On a ferry near the Greek Islands, a Japanese tourist approached pro­fessor Bill Han­cock to show him the tiny por­trait she had sketched. It was of Han­cock in an unguarded moment.

His glimpse at his own like­ness, about eight years ago, lib­er­ated him, recalls the Brad­street Chair in bio­an­a­lyt­ical chem­istry at the Bar­nett Insti­tute of Chem­ical and Bio­log­ical Analysis.

I thought, ‘I can do that,’ and as soon as the boat docked, I bought a sketch­book and a pen,” Han­cock says. “The results were dreadful! But after a time, the results started having some resem­blance to the object I was sketching.”

Like most begin­ning artists, he started with water­color paints. He took some classes at the Pacific Art League in Cal­i­fornia to learn a little tech­nique, and was soon thor­oughly bitten by the bug to paint and sketch.

The Aus­tralian native is highly cre­den­tialed in the world of chem­ical and bio­log­ical analysis —he holds a doc­toral degree from Ade­laide Uni­ver­sity, and has served in many capac­i­ties, including a vis­iting sci­en­tist with the Bureau of Drugs at the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion in Wash­ington, D.C.; prin­cipal sci­en­tist at Hewlett Packard Lab­o­ra­to­ries; vis­iting pro­fessor in chem­ical engi­neering at Yale Uni­ver­sity; vice pres­i­dent of Pro­teomics at Thermo Finnigan Corp. in San Jose, Calif.; and pres­i­dent of the Cal­i­fornia Sep­a­ra­tion Sci­ence Society of San Fran­cisco for 10 years.

But he is also an artist. During his many inter­na­tional trips, Han­cock has stopped a moment to cap­ture a scene, using pas­tels, color markers, pencil, or water­color. “I never have much time for this, so my works are usu­ally done in a couple of hours,” Han­cock says. “I always keep a little sketch­book with me, and I’ve cap­tured some scenes from Aus­tralia, Cal­i­fornia, Sydney Harbor; these would be the ones that had a lot of impact for me.”

Han­cock has branched out with his work, cap­turing promi­nent fig­ures in the news, including Dr. Jack Kevorkian and Rupert Mur­doch. He recently entered a col­orful por­trait of Mur­doch in the North­eastern art show. The art is a nice bal­ance to his serious sci­ence pur­suits, he says.

Han­cock joined North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in 2002. He has pub­lished over 190 sci­en­tific works and seven books. He holds 15 patents, and has received numerous honors, including the Martin Gold Medal in Sep­a­ra­tion Sci­ence, from the British Chro­mato­graphic Society, and the Stephen dal Nogare Memo­rial Award in Chro­matog­raphy and the ACS Award in Chromatography.

At Bar­nett, his research focuses on cancer pro­teomics and he is pres­i­dent of the Human Pro­teome Orga­ni­za­tion in the United States. “The art,” he says, “is a classic left-​​brain thing. It’s a nice balance.”