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This is a drawing of Cajal's Purkinje Neurons.

Biographical Research through Art 

“Any man could, if he were so inclined, be the sculptor of his own brain. ”  

- Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Dawn Hunter is renowned as a visual artist, Fulbright Scholar, and former Starr Foundation Fellow. Dawn is best known for her extensive and significant work on Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a notable figure in Neuroscience. Her artistic portfolio, deeply biographical in nature, explores and celebrates the life and contributions of Cajal, widely regarded as the father of modern Neuroscience. This body of work, developed over several years, is a testament to her unique blend of art and science, highlighting her skill in bringing historical scientific figures and their legacies to life through her art. This website showcases her portfolio, Aesthetic Instincts: the Intersection of Art and Science in the Life of Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Portrait of Dawn Hunter, left.

This is a portrait of artist and University of South Carolina professor, Dawn Hunter.
This is a portrait of Cajal drawn by artist Dawn Hunter.

Who was Santiago Ramón y Cajal?

Ramón y Cajal was a Spanish scientist and the first person to demonstrate that the nervous system was made up of individual units (neurons) that were independent of one another but linked together at points of functional contact called synapses​.  Ramón y Cajal illustrated the results of his studies with elegant drawings of neurons that he proposed work independently or collectively, and that each individual unit can participate simultaneously in individual or multiple neuron functions.  Ramón y Cajal was a 1906 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine that was awarded jointly to another neuroscientist, Camillo Golgi "in recognition of their work on the structure of the nervous system,” however, their research was mutually exclusive and embraced opposing theses.  Santiago Ramón y Cajal is considered by many to be the father of modern neuroscience.  

New Article Published in Sage Journal The Neuroscientist! 

Dawn Hunter: "I am honored to have served as the lead author on the article Art, Intuition, and Identity in Ramón y Cajal. This article posits that Cajal’s enduring success is not solely based on his scientific breakthroughs. Equally crucial was his creation of a unique artistic language and his early adoption of self-branding techniques. Cajal skillfully blended classical artistry and emerging photographic techniques to enhance his scientific presentations. His personal narrative, intertwined with objective research, not only captivated fellow scientists but also reached a broader audience. His strategic use of self-portraits and scientific illustrations went beyond mere documentation, enriching the cultural dialogue around science.


Cajal's legacy, therefore, is not confined to his scientific achievements; his influence extends into the realms of art and cultural history, perpetuating the impact of his work on future generations."

Dawn Hunter featured in Q&A with writer Rebecca Horne in leading neuroscience magazine!

This is the word mark logo for the magazine The Transmitter.

"The painter and visual arts professor spent hours recreating Ramón y Cajal’s art and poring over his sketchbooks and self-portraits in the National Archives of Spain, uncovering unappreciated aspects of his techniques and influences."

Select Portfolio Highlights of the Artwork

Click on each image to learn more about each drawing or painting.

Featuring the 'Cajal Artwork Portfolio' by artist Dawn Hunter as featured in . . .

This is the logo for the online journal, Artnet.
This is the logo for The Scientist magazine.
This is the logo for the magazine Scientific American.
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