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My work spans a spectrum of topics & practices across academic biology, education, and art & design. The following are primarily academic and biological works, with the majority of visual arts elsewhere

Explore the five broad categories of published work below, or the full chronological list of projects below that.

Click on any of the images to find out more about any project.

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Social Insect Research Forays in "EvoDevo" Bio/Cultural Considerations Education + Interdisciplines The Biological Office

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2011


Although mutant individual are rare in ant colonies, they may in fact be more common than though and hold important information about the developmental biology and evolutionary possibilities in ant form and colony function. This paper, currently under review, explores this from the starting point of a mutant discovered in the colony of the ant Pheidole morrisi.


Different disciplines rely on particular methods and assumptions, however there may be significant costs in the boundaries that they set as specialized communities. How can non-specialists be a part of scientific knowledge and decision-making given the complex and interwoven nature of biological phenomena today? A number of practices in contemporary art and design are engaging with biology and raising important questions about the possibilities of critical interdisciplinary engagement.


Animals are they icons and avatars of humanity, from the Chicago bears to Snoopy to the Chinese zodiac they play a key role in how we understand ourselves and nature more broadly. This essay looks at the representation of animals in zines, for the journal of nature & visual culture Antennae.

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2010


This a a brief book review of the book Ant Encounters: Colony behavior and network interactions (2008), by Deborah Gordon. What is the nature of ant interactions and the the complex systems the colony represents? how do collective behaviors emerge and what models do we use to understand these natural systems?


Parasites are an intimate and inescapable form of life. As much as we try to avoid them we often become their food, and in fact contract them through the food that we ourselves eat. This article for the journal Gastronomica looks at these complex trophic relations from a biodiversity perspective.


Science zines are not only inherently great, they are also a way to engage participatory literacy in students Zine-a-thon!


BankART NYK projects - Yokohama, Japan

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2009


We see patterns everywhere. The visual analogies between the astronomical and the anatomical, for example, go back thousands of years but more recently scientists are taking these connections more seriously in terms of data visualization. This brief article mentions some of those efforts in the area of "Astronomical Medicine."


Plagiarism is now as commonplace as the internet itself. How might an art school's educational philosophy connect to the trend of taking other people's work and claiming it is your own? A short commentary for the School newspaper...


In collaboration with the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) and the Year of Science 2009, the Small Science Collective held a international Zine-a-thon that drew over 250 entries from India to Argentina, Virginia to San Francisco. Winners received a range of prizes - their zines are featured on the Small Science Collective site.

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2008


What is the relation between a science like biology and humanities discipline like philosophy? How do they collaborate well or instigate poorly? This paper examines the relationship between evolutionary biology and philosophy of biology from a wide angle to consider how they have evolved with each other over time and the stakes involved in their interdisciplinarity.


Curation of Biological Agents, an exhibition at Gallery 400, University of Illinois Chicago. The complexities of our contemporary life fundamentally challenge the way we understand ourselves as biological entities within larger ecosystems. The exhibition focused on the work of Brandon Ballengee, Caitlin Berrigan, and Natalie Jeremijenko, three artists who engage the intimate participation of organisms and the public alike, examining what it means to be human, to be animal, and to have personal and social agency. At the Gallery 400 site. And the brochure PDF).

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2007


The concept of ant, bee, and termite colonies as "superorganisms" has re-emerged as an important concept in biological research, however their relevance for the field of EvoDevo (evolution & development) remains under-explored. This paper reviews the superorganism concept and the role these organisms can play as model systems in the light or EvoDevo theory.


Genetic Ancestry Testing is now a very popular method for those trying to find out more about their heritage for a variety of reasons. Many of these tests give seemingly definitive statistics for the percent "African" or "Asian" you are, while others claim to identify you are a descendant of Irish Kings or Genghis Khan.But what does this even mean? Can this kind of data really be used to make legal personal, historical or legal claims? This article outlines some of these important caveats.

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2006


Aesop famously argued that ants are industrious: Compared to the Grasshopper who played all summer, the ants worked hard storing away food for the coming winter. Well, now science has confirmed this, at least the ant side of the story. This article describes research I conducted on the seasonal and geographic patterns of fat (yes, fat) storage in ant colonies. It looks at how different physical and behavioral castes are employed to divide the labor of not only nutrient storage, but also defense within the dynamics of ant colonies along a climatic gradient.


Historically the ants and bees have been held up as paragons of cooperation and communality. A metaphor for what's missing in our human way of being, the social insects seem to offer quite a nice ideal. This essay discusses some of the prospects and pitfalls of this argument, proposing that ants may in fact provide an interesting model, but not of the kind typically thought of. The book it appear in: Participatory Autonomy

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2004


Much of the theory behind division of labor - be it in ants or in factory workers - is based on the premise that since workers specialize in different jobs, the the optimum proportion of different kinds of workers should change when conditions change. As intuitive as it is, surprisingly few demonstrations of this fundamental prediction actually have been found in nature. Within this study are some interesting findings as to how development might constrain natural selection in unexpected ways.

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2001


Examining how the concepts of modularity and evolvability can be applied to questions of adaptive evolution over deep time by considering the developmental modes of insects.



Image & Meaning Sigma Xi ISHPSSB IUSSI COPUS The Field Museum Union of Concerned Scientists