Over the past year I’ve branched out from marine microbiology and microfossils to add a series of model organism designs to my collection. Model organisms are non-human species that are used daily in research by multitudes of scientists worldwide and include the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, the ciliate Tetrahymena, the African clawed frog Xenopus, zebrafish and the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, along with several others. These organisms have achieved a position of importance in scientific research not only because of their ease of growth in the lab and short regeneration times, but also because many of the biological mechanisms discovered in these organisms are fundamentally the same in all organisms, including humans. Back in my research days, I worked with genetic variants of the model plant Arabidopsis to try to understand the effect of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing plant metabolites, on herbivory by slugs.
Research with model organisms has led to a greater understanding of human disease by increasing our knowledge of DNA replication and repair, the cell cycle, carcinogenesis, the mechanisms of aging and gene expression. To cite just one example, we now know, based on experiments with fruit flies and nematodes,how genetically controlled cell death (apoptosis) plays a role in cancer and other human diseases. Without model organisms, the advancement of basic science and our basic understanding of human disease would be profoundly limited. For this reason, and to honor all of the scientists who are at their lab benches day after day doing the brute force work of discovery, I designed the model organism collection. The collection includes pieces for both men (tie bars, lapel pins) and women (pendants, earrings).