Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2014

Degree Type



Biological Sciences

Director of Thesis

Richard Showman, Sara Schneckloth

First Reader

Erika Blanck

Second Reader

Andrew Graciano


Our senior thesis project is a quilt that chronicles our experiences on the Maymester trip to Romania through the Honors College, during which we were able to shadow surgeons in the Oncology Hospital and General Surgery III Hospital in Cluj-Napoca. In our quilt, we included some of the most common surgeries we saw while shadowing Romanian doctors: breast removal, gall bladder removal, appendix removal, removal of a section of the large intestine, and removal of the uterus. The final product of this quilt shows every level of the abdominal muscles and organs from the anterior skin to the kidneys.

To help our success in creating this quilt, we enlisted four professors that are experts in each of the different aspects of our project. Dr. Richard Showman was the Biology Director of this thesis, helping with both the biological and surgical aspects of the body. Dr. Showman accompanied us on our trip to Romania as his second trip there, and is familiar with the procedures we saw and the biology behind them. Dr. Erika Blanck, the second faculty advisor on the trip to Romania and the gross anatomy professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, acted as the Anatomy Second Reader for this thesis. With her assistance, we gained access to the gross anatomy lab to study the cadavers to create a more comprehensive quilt. In the lab, we took measurements of the entire body and the organs in the abdominal cavity to create a more accurately sized body. To gain better insight into the art aspect of the quilt, we were advised by two members of the art department faculty. Sara Schneckloth is an associate professor with a sincere interest in the combination of anatomy and art, and was our Art Director for this thesis. Andrew Graciano, also an associate professor, is interested in a more theoretical approach to the combination of science and art, and was our Art Second Reader for this thesis.

Our quilt portrays a patient’s body on the operation table, similar to the scene we witnessed repeatedly in Romania. The majority of the body is covered by “sterile” material with just the abdominal cavity exposed, as is the norm for surgeries targeting a specific part of the body. The abdominal organs are covered with each layer of muscle visible and able to be opened or closed. The operations included in the quilt are denoted by removable organs that allow viewers to interact with our project by removing and replacing organs as if they were surgeons themselves. On top of “performing surgery,” we are able to demonstrate the proper tying of suture knots, and the option to suture the abdomen shut “post-operation.”

The basis of our research for the quilt part of our thesis is from observations made in our time in Romania. The written portion of our thesis includes research into the Romanian healthcare system to provide some explanations for what we experienced on our trip and to gain further understanding of the surgeries we witnessed.

This thesis is relevant because of the increasingly popular combination of science and art today. As opposed to simply writing a journal or memoir of our time in Romania, this quilt exemplifies our experience there in a creative and innovative way that is easily and quickly perceived. We hope this quilt will portray the incredible experiences that we could not have received in the United States.