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Joe Yates

How Things Work

Joe Yates lives at the intersection of science and art. He is a writer, a visual artist and a musician who is also on the premedical track. A biology major from Tampa, Florida, Joe is considering a career in neurology.

“I like knowing how things work,” Joe says, explaining his interest in brain function.

“And being a creative person, I like to present obscure knowledge in interesting and creative ways.”

That explains his fascination with xkcd—a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language written by a former robotics scientist at NASA—and his own forays into the iconography of intelligent life. Joe writes, draws and paints comics that reflect in a whimsical and hyperbolic way his college experiences and the people he encounters. Look for his upcoming site, “Side Effects May Include,” on a computer screen near you.

To his delight, the Rose O’Neill Literary House recently brought two webcomics authors to campus. “Students here have the opportunity to connect and interact with internationally renowned artists and writers,” Joe notes, “so we have a better appreciation of what it takes to go down the creative path.”

A rower in high school, Joe chose Washington College on the advice of a family friend. “I was hoping to find a college where I could be as smart or as obscenely obscure in exploring academic matters as I wanted and no one would think the lesser of me for it.” The College has supported his efforts to combine high arts and the high sciences in a creative track, and fellow students embracing the notion of “geek chic” have spawned new student club, the Guerilla Musical Theatre Troupe, of which Joe is vice-president. The troupe, whose mission is to “startle and entertain the unwary masses via the method of song and dance,” recently offered a street performance of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

There’s a lot of artistic talent at Washington College—much of it unnoticed. As president of the Artists Union, Joe is spearheading an effort to archive and digitize student work, and then display it in academic buildings across campus. “My goal is to help the institution support the artists here,” he says.