Charles J Kazilek III
Charles Kazilek during a video recording session at the ASU MIX Center.
Charles J. Kazilek III

(1958-06-01) 1 June 1958 (age 65)
Sioux City, Iowa, US
Alma materArizona State University ( B.F.A.)
Arizona State University Master of Natural Sciences (M.N.S).
Known forAsk A Biologist, Paper Project
SpouseSally Kazilek

Charles J. Kazilek III (born 1 June 1958) is an American-born science communicator, educator, and artist. His K-12 outreach work involves the globally successful Ask A Biologist website, which he founded in 1997.[1][2] Kazilek is also an artist who works in both the real and virtual worlds of visual arts. His art has been inspired by his background in microscopy and includes the Paper Project, Scanning Light Photomacrograhy, and his novel approach to illustrating insects which includes two field guides on tiger beetles.

Art + technology

The Paper Project and early Virtual Reality work

In 1999, Kazilek began a collaboration with Gene Valentine (b: July 29, 1938 | d: February 22, 2022) and later Jennifer Tsukiama that became the Paper Project. The project combined science and art and would ultimately produce printed canvas works, 3-D anaglyph work, a 3-D dance performance, and a room installation that allowed visitors to explore the three-dimensional structure of historic and contemporary handmade paper. The experience provided an early form of virtual reality VR. The final canvases were displayed at the Paper Discovery Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, the Arizona Science Center, the Dard Hunter Studio in Utah, and Arizona State University. The performance was part of the American College Dance Festival in 2002. Some of Kazilek's microscopy images from the Paper Project have also been featured in Nikon Small World (2004, 2006, 2008, and 2017) and in one instance (2004) displayed on Times Square to start the year-long traveling tour.[3][4]

Digital Watercolors

Among the works in Kazilek's artistic portfolio is a piece created in 2008, based on a newly discovered whirligig beetle named after singer Roy Orbison, Orectochilus orbisonorum. Kazilek created a commemorative digital watercolor presentation piece titled “Whirligig” that featured nine images of the beetle in the style of Andy Warhol.[5][6]

Science education and communication

In 1997, Kazilek launched the Ask A Biologist website. What began as a single webpage that partnered questions submitted by K-12 students with answers from university biology professors and graduate students, now offers more than 4,000 pages of multimedia content. Accessed by millions annually, Ask A Biologist offers students, teachers, and life-long learners biology learning materials that range from stories, activities, games, gamelets (short-play games), escape room experiences, and videos to podcasts.[7][8]

Silk handmade-paper imaged using a scanning laser confocal microscope.

One particularly unique feature of the website is the collection of 360-degree experiences and their related content. These virtual tours make use of VR photography allowing visitors to explore many of the biomes of the world using a desktop, laptop, or mobile device including phones.[9]

Puzzle and game-based learning

An educational escape room is based on earlier escape room video games and is a style of puzzle-based learning that is well suited for web-based games, which also provide access to a larger audience. In 2012, the Ask A Biologist website trialed this by building “Science Detectives: Training Room Escape,” a click-through online escape room for preK-12 learners that combined fun with using the scientific method to succeed. Kazilek sees escape rooms as a natural problem-solving environment. The game has been played more than 170,000 times, and one student commented, “It’s okay to trick us into learning.”[10]



Books and book chapters

Science manuals


Exhibitions and shows

Paper Project image displayed on Times Square during the launch of the 17 city tour in 2004.


  1. ^ "Questions fuel 'Ask A Biologist' website success". AAAS-EurekaAlert!. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  2. ^ "Itching to know the number of cells in your body? Ask a Biologist". AAAS-EurekaAlert!. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  3. ^ "Paper + Microscope = amazing art". ZME Science. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  4. ^ "Awards Season: Science through the Eyepiece". Future Science. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  5. ^ "Whirligig beetle gets rock 'n' roll legendary name". PHYS.ORG. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  6. ^ "This Beetle Really Rocks". PHYS.ORG. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  7. ^ "Ask A Biologist: Bringing Science to the Public". PLOS Biology. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  8. ^ "Got a Question? "Ask A Biologist"". Science Magazine. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  9. ^ "Explore ecosystems of the world virtually with your students". The Atlantic. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  10. ^ "The Rise of Educational Escape Rooms". The Atlantic. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  11. ^ ""Ask a Biologist" Web Site Awarded Prestigious Prize by Science". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  12. ^ "MERLOT Classics Award – Teaching". MERLOT: Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching. Retrieved 4 January 2024.