Thursday 26th July saw the launch of, a new English language science blog network., the brand-new home for Nature Network bloggers, forms part of the SciLogs international collection of blogs which already exist in German, Spanish and Dutch. To celebrate this addition to the NPG science blogging family, some of the NPG blogs are publishing posts focusing on "Beginnings".

Participating in this cross-network blogging festival is’s Soapbox Science blog, Scitable's Student Voices blog and bloggers from,, Scitable and Scientific American’s Blog Network. Join us as we explore the diverse interpretations of beginnings – from scientific examples such as stem cells to first time experiences such as publishing your first paper. You can also follow and contribute to the conversations on social media by using the #BeginScights hashtag.

Last month, the medical and science illustration communities lost a leader, a colleague, and a friend. Gerald P. Hodge, who inspired and encouraged so many young medical and science illustrators, died June 7th at the age of 91. In addition to a large body of exceptional artwork, Hodge leaves behind a graduate program in medical illustration at the University of Michigan which he founded, as well as a legion of medical and scientific illustrators who count him as a strong and positive influence. Few other people can claim to have sparked and nurtured so many bright beginnings, but Professor Hodge will continue to do so through the institution and legacy he leaves behind.

Along these lines, through an effort led by David Killpack of Illumination Studios, 54 of these illustrators will be paying it forward by creating a collaborative image in one of Hodge's favorite styles, trompe l'oeil, and using it to raise $4000 for the benefit of future illustrators. Members of the public may donate via Crowdrise. All donors will receive a digital copy of the work; donations of $30 or more (limited to the first 54 starting 7/18) will receive a 4 x 4 inch section of the artists' reference mounted on matte board; donations of $100 or more will receive an 8 x 10 inch print of the finished work; donations of $400 or more will receive a 12 x 18 inch print of the finished work. In addition to the Crowdrise fundraiser, the original image will be auctioned off Friday at the Association of Medical Illustrator's Annual Conference in Toronto, ON. Proceeds will benefit the Vesalius Trust, a trust which, in the spirit of Gerald Hodge himself, aims to support students and active professionals in their efforts to communicate science effectively.

Below is a memorial written by Hodge's friend and colleague Professor Karen Ackoff, originally posted at the Guild of Natural Science Illustrator's website. Reprinted here with permission.

In Memoriam: Gerald P. Hodge

December 3, 1920 - June 7, 2012

by Karen Ackoff, School of the Arts, Univ. of Indiana South Bend

Gerald P. "Jerry" Hodge, scientific and medical illustrator, fine artist and educator, passed away on June 7th 2012.

As a young man, Jerry studied at the University of Colorado, where he earned a fine arts degree. He then served in the Army in World War II, and participated in the invasion of Okinawa. After his military service, he studied under Ranice Crosby at John Hopkins University, and received a certification of medical illustration in 1949.

Jerry began his career as a medical illustrator at the Sugarbaker Cancer Clinic in Missouri. He then became professor and director of the medical illustration department at Louisiana State University. In 1955, he joined the University of Michigan, where he established a graduate program in medical and biological illustration (1964). He remained there until his retirement.

Jerry touched the lives of many as a consummate artist, teacher and mentor. As an artist, he continuously experimented with technique, mingling techniques perfectly. He is particularly well known for his pen and ink "eyelashing" technique, produced with a flexible pen nib that allows for thick and thin lines.

Jerry received many awards through the years, including several Russell Drake Awards, Ralph Sweet Awards, Max Brodel Awards, Muriel McLatchie Miller Awards, the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award from the University of Michigan, Association of Medical Illustrators Lifetime Achievement Award, and numerous other awards. He will be posthumously receiving the Special Service Award from the GNSI at the Guild Conference in July of 2012.

In his retirement, Jerry taught many workshops and became one of seven members of the Trompe L'Oeil Society of Artists. Of his trompe l'oeil work, Jerry wrote:

"Teaching in the scientific art field at the University of Michigan required me to be versatile in many scientific art techniques such as gouache, alkyd, acrylic, colored pencil, carbon dust, silver point, and pen and ink, and most of these techniques I use in my current trompe l'oeil paintings. My paintings are carefully designed, and I try and go beyond photographic appearances by adding contrast, adding to or eliminating details, making shadows more important, and by slightly changing the shapes and colors of my subject matter in order to enhance the design and quality of my paintings."

Jerry was kind, generous with his knowledge, and always had a sparkle of humor in his eye. He encouraged and inspired his students to aspire to create work that communicated information effectively and beautifully. Jerry's illustrations show a confident hand, masterful detail, and a strong aesthetic sense.

He was respected and admired and will be greatly missed.

Also of note is the Washington Post's memorial for Gerald Hodge.