Medical students learn from monsters

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Sophia Belletti
Staff Writer

How can fictional novel about a scientist’s creation of life in a laboratory reveal anything about science nearly two centuries after it was published?

The answer can be found in “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” on display in Tompkins-McCaw Library until April 23, where medical discoveries during the lifetime of the book’s author Mary Shelley, along with other materials, are displayed to show the book’s impact.

“We’re trying to get students to think and engage in their creative side and see the bigger picture of how these works like Frankenstein are cross departmental and there are so many aspects for people to discover,” said Emily Hurst, head of research and education at Tompkins-McCaw.

Located in Bethesda, Md., The National Library of Medicine is the world’s largest biomedical library, and it maintains and displays a print and electronic resources on a wide range of topics accessed by millions of people around the globe. The library also supports and conducts research, development and training in biomedical informatics and health information technology.

“Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” is part of the library’s traveling exhibit program. These exhibits are free of charge to public, university and medical libraries, as well as cultural centers across the country. Online exhibitions are also available and have increased by multidisciplinary educational and career resources for educators and students in K-12, and in colleges and universities.

Tompkins-McCaw Library has formed a relationship with the National Library of Medicine from hosting so many past exhibits, so they contacted Tompkins-McCaw and asked if they wanted to be the first library to showcase the exhibit.

“We have a very good relationship with the National Library of Medicine and we love to put their exhibits up when we can get a hold of them,” Hurst said.

The exhibit touches on several topics regarding anatomy and literature. The original images on the banners are available through the National Library of Medicine in their collections in Bethesda.

“It can relate to many different aspects of individuals at VCU,” Hurst said. “Those in literature may be interested in learning more about the history of the novel and, of course, Mary Shelley.”

Although the exhibit has only only been open for a week, Hurst said students and visitors have been really excited about it. The exhibit has sparked an interest in “Frankenstein” and biomedical sciences alike, so Hurst and library staff have stationed associated books by the exhibit.

“I really like the aspects that relate to the interdepartmental,” Hurst said. “200 years ago, who would have thought the topics and the aspects in it relate to what’s going on today in science and engineering. We talk about Frankenstein monster and we’re making all kinds of advances in science and technology that could be the next thing.”


Staff Writer, Sophia Belletti

Sophia Belletti, Photo by Brooke MarshSophia is a sophomore print/online journalism major with a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. She enjoys writing about current events and sports and hopes to one day be a sports reporter, covering soccer, basketball and baseball. You can usually find Sophia drinking way too much coffee and laughing at her own jokes. // Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

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