National Museum Intern of Mystery

  LSD - AP

The end is nigh.  My final semester of graduate school is upon me.  The past two years have culminated in this moment; the closely approaching convocation.  I will be draped in silken ceremonial garb and my head will be adorned with the mortarest of boards.  I will make my final stride with my hand outstretched, grasping for my hard-won prize...the scroll!  And then I will be cast ceremoniously into the world to make cool anatomical doodads and whatnots.

Life is good.

This semester I was fortunate enough to be chosen for an internship at the National Museum of Health + Medicine Chicago.  As part of my course work for my final semester I get to work on making awesome 3D models and assets for museum exhibits!  The primary project I'm working on right now is for an upcoming exhibit about Traumatic Brain Injury.  Two other graduate students from the Biomedical Visualization program are working on the exhibit as their final research project, as well as two recent BVIS grads who are affiliated with the museum, and a handful of interns from another program.  The final exhibit will have animations, interactive modules, 3D models of brain and head anatomy, and more.  I'll be working on a short animation that will show the way in which the brain moves within the skull during trauma, leading to TBI.

Thorax Cryosection - The Visible Human Project male dataset (courtesy of


I've been working with the Visible Human Project male dataset, which was an effort made by the National Library of Science in 1986 (more info HERE).  Essentially, a human male cadaver was frozen and sliced into 1mm cryosections and each slice was photographed in high detail.  This type of data can then be imported into a segmentation program and compiled into a 3D model.  This particular data set has since been segmented into skeletal, organ, and soft tissue models in isolation, each of which can be interacted with as it's own model (a kidney or the skull, for example).  I'm working in Materialise (R) Mimics to segment out the skull, cervical vertebrae, and brain in order to create an animation.  This is a nice extension of my research project, in which I've been using the same program (Mimics) to segment skeletal data from a burial site.

In addition to the internship, I am getting ready to begin the final stages of my research project (as mentioned above) and will try to make several exhaustive posts detailing the process.  I met with my committee this past week and finalized the plan for my research - now it's just a matter of organizing the pieces and putting it all together.  I've already finished the heavy lifting, which consisted of manually segmenting the skeletal data of three 10,000 year old human subjects.  The prospects look good and I'm excited to get the last stage of this year-and-a-half long project under way.

Stay tuned for more detail than you could ever want to know about digitally excavating the dead!