscape paintings have been commissioned for children’s birthdays.  She also paints as a form of self-care. Some of her work features scenes from her favorite spots on Jeju Island in South Korea.  

Sangeeta Nair is pursuing a PhD in behavioral neuroscience, but she is also a self-taught jewelry maker and metalsmith who creates stunning hand-crafted jewelry from ethically sourced resources gathered from all over the world.

Saksham Sharma is a PhD student in chemical engineering who does poetry on science and philosophy in his spare time. He also hosts a blog which features entries explaining complex technical jargon—science translation is also an art!

Dr. Hanni Stoklosa is an internationally recognized expert, advocate, researcher, and speaker on the wellbeing of trafficking survivors in the U.S. and internationally. The proceeds from selling her vibrant nature photography go to support HEAL Trafficking, an interdisciplinary group of professionals leading the public health response to human trafficking.

Dr. Bradley Koch is a sociology professor whose research interests span religion, music, and teaching and learning. In his spare time, he makes music under the name American Ethnographers, and blogs about sociology, music, religion, and higher ed, among other topics.

Carolyn Davison is a PhD candidate in cognitive neuropsychology, whose intricate handmade embroidery celebrates the beauty of the brain. Her talents took off during the pandemic as she “embroidered her way” through virtual meetings and seminars.

Kimberly Hogan is a PhD candidate in social work whose research focuses on domestic sex trafficking.  She makes buttons, pins and stickers that promote academia and play on common academic terms and sayings.

Noor Abbas is a scientist whose research interests focus on the evolution of sleep, rapid eye-movement sleep, dreams, and consciousness from a biological anthropological lens. Her main creative focus is on portraiture, abstract and surrealist art, with a recent surrealist piece inspired by a pandemic dream.  How cool is that?


These are just a sampling of academic artists and artisans who responded to my recent tweet, but there are so many more of you out there. Consider showcasing this aspect of your lives on your Prof2Prof profile. As members and visitors search for academic content and resources, they will discover your creative side, as well!

Three paint brushes next to tri-color brush strokes, with Prof2Prof logo and the question: "Are you an academic artist?"