December 2010

The Action of Alcohol Dehydrogenase

A special, online-only comic by University of Arizona undergraduate Juhyung Sun.

The Action of ADH
el feliz (the happy) = EtOH; el doloroso (the painful) = acetaldehyde; el toxico (the toxic) = MeOH; el ciego (the blind) formaldehyde.

Juhyung Sun is an undergraduate senior at the University of Arizona pursuing degrees in molecular and cellular biology as well as biochemistry and molecular biophysics (which conveniently sounds infinitely more impressive to the layperson than it actually is). After college, he plans to go to medical school where he will attempt to specialize in infectious diseases.   After that, Juhyung has no idea whether he'll practice as a physician for the rest of his life, somehow end up back in research or turn to the dark side by working for a government agency.

Juhyung's artistic training consists of countless hours spent during childhood and adolescence drawing things of great consequence: monsters, flying machines and futuristic weaponry. This cartoon was inspired in a biochemical lab techniques class by another classmate's doodle of ethanol molecules (appropriately) subtitled "Saturday Evening Fun."  Not wanting to be outdone (Juhyung happens to be studying alcohol dehydrogenase), he decided to put up some space-filling representations of the most famous reactions involving ADH.  The drawing includes appropriate atomic connections, CPK coloring, facial expressions and names that describe the molecules’ physiological effects (with a slight Spanish flavor). The class coordinator, James T. Hazzard, took notice and conscripted him into creating a digital version, the result of which you see here.

At the moment, Juhyung doesn't have any strong artistic aspirations beyond some vague ideas of maybe starting up an online webcomic. At the very least, he plans to keep drawing just enough so that a few decades down the road, he can be featured in a special interest story raising a lot of noise about scientific professionals who actually have hobbies outside of their research. 

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