Profile

Q&A

How long have you been with the Design department?
Since Fall 2009

What other, if any, professional work positions have you held?
Postdoctoral Fellow, Penn Humanities Center, University of Pennsylvania (2008-09); Assistant Professor of Art History, College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM (2004-2008); Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies, California State University - Fullerton (2001-03)

Where could we find examples of your work?

My recent book is UC Davis’s first online monograph, and it is available here: https://manifold.umn.edu/projects/toward-a-living-architecture   You can find my first book here:  http://www.amazon.com/Eugenic-Design-Streamlining-America-1930s/dp/0812221222/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434496699&sr=8-1&keywords=eugenic+design&pebp=1434497114898&perid=114HCAX82QXY18PQFGG1

Think about one of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on.
Recently, a senior design student Jonny Hoolko and I worked together in a synthetic biology lab at UC Davis to learn the methods of synthetic biology while exploring bioluminescence, the process by which fireflies and other animals produce light without also producing heat. It was fascinating to see how we could produce a wide range of colored light using e.coli bacteria engineered with a firefly gene sequence, and great to team up with scientists at UC Davis to explore new methods of BioDesign. We gained knowledge of limitations and possibilities for bioluminescence and BioDesign in general.

What led you to become a design educator?
I love thinking about how and why people make things, and the role that these things play in culture. I am an historian of technology, design, art, architecture and science, and I love teaching students how to think across these disciplines.

If you could teach any course, what would it be?
My favorite course is the one I created called DES 40A – Energy, Material and Design Across Time, which I also call a Critical History of Sustainability.

What do you think is the most difficult challenge designers struggle with?
I’m not a designer, but I expect that for a designer who cares about our world and environmental sustainability, the most difficult challenge is finding materials to use in the design process that are low in embodied energy, low in terms of how processed they are, and low in terms of distance traveled throughout their full life cycle to get to the design studio and beyond afterwards.

What do you think is the most pressing problem designers should be addressing today?
Lessening consumption; second to that, demanding and finding materials low in embodied energy and toxicity.

What are 6 things you believe all design students should read or watch?
1. William Myers, BioDesign: Nature, Science, Creativity (2012); 2. Ozzie Zehner, Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism (2012); 3 & 4. Vaclav Smil, Harvesting the Biosphere: What We Have Taken from Nature (2012) and Energy in World History (1994); 5. Carl Zimmer, “Now: The Rest of the Genome,” New York Times (10 Nov. 2008) or the more difficult books Evolution in Four Dimensions by Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb (2014) or Postgenomics: Perspectives on Biology after the Genome, edited by Sarah Richardson and Hallam Stevens (2015) ; 6. http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/  and http://www.projecthdesign.org/ and other public interest design collectives; 6. 

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