ARS Synthetica

August 1st, 2009 - July 25th, 2009 | PROJECT

The Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC) at the University of California-Berkeley is designing an interactive web portal and public forum, Ars Synthetica, to communicate SynBERC's research on synthetic biology, an emerging field that builds on advances in molecular, cell, and systems biology. Synthetic biologists will soon design and fabricate biological entities to accomplish particular tasks. Biological materials properties (gene sequences, protein properties, natural genetic circuit design) must be formulated into a set of design rules that can be used to engineer new biological entities. These design issues raise ethical concerns among the public and will form the core focus of Ars Synthetica. The forum will use Omeka, an open source software platform that will afford research scientists and the public with the ability to engage in community-wide discussions and debates, and will be customized to utilize a variety of media, such as articles, photo essays, and video vignettes addressing key questions surrounding synthetic biology. The forum will provide numerous links to research articles, data, and relevant websites, including SynBERC's synthetic biology website and the Anthropology of the Contemporary websites. Video webcasts will include guest lecturers with diverse perspectives on synthetic biology aimed at both scientists and the public, which will be disseminated on social networks, such as YouTube, Flickr, and WordPress blogs. The forum has the potential to make a significant impact on public discourse on science, as well as provide an important new exemplar for public engagement in research that can be replicated in other fields of science and informal science education.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Team Members

Jay Keasling, Principal Investigator, University of California-Berkeley
Paul Rabinow, Co-Principal Investigator, University of California-Berkeley


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 0853031
Funding Amount: 74902


Audience: General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: Life science | Nature of science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Media and Technology | Public Events and Festivals | Public Programs | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media