Complex Simplicity: Ravi Radhakrishnan’s BiophysJ Cover Art

Ravi Radhakrishnan, Associate Professor at the Universityof Pennsylvania, discusses the image he and his postdoc created for the cover of the latest issue of Biophysical Journal.

How did you compose this image?

Our model presented in the article is minimal and simplistic and yet captures the complexity of the cellular microenvironment. We therefore created an image that depicts the simplicity on the face but one that suggests inner layers of biological complexity.

What prompted you to submit your image as cover art?

We believe that our concept is minimal in framework and yet has the potential to shift paradigms. This motivated us to create a cover art [image].

How does this image reflect your scientific research?

The research in my laboratory revolves around the concept of multiscale thinking (and modeling). In particular, we like to consider all scales from the electronic/molecular scale to the cellular/tissue scale. The image subtly captures this philosophy.

Where do you see the artistry in your image? How did you come to see this?

The artistry can be summarized by the simplicity of the design in the forefront and a murky yet intriguing background. This is the status of biological research focused on mechanisms. That is, we understand some mechanisms exceedingly well and yet from a broader perspective much of cell biology remains mysterious.

How does it feel to have your image chosen as the cover of an issue of Biophysical Journal? What is the significance of this for you?

We are thrilled to have the limelight provided by the opportunity.

Do you consider yourself an artist as well as a scientist? Any ideas or aspirations for your next science-as-art submission?

First of all, the design was jointly executed by me and my postdoctoral associate, so I don’t want to take all the credit. I certainly do not consider myself to possess an artistic gene. However, for certain scientific stories we have worked on, an artistic concept just stares at you. This is one such instance.
I don’t plan my science-as-an-art concepts ahead of time. But I am certainly enthusiastic about possible future cover-art submissions.

Do you have a website where our readers can view your recent research?

The URL is You can see other cover images we have had in the past on the front page. I can’t wait to add this current cover!

Where do you see the artistry in Ravi Radhakrishnan’s image? Leave a comment sharing your thoughts.


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