The Visualization Challenge hosted by the National Science Foundation and Popular Science celebrates how visual media can clearly and accessibly communicate scientific research. Winning entries to previous years' competitions successfully demonstrate how photographs, videos, illustrations, and apps can help articulate ideas that don't translate well verbally, provide a "wow factor" to generate excitement about topics that may be ordinarily overlooked, and allow the general public to engage with research in ways that traditional science communication does not. For instance, in the 2015 challenge, a neuroscientist-turned-cartoonist made a graphic novels about the connectivity of our brains and a mechanical engineering lab at BYU created this video to show how origami has been—and continue to be—used widely as design inspiration for engineering.
My entry for the 2016 competition, an illustrative poster that is meant to hang in science classrooms or labs, was one of the finalists for the poster category.. It introduces the fruit fly as a versatile model organism and discusses some basic biological concepts in an accessible way. Some of the names are simple and humorous; others exemplify molecular biological principles; and still others are great for starting conversations about controversial issues. The simple design and palette—and fun illustrations—make this graphic appealing and accessible to the general public.
Read the text at a larger format image here.