By Roadtrip Nation

Chinami Michaels


My road in life has been direct.
As a teenager, I became very interested in art and drawing.
I met a neuroscientist through a book club who introduced me to the field of science illustration—he needed illustrations for his textbook, which sounded like something I could be interested in.
I decided to go to Tufts University because it had a dual degree program that allowed me to study both biology and studio art.
After earning my bachelor’s degree, I went to graduate school for medical illustration.
I did an internship in science and medical illustration, which really solidified my interest in the field.
I now work as a medical video editor and multimedia specialist at Barrow Neurological Institute, where I edit videos of neurosurgeries and create molecular science illustrations for neuroscientists.
I also co-lead a diversity outreach initiative within my department, which aims to bring more underrepresented college students into the neuroscience publications department.
Keep following my journey


Medical Video Editor & Multimedia Specialist

I edit videos of neurosurgeries for publication in academic journals and create science illustrations for researchers.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Being Creative

Day to Day

Some days start with a neurosurgeon doing a voiceover for a surgery video. When it's done, I package it, add patient details, and make it ready for publication. Other days, I'll meet with a research scientist to learn about a new discovery or innovation they want to convey. I start by sketching on paper. Then I'll use Photoshop and Illustrator to create or modify the image. I send it to the researcher for feedback. It may go through some revisions. Once it's approved, I send it for publication.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Work on your observational drawing skills because if you apply to graduate programs in science or medical illustration, that's what your art portfolio will be assessed on. I also recommend taking challenging science courses in order to meet the requirements to get into these programs. For example, when applying to grad school, I needed to have completed anatomy with dissection. I also needed to take a GRE.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

Studio Art
Biomedical Visualization


The Noise I Shed

From Teachers:

"You want to be an illustrator? Are you sure you don't want to be a fine artist instead and go show in New York City? You want to be a medical illustrator? Are you sure you wouldn't rather become a scientist?"

Challenges I Overcame

Imposter Syndrome

Interviewed By

All Paths Arizona

All Paths Arizona

Young Arizonans explore opportunity in their home state