UC Berkeley alum Greg Dunn celebrates the brain through art

November 7, 2022

Greg Dunn is an artist with a PhD in Neuroscience, whose work highlights the beauty and complexity of the nervous system. From delicate paintings of neurons on scrolls to intricate depictions of the activity of hundreds of thousands of neurons, Dunn aims to inspire a sense of awe and wonder about the brain through his art. His pieces have been exhibited internationally to wide acclaim, and hang in science museums, universities, offices, and personal collections.

As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, Dunn pursued both science and art as a Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) major with a minor in ethnomusicology. A musician since childhood, Dunn switched his artistic focus to visual art while earning his PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, inspired by images of neurons and brain slices and the similarities he saw to shapes in Asian art. His artistic career took off when the Society for Neuroscience commissioned him to create a large gold leaf painting for their headquarters while he was still a graduate student.

Now Dunn works as an artist full-time, but still collaborates with neuroscientists and follows neuroscience research to inspire and inform his work. He says his scientific training contributed to his art in many ways, including his ability to create new techniques such as reflective microetching, which he developed with his collaborator, physicist Brian Edwards. They used this technique to generate highly-detailed animations of neural activity in their National Science Foundation funded piece, Self Reflected, which is permanently displayed in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Dunn believes that it is the most complex artistic visualization of the brain to date.

Berkeley Neuroscience