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Stories by Christina Agapakis

Beard Yeast Beer

The recent flood of research and news articles on the human microbiome have established the microecology of the human body as an important new field.

June 22, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Patent Ecology

Patents in biotechnology are complicated and controversial, with different groups arguing that they either promote innovation or stifle important research.

June 1, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

iGEM in space: a Q&A with the Brown-Stanford team

During the past couple months I've been thinking and writing a lot about space colonies for some reason, and I recently had the pleasure of talking with a group of iGEM students that spent last summer designing synthetic microbes that would help astronauts build a community on Mars...

May 24, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Plants! In! Space!

Today is International Fascination of Plants Day, so I wanted to share some plant science that I have recently been fascinated by. I've become a bit obsessed with research on growing plants in space, how plants respond to microgravity, and the potential for space agriculture...

May 18, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Living Photography

Plants don't always seem particularly charismatic, but hidden from us in their slow-motion and chemical activities are incredible mechanisms that sense and respond to the world around them...

May 12, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Pixelating the Genome

Genomes are complicated. Even the concept of a "gene" isn't as straightforward as you might expect. Genes are the units of heredity, the bits of DNA and RNA that do something inside a cell...

April 23, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Foods in the Year 2000

A lot of proposed synthetic biology applications can seem pretty out there, but some are really out there . NASA is currently advertising open postdoctoral positions in synthetic biology, with particular emphasis on food production in space...

March 31, 2012 — Christina Agapakis


My trip to Austin last week provided a great opportunity to collect bacteria. I've been interested in the microbiome for a while, and since my Synthetic Aesthetics residency in 2010 I've been especially interested in the bacteria on skin and in cheese...

March 22, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Seeing Smells

An interesting twitter conversation got me thinking about how to "photograph" smells. So much of our experience and our exchange of information is visual, but smell resists visualization...

March 19, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Science at SXSW

This year will be my first time going to SXSW Interactive and I'm super excited. Here are a few of the science/tech/art panels that I'll be going to.

March 1, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Magnetic Yeast

"In biology, magnetism is a unique and virtually orthogonal physical property." Only a few organisms can actively sense and utilize magnetic fields.

February 28, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

DNA Nanorobots

An awesome paper from Shawn Douglas, Ido Bachelet, and George Church at the Wyss Institute uses DNA origami to create nanorobots that can target and kill cancer cells in a population of healthy cells...

February 16, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

How To Genetically Modify Yogurt

Tuur van Balen gives a provocative how-to presentation at the Next Nature Power Show, showing how to use the Synthetic Biology Parts Registry to engineer yogurt bacteria to produce prozac: Van Balen is a designer whose work explores the boundary between art and science in synthetic biology...

February 14, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Self Defense

I recently saw a really fun talk by Amisha Gadani, an artist in residence here at UCLA in the Alfaro Lab. Her recent work is a playful exploration of animal self-defense mechanisms incorporated into fashionable cocktail dresses...

February 7, 2012 — Christina Agapakis


One of my new obsessions is bacterial multicellularity. Single celled micro-organisms are constantly interacting with their neighbors, from individuals of the same species to cells from different domains of life, forming complex biofilm patterns, complex nutritional symbioses, and complex clumps...

January 31, 2012 — Christina Agapakis


Feet smell like feet and armpits smell like armpits because they each harbor unique species of bacteria with unique metabolisms that produce unique volatiles.

January 27, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Bacillus subtilis for Missoni

Bacteria grow by dividing in half, their population doubling in size as fast as every twenty minutes. In a few short hours, a bacterial culture can go from a single cell to billions, and from being invisible to the naked eye to forming dense colonies on a petri dish, sometimes centimeters across...

January 17, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

Nitrogen Fixation

I'm haunted by one of the stories in the latest episode of Radiolab, can't get it out of my head. Like everyone else, I love Radiolab and often sprinkle stories I learned from the show into cocktail party conversation (do I go to nerdy cocktail parties or do I make cocktail parties nerdy?), but the Bad Show was especially gripping, in particular the story of Fritz Haber...

January 14, 2012 — Christina Agapakis

The Essence of Taste

Over the holidays my husband has been experimenting with Japanese cooking, and as various broths simmered on the stove and our collection of soy-based pastes and sauces expanded, my love affair with MSG was rekindled...

December 31, 2011 — Christina Agapakis

Nurturing Next Nature

Nature is a slippery word. Nature is the opposite of culture but "natural" behaviors are culturally expected from us. Nature is serene and wholesome, but nature is red in tooth and claw...

December 29, 2011 — Christina Agapakis
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