Bio-designers use cells, DNA molecules, proteins, and living tissues to highlight ethical, social, and aesthetic issues that influence contemporary life. 

The goal of this class is to introduce students to how bio-design blurs distinctions between science and design through combination of design and scientific processes, creating wide public debate; and to new sciences that influence the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the environment we reside in. Students are challenged to think outside the box, explore divergent and convergent thinking, and seek out knowledge and inspiration from ideas that drive nano- and bio-technology. Peer collaboration encouraged to develop speculative design projects that address issues covered.

Each class is redesigned based on the students who sign up, the time we find ourselves in and the issues that are at the forefront of our contemporary lives.

Honors Book


Professor Victoria Vesna

Victoria Vesna, Ph.D., is a media artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci center at the School of the Arts and California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI). Her work can be defined as experimental creative research that resides between disciplines and technologies. 

Although she was trained early on as a painter (Academy of Fine arts, Belgrade, 1984), her curious mind took her on an exploratory path that resulted in work can be defined as experimental creative research residing between disciplines and technologies. With her installations she investigates how communication technologies affect collective behavior and perceptions of identity shift in relation to scientific innovation (Ph.D., Planetary Collegium, 2000). Her work involves long-term collaborations with composers, nano-scientists, neuroscientists, evolutionary biologists and she brings this experience to students. Victoria has exhibited her work in over twenty solo exhibitions, more than seventy group shows, has been published in excess of twenty papers and gave 100+ invited talks in the last decade. She is the North American editor of AI & Society and in 2007 published an edited volume - Database AestheticsArt in the age of Information Overflow, Minnesota Press and most recently an edited volume entitled Context ProvidersConditions of Meaning in Media Arts. (co-edited with Christiane Paul and Margot Lovejoy). Intellect Press, 2011.

Victoria Vesna's homepage


T.A. T.C. (TengChao) Zhou

I am a grad student in Design Media Arts and my research and creative activity focuses on integrating artificial life, making video games, and queer studies. I'm inspired by the works of Karl Sims, who created inspiring artificial life artworks back in the 90s. I find it fascinating that virtual creatures built with programming languages are often able to discover unexpected ways to navigate virtual spaces. I find a connection between making video games and artificial life artworks. In video games, players can navigate in virtual worlds and greet virtual creatures. The synthesis between artificial life and world-building for video games is that instead of putting fixed virtual creatures into game worlds, we create a system for creatures to procreate, grow, mutate, and evolve in game worlds. In addition, I'm interested in studying gay life. In the past, I made small computer games about the human sexuality spectrum, safe zones, stigma, and liberation. In this quarter, if you are curious about research, we can chat more. And if you have any questions during the course, feel free to email me. I'm excited about having this class with you.

Spring 2022 Office Hours Wednesdays from 12 - 1 pm PST by appointment

You can also reach T.C. by email at: tcz@g.ucla.edu