Media Advisory: UB bioartist aims to transform fecal matter into family crests

Release Date: September 30, 2016 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. – Using her diagnosis of Crohn’s disease as inspiration and fecal matter as the medium, University at Buffalo biological art resident Kathy High will convert the tiny organisms that live inside our guts into a microbial coat of arms for various families.

High is completing the project through UB Coalesce: Center for Biological Arts, an initiative that partners artists, designers and architects with scientists to help them actively learn and examine the broader cultural meanings of their work.

High will present a preliminary demonstration of her work, “Gut Love,” along with an accompanying lecture.

When: The lecture is at 1 p.m. today, Sept. 30. A demonstration of the project will follow at 2 p.m.

Where: The lecture will be held in 310 Capen Hall on the North Campus. The demo will occur in 308 Hochstetter Hall, also on the North Campus.

Media are invited to attend. On-site contact is Marcene Robinson, or 716-207-5814. For a map of the North Campus, visit

About “Gut Love”: The project will produce two experiments around questions concerning gut microbiota and the immune system. A patient with Crohn’s disease, High’s interest in gut microbiota began with her own body.

In “Testing the Waters,” High will examine the reactions of the blood immune system against fecal microbes. In her second experiment, “Family Crests,” she will plate fecal samples from entire families in Petri dishes to identify their microbial community profile.

High is an interdisciplinary artist and professor of video and new media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. To learn more about her work, visit

About Coalesce: Coalesce is a collaboration between the UB Department of Art and the Community of Excellence in Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM). A major initiative of GEM, the program aims to expand public understanding of and participation in the life sciences.

The program recently welcomed a second international cohort of eight artists from locations ranging from Toronto to Sweden.

Residents are given the opportunity to form mentorships with UB faculty in the life sciences and gain access to laboratory equipment, and are provided the creative space and technical support to study genomic and microbiomic concepts. The center also offers public workshops, graduate positions, interdisciplinary coursework and exhibitions.

Media Contact Information

Marcene Robinson is a former staff writer in University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, email or visit our list of current university media contacts.