Week 4

Blog 4: Gene Editing in Cosmetic Procedures

While I was absent from this week’s lecture due to a medical issue, I explored Marta de Menezes’ website and specifically, her Nature exhibitions which aim to push our understanding of what is considered natural and explore the kind of genetic modifications that may pass these boundaries of naturalness. I particularly enjoyed her butterfly project where she used cauterizing tools to modify butterfly wing patterns, creating living art.

Week 4: Marta de Menezes, Hox Zodiac, and Scientist-Artists

I really enjoyed Marta de Menezes’ presentation of her work and projects within the world of art and science, as well as hearing about her background. As someone majoring in a STEM subject who’s heavily interested in art (and pursuing it), it’s fascinating to hear about projects involving the two. It was also interesting to hear about Hox Zodiac, and the unique ways the project combines culture, art, and science.

Week 4: Hox Genes and CRISPR

In this week’s lecture, we learned about Hox genes, which are a set of transcriptor factor genes that reveal how gene expression is translated into the different forms that organisms can exhibit. As summarized by Nature Education, while the genome appears to be organized randomly with no order present in their arrangement on a chromosome until their expression during the process of development, Hox genes seem like “an island of comprehensible structure” (Myer, 2008).

Week 4 Blog

This week’s talk on CRISPR was interesting and connected a lot to my major and  research minor. In one of the core classes for my major, Human Biology and Society, the class focused a lot on gene editing and the ethics behind it as well. Marta’s talk reminded me of this as she went over what CRISPR is used for and as we talked about some of the ethical perspectives at the end.

Week 4 Chinese Zodiac + Hox Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac Sign, also known as Shēngxiào, is a 12-year cycle that assigns an animal to each year. Each animal represents a specific set of characteristics and traits that are believed to influence an individual's personality and fate. The Chinese Zodiac is based on a lunar calendar, different from the Gregorian calendar used in the West, and starts on the first day of the Chinese New Year.

The Chinese Zodiac

For my blog post this week, I wanted to do some background research on the traditional Chinese beliefs surrounding the Chinese Zodiac. Growing up, I didn’t really know anything about the Chinese Zodiac except that I was born in the year of the horse. Beyond that simply identification, I hadn’t really thought about the cultural roots of the Chinese Zodiac. My roommates are Chinese and Taiwanese, and they pointed me to some fun resources to learn about the myth of the Great Race.

Week 4: Zodiac Animals and Being "Natural"

This week’s lecture on Zodiac animals was very interesting. I enjoyed learning more about Zodiac animals from a genetics perspective, since I had never previously heard of the Hox gene. I am half-Chinese, and I grew up attending Chinese school at a local high school every Saturday from kindergarten to tenth grade. I was born only a few weeks before the end of the Chinese calendar, and as a result I was born at the tail end of the Year of the Dragon.

Week 4 - CRISPR

Prior to this week's lecture, I had some knowledge about CRISPR(Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), but I was unaware of its immense significance in the field of gene editing. For my blog this week, I decided to delve deeper into CRISPR and explore some of its ethical and moral implications. In 2012, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier conducted groundbreaking research and developed CRISPR , which when used alongside CRISPR-associated proteins like Cas-9, can break DNA at specific points (IGI, 2022).

Blog 4: Ethics and Epigenetics

It was interesting to listen to professor Marta de Menezes’ guest lecture this week and her take on nature and ethics. What really stood out to me was her perspective on ethics versus morality, especially on the topic of altering an organism’s genetic makeup. I was particularly favorable of the neutral stance that was taken and emphasized on this topic.

Week 4: Are genetically modified organisms natural?

I really enjoyed the topic for this week and getting to hear from Marta de Menezes. Something that really stood out to me from the presentation and following discussion was the focus on CRISPR gene editing technology and the moral implications of using it to treat people for certain genetic conditions. As a molecular, cell, and developmental biology major, I have learned a lot about this tool and how it has been used to create transgenic animal models for the purpose of scientific studies.


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