As an artist and scientist for my entire adult life, I observe, investigate and interpret the natural world. I am intrigued by the opportunity to study the complexity, diversity and kinship of all organisms and to appreciate the unity of life and its processes throughout evolution. I am deeply committed to the preservation of our planet and of all living organisms that inhabit it.
Most broadly defined my scientific work, and to a considerable extent my art, investigate the relationship between genotype and phenotype, which is the relationship between the genetic potential carried by the DNA (genotype) and the observable self (phenotype), the product of the interaction of genes and environment. The world-view of a natural scientist permeates my work and inspires a desire to facilitate access to genetic ideas through visual art. For example, my Genotype: Phenotype Wall Piece visually melds art and science and is extended further by the Phenotype Series and a recent book project link here to images of the handmade genotype/phenotype book.
As an undergraduate I initially majored in graphic design and pursued a strong interest in photography and drawing at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. While working professionally as a graphic designer and photographer I studied chemistry, biology and natural science at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, which eventually led to a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While a career scientist, I always maintained a thread of artistic practice in drawing, printmaking and photography. Fully participating in the exciting development of the biotechnology industry in the Boston area, I held leadership positions at Biogen, Inc. and Collaborative Research, Inc., later shifting my research interests to academic science. My research group was the first to construct a genetic linkage map of the human genome and to make use of genetic methods to identify mutant genes and develop predictive diagnostic tests for numerous inherited disorders while based in industry and later at Washington University School of Medicine where I was Professor of Genetics and Surgery. I returned to the company of artists undertaking Master of Fine Arts (MFA) studies in studio art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts and Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. My artistic investigations are mainly photography based and I have traveled widely recording and reflecting on numerous urban and natural landscapes. Recent work calls attention to the alarming decline of natural habitats, concern about global warming and the consequent effect we experience as climate change. I am currently the Michael E. Moody Professor and Professor of Biology and Art at Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, where I develop and teach novel undergraduate courses, pursue an interest in biological research, engage in artistic practice, and serve as director of the Olin Art Gallery.