Rachel Fleming, Research Assistant (UCSB )
Pet: Dog
The initial reason for my fascination with living organisms may be best described as what evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson would call “biophilia,” or the innate tendency for humans to be attracted to other life forms. As a child growing up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, I was very curious about the wildlife in my surroundings. When I was ten years old I took it upon myself to begin learning about the evolutionary relationships between organisms and about the incredible diversity of life. Each time my class took trips to the library I would check out beautifully illustrated animal encyclopedias and take detailed notes about biological structures such as feathers, limbs, scales, and bones. I even read about the morphology and ecology of groups such as Porifera, Annelida, and Cnidaria. To this day, the living world seems to me a strange, beautiful, and never-ending source of knowledge and inspiration.

I transferred to UCSB’s College of Creative Studies from Ventura College about a year and a half ago in order to pursue my interest in the interdisciplinary field of biomimicry, the synthetic replication of biological systems, structures, and processes. I have been building a strong understanding for the basic operations behind biological molecules and the vast array of structures that they create in living organisms, as well as how this knowledge can be applied to human technology. I am continually gaining valuable laboratory skills while assisting with research projects that involve synthetically replicating nature (squid color-change, abalone nacre structure).

Alongside this work, I have been developing a colorful artistic style that focuses on biological patterns and structures. I plan on using my experience in both the sciences and arts to develop creative ideas in both disciplines.

Through interspecies collaboration projects I hope to gain a closer connection to other species while respecting the protective boundaries set by evolution. While the organism I am working with may not appreciate the aesthetics of the end product, the experience of creating the art will certainly be valuable and worthwhile. I look forward to learning and collaborating with some of the species that have inspired my life’s direction on so many levels and in so many ways.


05/12/14 12:33:12 Project Update: Ordered Caterpillars, Arrangement Ideas
  05/18/14 12:57:57 - A Search for Local Caterpillars

05/18/14 12:52:28 Update: Caterpillar Craze
  05/18/14 12:53:57 - Last entry was from 5/15
  05/18/14 13:32:04 - Lost Collaborators
  05/18/14 13:37:34 - La Sumida

05/18/14 13:50:46 Painting, Sculpture, and the Lone Caterpillar
  05/20/14 18:39:16 - My Big Surprise

05/23/14 16:51:32 Find the Caterpillar
  05/23/14 16:59:16 - The Exhibit
  05/25/14 12:46:15 - Painting the Cocoons

05/31/14 13:08:49 A Monarch Story

A Note About My Comment in Discussion with Deke Weaver

Arctic Dreams Comments
Collaboration Ideas
Ideas for Art Projects

Interrogating Methods Event and its Effect on my Views of Art and Science

Reflection: Other Related Research
Powerful Concepts from our Discussion with Deke Weaver

Reflection: Animal Communication
Response to Barbara Janelle’s Seminar on Animal Communication

Other: Art Made Together with Non-Human Animals
Thoughts About Chapters 1 and 4 from The Man Who Talks to Whales

Video: Animal Play Behavior
WOW, A Reporter Went Underwater But NEVER Expected This Encounter!

Video: Interspecies Communication
Could we speak the language of dolphins? By Denise Herzing

Video: Art Made Together with Non-Human Animals
Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime By Heather Barnett

Website: Art Made Together with Non-Human Animals
70 Zebra Finches Rock Out On Electric Guitars At The Peabody Essex
Hubert Duprat’s Incredible Caddis Fly Creations