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Margherita - Puffy adhesion on a forgotten acrylamide gel.JPG
Margherita - Icebergs of acrylamide gel in a broken experiment.jpg
Icebergs of acrylamide gel in a broken experiment 
DNA & Molecules
Inspiration and composition


Margherita’s photographs depict an SDS-PAGE, a common electrophoresis method that allows protein separation by mass. Margherita uses this biochemistry method on a daily basis to check for the expression of the target protein as a readout for the biological activity of lectin inhibitors. Her project aims to develop and use these lectin inhibitors in the treatment of lung infections, thus fighting the current global problem of microbial resistance. 

SDS-PAGE is a common electrophoresis technique but comes with a high risk of the gel breaking into pieces at the end of the process. If this happens, the experiment is rendered useless and precious time is wasted. This is exactly what happened to Margherita in these snapshots. ‘Icebergs of acrylamide gel in a broken experiment’ and ‘Puffy adhesion on a forgotten acrylamide gel’ depict two of these broken gels. 

Instead of letting the failed experiments get her down, Margherita was able to see the beauty

in them. For anyone not in the field, the photographs seem abstract and open to interpretation. That’s exactly what Margherita was going for. She wants to show us another perspective on her daily work. A spontaneous view, without deliberate setup or reason. 


“Every day we run these gels to understand if the proteins that we work with are pure or not. One day I brought my camera to the laboratory. As I was zooming in on my experiment, I saw something different. As if I was looking at an iceberg. The colors gave me the sensation of coldness. I enjoyed playing with the view. To make a gel look like a rocky iceberg. I thought it was interesting to have a different perspective on the same thing I see every day. The object is not beautiful, the beauty is in the balance of the colors and shadows, seen from different angles. The beauty lies within the sensation you get from looking at it.” 

The artist

About Margherita Duca

Margherita feels that artists and scientists have strong common ground. As a scientist, her work can be very creative. “I’m in the chemistry field and I realize that everything I do is creative, because I’m inventing new molecules and I can give them the shape I want. It’s about visualization and creation.” 

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