The skills that make a good biologist are not unlike those that make a good artist. “A desire to understand detail, you focus on how things work. These things are qualities that good poets and good biologists share,” says Adam Summers, a biologist at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs and consultant on Finding Nemo.
Summers draws on his talents as a biologist and a photographer for  “Cleared: the Art of Science,”an exhibition now at the Seattle Aquarium. The show depicts fish specimens, bleached and stained to reveal the complex skeletal structures beneath their scales.
Fish fascinated Summers, even as a graduate student. “Always what interested me was the interplay of physics and engineering with structure and evolution. So, when I saw in museum collections, these cleared and stained animals. I was immediately taken with them,” he says.
"Cleared" fish are fish rendered translucent by a combination treatment: hydrogen peroxide to dissolve dark pigments, a digestive enzyme called trypsin to dissolve the flesh apart from collagen in the fish's skin and skeleton and glycerin to make skin and connective issue appear invisible. The technique Summers uses to clear and stain fish has been common practice of reasearchers for decades and relies on two dies: Alcian blue, which gives cartilage a blue hue, and Alizarin Red S, a red dye that acts on bone. Summers made a habit of including an image in the scientific papers he would submit to different journals; the image, directly related to the research at hand, was often selected as the publication's cover art.