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In active response to the novel coronavirus and its unfolding, we offer ArtSci PARTICLES interviews with members of our concentric network. We are deeply inspired by the thoughts, actions, and research-based responses made by our community in this unprecedented time. 


Siddharth joins us from New York City where he is currently the Director of Research at Borough Manhattan Community College (BMCC) as part of CUNY (City University of New York). Siddharth has spent much of his time focusing on student equity, as the pandemic has exposed the lack of resources that many students have without access to campus. Working alongside colleagues at BMCC, he has coordinated efforts to train faculty and students in online instruction, and to support student learning and faculty research. Siddharth also discusses how this time has impacted his research and describes how he is using meditation and daily journalling as a way to study the brain and as a way to help his students process and cope with these times.


Siddarth Ramakrishnan is interested in the cusp of disciplines and the dialog that arises at that juncture. Art and Science have long been thought to be completely divergent fields, but he believes that there is a lot to be discovered by blending the two, and by allowing scientists and artists to engage with one another. He has started an Art Science Collaborative at the University of Puget Sound that organizes salons, panels, and exhibitions. Currently he is a visiting Professor at the Borough Manhattan Community College part of the City University of New York.

Check out his website >>>

History with the UCLA Art|Sci Center
and Victoria Vesna:

Siddarth has taught alongside Prof.Victoria Vesna first at UCLA and then at The New School of Design Parsons. Their joint Nano_Biotech+Art course ( drew students from a wide background - media artists, sociologists, philosophers and engineers. This course fostered ideas and collaborative concepts; considering what art means in the Nano-biotech age and what artists convey in this era.

His collaborations with artists and architects have led to exhibitions and documentaries that blend the worlds of art and science. With Prof. Vesna, he has worked on the Hox project - where they used interactive media and performative dinners and gatherings to convey the importance of Hox genes to an audience, showing us how all species are similar at a genetic level.

A collaborative work between Siddharth and Victoria was exhibited at the Human-Dog Coevolution conference at UCLA. They showcased a 'Sniffing Booth' - an interactive card game that highlights the superiority of the sense of smell in dogs when compared to humans. This has now spanned a Dog Nose Knows board game.

Siddharth has also exhibited as a part of the Cotard Syndicate (2012) at the Sheila C Johnson Design Center at the New School.

Ramakrishnan was appointed Fellow of the UCLA Art|Science center and he is now the Chair of the Neuroscience Program at the University of Puget Sound.


Educational History:

Following a Masters in Computer Science, Ramakrishnan decided to pursue a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

His dissertation was on central pattern generators - the neural circuits that underlie rhythmic motor behaviors such as feeding, locomotion etc. He worked (with Dr. Don Murphy) on different species of pond snails - primarily Helisoma trivolvis. The snail itself is only about 15 mm in diameter, is a albino variety allowing us to see the red of the blood within. The central ganglia of the snails have beautiful neurons that are arranged as white polka dots against the red background of the ganglia. He looked at how the feeding motor pattern is altered into one underlying egg-laying and the hormone that modulates that behavior.

After graduating in 2005, he moved to UCLA for postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Nancy Wayne, in the Department of Physiology. There, he looked at development of the GnRH system in zebrafish and medaka embryos. He recorded the physiology of these neurons during embryonic development and observed their ontogeny in the embryo using confocal microscopy. He also looked at the effects of endocrine disruptors such as Bisphenol A on the development and reproductive maturation of fish. Other research dealt with effects of visual and sensory cues on the physiology of adult GnRH neurons.

He worked at Columbia University with Dr. Ken Shepard in the field of Bioelectronics, where they have developed a microelectrode array to record from and stimulate neurons. He is also working on a biological battery - which involves nano-engineered substrates and artificial cell membranes.

Learn More About Siddharth Ramakrishnan >>


Siddharth Ramakrishnan is a UCLA Art|Sci Center Fellow!
His Featured Art-Scientist Page!

HOX Zodiac Project (ongoing collaboration with Victoria Vesna and Siddharth Ramakrishnan since 2008):
When we look around us both as humans and as a species in a multi-organismal world, we tend to focus on our differences. However, underneath all of us are a set of genes called HOX genes that define the basic body plan of all animals – that makes you have a head, two hands and feet, a long body like a snake or a tail like a monkey. These genes are the same in all of us and have been conserved across evolution. HOX ZODIAC is a collaborative project between an artist and neuroscientist since 2008. Based on the Chinese animal zodiac and the Hox gene, it has evolved into a “dinner” that addresses through experience and dialogue our deep relationship with animals as companions, food and lab experiments.

The artist and scientist seek to bring into the public this relationship in a way that expands the idea of the zodiac and puts the humans into the role of an animal that they have been assigned culturally. The project brings up issues of GMO and food in a very personal way and also points to the growing influence of Chinese culture in the West. Food shapes our cultures, individual bodies and even genes within us. Research has found that environmental factors such as food availability, nutrients and diet can turn or off genes, thereby affecting us for generations to come. With this project, the art sci team create a performative exhibition that brings together people to a dinner table to taste, smell and talk about food, its sources, how it affects the body, our relation to animals and plants and our genes. HOX ZODIAC project has evolved into a dinner table with humans sitting as animals of the Chinese zodiac as a representation of the myriad of shapes that Hox genes can produce. Herbs and foods associated with each animal, which also cure ailments of specific organs, will be presented to the guests. Dinners served are based on food associated with each zodiac animal based on Chinese and Western medicine and Ayurveda and recipes keep evolving. To date, dinners were hosted in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Taiwan, New York, Vienna, Linz, Tsukuba, the Museum of Natural History in Tacoma and most recently at the UCLA Fowler museum.
April 22, 2020 EARTH DAY: Global Hox Zodiac, Quarantine. Siddharth hosted two Hox Dinners as part of our Global event in India and New York. 
Hox Zodiac Exhibition (with Maria Caichiolo) (May 27- June 9, 2018):
The reception will be a tasting event that all are invited to, and during the duration of the exhibition, there will be private and pop up dinners in which the audience performs. Participants will don lab coats and bring their food offerings signifying them as the resident expert/scientist – which we all were with regards to food before it became an industrial commodity. Guests will also be encouraged to share menu ideas based on the ingredients associated with each animal, which will serve as another way to share ideas over food. Conversations, stories, recipes and ideas that emerge become integrated into the project as it keeps evolving. The exhibition will include many collaborative artifacts and an artsci (cook)book about the project.
UCLA Sci|Art Lab + Studio Summer Institute (2014):
Ramakrishnan was a guest lecturer for the 2014 Sci|Art Summer Institute. In the highly competitive Sci|Art Studio + Lab students are immersed in the sciences and the arts to simultaneously develop and sharpen their analytical and creative skills. Sponsored by UCLA’s Art|Sci Center, the Department of Design Media Arts and the California NanoSystems Institute, Sci|Art Lab + Studio prepares students for interdisciplinary thinking before they begin their undergraduate education.
Arts Based Research in Times of Climate and Social Change (April 4-6, 2019):
The two-day symposium and exhibition on arts based research aims to envision a future in which arts and design are understood to be central to the success of every complex problem. Focus in the program will be to highlight the importance of art research and education, particularly in times of social unrest and climate change. It is through the arts that the scope of human experience around creativity, innovation, empathy, culture, and knowledge is learned, expressed, and distributed, both for the common good and the development of the individual. By highlighting collaborative research between artists, humanists, scientists and scholars at large, the symposium will attempt to demonstrate the important role of art research in academia and beyond.
LASER of LASERS (October 26, 2017):
National presenter at the event. On October 26th, UCLA ART SCI hosted the LASER of LASERS -- 16 of 24 hosts from around the country and the world met and presented their best practices -- join the network of art science collaborators!


Our friends at Leonardo are offering virtual space, creative platforms and partnership to facilitate socially connecting, even while physically distancing. This includes a curated reading list of free articles from Leonardo journal, virtual LASER programming and community resources
The UCLA ArtSci Collective comes together as a hybrid organism consisting of artists, scientists, humanitarians, ecologists, creative technologists and generally inquisitive humans all around the world. If you would like to be involved, please reach out to
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