The Connection Between the Arts and Sciences

Are you right-brained or left-brained? According to the psychological stereotype, you’re either one or the other. If you’re right-brained, you have a penchant for creativity, music and art. And if you’re left-brained, you probably are more analytical and favor the subjects of math and science.

This stereotype suggests that you’re either creative or smart, that art and science are mutually exclusive. But the truth is, no one is completely right-brained or left-brained. As Leonardo da Vinci proved, art and science go hand-in-hand. For centuries, da Vinci has been an inspiration for many, including one local researcher who has a passion for both art and science.

“I like [doing] something creative,” says Dr. Masanobu Komatsu, a cancer and cardiovascular disease researcher at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Lake Nona. “And [art] is very much like science because you have to be creative.”

Komatsu began sketching at the age of 10, just for fun. He enjoyed drawing animals and it became a hobby of his. But as he got older, he ventured into the world of sports and had less time for his art. But during a trip to Boston to visit his aunt, he visited the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which he says inspired him to start sketching again.

Nowadays, he says that he doesn’t have a lot of spare time in which to draw, but when he does get the time, he spends it drawing portraits.

But scientists don’t solely dabble in the visual arts. Some are aural artists as well. For example, Eric Olson, a professor and the chairman of molecular biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, plays the guitar and harmonica in a rock band called The Transactivators.

Dr. Dwight Towler, the new cardiovascular pathobiology director at Sanford-Burnham in Lake Nona, is also a musician. Although he’s not in a band anymore, he still loves playing the guitar.

Towler says his love of music was instilled in him by his parents. He started out playing the piano, but his real passion was the guitar. By the time he was ready to head off to college, he decided to major in music.

“When I entered college, I fully expected to become a studio guitarist,” says Towler.

But his parents always reminded him to keep up his studies in math and science because he never knew where life would take him. Ultimately, his parent’s advice proved prophetic: Towler changed his major before his second year of college and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I realized that I could focus on my passion in sciences and still have music as a hobby,” he says.

During his college years, Towler continued to play in bands including the Hot Docs, which played on riverboats that cruised up and down the Mississippi River.

Today, Towler shares his passion for music with his son, who also has an interest in science.

“He’s also in the same boat,” says Towler. “He likes science and he’s into English and math, but he’s also picked up the guitar.”

This past summer, Towler’s son went to a guitar camp at Purdue University, where he was able to build his own guitar. It’s become a project that both father and son enjoy working on. Music has truly become a hobby that has brought Towler and his son closer together.

“The best part for me is the connection to my son,” he says.

Article by Marisa Ramiccio