2020 was a year of many firsts for all of us, including us here at Lifeology. Many of these firsts were incredibly difficult – to start, quarantining at home for months because of an unprecedented global pandemic. But other 2020 firsts have pushed us to grow and change our perspective and ideas of what is possible in positive ways. The fastest vaccine in history is an awe-inspiring, mind-boggling first. This breakthrough, the collaborative work of so many scientists and and clinical trial volunteers and others, has changed notions of what is possible in science and health technology. But on smaller scales, many of us have accomplished things we might not have thought was possible over the past year, from homeschooling our kids to collaborating on complex projects 100% virtually.
Our Lifeology team accomplished many firsts this year that we are proud of. First of all, we launched our science-art platform and published our first Lifeology course in 2020! And our first widely shared (and community translated) course was quite appropriately about the science and public health considerations of COVID-19. We worked with over 50 artists and dozens of science communicators on our Lifeology courses this year – all virtually over Zoom, e-mail and Google docs. We also built and have nearly launched (Beta testing is happening now!) a Content Management System (Lifeology CMS) – a platform where anyone will be able to build their own Lifeology courses.
It has been a difficult but also an oddly rewarding year. But we are most proud to have helped diverse audiences better understand science, health, COVID-19 and aspects of mental wellness through our illustrated “flashcard” Lifeology courses. Below, we’ve curated our most popular Lifeology courses of 2020, along with some feedback from readers/viewers! Browse, click, look and read to learn more about COVID-19, vaccines, viruses, mental wellness, mindfulness, perseverance and more!
1. What is COVID-19?
Our most popular Lifeology courses this year, by far, are our courses about COVID-19 for adults and kids. We created a COVID-19 primer in March that covered much of the basic information about the novel coronavirus and how to protect oneself and one’s family. It is wonderfully illustrated by Elfy Chiang.
“This was the best synopsis/explanation of COVID-19 I’ve seen and/or read thus far. Both in presentation & delivery. Job VERY well done!” – Lifeology reader
We then created a follow-up course on the health impacts of COVID-19, and also a COVID-19 comic for kids hand-drawn by the talented Elfy! The kids’ comic was very popular – Kristen Bell shared it on her Instagram!
“This was amazing!! As a preschool teacher, it makes perfectly clear sense to young minds. Thank you!” – Lifeology reader
“Great! Straight forward, concise, easy to understand. Perfect for kids and those without a science background. Thanks!” – Lifeology reader
2. Honoring Legendary Immunologist Evelyn Carmon Nicol
This year, we were honored to be able to tell the story of Evelyn Carmon Nicol with the fantastic visuals of artist Anna Doherty, a children’s book illustrator. Evelyn passed away this year after getting COVID-19, but her pioneering work in immunology and her perseverance in the face of hardship are legendary. She lives on through the many creative minds she inspired. We got to interview her daughter and sister-in-law for this Lifeology card deck. The interviews were delightful.
“I cried! Black folks, particularly Black women have been through so much in this country. What an INCREDIBLE woman, to face these endless challenges and PERSIST! I’m inspired and also saddened…how far we’ve NOT come.” – Lifeology reader
“Evelyn Nicol was a true gem! A brilliant and remarkable woman who did not let anything prevent her from following her dreams!” – Lifeology reader
3. How to Grow During Times of Stress and Trauma
We partnered with Dr. Natalia Peart and illustrator Jordan Hunter to create an illustrated mini-course about how to strive for mental wellness in these troubling times. This resource was created with Black individuals and communities in mind, but is relevant for all of us. It is beautifully written and illustrated to feature Black voices and faces and to help us all understand why it is that we are so stressed these days, and how to grow as we move forward.
You can read more about the creation of this Lifeology course – one of our personal favorites – here.
“This was amazing. I will share it with all my students (I am a professor at a community college). Thank you very much for creating it! It’s helpful, accessible, and also beautiful!” – Lifeology reader
“Great suggestions. I’m also taking time to declutter my home. It makes me feel freer and lighter to get rid of unnecessary emotional baggage.” – Lifeology reader
“This course applies to all of us, no matter who we are. Not a word is wasted. It is clear, concise and relevant, especially in the uncertain times we’re all dealing with now. I will go through it again soon and see the things I missed the first time.” – Lifeology reader
“Encourages one to self reflect, acknowledging the current or any crisis and needed steps to keep move forward in a positive manner.” – Lifeology reader
“This is extremely helpful and puts so many of things I’ve been feeling into words. Thank you.” – Lifeology reader
4. What is Cancer?
Just because COVID-19 was top of mind this year, doesn’t mean that other health issues didn’t continue to affect our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Here at Lifeology, we try to create educational materials about complicated and often scary things – using visuals and text that hopefully help to break down some of that scariness by empowering the audience.
Our “What is Cancer?” Lifeology course, created by myself and Gaius J. Augustus, was one of our most popular flashcard courses this year. In case you are interested, we also have a series of cancer-related Lifeology courses that will help you understand more about cancer, genetics, mutations and new therapies.
“It was lighthearted, but gave important information. Also, it didn’t bombard you with facts making it confusing.” – Lifeology reader
“It helped me understand how cancer can spread and ways you are able to get cancer for example the sun or tobacco exposure.” – Lifeology reader
“Thank you for this. I’m a kidney cancer survivor and this was very informative.” – Lifeology reader
5. Viruses Mutate. What Does That Mean For Us?
All viruses mutate. The novel coronavirus is no exception. However, it mutates slowly enough that changes to its genome that have occurred to date are unlikely to create any issues for the efficacy of the new vaccines.
If you’ve ever had questions about how viruses mutate, what that means, and why it matters for our health and our ability to create vaccines against viruses like the flu virus and SARS-CoV-2, this course is for you! It is brilliantly illustrated in a fun way by Jeff Pea. Learn more about its creation here.
“A great summary for those who don’t have a firm grasp of genetics or a science background.” – Lifeology reader
“Excellent descriptions in easy to understand language. Good for people who might have trouble taking in a lot of science all at once. Thank you!” – Lifeology reader
“This was so great to read to my 4 year olds! And super helpful for me too. Thank you!” – Lifeology reader
“This was amazing and easy enough for an artist layers citizen scientist like myself to read and understand. The CARDS with illustrations also went a loooong way to helping me understand these concepts.” – Lifeology reader
6. What is DNA?
Speaking of virus mutations – what is actually changing when a virus mutates? The answer is its genetic material – its DNA or RNA!
But what is DNA? We created a course for that, too! It’s one of our most popular flashcard courses of 2020!
“WOW. I have learned today about new information about different mammals and how gees can be switch on and off depending upon diet exercise and environment. very interesting.” – Lifeology reader
“This was a helpful course and really broke down the definition of DNA for me.” – Lifeology reader
7. What is Mindfulness?
There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted our mental health. Pandemics are stressful, and we are feeling it. Some of us have turned to practices that can help, like deep breathing, mindfulness and meditation. In fact, our “What is Mindfulness?” Lifeology flashcard course was one of our most popular in 2020.
Learn about mindfulness, and how and why to practice it, in this beautifully illustrated (by UK artist Tomekah George) card deck. First, a story about a particularly grounded turtle.
“I really enjoyed the simplicity of the language and the illustrations are beautiful (I’m a visual learner so these really helped me to connect). Thank you.” – Lifeology reader
“Beautiful explanation. Very much like meditation.” – Lifeology reader
8. How do Vaccines Work?
How could we close out 2020 without a celebration of vaccines? Several COVID-19 vaccines available starting December 2020 are giving us new hope for 2021. But how do vaccines work, anyway? If you need a primer on this basics, this Lifeology course will help!
This course is a wonderful collaboration between virology and public health experts Dr. Shauna Bennett and Jessica Malaty Rivera, and UK artist Matthew Griffiths. Read more about its creation in our blog post here.
“Well done! Clear and easy to understand.” – Lifeology reader
Other popular Lifeology courses this year include “How can I strengthen my immune system against infections?” and our Women in STEAM Who Inspire card decks. Find more courses here, and let us know which one is YOUR favorite!
Want to create a course with us? We’d love nothing more – get in touch at Lifeology@lifeomic.com!