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About Helen Donis-Keller

Dr. Helen Donis-Keller combines interests in art and science, believing that each field informs the other in significant ways. "As a scientist and artist I investigate the complex relationship between genotype and phenotype," says Dr. Donis-Keller. "The genetic potential (genotype) is modified by the environment to produce the observable self (phenotype)." As a scientist she has been involved in mapping the human genome and identifying genes and mutations, which give rise to heritable disorders. At Olin she studies the molecular biology and genetics of viruses of mycobacteria. She is interested in developing a better understanding of the extent of diversity and evolution of bacterial viruses, which constitute the majority of all biological entities that inhabit the planet earth.
Like most artists she finds that her experience provides the foundation for art investigations. Thus genetic concepts often find expression as visual metaphors accessible to those who are not necessarily science-oriented. Examples of her artwork can be found at:


Present Professor of Biology and Art, Olin College of Engineering

Curriculum Vitae


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Honors and Awards

  • Doctor of Science Degree (HonorisCausa)
  • Chair of the Mathematics and Science Field Group


  • The Digital Eye: Photography Vision and Visual Communication
  • Principles of Modern Biology
  • Responsive Drawing and Visual Thinking

Contact Information


Articles (39)