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Skoltech students win Communicator Awards of Excellence for viral CRISPR video

A screen grab from the viral CRISPR-Cas video created by Skoltech students and Visual Science. Image: Visual Science.

A screen grab from the viral CRISPR-Cas video created by Skoltech students and Visual Science. Image: Visual Science.

The Skoltech students who helped demystify CRISPR-Cas gene editing systems by creating a viral video on the topic were named winners on Wednesday of the 24th annual Communicator Awards of Excellence. 

In the summer of 2017, two students from Skoltech’s Center for Data-Intensive Biomedicine and Biotechnology (CDIBB) opted to complete industrial immersion internships at Visual Science, a Moscow-based animation and visual arts studio that pairs scientific expertise with marketing savvy to convey complex science and tech topics to the masses.

Students Daria Romanovskaya – a current CDIBB MSc student – and Polina Shichkova – a former Skoltech MSc student who is now earning her PhD at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland – worked with Visual Science to create an aesthetically stunning animation of the gene-editing process.

Once the final draft of the animation was complete, CDIBB Director Konstantin Severinov edited it for scientific accuracy.

The video – entitled “How do CRISPR gene-editing systems work?” – rapidly garnered tens of thousands of views, and spread like wildfire across the internet.

The video was selected by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA) to win the prestigious Communicator Awards of Excellence in the categories of Video-Animation and Video-Science.

“Increasing public awareness about science is very important. Projects like the one Daria and Polina did with Visual Science make tens of thousands of people appreciate the beauty and importance of what we and our colleagues do in the labs. It is very fortunate that Skoltech provides our students with opportunities to do this kind of work in addition to taking classes and performing top-rate research,” said Severinov.

AIVA is an invitation-only group of leading visual arts professionals. Founded more than two decades ago, the Communicator Awards – administered by AIVA – were created to honor communication professionals for creative excellence. Each year, the awards are handed out to the crème de la crème in global advertising, corporate communications and public relations work across a range of mediums.

“We are extremely proud to recognize the work received for the 24th Annual Communicator Awards. This year’s class of entries embodies the ever-evolving marketing and communications industry. On behalf the Academy members, I’d like to applaud the entrants this season for their dedication to producing outstanding content as they continue to push the envelope of creativity,” AIRA Director Derek Howard said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

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