Highlights of AMI2016 Meeting

AMI2016 GoneWithTheWind

Gone With The Wind themed bags by Radius Digital Science.
Image credit: © 2016 Ted Kucklick

The Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) convened for our 71st annual conference this year at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. AMI2016 was a huge success — we welcomed 473 attendees, of whom 102 were students, and we were enriched and educated by talks from 72 presenters.

Very well put-together program with excellent speakers. Excellent flow, nice balance of topics. Great venue. Overall, a terrific meeting.


AMI2016 IsaacEvans BrodelLecture

Isaac Evans describing CDC's team response to the Ebola crisis.
Image credit: © 2016 Ted Kucklick

Neurons, Animation, Ebola, Inspiration, and More

In the first session, Doctor Jay Varkey grabbed the attention of the packed room right away with his riveting firsthand account of caring for the first US Ebola patients at Emory University in 2014. He spoke of lessons learned in the public health response activation to reduce spread of disease and improve care of those infected. Isaac Evans brought that message home with his tales of medical communications developed just in time for the front lines of the Ebola crisis, by his graphics team at the Centers for Disease Control. Rapid execution, accuracy and cultural sensitivity are major factors in designing effective visual messages for public health.

AMI2016 AmySterling Eyewire

Eyewire combines gamification and citizen science.
Image credit: © 2016 Ted Kucklick

The schedule was packed with incredible talks from pioneers in numerous fields connected to the visual instruction of medicine. Ryan Kingslien sparked new creative life in his moving and spirited session “Creatives Academy 101.” Merry Wang of Autodesk showcased tools for biologic nanodesign, molecule viewer and 3D bio-printing. Amy Robinson brought us deep into the mind to see real neural connections as they are depicted in Eyewire, an online brain-mapping game. Jodi Jenkinson and Gaël McGill gave an insights into designing multimedia experiences of the molecular world based on learning sciences research. Cameron Slayden mesmerized the crowd with clever animation tricks to bring the microscopic world to vivid life.

Showcasing Biomedical Visualization: The AMI Salon

AMI2016 SalonThe Salon was a world-class gallery of biomedical visual communication, including Animation and Interactive theaters showcasing stunning audio-visual work from around the world. During the Salon opening, we connected with colleagues old and new while admiring the inspiring artwork. One of our sponsors, Maxon, treated Salon opening attendees to a number of technical tips and tricks in Cinema 4D, and students had the opportunity to stand with their pieces and discuss their work with members as they toured the exhibit. The Online Salon showcases many of the pieces displayed onsite in Atlanta, for ongoing study and inspiration.

Ralph Sweet Member's Choice Award (Still Media): Dave Killpack, "Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis)"

Members Choice in New Media Award: Jeff Day, "Gluten and Celiac Disease"

Orville Parkes Student Best of Show (Still Media): Sarah A. Chen, "The Inguinal Canal: Anatomy and Development"

New Media Student Best of Show: Ashley Hui, "SpineSIM: Neuraxial Blockade Simulator" and Chi-Chun Liu, "Reanimating the Hesperornithiformes"


AMI2016 Workshop

Learning Z-brush techniques in an intensive workshop.
Image credit: © 2016 Ted Kucklick

Learning and Developing New Skills

Many motivated professionals and students took advantage of full and half-day workshops that were available the day before the meeting got started. Advanced training in ZBrush, molecular research and storytelling, neuroanatomy, and other great topics propelled excited learners to greater heights, while earning them continuing education units.

Business skills are critical to our thriving profession, and Atlanta offered plenty of opportunity for advancement. Ilise Benun imparted crucial marketing skills creatives can use to get more work. Marcelo Oliver took us on a tour of the world as he described his international business and encouraged us to expand into new markets. Jeni Fairman taught hard-won lessons from the trenches as a small business owner.

Excellent presentations, many of which affect my business practices. Great venue due to its size and location!

Sharing Expertise and Talent

The deep generosity of the AMI membership was evident in the volunteer efforts to help plan the meeting, man the registration desks, set up and take down the Salon, and so much more. Numerous digital artists freely offered the latest techniques in this year’s Tech Showcase, including expert presentations on ZBrush, Photoshop, particle simulation, reptile scales, Adobe Character Animator and more. We all got to know each other better this year at a new Roundtable session, where seasoned medical illustrators sat together with students and younger professionals to discuss pre-defined topics and generate ideas for a more vibrant association. First-timers attended a special session just for them to have an introduction to each other, the workings of the AMI, and to meet members of the Board of Governors. Mentors and their Mentees from the AMI’s Mentorship Program (available to new Professional members) enjoyed an evening of conversation, sweets, and trading fun medical illustration collector cards. Throughout the meeting, we found many reasons to be grateful to our generous sponsors, who made so much of our meeting possible.

I had a fantastic first-timer experience with the AMI. I learned something new from nearly everyone I met.


Illustration trading cards for 2016 created by Mentor Program participants.
Image credit: © 2016 Kip Carter

Congratulations and Accomplishments

AMI2016 BillWestwood ChristineYoungThe Association honored Christine Young with the prestigious lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the profession, and Bill Westwood was honored with the Max Brödel award for excellence in education. We congratulated new Fellows, who were received at the Fellow Convocation after earning the title with years of devoted service to the AMI. Many other awards were applauded at the Awards Banquet in both Student and Professional categories. Special thanks to Ted Kucklick for photos of the meeting.

Until Next Year...

We spent a lot of great time together throughout the meeting, got out and enjoyed the city, had amazing conversations well into the night, and finally said a fond farewell at a Bon Voyage party sponsored by the Vesalius Trust. We are all very much looking forward to reconnecting again in Austin, Texas in July of 2017. See you there!

by Michael Konomos, MS, CMI
AMI2016 Program Co-Chair
Medical Illustrator, Emory School of Medicine


Anna ten Bensel created a video thank you to the AMI for our support of student members. Watch what they had to say and share about the association and conference.