This course studies how bioart blurs distinctions between science and art through the combination of artistic and scientific processes, creating wide public debate. It explores the history of biotechnology as well as social implications of this science.
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Please contact Prof. Victoria Vesna if you are interested in joining this class.


The Underrated Rodent

As a 1997 baby, my Chinese Zodiac sign is the rat. It seems that there are not many other 1997 babies in this course, so this sign is a minority. Despite the rat being a minority this quarter, the animal itself has made huge contributions to the scientific subjects that a majority of this class studies. The slang term “lab rat” is frequently used to describe a researcher whose dedication to the research comes before all else in their life.

Rats, Roosters, and Rabbits!

When I think of genetic engineering, I think of the lab rat of course. Upon more reflection I would also think about my own zodiac sign, the rabbit. The rabbit and the rat are very similar signs aside from their connection to scientific research. The foods for rat and rabbit both include lean proteins and grains, and after cooking my chicken miso ramen last week, I was delighted to find miso on the list of ingredients for the rat!

Rabbits and Rats in Research

The rabbit from the Chinese zodiac is oftentimes used in scientific experiments because of its small size, fast reproductive rate, non-aggressive personalities, and cost-effective expense. Because of their fit as a model organism, they have many purposes in being used to create antibodies for wet-lab experiments, to model for disease and biological systems, and to test related skincare products before mass sales to the public. Because of the last purpose, rabbits are generally used in cosmetics to test lipstick, moisturizers, and serums, subjecting them to cruel animal treatment.

A Man's Best Friend

One of my favorite Chinese Zodiac signs has always been the dog and it comes as no surprise— as my grandma, one of my favorite people on this planet, was born in 1934! She fully embodies the kindness, faithful and nurturing nature of the dog! Although I strongly associate the dog with human life, I never associated it with the well being of the environment. I did one search of “how do dogs affect the environment?” and was consequently shocked at my findings.

Week 7 - Year of the Dog

The dog is often considered to be "man's best friend" and for good reason. Fiercely loyal and faithful to those they care for, dogs have been by our side as our companions since the beginning of time. My interest in discussing the year of the dog comes from the fact that my father is the year of the dog, and falls under one of the minority signs in our class. As far as I'm aware, my father exhibits many traits of the dog, including being highly sociable, friendly, loyal, hardworking, and has an uncanny sense of direction, which I think is quite funny.

Genetic Engineering Has Gone to the Dogs


Dogs are beloved animals in Western culture, often referred to as “man’s best friend.”  I see them whenever I step outside: taking walks around my neighborhood, riding in cars with their owners, and frolicking around in the park.  Spots.com reports that a whopping 63.4 million Americans own dogs, and that these numbers have been growing rapidly since the 2000s.

B(P)ig Dilemma

One of the minority zodiac signs in the class was the pig. Similar to snakes, pigs are often misconceptualized as dirty, lazy and clumsy. However, research has shown that pigs are quite intelligent. In modern biotechnology research, pigs are making important impacts on scientific advancement especially in the field of medicine. 

Pork's Impact on the Environment

One of the zodiac signs that was in the minority in our class was the pig. The Pig is the twelfth of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Pig was late because he overslept. Another story says that a wolf destroyed his house. He had to rebuild his home before he could set off. When he arrived, he was the last one and could only take twelfth place (Ho and Chao, 2018). 

The Rat: The Duality of Extinction and Salvation

I noticed that our class did not have many students within the Rat Zodiac, so I decided to dedicate this post to them. For such a small animal, rats represent one of the largest aspects of research within the field of medicine and biological sciences. While there are many cultures that consider rats to be pests, their impact on the world is undeniable, especially when it comes to the subspecies Rattus norvegicus domestica, or the "Fancy rat."


The Misunderstood Pig

Of the minority zodiac animals in our class, I decided to dive deeper into researching the pig. Pigs are interesting because they are simultaneously incredibly smart and emotionally intelligent but also the most eaten meat by humanity (“Pigs and Pork”). In fact, there is evidence that pigs may have been the first domesticated animals  (“Pigs and Pork”).


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