Invasion on Water Microbes by Madison Sherman

Invasion on Water Microbes is a digital piece created to communicate that life does not exist in isolation, but rather inside complex feedbacks. These very connections influence how aquatic ecosystems function.

Inside the water droplet, you can see a wide variety of microbes, showing how diverse these systems are. You can also see their interaction network, which includes the exchange of essential metabolites. Microbes live and rely on each other to survive, together as a community.

Outside the water droplet are factors that impact these microbial connections, including biological disturbances. These include, but are not limited to, zebra mussels, spiny water flea, and blue-green algal blooms. Invasive species–like the spiny water flea and zebra mussels–can affect the aquatic food web, which in turn alters how the ecosystem interacts and functions. Shifts in these networks can affect the persistence and magnitude of cyanobacteria algal blooms, shown in the background of the drawing.


I am currently a sophomore studying Art Education, with a certificate in Disability Rights and Services. My favorite part of the Flow Project was being able to show people how science and art can intersect. I am looking forward to making more scientific graphics in the future. My main art mediums are digital drawing, screen-printing, and photography. My free time is spent exploring art museums and working as a Graphic Editor at the Daily Cardinal. You can see more of my work on my Instagram @madishermsart.

ABOUT THE Water Partner

Kathryn Schmidt is a graduate student in the McMahon lab at UW-Madison studying the ecology and evolution of freshwater microbes. She is fascinated by the importance of space and life-histories in shaping interactions within communities, spanning cooperative housing, sustainable farming, to aquatic microbes. Her research focuses on how interaction networks of dominant freshwater bacteria relate to the functional stability of microbial communities across time and space.