ITMAT TRIP: Artist in Residence

Applications for the 2024 Artist in Residence program is closed. The program offers visual artists the opportunity to delve further into their practice while merging their interests in a scientific environment.


The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for scientific information to flow efficiently from one corner of society to the other. While science quickly delivered tools to mitigate risk of infection and disease for COVID-19, policy makers and the public failed to replicate a similar science-driven success in the communities (Jamieson, K. H. (2021) Nature Human Behavior 5(11): 1464-1465.). If we think of communities as a dynamic network of shared communication, knowledge and experiences (Figure 1 center) and we visualize that science and art embrace these communities (Figure 1 left and right) we have the opportunity to shape the network activity to the benefit of society. The scientific process needs to be deconstructed and re-imagined as artwork with the goal to communicate this human experience in the communities. Engagement with this artwork reciprocates with feedback. The artist-in-residency program embedded in the Translational Research Immersion Program (TRIP) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) is geared to expand on these concepts. 

Figure 1. Dynamic network of shared communication, knowledge, and experiences.
Figure 1. Dynamic network of shared communication, knowledge, and experiences.

About the Program

The overarching mission is to devise strategies to deploy art as a multiplier of science communication. ITMAT embeds the successful applicant for the Artist-in-Residency program into the Translational Research Immersion Program (TRIP), an existing pathway program, exposing undergraduate students at participating institutions to the Clinical Translational Sciences (CTS), beginning with a 10-week mentored summer research experience. The ten-week experience includes a didactic curriculum with research seminars, professional development workshops, student ‘present your work’ sessions, career panels, and social events. The artist is expected to attend the curricular components and apply additional instruments suitable for data collection, such as administering focus group discussions with TRIP students and shadowing their laboratory research environments with the permission of their PIs. The program components will enable the artist to witness the evolution of research projects by immersing themselves in the human experience unfolding among the TRIP cohort. Regular discussions with ITMAT leadership and administration during and beyond the 10 weeks will accompany the artist’s endeavors of data collection, analysis, and the translation into artwork. The Artist-in-Residence is expected to engage in community outreach initiatives and shape the future of ITMAT’s Artist-in-Residency program. This residency is particularly unique as it will provide the opportunity to build connections and create networks with a broad audience. You do not need to have a scientific background to be part of the ITMAT TRIP residency.

The Artist-in-Residency program timeline is described below.

  • Summer 2024 (May 28-August 2): Attend & Participate in the 10-week TRIP (~13hrs/wk)
  • Fall 2024: Production & Provision of Artwork
  • Winter 2025-Spring 2025: Dissemination to the Stakeholders & Communities

A stipend of $8,000 will be provided, prorated according to specific milestones described above. In addition, ITMAT will cover up to $2,000 in art-related materials. Accommodations are not provided. It is expected the artist is in-person during Summer 2024, the following months residency participation can be from afar.

  • Completion of a previous residency program
  • Commitment to attend and participate in all virtual and in-person programming for the TRIP for summer 2024

Materials required for a complete application include:

  • Online application form which includes
    • CV or Resume
    • Personal Statement (see details below)
    • 3-5 Samples of Work (see details below)
    • Optional Link to Portfolio

Personal Statement

We’d like to know more about you and why you’re applying to this program. Please answer the following questions in your personal statement. The personal statement should not exceed 2 pages.

  1. Briefly describe your previous experience in an Artist-in-Residency program including the scope, your achievements, and what you proposed to execute as a final deliverable (if applicable). 
  2. Provide an explanation of your passion for science and education in an interdisciplinary environment.
  3. Share your interests in participating in the program, including how you intend to embrace your artistic ideas, approaches, and methods into this experience, your typical practice (e.g. oil paint, digital), what drives you as an artist, and how your interests in the program fit into your long-term goals

Samples of Work

Upload a combined document with 3-5 samples of artwork, which may include images, scripts, work plans or story boards as PDFs, audio files, and/or short-videos, with corresponding information.

Applications will be evaluated by the ITMAT Education Selection Committee. Applicants will be notified by mid-April regarding the selection committee’s decision. We anticipate 1 Artist in Residence for 2024.

Julie Rainbow, MSS, Artist in Residence 2022

Julie Rainbow, MSS, Inaugural Artist in Residence, 2022

Why did you decide to apply to this program: Ever since I was a girl, growing up in North Carolina, I’ve been fascinated by stories.  Over the years, this fascination grew into a passion for storytelling.  Specifically, I’ve built my career as an artist on telling the stories of those whose voices are not typically heard, but whose messages call out to be told.  These have included the love stories of African American elders whose relationships have stood the test of time, the stories of grit and resilience of African Americans from the South who came to Philadelphia as part of the Second Great Migration, among others. In May 2022, I was selected to serve as the inaugural Artist in Residence in the Translational Research Immersion Program at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.  The focus of the program is to raise students’ awareness of the need to communicate their scientific work in ways that engage the larger community.  Since this is fundamentally a matter of storytelling, as the first Artist in Residence, I am inspired to capture the essence of this process. 

Describe your experience in the program: Over several weeks, I heard from scientists and students about their visions, ambitions, passions, fears and hopes.  Each one’s story represented a unique thread. In the coming months, my work as the artist in residence is to weave those stories into a tapestry that celebrates the spirit of mutual support and collaboration at Penn and the greater community.

angela mcquillan, 2023 artist in residenceAngela McQuillan – Artist in Residence 2023

Why did you decide to apply to the program: I was interested in applying to the ITMAT TRIP residency because I am excited about the potential of translational medicine to improve the quality of healthcare through creating stronger networks and communication between doctors, scientists, and the community. I believe that every person should have access to cutting-edge medical treatments and have the knowledge to make important informed decisions about their own health.  During the ITMAT TRIP residency I learned a lot about how medical care is changing and evolving to embrace this mission, and I think art can help to emphasize a human-centered approach to medical care.

Please describe your experience in this role and your next steps: This residency allowed me to get an inside look at some very exciting technologies that researchers are developing that will make big impacts to the treatment of diseases that affect a lot of people.  I also got to meet an amazing group of students who are working to become the doctors and scientists of tomorrow. I am currently working on a body of work based on this residency to exhibit at The Arts League in University City in March 2024, and thinking about new ways to highlight the connections between art and science at my new project Chimaera Gallery.

Carsten Skarke, MD
Director of ITMAT Undergraduate Initiatives and the Artist in Residency Program