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Rutgers University – Aesthetics and the Life Sciences Symposium

October 21, 2016

This public symposium will bring together scientists, performance and visual artists, educators, historians, and anthropologists to share their perspectives on the powerful intersection between the arts and the life sciences.

Life Science and Art are deeply intertwined. In the late Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci studied human anatomy producing exquisite anatomical drawings alongside his designs for flying machines. In 1859, Darwin famously referenced the evolution of “endless forms most beautiful.” And from the turn of the 20th century to the present, the concepts and materials of biology have penetrated the visual and performance arts through avenues as varied as DNA and protein structure-motivated dances and plays, tissue culture-based sculptures and prints, and even evolution-inspired rap. In past and in present, creative art, aesthetic judgments, and the life sciences have been integral to one another.

The goal of the symposium is to to celebrate and raise awareness of the interconnections between the arts and the life sciences, and to provoke discussions of how biological knowledge and artistic expression might continue to explain the workings of the natural world, while simultaneously allowing us to appreciate and manipulate it.

A highlight will be an animated keynote performance presented by Dance Exchange.

Closing comments will be led by D. Graham Burnett (Department of History, Princeton University).

Featured Participants:

Janet Iwasa
Department of Biochemistry, University of Utah

Elizabeth Johnson
Dance Exchange

Anne Q. McKeown
Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Natasha Myers
Department of Anthropology, York University

Jane Richardson
Department of Biochemistry, Duke University

Yvan Tina
The University of Aix-Marseille and The University of Texas at Dallas

Judith G. Voet 
Department of Biochemistry, Swarthmore University

Donald Voet
Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania

Julian Voss-Andreae
Sculptor, Portland, WA

Alexander Wragge-Morley
Department of History, New York University and University College London

This event is open to the public, but space is limited. Please register at

This Symposium is being organized by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and Princeton University. The event is sponsored by the Center for Integrative Proteomics Research and the Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine at Rutgers, with additional support from the Wellcome Trust and the Center for Collaborative History at Princeton University.


October 21, 2016
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