Bana Kabalan has been a part of ecological research and art exhibitions throughout Michigan for several years. The Wayne State University biology student discovered her passion for science and art while in high school at the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills.
While at WSU, she has merged these interests, working to use both sides of the brain and continue to challenge herself.
“Connecting biology and art makes for a meaningful symbiotic relationship that makes sense to me,” Kabalan said.
Even beyond the classroom, Kabalan puts her passions to work. She works at Recycle Here! in Detroit, where she helps educate community members about recycling and spends much of her time using recycled materials in her artwork. She recently collaborated with other Detroit artists to create a float for The Marche du Nain Rouge with the help of Recycle Here! Her art was also featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts, with an interactive ofrenda for its Dia De Los Muertos exhibit.
Kabalan came to Wayne State knowing that she wanted to study biology, but initially planned on entering a pre-med program. It was not until she took a class with biology Associate Professor Chris Steiner that she fell in love with ecology and looked for ways to expand her interest outside of the classroom. With the help of Steiner, she found a research option with Kellogg Biological Station. Kabalan worked with graduate student Mitra Asgari researching and observing cannibalistic aquatic insects notonecta.
“Combining art and biology helps me so much, because it helps keep me creative,” Kabalan said. “I have definitely used creative problem-solving skills that I have learned from practicing art throughout my time doing research and in my biology classes.”
Kabalan is also a mentor for Wayne State’s Gaining Options Girl Investigate Real Life program (GO-GIRL), where she encourages middle school girls to pursue STEM related careers.
“There have been times that I have been challenged by my peers in my undergraduate experience. I wish I would’ve had extra encouragement to pursue the sciences, so being able to mentor seventh grade girls is so fulfilling,” she said.
Kabalan provides tours of WSU’s science labs and facilities to GO-GIRL students. With the help of Kabalan and other mentors, the middle school students were able to make an informative application for a smartphone exploring the life of an anthropologist.
This summer, Kabalan will be a research assistant for 30-year-old study. It will involve studying jack pine trees through Dan Kashian’s research lab with WSU master student Julia Sosin.
“Wayne State has given me the opportunity to really find my niche and discover new interests,” Kabalan said.