Drawing the Science

Margot Riggi
Former PhD student in the Loewith lab, Department of Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science
Research focus: TOR Complex 2 and Plasma Membrane Homeostasis.

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-18 at 08.52.52Who doesn’t know Margot? No-one of course, as she is the muse of the program! Also, she has created the amazing logo of our newborn portal. Therefore we couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk with her about her hobby. Check it out!


– Hi Margot! Tell us the story of the PhAge logo. How hard was it to draw it?

One day Luca came to me with a really cool name – PhAGe – that spoke for itself already! (the original idea of this name goes back to Paul Guichard, and later it was communicated out by Nik Klena -AK). Then to create a logo wasn’t actually too hard. I tried to combine elements which come to my mind when I think about a PhD program in Geneva: the famous jet d’eau, the G of Geneva, and obviously, a phage –into something easy, memorable and if possible meaningful.

I drew several sketches and then we had nice exchanges with Luca (Stickley AK). This part I actually enjoy a lot: getting constructive feedback always helps to improve the original ideas that I can have. And it’s actually Luca who came up with the idea for the final colours. The pink refers to the faculty of Medicine and the green stands for the Sciences.

– Let’s go to the past. When did you start drawing and what were your first works?

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 21.27.36.pngAs far as I can remember, I’ve always like drawing, and as a kid I was really productive!  The oldest drawings I kept in mind are actually all similar: a sun, a house, and a  character wearing a green t-shirt and blue pants – more reproducible than some of my experiments in the lab nowadays!! To the point that I’m still wondering why my parents kept so many of them!

– Cool! And then?

And then, I’ve had of course my periods but I’ve never completely stopped drawing.

– Okay, back to the present. Do you think your hobby somehow helps you to do your work?

I don’t think drawing directly helps me in my research in the lab. But training a sense for creativity is certainly useful to think outside the box when designing projects and experiments. Moreover, I strongly believe in the importance of a good communication, both amongst scientists and with the broad public, which is something still often underestimated. And I think visuals can help in both situations.

– And did your research influenced your hobby ?

Oh yes ! I was always drawing by hand and only opened my mind to all the informatics tools over the course of my PhD, discovering how cool and complementary they can also be, as I had to make figures to present my results. It’s also contacts that I made within our PhD program that offered me my first graphic projects.

– Very interesting. What kind of projects did you find here ?

For example, illustrations for the submitting papers, or logos for the PhD retreat. And more recently the new PhD Association logo.

– What are your plans: how far do you think to go with it?Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 21.29.56.png

I defended my thesis a few months ago, and our paper was published last week. So I now plan to leave the world of pure research to explore the artistic one a bit more.

– Oh wow! Arent you scared to do that?

A little bit, but it is also exciting! 🙂 It feels a bit like having a new completely empty page in front of me. And as a transition I’d be happy to combine my interests for both biology and drawing in doing scientific illustrations. But I don’t want to close any doors right now and I’m also open to any other opportunities even unrelated to science.

– Anatoly Kozlov



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