The small wonders of the natural world impressed Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya early. As a girl, growing up in Atlanta, she was encouraged by her mother to draw sketches of things she could find in her backyard—a butterfly’s wing, a peanut shell—as they appeared in her microscope. “Looking back,” she said, in a 2017 TED Talk, “I realized she basically tricked me into learning science—by framing it as play time.”
At the time, Phingbodhipakkiya, who had left the world of neuroscience for art, was introducing a new project of hers, called “Beyond Curie.” This is a reference, of course, to Marie Curie, the Polish-French chemist who made fundamental discoveries about radioactivity and won the Nobel Prize (the first woman to do so) twice. Using her talent for graphic design, Phingbodhipakkiya decided to showcase, in a series of 32 portraits, other “badass women” in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, according to the project’s website, including 16 Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Back in 2017, we published seven of those portraits.
Today, on International Women’s Day, it seems fitting to return our attention again to those images and the brilliant women Phingbodhipakkiya continues to spotlight. “Beyond Curie” now features 45 portraits, each accompanied by the artist’s own view (reproduced below) of the social and scientific significance of her subject’s work. “My art has always been about making the invisible visible,” she told The New York Times last year.