Association of Science Communicators

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  • S.P.A.R.K. | 5 strategies for the visual communication of science

S.P.A.R.K. | 5 strategies for the visual communication of science

  • 24 May 2024
  • 1 Feb 2025
  • Self-paced Online Course


  • Only available for paying members of the Association of Science Communicators


Learn to harness the power of pictures to engage and educate any audience!

In an age of increasingly complex science, pictures can be a key to communicating clearly. But few science communicators have had a chance to learn how to access the power of pictures to engage and educate their audiences.

This course is designed to empower anyone to do that — to create pictures that clearly convey science information, no matter how complex.

What you'll learn in this course

S.P.A.R.K. will change forever the way you think about pictures and use them to communicate about science. 

You’ll learn core concepts of visual communication. This is not a course on how to draw. The S.P.A.R.K. strategies work with many ways of presenting information — diagrams, charts, posters, sketches, cartoons, even data visualizations. What you'll learn can be applied to pictures created by hand or with software you already know.

Each of the 24 videos is 10 minutes or less. You’ll learn:

  • A perfect way to jumpstart your visual thinking and transition from words to pictures
  • How to speak with the 8 elements of visual language
  • Ways to target your audience’s visual sweet spot
  • Tips for visually communicating to people who aren’t familiar with your top
Who should register?

Media producers, writers, journalists, educators, publishers, communications professionals, researchers, academics, studentsanyone interested in making a greater impact with their science messages.

Join the ranks of science communicators who have already used S.P.A.R.K. to improve their outreach and communication skills, including at Yale, Harvard, the Innovative Genomics Institute, the University of Miami, Louisiana Tech University, and the University of Oregon, along with labs and individuals worldwide.


 Betsy Palay  Tami Tolpa
Betsy has over 30 years of experience creating visual communications for science researchers, educators, major biotech companies, and entrepreneurs. She is the founder and former president of a design firm that specialized in investor communications, assisting clients in raising a total of over half a billion dollars in Initial Public Offerings (IPO’s). Betsy has an MS in medical and biological illustration from the University of Michigan, is a Board-Certified Medical Illustrator, and is a Fellow and a past president of the Association of Medical Illustrators. Over 100 of her original scientific illustrations have been accepted into the permanent archives of the Vesalius Trust Collection of the Lloyd Library and Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. See her work at Tami has over 20 years of experience in scientific illustration and animation for clients including: Scientific American Magazine, The Scientist Magazine, Science News, MIT's Technology Review, Harvard University, and the University of Washington, as well as numerous physicians and biotechnology companies. Tami has an MFA in medical illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She’s a past board member and current Fellow of the Association of Medical Illustrators. Tami has spoken about science communication using visuals at the University of Washington, Rochester Institute of Technology, the Association of Medical Illustrators, The Northwest Science Writer's Association, Science Talk '18, and ComSciCon-PNW. She's currently the Scientific Illustrator at Gladstone Institutes. Her professional website is

The Association of Science Communicators is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization registered in Washington State, U.S.A. (EIN 82-2076772)

Please contact for more information.
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