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Black and brown colors come to anatomical models - courtesy of three enterprising Arklatex students

Jun 14, 2022

The Biology Department at Centenary College collaborated with three students in the spring to transform existing anatomical models and diversify the biology lab experience with black and brown representation. 

At Centenary’s annual research conference, students Yosi Bouslog, Jazmine Carroll, and April Jones described their research project and its implications.

The use of anatomical models in biology lab courses is essential, but the vast majority of commercially available models portray young, lean, white, and male bodies. In addition, only two non-white anatomical models are available on the market, according to Dr. Anna Leal, assistant professor of biology and kinesiology. Addressing Bias in Medical Education through Inclusive Anatomical Representation, Harvard University’s initiative inspired Centenary students to change some of the college’s existing anatomical models.

“We recognized that there is a lack of diversity, not only in the medical field but in the education necessary to train future physicians and healthcare workers,” said Jazmine Carroll. “Almost all anatomical models display slim, white bodies, even though our population consists of people of different shapes, sizes, and cultures.”

Using these anatomical models, she says, they hope to represent those who are under-represented.

They sanded and primed the existing surfaces of the models and applied multiple layers of oil paint over the top to create a realistic appearance. The painting project is the first step in a more significant endeavor since the students view it as the first step.

“As women of color, we’ve always been aware of ways that our school and other schools could improve in the areas of diversity and representation,” said Carroll. “There is much that needs to be done. This project was just a small step in the effort to make biology and STEM education more inclusive. Our project is not complete, either. We want to add details and 3D print organs to represent people of different ages and sizes.”

As healthcare and other professionals encounter diverse individuals throughout their careers, providing representation of various individuals and experiences is a crucial component of comprehensive training. In addition, students hope their project inspires other educational spaces on the Centenary campus and beyond.

“Having lab spaces that spotlight diverse bodies will better prepare our students to serve all patients in the medical and allied health fields, hopefully contributing to health equity,” said Dr. Anna Leal. “These models could also be important for prospective students and parents, who will see that we prioritize inclusion and representation in our lab spaces.”

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