Photo: S. Sagala

Dee Breger received a degree in Art from the University of Wisconsin and began her career as a scientific illustrator at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, switching to electron microscopy soon after. She has specialized in the technology and imagery of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) since Lamont acquired one of the first available models.

In 1982 Breger founded Lamont/Columbia's first professional SEM and X-ray microanalysis facility, which she directed for the next 22 years. In 1995, her coffee-table book Journeys in Microspace was featured in the New York Times magazine. She was profiled in the BBC documentary Hidden Visions in 1998 and in 2002 received the Whiting Memorial Award from the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry.

Dee checking out the sample she has just picked up from a pyrite vein beneath her feet, while enjoying lovely Arthur Harbor near Antarctica's Palmer Station. One of the resulting images is "Antarctic Pyrite", which can be seen in the Gallery's Micromineral section. Photo: T. Newberger

In 2004 Breger moved to Philadelphia's Drexel University as Director of Microscopy, and in 2009 retired from academic lab management to launch Micrographic Arts, currently based in Saratoga Springs NY.

Besides specializing in the technology, scientific application and artistry of the SEM, Breger has also led or participated in several Earth science programs on over 30 field expeditions (so far), with a specialization in Antarctic oceanography. Some of her favorite imagery is derived from these expeditions.

Breger's images lie at the confluence of science and art, education and technology. She does not alter the structures seen in the images, only their aesthetic presentation, through an array of graphics techniques. Depending on how far she pushes these techniques - which often result in multiple versions of the same image - she describes them as landing on an overlapping scale she thinks of as literal, lyrical, playful or radical. Sharing her vision of the microworld with the general public through slideshows, and showing her own videos taken on oceanographic expeditions, her goal is to encourage a delight in the many worlds of science in K-12 schools, nature and senior clubs, professional societies, cruise ships and other venues. She became a TED speaker in 2012.