My love of biology and hip hop grew independently while I was at Stanford University. My three freshmen roommates and I were put together because we had all put Talib Kweli down as our favorite music. And as as my hip hop library expanded, I fell in love with the study of life, majoring in Human Biology.
I have never, to this day, taken myself seriously as a rapper (though almost every male I know from Sacramento has produced a rap album). But in the summer of 2008, Derrick Davis asked me to perform a rap about milkshakes for a talent show at Stanford Sierra Camp. I loved parodying songs and I loved performing live. Soon we turned the hyphy anthem “Tell me when to go” into a song about washing dishes with the Hobart machine – “Tell me when to throw.”
When I started working as a Course Associate for Stanford Human Biology in 2008, the parodies continued. Songs about rims (on cars) got flipped into songs about RIMs (reproductive isolating mechanisms). The students were shocked and excited, and the musical production values increased as I brought in more collaborators.
The past two and a half years have taken me to East Palo Alto (California), Ixil (Mexico), and Dunedin (New Zealand) to help encourage young students to explore science through music. We’ve made songs about healthy eating, the water cycle, fire flies, and more.
And now, thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship, I’m studying “Popularising Science” at the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Though I’m planning on heading back to the states for for a PhD in neurobiology, I’m using the next two years to explore intersections of biology and society. Policy, ethics, culture, art, education, storytelling… and blogging.