Kevin J. Carpenter: Microbe Worlds

Terminal 2

Feb 24, 2016 - May 20, 2016

I like higher magnification images that show abstract patterns. It draws people in. You don’t have to be a scientist to take part in the scientific process..

—Kevin J. Carpenter, 2013


Kevin J. Carpenter: Microbe Worlds

From an early age, Northern California biologist, microscopist, and photographer Kevin J. Carpenter developed a great interest in and love for nature. Family vacations to Yosemite National Park and the California coast inspired Carpenter to begin photography as a hobby at the age of ten. Curiosity about how ecological and evolutionary forces shape cell biology and the structure of microorganisms eventually led to postdoctoral research at the University of British Columbia.

These microbe-scape images were created with the latest technology in electron microscopy. These symbiotic organisms, protozoa and bacteria, live in the stomachs of wood-eating termites. Termites are important in terrestrial ecosystems for recycling wood, which is extremely difficult to digest. They also provide a significant source of protein for large, predatory animals.

Microbe Worlds is an exploration of the hidden beauty and cellular motifs of microbes as revealed by high-resolution microscope scanning of cell surfaces, which combines magnification with great three-dimensionality and depth of field. An appreciation of the vital and beneficial roles microbes play in the health and functioning of the planet may help solve some of the most challenging environmental and medical problems currently facing humankind. Carpenter’s research seeks to reveal the otherworldly and unexplored beauty of microbial cells, and raises awareness of the vital, and often unappreciated, roles microbes play in our biosphere.

Kevin Carpenter completed a B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, an M.S. in Biological Science at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and a Ph.D. in Plant Biology at the University of California, Davis, in 2005. In 2013, a permanent exhibition of his work was installed at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Carpenter has also exhibited prints at Science World, the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, and the University of British Columbia AMS Art Gallery, all in Vancouver, Canada.

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