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Mike Bryant

Science and Math Educator

School of Critical Studies

California Institute of the Arts

24700 McBean Parkway

Valencia, California 91355



I am a biologist and a statistician. My research has appeared in several scientific journals: Science, Nature, American Naturalist, Ecology, PLoS, Animal Behaviour and Environmental Biology OF Fishes. My biological research interests include functional anatomy, animal behavior and life history evolution. One unexpected discovery from my work was that female Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata) have a prolonged post reproductive lifespan. Thus I sometimes introduce myself as “the person who discovered that guppies go through menopause.”

I am a faculty member in the of the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Basically, I teach science and mathematics to students pursuing their Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees. The range of courses I teach is wide: evolutionary biology, environmental science, molecular biology and data science.

One of my most popular courses is “Sex and Death: Biology from Beginning to End”. In this course, we examine the definition of life, basic genetics, modes of reproduction, mating behavior, the evolution of families and ultimately to senescence (AKA getting old) and death.  Frankly the course covers a lot more evolution of sex than it does death. One especially fun part of the course is that each year we do a human mate choice experiment.

One of my favorite courses, but perhaps less popular, is “Number, Numeral, Shape and Structure”. This course begins with the biology of a sense of number, then the psychology of number sense and how that has influenced how human depict numbers through numerals. We survey the global history of mathematics. The course ends with a survey of more recently developed topics such as calculus, statistics, chaos, fractals, cellular automata, and game theory.

Working in an arts college is a fascinating place to be as a biologist and lover of data. My recent projects involve quantitative analyses of social media where I test hypotheses from evolutionary biology. I spent a few years as statistician for a National Science Foundation funded study on how to improve K12 mathematics and science education. That project introduced me to datasets that I am now using to explore issues that range from gentrification to equity in participation in arts public arts education. I doubt I would have undertaken these projects if I were not housed within a small, but massively interdisciplinary faculty that characterizes the School of Critical Studies.

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Michael J Bryant

School of Critical Studies

California Institute of the Arts
24700 McBean Parkway Valencia, CA 91355

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