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Reflections on nature

Sara Adlerstein, an associate research scientist at the University of Michigan, uses quantitative modeling to investigate ecosystems. But she also embraces art as a way to reflect on nature.

An accomplished artist with national and international exhibits to her credit, Adlerstein’s artwork is on exhibit in the Dana Building’s Art & Environment Gallery. The exhibit is open during regular business hours through December.

“In my world, art and science belong together as naturally as air and water. Both inform my work “influencing my approach,” said Adlerstein, who joined the School of Natural Resources and Environment in 2001. “Observation, experimentation, improvisation, making comparisons, searching for patterns and answers all come together within the creative process. As such I have developed my own mixed media techniques and my research influences the subject of my paintings. The process has been magical, nurturing and informative.”

The Art & Environment Gallery uses the Gold LEED-certified building as a backdrop to draw attention to nature and its intersecting influence on the fields of science and art.

In her academic life, Adlerstein is an applied aquatic ecologist within the Conservation Ecology field of study at SNRE. She obtained a master of science degree at the University of Concepcion Chile and both a master of science and Ph.D. at the University of Washington.

Her academic work focuses on aquatic ecosystem dynamics and in particular, environmental stressors affecting the Great Lakes ecosystems. She did not pursue academic training in the arts but she has been painting for as long as she has been a scientist.

At the University of Michigan, she has taught courses bridging arts and sciences at the School of Art & Design and the Residential College, and has organized and participated in events to immerse the arts within the endeavors of a research university. Her works have been published in books and magazines; shown in galleries and museums in Chile, Europe, Canada and the United States; and are part of public and private art collections.

She is currently a visiting artist at the Washington Street Gallery in Ann Arbor.

In 2001, Adlerstein moved to Ann Arbor with her husband Edgar Meyhofer, a professor of mechanical engineering and professor of biomedical engineering in the U-M College of Engineering.  They have two sons.

For more information about the gallery, visit