Dr. Maja Divjak – Scientific Animator


Phone: +61 (3) 9340 3610

Maja-profile-photoI am really interested in biomedical animation for the purposes of scientific education and illustration of biological processes. I recently completed a mentorship with world-renowned biomedical animator Drew Berry, at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. The position was created for the VIZBIplus project, which aimed to train three new animators to communicate cutting edge research at their host institutions, using visually stunning and engaging 3d animation.

I have many years of research experience, including a PhD in molecular biology, where I studied an inflammatory protein implicated in causing asthma and how it is affected by inhaled corticosteroid medication. I followed this with scientific sales, finally realising my desire to bring art and science together with multimedia studies and an intensive 3d animation course at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Thereafter, I developed my skills on personal and freelance animation projects. In 2011, I won the 60 Second Science Competition, Australian Open Division for an animation detailing the immune response in asthma. My first animation for the VIZBIplus project details how inflammation causes type 2 diabetes, via a unique structure known as the ‘inflammasome’ (http://www.wehi.edu.au/wehi-tv/inflammation-and-type-2-diabetes). This animation was presented at the 2014 Vivid Festival of Light, Music and Ideas at the event ‘Making Science Beautiful’. I recently finished a companion piece focusing on the insulin receptor structure and what might be happening in insulin resistance (http://www.wehi.edu.au/insulin-receptor-and-type-2-diabetes). This is based on pioneering research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute by Professor Mike Lawrence’s lab.

My aim as a scientific animator is primarily outreach:  I am particularly interested in 3d biological animation for the purposes of education and to inspire an interest and engagement with the sciences in the general public.  Biomedical animation is truly an innovative teaching tool as it can illustrate processes too small to be seen even with a microscope, so that they can be understood. In this day and age, as we become an increasingly visually focused society, it is important to engage with people in a way that is familiar and appealing to them. My main motivation is to use animation as an educational tool, to inspire an interest in and love for science and ultimately help people appreciate the beauty and drama going on in their own bodies at any given moment.