Helen Tran Statue on Display at Stanford

March 8, 2024 by Alyx Dellamonica

A statue of Professor Helen Tran currently on display at Stanford University is part of a U.S. project to celebrate women in STEM. Life sized, bright orange and digitally printed from acrylic gel in a process that took about ten hours, Tran’s likeness is one of five statues of female STEM innovators affiliated with Stanford.  

The statues were created for the IfThenSheCan Exhibit and will be in place on the campus through April of 2024. 

“I am a chemist, but I always thought I would be an artist growing up,” Tran said in a personal statement for the sculpture project. “When I went to college, I took a chemistry class and was amazed by all the intricate ways of putting molecules together. It reminded me of how architects use simple materials to construct beautiful buildings. This was the turning point for me.” 

“I can design a brand-new molecule and go into lab to make it. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out perfectly, but when it does, it is the most amazing feeling in the world.” 

“Now I consider myself a molecular architect,” the statement continues. “I guess that’s a type of artist.” 

The entire  IfThenSheCan Exhibit comprises 120 statues, whose subjects were each scanned in an 89-camera booth, according to a recent article in the Stanford Report. This process, which took only a few minutes, allowed a 3d printer to then create the statues. Gathered together on display in Dallas and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the exhibit set a record for the most statues of women ever assembled in one location at one time. It is an achievement that resonates with this year’s International Women’s Day theme: Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress

Before her appointment at U of T, Tran worked at Stanford, with a focus of making electronics stretchable and recyclable. She will visit the campus in April and expects to see the statue on that trip.  

For a look at all five STEM women statues and to see how they compare with their original artistic subjects, visit the Stanford Report article