Professor uses art to educate

Biology professor Nathaniel Abraham holds one of the drawings he made for his cadavar class. Abraham said he uses drawings to illustrate human anatomy during lectures.Biology professor Nathaniel Abraham holds one of the drawings he made for his cadavar class. Abraham said he uses drawings to illustrate human anatomy during lectures.

Biology Professor Nathaniel Abraham said he is teaching Human Anatomy for the first time at OCCC.

He illustrates parts of the human anatomy for his class through elaborate drawings which, he said, he draws from memory and experience.

“[The drawing] is a unique perspective I got from reading several books,” he said.

Abraham said he uses the illustrations to help students understand the relationship between the various structures in the human anatomy.

“A picture is worth 1,000 words, and I think that’s true especially in anatomy,” he said.

At the beginning of spring 2015, 54 students were enrolled into BIO 2255 – a course that explores anatomy with human cadavers. The number has dropped to around 44 students now, said biology Professor Nathaniel Abraham.

“This a course that’s definitely going to have high attrition,” he said. “It’s very intense. It’s got a lot more details that they have to memorize.”

Unless the students are extremely motivated or have the aptitude for it, he said, it’s going to be a difficult course.

Abraham said when students enroll for the course, they should expect to be challenged and study a lot.

“We have an amazing thing here that I don’t think many schools offer,” he said. “We give them huge amounts of time outside of the lab, because we have excellent teaching assistants that are hired for the lab.”

Students will have to plan on putting those extra hours in at the lab in order to succeed, Abraham said.

“The people who are going to do better in the labs are the people who put more time into the labs,” he said.

Abraham said the hardest part of the course is going to be the labs rather than the lectures. He said it is unusual for students to do better in the labs than in the lectures.

“Finding a structure from a book is extremely easy – it’s all laid out. In the actual cadaver, there’s so much variation.

“There [may] be an artery that’s present here in a cadaver that is not present in another cadaver.”

The variations include the preservation of the cadavers, as some are better preserved than others, Abraham said.

Based on previous semesters, he said, students are doing very well this semester.

Abraham wants to make sure his students get the full meaning behind the class, and that shows in his preface that hangs outside his office.

“For many students of the natural world, from ages past to now and certainly for this author, none, not the grandeur and majesty of space with its splendor of colors, constellations and other heavenly marvels, neither the wonders afforded by the terrestrial sphere, nor the fascinating, infinite microcosms of the quantum world, nor even the incredible worlds of music, art, or literature, hold as much allure as the exploration of the human body.”

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To contact Bryce McElhaney, email

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