MIT student and Marshall Scholar Colleen Loynachan was recently featured in the MIT News article, Seeing Beauty in a Materials Science World. Loynachan, who studies materials science, grew up in a family of artists and musicians and first thought she wanted to become a photojournalist. Now, Loynachan works in a lab using magnetic nanoparticles to noninvasively manipulate amyloid beta protein aggregates associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I observe protein fibers entangled into a large plaque decorated with nanoparticles that I have selectively targeted to the protein,” Loynachan says. “It’s really incredible to witness the experiments develop into a beautiful portrait. The patterns that I observe in my photography strongly recall the scientific images I’m creating.”
According to Loynachan’s Flickr account: “Living in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, which contains a great deal of visual stimulus, inspires Colleen; this has allowed her to develop an inquisitive artistic eye—observing the extraordinary aspects of her everyday. She is particularly drawn to changes in light, shadows, shapes, and found objects in an unaltered setting.”
In the future, Colleen says, she hopes to use her experience in art and engineering to “design creative solutions to global health problems.”
2. Electron micrograph of amyloid beta plaque (associated with Alzheimer’s disease) decorated with magnetic nanoparticles. Photo: Colleen Loynachan.