Monsters are everywhere. They lurk in the shadows and stalk our imagination. They terrorize and fascinate us. But what, exactly, are they? Scholars differ on whether the word is derived from the Latin verb monstrare, “to show,” or from monere, “to warn.” Either way, as horror theorist John Halberstam writes, monsters are “meaning machines.” They embody our preoccupations and anxieties, and they reflect our morals. This is as true of the “real world” humans and creatures we label monstrous — sharks, serial killers, and “freaks” — as it is of the classic monsters that reside in our fictions, the vampires, zombies, and bogeymen.
Just in time for Halloween, the Bay Area Art and Science Interdisciplinary Collaborative Sessions (BAASICS) teamed with and the Bay Area Science Festival (BASF) to present “Monsters”, a night of Big Foot, zomBees, vampire philosophy, ugly sculptures, monster metal, bioelectricity, and developmental monsters, Patel lab style. The program included the Patel lab’s own Erin Jarvis, presenting her research on integrated transformation by Hox gene knockout, i.e., playing “Mr. Potato Head” with crustaceans.