The Art and Science of Cosplay
Alysa Fratto (’14) mixes creativity, collaboration, and structure to thrive in two evolving and dynamic worlds
by Bailey Gumm (’19)
photograph by Adam Finkle
Professionally, Alysa Fratto (’14) is a research associate for BioFire Diagnostics. After hours, she trades her lab coat for elaborate costumes to indulge in her hobby of cosplaying. Cosplay, a contraction of the words “costume” and “play,” is a performance art in which participants wear self-made costumes to represent a character.
“Growing up in Utah County, my original plan was to get out of Utah, but when I came to Westminster’s Admitted Students Day, it was a frameshift. It sounds cheesy, but being on campus felt like coming home.
Presenting data my senior year at the American Society for Microbiology was a highlight of my undergraduate experience. I focused on identifying and characterizing halophilic life present on the Bonneville Salt Flats using different culturing techniques and gene sequencing.”
“After graduating, I began working at BioFire in the Regulated Products department. The company developed a series of tests that diagnose a gamut of diseases in about an hour. My time is split between completing lab work and writing experimental protocols, analyzing data, and generating the synopses of our results. Everything I test is done with real human samples and live pathogens.”
“Inspiration for my costumes comes from what I am watching at the time, usually anime. I land on those characters because they are outlandish, are creative, and allow me to take what is drawn on screen and make it physically possible through a costume in the real world. What I love the most about the cosplay community is how inclusive it is. It doesn’t matter your skill level, body type, background, or life stage because cosplay isn’t there to judge you; it is welcoming.”
Balancing Work and Play
“Both my profession and hobby require I have a close eye on details. Sometimes I paint and sew until my knuckles bleed; then I put my costume away in the morning and go to work. There, I focus my mind on something different, analyzing and reading data until my head spins.”
“Westminster shaped my post-college experience because I learned it is okay to like a bunch of different things. Professors and staff showed me that with careful planning I could cultivate more from my life joys while not sacrificing any community I felt like I belonged to.”
First Comic-Con convention
“Salt Lake FanX in 2013.”
Favorite anime characters
“Sinon from Sword Art Onlineand Erza from Fairy Tale. I admire both of these characters for their strength.”
“Embrace the cos-space. As a first-time cosplayer, you are going to mess up a lot. Be patient with yourself. Don’t be afraid to get out into the cosplay community and ask questions.”
Other fun facts
“I’m super obsessed with my cat; I love metal music; and while both my work and hobby are indoors, I enjoy the outdoors too.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.