Draw your PhD as a comic: Communicating scientific research through the universal language of art

Three participants during the PhD thesis comic event.
Three participants during the PhD thesis comic event.
How would you explain your PhD thesis to a 10-year-old?

On the 5th of February, Lucie Gourmet organised an event called "Draw your PhD as a Comic" in order to encourage PhD students to consider unique and creative methods to communicate their research to a wider audience. As a part of the event, Lucie challenged the students to reconstruct their theses as comics. The event was open to all’UCL PhD students.

The event

Lucie Gourmet is a UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering PhD candidate, and a part of the Institute of Healthcare Engineering’s Impact Fellowship scheme for 2024. As an IHE Impact Fellow, she is training towards developing public engagement skills to support her scientific research. This fellowship allows students to gain new perspectives regarding the communication of science by providing them with numerous opportunities such as mentorship from experts and external network-building.

The IHE Fellows are also responsible for leading their own personally designed activity to reflect on their learning. "Draw your PhD as a Comic" is Lucie’s approach to producing an engaging opportunity to disseminate science. Lucie gathered her inspiration from the difficulty she experienced while trying to understand the projects of scholars from different branches of science. She explains that even within the scientific community, it can be quite challenging to share research outcomes with other researchers since each area of science has a unique set of technical terms, theories, and linguistic aspects. Such intricacies complicate the communication of newly found information. Lucie’s event aims to tackle this issue by using the universal language of art that eliminates the need for the understanding of complex background knowledge, making it possible to share scientific discoveries with the public more easily.

What was on the agenda?

Step 1: Brainstorming

Students first brainstormed and discussed ideas to conceptualise their research and find metaphors to deliver their message. Lucie encouraged everyone to try and find comparisons to put their theses into real life context. Students came up with ideas varying from superhero adventures to fly olympics. The theses came to life through creativity!

Step 2: Drawing

For the next step, artist Jennifer Crouch helped the attendees develop their ideas and put them into drawings. No advanced artistic capabilities were necessary and childlike drawings were especially welcome since this was a comic drawing workshop.

Step 3: Voting

At the end of the event, attendees shared their work with each other and voted on the comics to pick three winners. Coming to a consensus was not easy, but the students managed to agree upon three winners following a group discussion. The comics produced during this workshop will later be displayed in a public exhibition.


Students have reported that they found the experience cathartic and introspective. Moreover, they expressed that simplifying such complex scientific concepts was much more difficult than they had anticipated. However, they agreed that not only did this activity push them to produce creative output that would help their research reach wider audiences, but it also challenged them to reflect upon their academic process.

See the comics of the winners below!

About the author 

I’m Defne, and I am a first-year undergraduate student studying Politics and International Relations. I was born and raised in Turkey. As a Student Journalist, I am excited to represent the voice of the international student community, helping everyone to effortlessly adapt to life in London. 

Given the nature of my degree, I am drawn to global affairs, politics, and social justice. However, I also have an interest in art, culture, and film. Within this scheme, I am particularly looking forward to delving into investigative journalism and exploring controversial issues that concern UCL students through a critical perspective. I am very excited to have this opportunity to contribute to the UCL community! 
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