by Ioanna Gkika

A Journey To Self-Discovery Through Art And Science

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Iris Schaap came across different aspects of science during her interesting journey. During her bachelor years she combined science with art, followed by a Master’s in Toxicology and currently research work at the Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS) at Utrecht University.

After finishing school, she wanted to become a doctor and work in remote districts. She wanted to help people that really need it the most, so she applied for the Bachelor of Medicine at Utrecht University. However, while she was at the Dominican Republic with a volunteer organization to help to build houses and with that a better future for the residents, bad news arrived that she was not accepted. The feeling of disappointment was overshadowed by the thought that “There can be worse”. She counted her blessings and decided to move forward.

Science is very similar to art. With science you want to understand the world around you and find out the truth. By making art, you try to understand what is created around you.

Iris Schaap - Researcher at IRAS

Iris turned to her plan B and started in the Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. Since she was always interested in art, she did her minor in art and research. She feels that she has learned the most from that experience. According to her, “Science is very similar to art. With science you want to understand the world around you and find out the truth. By making art, you try to understand what is created around you”. She links that to her wish to become a doctor, because as a doctor, among others, you try to understand how people interact and are affected by the environment around them. “Writing is one way to express your insights, but through art you can create something more robust, like a statue or a painting”.

You have to get out of your comfort zone, try different things, overcome difficulties and eventually you will learn what your skill is. Then you can return to your starting point, bringing back everything that you have learned.

Our discussion ended with an advice towards people to search and find their bliss, which is what she is trying to do by getting a taste of different things. She described this exploration procedure using Joseph Camber’s book “A hero’s journey”. According to that, all myths and legends have a similar pattern. The hero is triggered by adventure, gets away from his/her base and follows a pathway. “You have to get out of your comfort zone, try different things, overcome difficulties and eventually you will learn what your skill is. Then you can return to your starting point, bringing back everything that you have learned”.