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Meet Emily Ruppel, the Science-Writing Caricaturist

During the past three months, Emily Ruppel has been writing about Brookhaven Lab’s ongoing science programs and many other aspects of life around BNL.

Emily Ruppel

Emily Ruppel

An intern through the Department of Energy’s Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP) in the Lab’s Media & Communications Office, she’s told the stories of students at the NASA Space Radiation Lab on site working toward solutions to protect astronauts from naturally occurring space radiation. She has also written about students training as International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors at BNL’s decommissioned Medical Research Reactor, scientific breakthroughs made at DOE laboratories, and BNLers helping those less fortunate in the Town of Brookhaven and around the world.

And if you happen to see the cubicle where Ruppel has been churning out these articles for BNL’s Bulletin and website, you’ll see from a collection of drawings tacked to the wall that she is also a talented caricaturist. In fact, Ruppel has been drawing caricatures for seven years and even did it professionally before pursuing a master’s program in science writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2010.

“Many people have a misconception and think of caricaturists trying to bring out the worst in people by drawing them with big ears and huge noses,” Ruppel said. “I don’t do that. There’s something unique and wonderful about every person’s face. When I’m drawing someone, my intention is to make the drawing look more like they do than they do.”

Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Ruppel has been drawing for most of her life, but she didn’t start making caricatures until she worked as a cartoonist for her college newspaper at Bellarmine University. In someone’s last minute scramble to find a caricaturist for a graduation celebration, she got that gig and many more after that.

“Whether I’m writing about science or drawing a caricature, I’m trying to represent something as truthfully and engagingly as possible, but the way I reach the finished product is different,” Ruppel explained. “Once I know what the story is about when I write, I think about getting all the details right and then compile them into the whole. When I draw a caricature of someone’s face, I start with the basic shapes and then work in the details.”

As Ruppel’s internship at BNL’s Media & Communication Office draws to a close, she is on track to complete her masters’ program from MIT in October. She has accepted a job as a science writer for the American Scientific Affiliation, a nonprofit organization in Boston, Massachusetts, and will begin in September.

See more of her caricatures at her website: http://smilelines.weebly.com/.

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