Christina Agapakis

I've taught synthetic biology for advanced high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students in a range of programs
and environments.





Art Center College of Design

Short courses on design and biotechnology, co-taught with Ben Hooker for Media Design Practices Lab-track graduate students.

Bacterial Cultures, Winter 2014
Bacteria are everywhere. Rich communities of microbes thrive in the soil, in water, in air, on every surface, and every part of the body. Over the past decade, enabled by advances in gene sequencing and biotechnological tools, our relationship with these microorganisms is changing. Instead of designing ways to eliminate bacteria and protect ourselves from germs, how might we design to re-introduce microbes into our daily lives? In the future, how will we design for the microbial superorganism? Syllabus available here

Against Nature, Spring 2013
As technologies develop, new kinds of related design practices emerge. The area of biotechnology is particularly intriguing because the roles and responsibilities for designers working with bio-technologists are still undetermined, and frequently contentious - both within the scientific community, and society at large. This project is unashamedly designed to be a 'gateway drug' to this exciting, messy space of interdisciplinary practice. Syllabus available here.

University of California, Los Angeles


UCLA competed in the iGEM competition for the first time in 2013. With a great group of students and support from UCLA Department of Bioengineering, the Dean of Undergraduate Education, and the California Nano Systems Institute, I helped to start the team and advised them as they developed their project "Diversiphage." Using phage tail proteins as scaffolds for mRNA display, the team worked to develop a protein diversification tool for directed evolution of bacterial diagnostics.

Guest Lectures and Workshops for Design|Media Arts Honors Courses in Biotech and Art

UCLA Art|Science NanoLab, Summer 2012

An intensive two-week course for high school students combining art and science through lecture, hands–on workshops, and field trips.

UCLA Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 145/245: Molecular Biotechnology for Engineers, Fall 2011
Selected topics in molecular biology that form foundation of biotechnology and biomedical industry today. Topics include recombinant DNA technology, molecular research tools, manipulation of gene expression, directed mutagenesis and protein engineering, DNA-based diagnostics and DNA microarrays, antibody and protein-based diagnostics, genomics and bioinformatics, isolation of human genes, gene therapy, and tissue engineering.

Harvard iGEM

I was a teaching fellow for the Harvard undergraduate team participating in the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition in 2008 and 2010, mentoring the team in the lab as they designed and built their projects.

The Harvard iGarden is a venture into plant engineering. Our aim is to create a toolkit for the cultivation of a personalized garden containing features introduced through synthetic biology. In addition to a genetic fence designed to prevent the spread of introduced genetic material, we have developed three independent features to be included in this toolkit – inclusion of novel flavors, knockdown of plant allergens, and modification of petal color. All parts are BioBrick compatible and introduced into plants through agrobacterium-mediated transformation, using existing plant vectors modified with the BioBrick multiple cloning site. The Harvard iGarden, beyond being an application of the BioBrick system to plant engineering, is an effort to raise public awareness of synthetic biology, production of food, and how the two can intertwine. We envision the iGarden as a medium through which the non-scientist can see the power and potential of synthetic biology and apply it to everyday life.

Part of the project was published in the Journal of Biological Engineering: Boyle PM, Burrill DR, Inniss MC, Agapakis CM, Deardon A, DeWerd JG, Gedeon MA, Quinn JY, Paull ML, Raman AM, Theilmann MR, Wang L, Winn JC, Medvedik O, Schellenberg K, Haynes KA, Viel A, Brenner TJ, Church GM, Shah JV, and Silver PA. "A BioBrick Compatible Strategy for Genetic Modification of Plants." Journal of Biological Engineering, 2012, 6:8.

Our project sought to combine the detecting capabilities of bacteria with the speed and ubiquity of electricity by creating an inducible system in Shewanella oneidensis MR–1 with an electrical output, allowing for the direct integration of this biosensor with electrical circuits via microbial fuel cells.

MIT High School Studies Program

Designed an co-taught a five-week course for high school enrichment program in the spring of 2010.