A monograph is a summary of knowledge of an organism. It usually includes one or more images, drawn or photographic, to illustrate it.

The goals of the Monograph Project are for you to integrate your learning about the biology and ecology of marine micro-organisms with theoretical, observational and representational skills you’re developing in seminar, writing, drawing and animation. The project also provides opportunities to work collaboratively, use digital tools to present your creative and scientific work and share your learning with classmates and the public.

The project’s workflow consists of 5 stages. These scaffold one on top of another, so it is critically important that you manage your time well and complete each stage by the due date in order to be ready for the next project stage. This document is formatted as a checklist so you can keep track of all the elements that are due. Tape or glue it into your VMS Workbook so you can access it easily and check off elements as you complete them.

Stage 1 is due at the end of lab on Tuesday, May 3rd (week 6)
Hand in a list of the 3 organisms you will focus your monographs on. You need to have identified these positively and completed at least one illustration of each. Check with Gerardo about identifications.

Stage 2 is due Wednesday, May 18th and Thursday May 19th (week 8)
Create three monographs of marine micro-organisms following these guidelines:

  • Each monograph must have:
    1.  Species or Genus name and common name
    2.  Two drawings of the organism. One should show identifying characteristics with sizing information. The other should show the organism in its natural environment.
    3.  A formal caption (1-2 paragraphs, typed, using complete sentences with correctly formatted citations) describing:
      •  the organism
      •  the general characteristics of the taxonomic group in which it belongs
      • where in the marine environment it’s likely to be found
      • ecological information about the role it plays in its environment and/or relationships it has with other organisms or marine processes
      • Information on the organism’s biology or ecology researched from at least two sources, preferably from the primary literature. Include this information in your caption and cite the sources. Format the citations formally modeling them on those used in assigned articles from scientific primary literature.
  • One monograph must include an animated sequence that shows an aspect of an organism’s behavior, life, ecology or what it might represent for humans in the 21st century.  You can use drawn or cut-out animation techniques, or a combination of both. In deciding which of your three organisms to animate, consider how each moves or feeds, their respective roles in the eco-system, and, if larva, what the metamorphosis into adult form might look like. If it reproduces by cell division, what would that look like?
    Follow these specifications:
    • Minimum 15 seconds. We encourage you to go longer if inspired and if what you want to express warrants it. 
    • You may include original audio if you already have soundtrack composition skills. If so, carefully consider what you add in terms of legality (copyright law) and aesthetics (does it enhance or detract from your animation?).  If you don’t have audio skills, challenge yourself to express what you want to say without sound, knowing that the blog post allows accompanying text.
    • Choose the aspect ratio (either standard 4:3, or wide-screen 16:9) that is appropriate to your vision for the work. You also choose the frame rate that makes sense for how you time the animation (10 fps or 15 fps for example).
    • After shooting, export to Pro Res 422 LT and save the movie as “(name of the organism)_(your name).mov”, following the instructions for exporting as you’ve done before (selecting 30 fps, the correct aspect ratio, etc).
    • Save your exported movie and all Dragonframe elements in a folder in your cubby titled “monographs_your name”.   The animation sequence must be in your cubby by 8:30 am, Wednesday, May 18th (week 8).
  • Of the illustrations for the three monographs:
    • One must be pen & ink stipple
    • One must be watercolor pencil
  • For the monograph that includes animation
    • Expand your literature research to include more in-depth information from at least 2 scientific primary sources about the biology and ecology of this organism. Summarize these studies and the findings reported in an additional 2-3 pages.
    • Reflect on what you’ve learned about this organism from the literature and your own observations. Imagine what it could represent symbolically for humans in the 21st  What sort of lesson can it teach us? Add a paragraph to the caption describing this, and include an illustration of your idea. If you choose to focus your animation on expressing this, then you don’t need to do a separate illustration of it.

The three monographs are due Thursday, May 19th (week 8). 

  1. Complete all illustrations in your workbook and type all captions into a Word document.
  2. Scan your illustrations, create jpegs of them, and insert them into the Word document.  (In the May 12th workshop you’ll learn how to scan and save illustrations.)
  3. The Word document must be double spaced, with page breaks between each monograph, illustrations inserted into the document and include a list of sources cited. This is a formal academic document; all writing should be in complete sentences, proofread and spell checked.
  4. Print the document and bring it and your workbook to class.
  5.  Save the Word document, animated sequence and all related Dragonframe files in a folder in your cubby titled “monographs_your name”.   

Stage 3                 Due Thursday, May 19th (week 8)
Prepare your illustrations and animation for your blog post:

  •  Scan illustrations for the Word doc at a higher resolution than needed for the blog post. Since it’s easier to reduce resolution than to increase it, scan at the highest resolution you think you might need. A resolution in the range of 300-720 ppi, depending on the size of your original, will show up well in a printed document. Scan in color and if you prefer the stipple illustrations be gray-scale, adjust that after scanning.  Name each illustration file with your name and the genus or species of the organism.
  •  Choose whether to make your animation an animated GIF or a streamed movie. If a GIF, create it following the procedure done in the 5/12 workshop. If streamed movie, export the animation in H264 so to upload it to Vimeo or YouTube and embed it in your post.
  •  Option: If you are happy with your organismal motion zoetrope strip and it’s different from your monograph animation, make that into a GIF to include on the site. 

Stage 4                 Due 9 am, Thursday, May 26th (week 9)
Create and publish a blog post of the monograph that you animated and did additional research for. You decide how to format the text and images in the post.  Your digitized monograph illustrations, animation and captions should be accessible in your cubby.

Required minimum elements:

  •  All elements required for the monograph listed in Stage 2.
  •  Your name as author. If you prefer you may use your initials instead.
  •  Choose one of the illustrations to be the “featured image” shown on the category pages and make a thumbnail image for it that is no more than 365 pixels in height.
  •  Your animation, either as a GIF or streamed video. Add a caption for this that describes your concept for the piece and/or other details.
  •  Categorize your monograph as either Phytoplankton or Zooplankton. During week 9 you will work with others to come up with additional categories to assign this organism to.
  •  Publish your post.


  •  Include an animated GIF from a zoetrope strip of this organism.
  •  Upload your zoetrope GIF to the Welcome Page folder in the Orca workspace so it appears on the Welcome Page.
  •  Include other illustrations that you have done of this organism.
  •  Make a banner image for the blog header. The banners cycle randomly through the header each time the page is reloaded. Open one of your full resolution illustration files or Dragonframe images in Photoshop, select a 1440 x 221 section of it using the marquee tool with fixed frame size. Copy and paste it into a new document. Flatten the image and save it as a jpeg file. Put the file in the Orca workspace folder “Monograph Banner Images”.
  •  Include a copyright notice (“copyright 2015 Your Name) or a Creative Commons license (for information about this, see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/) on your post.

Stage 5                 Due 9am, Wednesday, June 1st (week 10)
The goals of stage 5 are for you to learn about other organisms posted on the blog, discover and represent ecological and symbolic relationships among some of them, and identify categories that reflect those relationships.  You will affiliate with two or three students whose organism share the same category as yours and collaborate on an oral presentation of about 10 minutes.  We’ll have a Monograph categories organizing jam session to facilitate this process on May 26th.

  • Categorizing Process:
    1. By May 26th, familiarize yourself with other people’s posts and note similarities in roles and relationships among organisms, especially yours.
    2. From your own research, identify 3 roles your organism plays in the environment and relationships it has with others. For example, your species might affect non-planktonic organisms or you might discover that other students are thinking symbolically about their organisms in the same way as you. See fall quarter category examples at https://sites.evergreen.edu/vms/ for other ideas.
    3. In class, write your categories on the whiteboard in the front of the room.
    4. We’ll discuss all the categories and then you’ll select at least 3 appropriate for your organism.
    5. Our aim is to have about 12 categories in addition to Phytoplankton and Zooplankton.
    6. Form category groups: Each category needs at least 2 and no more than 3 Decide which category you most want to develop into an oral presentation and connect with others who want to work on this category.
  • Prepare the Category for the blog
    1.  In your category group collaborate on a 100-150 word description of the category: what ecological relationships does this category represent? What effects do these organisms have on the environment and other organisms?
    2.  Designate one person to be the category editor. That person will have administrative access to the blog to add your category and select organisms that belong in it.
    3.  Editor: create the category, paste in the description and link associated organisms to it.
  • Week 10 Oral Presentations
    • On Wednesday or Thursday, your group will have 10 minutes to present your category and findings to the class using the computer in Com 326. We will choose groups at random to present, so be ready by 9 am Wednesday. This means rehearsing your presentation in advance and timing
    • Choose who begins, introduces the category, shows it on the blog and then discusses their own organism in more depth, including why it belongs in this category. Choose who follows and who concludes. One person should also talk about other organisms not your own that you’ve included in the category.
    • Each presentation will end with a 5 minute Q & A period.
    • After presentations, reflect on what you’ve learned from participating in this project in terms of marine biology, creative representation of microbial life, communicating information and collaborating with others. Write two paragraphs in your workbook that summarizes your learning.